The Parousia during the Jewish War and the Death of the Beast: The Bible is full of Types and Multiple Fulfillments. The “Second Coming” is No Exception. The Various Appearances of Christ during the Jewish War and at the Death of the Beast exemplify seemingly all the Various Ways in which God Appeared to People in the Old and New Testaments. The Coming of Christ in A.D. 70 is a Perfect Reflection of How God had Come on the Clouds in Judgment on a Wayward Nation in the Past.
The Bible is a book full of types and multiple fulfillments. The “second coming”or parousia appears to be no exception. The second coming or parousia as it had been fulfilled through the various miraculous appearances of Christ during the Jewish War and the death of the beast are a first century climactic repetition, exemplification and fulfillment of all the various ways in which God manifested himself throughout the Old and New Testaments. The most well-known aspect of the parousia is discussed in the article below—the parousia of A.D. 70.
In A.D. 70 Christ came on the clouds in judgment on Jerusalem at the head of an invading army. However, Christ was invisible as the brightness of his presence was masked by the Glory Cloud, thick dark storm clouds, as was the case during the coming of the Lord in 2 Samuel 22:8-15, Isaiah 66:15-16, Psalm 18:6-16, Psalm 50:3, Psalm 97:1-5 and Psalm 144:5. This aspect of the parousia is a perfect reflection of the way in which God had come in judgment on cities in the past according to the Hebrew prophets—the brightness of his presence being masked by the thick, dark storm clouds of the Glory Cloud. But was Christ actually SEEN immediately prior to this apocalyptic coming? In the following article, this idea is explored in the striking similarities between Acts 1:9-11, Revelation 11:12 and the historical events of the Jewish War.
The Coming of Christ in A.D. 70–Like You’ve Never Heard it Before!
The Second Coming of A.D. 70: The Striking similarities between Revelation 11:12 and Acts 1:9-11 suggests that Revelation 11:12 describes the beginning of the Parousia of A.D. 70.
In Revelation 11: A Preterist Commentary–Who are the Two Witnesses? multi-faceted Biblical and historical evidence is presented suggesting that the post-resurrected Christ may have returned in the flesh to prophesy for three and a half years from the start of the Jewish War until the start of the siege of Jerusalem. The fact that the two witnesses are called “the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord” in Revelation 11:4 suggests that the two witnesses are one man. In Zechariah 4:11-14, the two olive trees symbolize the king and high priest. According to Hebrews 5:10, Jesus “was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.” “This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High.” By saying that Jesus is a high priest in the order of Melchizedek means that Jesus is both king and high priest. Given the fact that Revelation 11:4 suggests that the two witnesses are both king and high priest, does this mean that the two witnesses must be one man, Jesus Christ? The fact that Jesus Christ is called the two witnesses is also a suitable title in light of the fact that he seems to have divided his earthly ministry in 2 three and a half year intervals. The fact that the two witnesses are one man, Jesus Christ, also explains the peculiar switch to the singular tense when describing the deaths of the two witnesses in v. 9 in the original manuscripts. For a detailed explanation of the amazing historical fulfillment of Revelation 11 during the Jewish War in the person of Jesus the son of Ananus, the man who may be the post-resurrected Christ, see Revelation 11: A Preterist Commentary–Who are the Two Witnesses?
Revelation11:12 reads, “Then they [the two witnesses, Jesus Christ] heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here.’ And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.” This verse is an EXACT DESCRIPTION of the second coming according to Acts 1:9-11:
After he [Jesus] said this, he [Jesus] was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
In Acts 1:11 the angels tell the disciples that during the second coming, Jesus will come back in the same way they saw him go into heaven. Acts 1:9-11 literally states that during the second coming, Jesus will be seen rising up to heaven as the two witnesses do in Revelation 11:12 before a cloud hides him from sight. Once Jesus was hidden by a cloud, the judgment aspect of the second coming seemingly began.
The Second Coming of A.D. 70: Whenever God came on the Clouds in Judgment on a City in the Old Testament Dark Storm Clouds rendered Him Invisible according to 2 Samuel 22:12 and Psalm 18:9-11.
Citing Witherington, Don Preston notes that Josephus “[u]ses the term parousia for the divine appearances in the Old Testament theophanies.”[i] Psalms 68:7-14 and Joel 2:1-11 are two examples of Old Testament theophanies. In these verses, God rides at the head of his conquering army. Following this precedence, Jesus Christ comes on the clouds of heaven at the head of the conquering Romans in A.D. 70. Whenever God was said to come on the clouds in judgment in the Old Testament, this often meant that the kingdom that received God’s wrath would not actually see God on the clouds at the head of his punishing army. This is because dark rain clouds hid the brightness of God’s presence in the same way that a cloud hid Jesus from sight during his ascension. This point is clearly stated in 2 Samuel 22:12 and Psalm 18:9-11.
