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. 68 has Historical Testimony of All the Biblical Signs of the Presence of God in the Clouds and is a Perfect Reflection of How God had Come on the Clouds in Judgment on a Wayward Nation in the Past.
Christ appears to have come on the clouds at the start of the Idumean massacre in A.D. 68 and at the start of the Roman siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. See The Second Coming of A.D. 70–like You’ve Never Heard it Before! During these two occasions, 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. These two aspects of the parousia are 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 seemingly being masked by the thick, dark storm clouds of the Glory Cloud.
The Bible is full of types and repeated fulfillments. Jesus’ various and varied appearances throughout the Jewish War model all the various ways in which God revealed Himself throughout the Bible. Below we will discuss the second time Jesus appears to have come on the clouds during the Jewish War. Mirroring the coming of the Lord in 2 Samuel 22:8-15, Christ came on dark storm clouds at the arrival of the Idumean army in A.D. 68 before the subsequent massacre of over 20,000 people in Jerusalem. This manifestation of Christ fulfills all the Biblical signs of the presence of God in the clouds. And like the parousia of A.D. 70, this coming is identical to the way in which God had come on the clouds in judgment on cities in the past according to the Hebrew prophets.
The Appearance of Christ in A.D. 68?
What Does “Coming on the Clouds of Heaven” Mean? When Jesus said He would come on the Clouds of Heaven during the Second Coming, He meant that He would come in the Midst of the Glory Cloud. The Glory Cloud signified the Presence of God in the Bible. All of the Signs of the Presence of God in the Glory Cloud were Present in A.D. 68.
It is often thought that when the Bible says that God was to “come on the clouds of heaven” that this is just a figurative expression denoting the spiritual presence of God. Thus preterists often assume that there were no actual clouds visible at this time. There are many examples in the Old Testament in which God is said to have come or been in the presence of clouds. One prominent example is in Exodus when the spirit of God guided the Israelites through the desert in a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. If these clouds marking the spiritual presence of God are invisible as is often assumed, how did these Israelites follow an invisible cloud to the Promised Land during the Exodus? Below we shall show that whenever God came on the clouds in the Old Testament this was a very real and visible phenomenon in which literal clouds were present. Similarly when Christ came on the clouds of heaven during the Jewish War this was also a very real and visible phenomenon in which literal and visible clouds were also present as is confirmed by Josephus in The War of the Jews.
According to Psalm 18:6-16 and 2 Samuel 22:8-15 whenever God came on the clouds in judgment on a nation, He did so in the midst of the Glory Cloud. When the Bible says that God was to come on the clouds of heaven, this expression points to the coming presence of God in the Glory Cloud. Therefore, when Jesus predicted that He would come on the clouds of heaven during His second coming or parousia, it is expected that Christ would also come in the Glory Cloud.
What is the Glory Cloud? According to 2 Samuel 22:8-15, Isaiah 66:15-16, Psalm 18:6-16, Psalm 50:3, Psalm 97:1-5, Psalm 144:5, Exodus 40:34-38, Leviticus 16:2 and Ezekiel 1:4, the presence of God is often marked by dark clouds and fire. This cloud with fire marking the presence of God is called the Glory Cloud. The Glory Cloud is often accompanied by strong winds; lightning, fire from heaven; thunder; earthquake; and invading armies. All of these signs were present in A.D. 68. The Glory Cloud is well illustrated in Psalm 18:7-14:
The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. . . . 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. Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them [emphasis mine].
In v. 7 the earth trembles and quakes at the coming of the Lord. As is also indicated in 1 King 19:11 and Isaiah 29:6, the presence of God is often marked by an earthquake. In Psalm 18:7-14, one can see that a thunderstorm also accompanies the presence of the Lord on the clouds. This tempest or thunderstorm explains the storm clouds, lightning, wind, rain and thunder also mentioned at the coming of the Lord in Psalm 18:7-14. According to vs. 9 and 11, these “dark rain clouds of the sky” mask the brightness of God’s presence. And as a result, God is not actually SEEN when He comes on the clouds in judgment. The expression coming on the clouds of heaven as it is used in the Old Testament also often connotes the coming of the Lord at the head of an invading army. This fact is best exemplified in Joel 2:10-11:
Before them [an invading army] the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? [Emphasis mine.]
