As part of his opening remarks, John delivered a bold declaration.

BEHOLD! He comes with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him, and they will beat their breasts with grief over Him, all the peoples of the earth. Yes! Amen!

“I AM the Alpha and the Omega,” the Lord is saying, “The God Who is, and Who was and Who is now coming, the Omnipotent.”

Revelation 1:7-8

In the present tense, it makes John’s statement an ongoing event, one which had been fulfilled at the cross and continued at Pentecost. But was John speaking only of the supernatural work of Christ whenever the gospel was told and of the Holy Spirit’s conviction of those who heard it by God’s divine power?

Or was John indicating there would also be a future fulfillment, one more substantial and concrete? A physical return of Christ, coming on the Pillar of Cloud, God’s glorious Shekinah?


All Peoples of the Earth? Or All Tribes of the Land?

This is one of the big questions, studying Revelation.

Coming on the Clouds

Throughout the Hebrew scriptures, God is depicted as riding on the clouds, both as a testimony to God’s transcendent power as Creator, and incidentally as counterpoint to the god Ba’al, who also was said to have clouds as his chariot.

God riding on the clouds—and particularly dark clouds—were also used by many of the prophets to depict God’s judgment.

V0034177 God, suspended in the clouds, creates light. Line engraving Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk http://wellcomeimages.org God, suspended in the clouds, creates light. Line engraving by T. de Leu (?). after: Thomas de LeuPublished: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Isaiah

An intriguing oracle in Isaiah seems to point to God’s casting out of Satan, who had positioned himself as contender to the Lord who presumed to coopt the position of Almighty God

You said to yourself,
    “I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
    above the stars of God;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
    on the heights of Zaphon;
I will ascend to the tops of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.”
But you are brought down to Sheol,
    to the depths of the Pit.

Isaiah 14:13-15 (NRSV)

Jeremiah

The prophet Jeremiah knew God riding on the clouds meant judgment for Jerusalem.

Look! He comes up like clouds,
    his chariots like the whirlwind;
his horses are swifter than eagles—
    woe to us, for we are ruined!
O Jerusalem, wash your heart clean of wickedness
    so that you may be saved.

Jeremiah 4:13-14 (NRSV)

Daniel

But it was the prophet Daniel who first came to understand the significance of Messiah and clouds.

As I watched in the night visions,

I saw one like a human being
    coming with the clouds of heaven.

And he came to the Ancient One
    and was presented before him.
To him was given dominion
    and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
    that shall not pass away,
and his kingship is one
    that shall never be destroyed.

Daniel 7:13-14 (NRSV)
Relief of the Ascension of Christ, Eastern Roman Empire, 2nd Half of the 11th Century, Museum of Byzantine Art (inv. 580), Bode Museum, Berlin | By Anagoria – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28968893

Jesus

Imagine, then, how electrifying it must have been for Jesus’s audience when He said,

“Immediately after the suffering of those days

the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;
the stars will fall from heaven,
    and the powers of heaven will be shaken.

“Then the sign of the Son of [Humanity] will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see ‘the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven’ with power and great glory. 

And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Jesus, Matthew 24:29-31 (NRSV)
Donatas Dabravolskas, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Certainly, the night of Jesus’s trial before the Sanhedrin there was a furious outrage in response to His using the same imagery for Himself once again.

Then the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”  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.”

Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 

Matthew 26:63-66 (NRSV)

On both of those occasions, Jesus spoke of Daniel’s prophecy in connection with Himself, as the fulfillment of what the prophet had seen. But when was Jesus speaking of? When would everyone see Him in the clouds as God Almighty, come in judgement?

And who was “everyone”?

φυλαὶ τῆς γῆς

This is the phrase that scholars discuss.

φυλαὶ | fulai means tribes, but it also more broadly means either a group of people united by ties of blood and descent (Liddell-Scott-Jones Greek Lexicon) which could be considered race; and more loosely as a political body if these related people are connected by living all in the same place.

τῆς γῆς | tēs gēs, means of the land or country, but also of the earth, as in the whole earth.

So was John meaning his readers to understand judgment and conviction unto salvation of all those who were Jewish (as Paul certainly wrote about)?

Or did he have a broader picture in mind?

Daniel

There seems little doubt Daniel was referring to all people of the earth. The line in Hebrew is וְכֹ֣ל עַֽמְמַיָּ֗א אֻמַיָּ֛א וְלִשָּׁנַיָּ֖א, which literally means “and all” “people” “nations” “and tongues/languages.” Daniel was making sure his readers understood this was a depiction of the entire world.

And John had actually combined two ancient prophetic oracles into one new declaration, for he had added something of Daniel to something of Zechariah. Then, John added one new piece possibly based on Isaiah. Let us take a look at all the pieces again.

I saw one like a human being
    coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the Ancient One
    and was presented before him.
To him was given dominion
    and glory and kingship,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
    should serve him
.

