By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.
Many have been following along in this series and the response I have been getting is enthusiastic. I have been arguing that the “parousia” (advent) of the “son of man” is presented in the NT as a perpetual image of his advent to heaven, his “appearance” before the Father as son of man (the Ascension). Thus, the main imagery of this event is found in Daniel 7,13-14: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came (erchomai) one like a son of man, and he came (pareimi-parousia) to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”
This image is conjoined with Psalm 110.1, “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” And, as we have noted, this psalm is the most quoted psalm in the NT. Jesus himself conflates these two verses in Matthew 26.64, ‘Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”‘ There is no getting around the fact that Daniel depicts the son of man as coming to the Ancient of Days, not from (see past blogs on this subject).
Now, reading John’s revelation with this understanding – that Jesus’ ascension to the right hand of the Father was a “coming on the clouds of heaven” – further confirms the testimony of Scripture. Revelation 1.1-8 forms an Introduction to the whole book. That is, it was penned after John had seen the visions, and had recorded the dictation of Jesus to the seven congregations in Asia Minor (Revelation 2-3). Let us quote in full the verses: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, 2 who bore witness to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw. 3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. 4 John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is coming, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood 6 and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. 8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
The above words in bold highlight the shared image in Daniel. Jesus is not “going to be” Ruler of the kings on earth. He is. Jesus is not “going to” make his people a kingdom. He did. Jesus is not “going to” receive all power, glory and dominion. He did. He does. At the time John wrote this Jesus was in heaven, coming on the clouds of heaven, and received all power, glory, dominion and honor. When this is seen for what it is, this “coming on the clouds” is not something going to happen. It is happening, and is the perpetual state of the exaltation of the son of man in heaven. His parousia.
Further, in 1.9 John begins to recount where he was when this vision of Jesus, the First Vision, appeared to him. When he saw Jesus, he adds that he saw him “in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man.” This is an obvious echo of Daniel 7.13. Thus, Jesus is depicted here as one “who is coming on the clouds of heaven…one like a son of man” – and when we emphasize that Daniel is depicting his ascension to the Ancient of Days, we can see that this was not something going to happen. It was happening.
Further confirming this testimony is Daniel’s description of the Ancient of Days: “As I looked, thrones were placed, and the Ancient of days took his seat; his clothing was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was fiery flames; its wheels were burning fire. A stream of fire issued and came out from before him; a thousand thousands served him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the court sat in judgment, and the books were opened” (Daniel 7.9-10). Now, read what John “saw”: “The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and his feet like unto burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace; and his voice as the voice of many waters” (1.14-15). Jesus, having ascended to the Father, the Ancient of Days, is in the glory of his Father, depicted in the same description as his Father. in case you missed it, John wrote, “Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is coming, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ….” The phrase, “who is coming” is present, not future. “Behold he is coming with the clouds” is present, not future. The son of man is before the throne of the Ancient of Days, coming on the clouds of heaven before Him, beholding his Glory, is in the same glory of the Father. Jesus came in the glory of his Father, in heaven, in the clouds, to the right hand.
Thus, John is told to “write the things that you are seeing, those that are…” (1.19). The First Vision is a vision of Christ – who is – who was – who is now coming on the clouds as son of man before the throne of the Father. In this First Vision Jesus dictates to John seven letters to congregations in Asia Minor, which are representative churches of all the congregations. What the “Spirit says” is “to the churches” (plural). Then “after these things” (4.1), that is, after he saw these things (the First Vision), he is then told, “I will show you things that must take place after these things“. “These things” is what he would now show John. The First Vision is the present things, the things that are when John first saw the visions. Then Jesus states that he going to show him things will take place after he shows him what we see in chapter 4,5. The scene in 4-5 is the Ancient of Days with the accompanying, “myriads upon myriads of angels” (compare 5.11 with Daniel 7.10). And they praised the Lamb of God, who appeared as one slain, with “Worthy is the Lamb that hath been slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and might and honor, and glory, and blessing” (5.12). We saw this in Daniel 7.14: “And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” Where did this scene take place? In heaven. When did this scene take place? When the son of man ascended to the glory of the Ancient of Days, his Father. The Lamb reaches to the “right hand” of the throne….Psalm 110.1. Is this a one time scene? Is the Lamb, the son of man, exalted just for a few moments? No. The Lamb remains exalted, remains as the one coming on the clouds of the heaven in heavenly glory with the angels in his kingdom. The son of man came in his kingdom with the glory of the Father and the myriads and myriads of angels before him in power and glory. When I personally “see” this vision in my imagination, my worship LIGHTS UP! Blessed is He that is coming on the clouds of heaven, who is at the right hand of the Father, the Lamb of God, the son of man, who was dead and has been risen bodily from the dead and has ascended to heaven!
The following scene (chapter 6) shows Jesus breaking the “Seven Seals” at his command, and “giving power” to the principalities that are “sent” by him. This is meant to show that all things are in his power and command and sent at his word. These are the powers of life and death, famine and warfare, plague and economic power – things that affect us everyday. However, it is not my intention to go any further at this point.
John’s depiction of the First Vision (1.9-3.22), the risen son of man, who was dead and is now alive, and holds the keys of “the Death and the Grave” (1.18 – the same “the Death and the Grave” of the Fourth Seal, inferring that when John saw Jesus, this Seal was already broken) matches to a tee the vision of his brother, Daniel, seen 500 years before. Daniel’s vision of the “son of man” appears in that Prophet as enigmatic in several ways. But, in John’s vision, the revelation of Jesus Christ, we now know who this son of man is, the one who comes on the clouds of the heavens in glory and power, and who appears as one before the throne in the same image of the Glory of the One Who Sits on the Throne! “Holy, Holy, Holy! Blessed Trinity!”