As stated above, the fact that “the earth shakes” in v. 10 is an often-mentioned sign of the presence of God. At the coming of the Lord the heavens also tremble and the sun, moon and stars are darkened according to Joel 2:10. According to Psalm 18:9-11, the presence of God on the clouds of heaven is typically marked by a great thunderstorm in which the dark rain clouds of the sky render God invisible. This great thunderstorm also explains why the “heavens tremble” and “the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine” at the coming of the Lord in Joel 2:10. The dark storm clouds that obscure the brightness of God’s image also darken the sun, moon and stars in v. 10. Furthermore, the “heavens tremble” in v. 10 as a consequence of bursts of resounding thunder which accompany the violent tempest surrounding the spirit of God.
What Does “Coming on the Clouds of Heaven” Mean? As Illustrated in Joel 2:11 and Psalm 68:7, When God Came on the Clouds of Heaven He often came at the Head of a Punishing Army.
As stated above, Joel 2:11 indicates that God often comes on the clouds of heaven in the presence of an invading army. During the exodus, the Israelites conquered the people of Canaan and settled in their land. During this time, God came on the clouds of heaven before the invading army of Israelites according to Psalm 68:7: “When you, God, went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, the earth shook, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel.” Notice that Psalm 68:7 also mentions an earthquake and storming rain at the presence of God as was also mentioned in Psalm 18 and Joel 2 above. As is exemplified in Joel 2:11 and Psalm 68:7, the presence of the Lord at the head of an invading army is another sign of the coming of the Lord on the clouds.
An additional sign of the presence of God in the Glory Cloud is strong wind. 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.” The fire mentioned in Isaiah 29:6 is presumably lightning. Confirming our interpretation above, Isaiah 29:6 mentions a tempest or violent storm at the presence of the Lord. This tempest accounts for the thunder, windstorm and lightning noted in Isaiah 29:6. The powerful winds of a violent tempest also accompany the presence of the Lord in 1 Kings 19:11-13:
The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
1 Kings 19:11 is another great example of the fact that powerful wind often accompanies the mighty presence of the Lord. Did you also notice the earthquake in v. 11? The fire mentioned in 1 Kings 19:12, like the fire of Isaiah 29:6, is presumably lightning, another common sign of the presence of the Lord in a violent tempest.
The Parousia of A.D. 68: All the Biblical Signs mentioned above pointing to the Presence of God on the Clouds were also present at the Head of the Idumean Army in A.D. 68: a Prodigious Storm, Very Strong Winds, Great Showers of Rain, Lightning, Terrible Thunder and a Loud Earthquake.
In February of A.D. 68, 20,000 armored Idumean soldiers arrived at Jerusalem.1 As this army stood outside of the gates of Jerusalem, Ananus shut the gates of the city.2 Barred from entering Jerusalem, the Idumeans waited outside of the city in the midst of a violent tempest. Disobeying Ananus’ order, the Zealots opened the gates of the city and a great slaughter ensued resulting in the deaths of 8,500 people in the outer temple3 and 12,000 residents of the city shortly thereafter.4
According to Joel 2:11 and Psalm 68:7, God rides on the clouds at the head of a punishing army like the Idumean army of A.D. 68. As stated above, the coming of the Lord on the clouds is often marked by earthquake and tempest. This storm or tempest is typically characterized by violent thunder, lightning, gale force winds and rain. Concerning the prodigious storm upon the arrival of the army of Idumeans outside of Jerusalem, Josephus writes:
There broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continued lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake. These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one would guess that these wonders foreshadowed some grand calamities that were coming [emphasis mine].5
Notice that all the Biblical signs mentioned above pointing to the presence of God on the clouds are also present upon the arrival of the Idumean army in A.D. 68: a prodigious storm, very strong winds, great showers of rain, lightning, terrible thunder and a loud earthquake. The “prodigious storm” and earthquake at the arrival of the Idumeans and the subsequent massacre in the city of Jerusalem thereafter is a textbook example of the coming of the Lord on the clouds in judgment according to the Bible.