Daniel 7:13-14 (NRSV)
By AlixSaz – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51740994

Zechariah

And I will pour out a spirit of compassion and supplication on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem so that, when they look on the one whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly over him as one weeps over a firstborn.

Zechariah 12:10 (NRSV)

Isaiah

Turn to me and be saved,
    all the ends of the earth!
    For I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn;
    from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness
    a word that shall not return:
“To me every knee shall bow,
    every tongue shall swear.”

Isaiah 45:23 (NRSV)

You most likely recognize that last little bit because the Apostle Paul wrote of it twice in his letters.

we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written,

“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
    and every tongue shall give praise to God.”

So then, each one of us will be held accountable.

Apostle Paul, Romans 14:10-12 (NRSV)

And

Therefore God exalted him even more highly
    and gave him the name
    that is above every other name,
so that at the name given to Jesus
    every knee should bend,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
    that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Apostle Paul, Philippians 2:9-11 (NRSV)

This last was a hymn Paul either wrote himself or was at least familiar with.

By Gustave Doré – Sursa, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46024073

John’s New Declaration.

[Daniel] He comes with the clouds,

[New] and every eye will see Him,

[Zechariah] even they who pierced Him, and they will beat their breasts with grief over Him,

[Daniel] all the peoples [or tribes?] of the earth [or country?].

Yes! Amen!

Revelation 1:7 (NRSV)

Scholars continue to debate!

So, what do you think John meant?


The Ascension, an ivory relief, perhaps from Metz (France), late 10th century. Now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. | By Vassil – Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26856823

10 thoughts on “Revelation 1: The Whole Earth?

  1. “A physical return of Christ, coming on the Pillar of Cloud, God’s glorious Shekinah?”
    This being an Interplay between God’s actual physical reality both on a spiritual plane and to us now an altered consciousness of a perfected material plane which this we exist in with imperfect flesh is not.
    The best way I can envision this is the way a great conceptualizing artist of all time Michael Angelo envisioned and depicted the creation of mankind
    https://ih1.redbubble.net/image.386259167.1806/fcp,small,wall_texture,product,750×1000.u9.jpg
    https://lawrencemorradotcom.files.wordpress.com/2021/05/imitation-of-christ-2.jpg
    I can also say something I believe to be a Godsend; that of my hearing an angel’s voice proclaim that God is matter not of this realm.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I do love Michelangelo’s work, Brother in Christ Lawrence. His Pieta is my favorite of all he ever created.

      Yes, it is beyond imagining, that Jesus was lifted up into Heaven on a cloud– surely God’s Shekinah, which is also Christ’s. And yet, there were eye witnesses, and messengers from God promised this is how our Lord would return.

      Grace and peace, Joanne

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Good day Sister in Christ Joanne! Yes it is so beautiful that I’m sure if I were able to visit it and behold that inspired work by Michael Angelo it would bring me to tears without a doubt as I’m even getting a feeling now to tear up! But the main point is; that there is so much we do not understand nor can we comprehend from our so limited vantage point, perspective or quite limited understanding, we do not have the all-encompassing understanding of God the Creator and no person can, anyone even the creates minds eventually reach a brick wall that cannot be penetrated to know all that is on the other side!

        We are the babes in the woods in need of our Master so sorely! But He will never abandon us, He went to prepare a place for each of us who will believe and love Him; that is His promise and even right now is with us, so we need to try our best to hold onto that hope and belief in Him alone! Then; we begin to grasp how in awe of Him we should always be, He our Creator who knows all things and just as he pointed out to Job, it is best we humble ourselves, and just know that with God all things are possible far beyond our wildest imaginations; if he wills it, it will be as He commands! I do believe; it will be just as His words tell us, so I can’t nor won’t argue with that!

        Someone who I admire for his deep perceptions of this plane of consciousness or the material plane but how it by itself illustrates something far more profound than all of this, this man gifted by God, who looked at it from a vantage point most people can’t mentally comprehend; did admit the same we say here now, in an honest fundamental way!

        “The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive forms – this knowledge, this feeling is at the centre of true religiousness.”
        -Albert Einstein – “The Merging of Spirit and Science”

        God bless you and yours!
        Brother in Christ Jesus,
        Lawrence

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hello Lawrence!

        How wonderful to drop in at a stranger’s cloud as it were and find a friend.

        Of course it is in Daniel that we find reference to Michael the great prince rising up to defend his people during the end times. Michael the archangel. Like Michael Angelo which mean Michael the angel.

        At the moment you have me, the Bald Michael. As to angel, you are the judge!!