He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—the dark rain clouds of the sky [emphasis mine] (Psalm 18:9-11).
The Second Coming of A.D. 70: Josephus Implies that a Rain Storm Marked the Arrival of the Roman Army at Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Did Jesus Ride These Storm Clouds as God had in the Past According to 2 Samuel 22:12 and Psalm 18:9-11?
As illustrated in Psalm 18:9-11 quoted above, whenever God was said to come on the clouds in judgment in the Old Testament this often meant that dark rain clouds would mask the appearance of God such that he would not be seen when he came in judgment on a nation in the same way that Jesus was hidden by a cloud amidst his ascension. It, therefore, does not appear to be a coincidence that Josephus tells of a drought that nearly dried up the pool of Siloam as well as all the other springs around Jerusalem before the arrival of the Roman army. Then when Titus arrived with the Romans army in A.D. 70, Josephus says that the water overflowed.[iii] In other words, there appears to have been a great rainstorm upon the arrival of the Roman army to besiege Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Matthew 24:29 reads, “For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.” Lightning often accompanies rain storms. Perhaps the rainstorm that marked the arrival of the Romans at Jerusalem in A.D. 70 was marked by lightning, a sign that Christ was coming on the clouds in judgment at that time?
“Now hold up!” some might say, “I have been told time and time again that when Christ came on the clouds of heaven that this meant that He was an entirely invisible.” And that is presumably true at least in that aspect of the parousia that occurred in A.D. 70. However, the parousia of A.D. 70 was not just empty apocalyptic language. In other words, though Christ may not have been seen in A.D. 70, His presence would and should have been marked by visible phenomenon suggestive of His presence, i.e. the presence of storm clouds. Many preterists argue that when the Bible says that God was to come on the clouds of heaven that this expression did not mean that he was actually coming on literal clouds. This is not true. The clouds that mask the brightness of God’s presence are indeed literal clouds. These clouds are the Glory Cloud. The Glory Cloud is the literal clouds that mask God’s likeness when he appeared to people in the Bible. The fact that the clouds of the Glory Cloud are literal clouds is easy to prove. The Glory Cloud is mentioned in Exodus 40:34-38:
Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the sons of Israel would set out; but if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out until the day when it was taken up. For throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel.
Here one can see that when God appeared to the Israelites He did so amidst literal clouds. If they were not, how could the Israelites follow these clouds to the Promised Land? There are many examples scattered throughout the Bible illustrating God coming on or appearing amidst literal clouds. Another example in which God appeared amidst literal clouds took place on the Mt. of Transfiguration. After the disciples saw Jesus in his glorified form, a cloud overshadowed them and God spoke to them from inside the cloud:
While he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, My Chosen One; listen to Him!” And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent, and reported to no one in those days any of the things which they had seen. (Luke 9:34-36)
Above it has been shown that when God was said to come on the clouds of heaven this meant that God was expected to come amidst the literal clouds of the Glory Cloud so as to mirror the manner in which God often appeared to people throughout Old Testament history. Now does this mean that every time it rains God is coming on the clouds of heaven? Probably not. But could this have been true at least in some instances? Absolutely! Job 40:6 is another prime example of an occasion in which the Spirit of God masked his likeness in a storm cloud. At the end of the Book of Job, God speaks with Job out of storm clouds: “Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm and said . . . . (Job 40:6)” As has been abundantly shown in the above vs. one can see that the expression “coming on the clouds of heaven” is not empty apocalyptic language as is sometimes supposed. This is a surprisingly literal expression describing the actual and very real presence of God in the Glory Cloud which was often manifested in the form of the dark storm clouds of the sky. For an explanation of how the literal clouds of the Glory Cloud marking the presence of God explains and literally fulfills the apocalyptic/astrological signs said to accompany the presence of God like the shaking of the heavens and the darkening of the sun, moon and stars see How and Why Prophecies with Apocalyptic Imagery May Have Been Fulfilled in Old Testament History Much More Literally than Previously Thought.