Josephus seems aware of the ominous quality of these attesting signs: “These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and any one would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming.”6 Josephus was right, this prodigious tempest with very strong winds, great showers of rain, lightning, terrible thunder and a loud earthquake immediately preceded the slaughter of more than 20,000 people.7 The massacre that followed the arrival of the Idumeans fulfills the judgment aspect that follows the coming of the Lord on the clouds according to Joel 2:11: “The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?”
Preterists often see the arrival of Titus and his army in A.D. 70 as the start of the destruction of Jerusalem. However, Josephus says that the arrival of the Idumeans in A.D. 68 and the massacre that followed which included the death of Ananus was the true beginning of the fall of the city: “I should not mistake if I said that the death of Ananus was the beginning of the destruction of the city, and that from this very day may be dated the overthrow of her wall, and the ruin of her affairs, whereon they saw their high priest, and the procurer of their preservation, slain in the midst of their city.”8
Was there a Second Coming in A.D. 68? Revelation 16:18-19 implies that Part of the Parousia must have preceded the Three-Way Civil War of A.D. 69.
It is interesting to note that according to Revelation 16:18, the Glory Cloud indicative of the presence of God in the clouds is said to precede the splitting of Jerusalem into three parts in Revelation 16:19. Revelation 16:18-19 reads:
Then there came flashes of lightening, rumblings, peals of thunder and a severe earthquake. No earthquake like it has ever occurred since man has been on the earth, so tremendous was the quake. The great city split into three parts, and the cities of the nations collapsed. God remembered Babylon the Great and gave her the cup filled with the wine of the fury of his wrath.
As explained in the commentary on Revelation 16, the great city that is split in three parts in v. 19 is Jerusalem which was divided into a three-way civil war in A.D. 69.9 Though some Preterists might scoff at the idea of a parousia before A.D. 70, Revelation 16:18-19 implies that part of the parousia seems to have preceded the three-way civil war of A.D. 69. The flashes of lightening, rumblings, peals of thunder and earthquake mentioned in Revelation 16:18 is a direct allusion to the Glory Cloud. And as stated above, the Glory Cloud marks the presence of God in the clouds. This places the coming of Christ on the clouds before A.D. 69. Thus the thunderstorm of A.D. 68 mentioned by Josephus which fulfilled Revelation 16:18 in addition to displaying all the signs of the presence of God in the glory Cloud perfectly fulfills the timing expectations implicit in Revelation 16:18-19.
The “Second” Coming of A.D. 68: Did the Parousia of A.D. 68 also fulfill 2 Thessalonians 2:8?
The Idumean massacre in Jerusalem was in February of A.D. 68, Nero Caesar died in early June, four months later. Cassius Dio mentions an earthquake immediately before Nero’s death: “[A] terrible earthquake occurred, so that one might have thought the whole world was bursting asunder and all the spirits of those murdered by him were leaping up to assail him.”10 As repeatedly stated above, earthquakes are a sign of the coming of the Lord on the clouds. Was this a sign of the coming of Christ on the clouds at the death of the beast in fulfillment of 2 Thessalonians 2:8? I explain in detail in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9: A Preterist Commentary–The Man of Lawlessness Revealed! that the lawless one is the father/son pair Titus Flavius Vespasianus. Though Caesar Titus and Caesar Vespasian literally fulfill all the prophecies in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-9 to the letter, Vespasian is the beast whose wound had been healed of Revelation 13:3. As explained in Revelation 13: A Preterist Commentary, Nero, the sixth Caesar, is the sixth head of the beast who suffers a fatal wound in Revelation 13:3. Having brought peace and order back to Rome after the death of Nero, Caesar Vespasian represents the healing of the sixth head of the beast. That being said, perhaps there was a dual fulfillment of 2 Thessalonians 2:8 at the death of Nero as well? See The Historical Appearance of Christ at the Death of the Beast Fulfills 2 Thessalonians 2:8 and Revelation 19:19-20.
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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!
The Appearance of Christ in A.D. 68? Conclusion
All the Biblical signs mentioned above pointing to the presence of God on the clouds were recorded at the coming of the Idumean army to Jerusalem in A.D. 68.