The rainstorm that masked the visible presence of Christ while he came on the clouds of heaven at the arrival of the Roman army outside of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 is also significant for another reason. Recall that in Revelation 11:6, the two witnesses have the power to stop the rain during the time in which they are prophesying. Josephus says that Jesus the Son of Ananus actively prophesied right up to the moment of his death at the arrival of the Roman army in A.D. 70:
This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force, “Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the holy house!” And just as he added at the last, “Woe, woe to myself also!” there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.[iv]
Revelation 11:6 states that the drought would end once the two witnesses stop prophesying. This presumably happened at Jesus’ death. After Jesus, the two witnesses, rose up to heaven in full view of his enemies according to Revelation 11:12 and Acts 1:9-11, he was presumably hidden by a dark rain cloud triggered by the cessation of his prophesying. This rain mentioned by Josephus at the arrival of the Roman army and the death of Jesus the Son of Ananus in The Wars of the Jews 5.9.4 not only fulfills Revelation 11:6 but also matches Biblical precedent of precisely what it meant when God came on the clouds in judgment according to 2 Samuel 22:12 and Psalm 18:9-11. The fact that it seems to have rained at or around the time of the ascension of Jesus, the two witnesses, and the arrival of foreign conquerors suggests that God came on the clouds in judgment in A.D. 70. Recall, as stated above that Psalm 18:9-11 indicates that when God comes on the clouds in judgment the brightness of his coming is masked by dark rain clouds. It would seem that these dark rain clouds similarly masked the brightness of Jesus’ resurrection body as it ascended into heaven.[v]
Though there exists no historical record to confirm that Jesus the Son of Ananus was seen rising up to heaven before he was hidden by a cloud or that rain immediately followed the precise moment of his death or resurrection, I believe that these events did occur in light of three facts:
1) Revelation 11 repeatedly suggests that the two witnesses are one man, Jesus Christ.
2) A man with this name is recorded in The Wars of the Jews who acts suspiciously like Jesus Christ, and
3) Jesus the Son of Ananus fulfills the rest of the predictions in Revelation 11 to the letter.
The Second, Second Coming of A.D. 70? 2 Thessalonians 2:8 predicts that Christ will appear at the Death or Loss of Well-Being of the Lawless One. Does the Babylonian Talmud record the Miraculous Appearance of Christ in an Event in A.D. 70 that Sealed the Fate of Titus?
2 Thessalonians 2:8 reads, “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.” According to Vine the word translated destroy in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 is katargeo which means to make inactive: “[K]atageo, lit. to reduce to inactivity (kata, down, argos, inactive) . . . In this and similar words not loss of being is implied, but loss of well being . . . [Thus,] the Man of Sin is reduced to inactivity by the manifestation of the Lord’s parousia . . . .”[vi] That being said, historical records seem to imply that Jesus appeared at the death of Vespasian and the loss of well-being of Titus. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9: A Preterist Commentary–The Man of Lawlessness Revealed!, compelling Biblical and historical evidence is presented showing that the father and son pair Titus and Vespasian together embody the man of lawlessness. For a detailed account of what appears to be historical testimony of the miraculous, supernatural appearance of Christ at the death of Vespasian see The Historical Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20. A similar manifestation of Christ seems to have marked the loss of well-being of Titus as well.
According to 1 Kings 19:11-13 and Isaiah 29:6 strong wind is a sign of the presence of God on the clouds. Isaiah 29:6 says, “[T]he Lord Almighty will come with thunder and earthquake and great noise, with windstorm and tempest and flames of a devouring fire.” For a detailed explanation of the Biblical signs of the presence of God on the clouds of heaven see The Appearance of Christ in A.D. 68?. After conquering Jerusalem and setting the city on fire, Titus took the articles of the Temple back with him to Rome. During this voyage back to Rome in A.D. 70, Gittin 56b of the Babylonian Talmud records what appears to be a miraculous manifestation of Christ:
A gale sprang up at sea which threatened to wreck him. He [Caesar Titus] said: Apparently the power of the God of these people is only over water. When Pharaoh came He drowned him in water, when Sisera came He drowned him in water. He is also trying to drown me in water. If he is really mighty, let him come up on the dry land and fight with me. A voice went forth from heaven saying; “Sinner, son of sinner, descendant of Esau the sinner, I have a tiny creature in my world called a gnat. . . . Go up on the dry land and make war with it.” When he landed the gnat came and entered his nose, and it knocked against his brain for seven years. One day as he was passing a blacksmith’s it heard the noise of the hammer and stopped. He said; I see there is a remedy. So every day they brought a blacksmith who hammered before him. If he was a non-Jew they gave him four zuz, if he was a Jew they said, It is enough that you see the suffering of your enemy. This went on for thirty days, but then the creature got used to it. It has been taught: R. Phineas b. ‘Aruba said; I was in company with the notables of Rome, and when he died they split open his skull and found there something like a sparrow two sela’s in weight. . . . When he died he said: Burn me and scatter my ashes over the seven seas so that the God of the Jews should not find me and bring me to trial.
Notice that a gale or mighty wind threatened to sink Titus’ vessel while at sea. Remember that according to Isaiah 29:6 strong wind and tempest are signs of the presence of God on the clouds. During this time Titus challenged God to a battle on land and a miraculous voice was heard saying, “Sinner, son of sinner, descendant of Esau the sinner, I have a tiny creature in my world called a gnat. . . . Go up on the dry land and make war with it.” Was this the voice of Christ?
When Titus’ vessel arrived at port a gnat is said to have entered his nose. Around this time Titus experienced a strange sensation similar to something rattling against his brain. These symptoms continued for seven years. When Titus died a crude autopsy revealed what appears to have been a sparrow-shaped tumor in his brain. It seems plausible that this sparrow-shaped lesion was the cause of Titus’ demise. If this is true and this account in the Babylonian Talmud is correct, then it would seem that Titus’ fate was sealed on the day in which he heard what appears to have been the miraculous voice of Christ. Did this appearance of Christ that marked the loss of well-being of Titus and possibly seal his fate fulfill 2 Thessalonians 2:8?
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For an explanation of the other appearances and manifestations of Christ during and shortly after the Jewish War see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. Also for an explanation of how the end of the age and its fulfillment during the Jewish War mirror Genesis 1-3; how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of heavenly bodies to heaven, not a resurrection of perfected earthly bodies; and how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall see How the Jewish War and Resurrection to Heaven Mirror Genesis and the Fall; and How Preterism fixes the Age of the Earth Problem and unravels the Mysteries in Genesis.
Interested in THE PRETERIST VIEW OF ESCHATOLOGY, or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse? It DID happen just like the Bible says! If you liked this essay, see PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!
[i] Ben Witherington III, Jesus, Paul, and the End of the World, (Downer’s Grove, Ill., Inter-Varsity Press, 1992), 151 cited in Don K. Preston, Like Father, Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, (Ardmore, OK: JaDon Management Inc., 2010), 9.
[iii] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 5.9.4. The fact that water “burst forth” in Jerusalem at the parousia when Christ came on the clouds in vengeance on Israel in A.D. 70 fulfills Isaiah 35:4-7:
“Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
The healing of the blind, deaf, lame and mute was literally fulfilled during Jesus’ earthly ministry recorded in the Gospels. Interestingly, the blind and lame were also healed by the beast, Vespasian, in the winter of A.D. 69/70 just prior to the parousia of A.D. 70. Recording this event, Suetonius writes:
As he [Vespasian] sat on the Tribunal, two labourers, one blind, the other lame, approached together begging to be healed. Apparently the god Serapis had promised them in a dream that if Vespasian would consent to spit in the blind man’s eyes, and touch the lame man’s leg with his heel, both would be made well. Vespasian had so little faith in his curative powers that he showed great reluctance in doing as he was asked; but his friends persuaded him to try them, in the presence of a large audience, too—and the charm worked (Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars 10.7).
This miracle also fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:9: “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders . . .” Above one can see how Isaiah 35:4-7 was literally fulfilled around the time of the second coming of Christ in A.D. 70. (Duncan W. McKenzie, Ph.D., The Antichrist and the Second Coming: A Preterist Examination Volume 1: Daniel and 2 Thessalonians (USA: Xulon Press, 2009), 366-67).
[iv] Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
[v] As an interesting side note, Josephus says the following concerning what the Jewish rebels said when boulders from Roman catapults were seen approaching Jerusalem:
[A]ccordingly the watchmen [of Jerusalem during the Roman siege of A.D. 70] that sat upon the towers gave them notice when the engine [catapult] was let go, and the stone came from it, and cried out aloud in their own country language, “THE SON COMETH.” (Josephus The Wars of the Jews 5.6.3.)
As is the case in the original Hebrew of Job 41:28, arrows are sometimes literally called “sons of the bow.” Thus the when the Jewish rebels yelled, “The son cometh,” this expression refers to the boulders launched by Roman catapults as the sons of the catapult. That having been said, it may also be an unintentional warning that Jesus, the Son of God, was presently coming on the clouds in judgment during the Roman siege of Jerusalem in fulfillment of Matthew 24:30: “They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.”
[vi] W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, with Their Precise Meanings for English Readers (pp. 5-6 under the word “abolish”) in An Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, eds. W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1984). Cited in Duncan W. McKenzie, Ph.D., The Antichrist and the Second Coming: A Preterist Examination Volume 1: Daniel and 2 Thessalonians (USA: Xulon Press, 2009), 30.
The Coming of Christ in A.D. 70–Like You’ve Never Heard it Before: Conclusion
The apocalyptic coming of Christ on the clouds in A.D. 70 supports Preterism and the Preterist View of Eschatology.