        By the way, nowadays we have the internet clouds where everybody can see someone if they wish and have a screen and if someone reveals themselves. He is coming in the clouds. Mmm…

        Yours ever

        Baldmichael

        Liked by 2 people

      3. “A divine visitation of the presence or dwelling of the Lord God on this earth.”
        As we should understand the simple truth that nothing is impossible with God or put another way, all is possible with omnipotent God the Creator of All things in “the seen and unseen worlds!”
        Then there is this which I wrote early this morning in response to another Christian man’s posting!
        2 Corinthians 4:17-18 “For our light and momentary affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory that is far beyond comparison. 18So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
        We must awaken to the obvious and realize what deadly affliction this world provides far beyond any virus or even a bullet; death is the inheritance that is offered here, for all who cling to this place of sin and destruction!
        We look beyond all of the seen world to that which is beyond human material understanding; to where the eternal life awaits for those who believe in the only one who can and will provide it to any of the devoutly faithful who follow Jesus Christ our Savior! Amen.
        This is quite clear to me in just this verse of Scripture.
        “Turn to me and be saved,
        all the ends of the earth!
        For I am God, and there is no other.
        By myself I have sworn;
        from my mouth has gone forth in righteousness
        a word that shall not return:
        “To me every knee shall bow,
        every tongue shall swear.”
        Isaiah 45:23 (NRSV)
        Then we of course know what is stated in Exodus again clearly pointing out what has happened in previous visitations and will again!
        Exodus 13:20–22 “20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.”
        I always remembered what God told Moses how no man may look upon His face and live; at least we know that in this flesh form being imperfect and not part of God eternal Glory as yet we cannot cross over into that true connected presence and remain here in this flesh, but when we die and our immortal souls go before God to be judged I believe we are of course then truly and totally in his presence and divine glory.
        God did have to hide Moses in a nook in the cliff and have His Almighty Glory pass by, because Moses would surely have died and Moses only saw a partial or muted vision of God’s awesome power and presence; as stated only God’s back or after His passing by a Remnant of His Omnipotent Holy Glory!
        Just today as I rode my mountain bike through town I stopped at the side of a road in the severe heat as I came upon a nice lady walking her dog by this Catholic Church. Me being an animal advocate and best friend of all dogs as I put it, I had to ask about the dog which turned out to be 3 and just adopted which was another factor that added to several others making it perfectly clear that we were meant to meet at that very spot and moment! Turned out she attends a Baptist Church in the area which I once visited after having met a very nice elderly woman in the grocery market with whom I had a very inspiring conversation about Jesus; she then asked me to visit the Church that coming Sunday which I did! Turned out the Pastor really hit it off with me as well, and he introduced me to all the parishioners after which I had attended the services there several times not too much before the global upheaval. As I hadn’t been there in a couple of years especially due to the plandemic madness this meeting today was obviously God’s doing as this woman and I talked extensively about our faith and views on world events, but also our fondness of dogs! I can’t go into it all here but suffice it to say that there were so many inspiring connections at work in this meeting that I still have much to pray on and consider about it all! She did mention some very specific topics that I had actually been talking with a sister of mine earlier in the day about, and especially how so much is happening or out of control it seems with world events and how people are behaving so badly even diabolically or demonically influenced which indicates how things are coming to a head!
        Then she said in response to what I was saying about that; “how God is going to roll this world all up like a carpet as foretold in the Book of Revelation;” so I find it very profound that this happened today and so miraculously and I know you would agree if you knew all of the details of how this meeting happened today in split second timing or all preceding events that made it fall into place; and there is no way it wasn’t a Godsend event; again! So now to add to this here I am in the evening before retiring finding this interesting connection of dots once again with Sister Joanne’s fine article about “God’s visitations” and who also shows up at this juncture, but my Brother/Friend Baldmichael! And all of this after I had some very mysterious quite unusually profound dream last night of a religious and spiritual journey nature; where I was speaking to a man and showing him my blessed crucifix as he needed to journey to a special location and I was going to pray for him!
        I will say this to add to this awe and mystery; this woman that I met today said she could see that the Lord is speaking to me and I agreed as there is so much of this connecting of dots going on lately and I’m feeling compelled to seek! I had just brought up this week on a couple of occasions, how many years ago a woman I met in California when I was working there told me about the novel The Celestine Prophecy and I may not agree with all of the thinking in it but I do know how God does send people into our lives when we need help or to find out something; and what I’ve come to call in recent years a connecting of dots through converging conversations! Not happenstance but divine intervention!
        https://lawrencemorra.com/2020/02/15/money-is-the-root-of-all-evil/
        So here we are and I thank you for the opportunity; to all be touched by God’s Holy Spirit and that we get closer to our Lord Jesus Christ as we seek to do the will of our Father in heaven.
        Exodus 14:24–25 24 And in the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging2 their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”
        https://biblia.com/bible/images/640×480/Jos1.9?extension=png&fallbackOnFailure=false
        God bless you!
        Brother in Christ Jesus,
        Lawrence
        Yes Archangel Michael and all of his army of angels are on the way in a sense now because it has been all prophesied and laid out for anyone who is interested and following our Lord to have understanding of what is coming. Amen.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. What a holy moment God gave to you Brother Lawrence, bringing so many different experiences–your conversation with the woman and her dog, the dream, other things you have been thinking and reading about–al together. I think this must have been at least part of what it was like to be a prophet (and perhaps still is, for I believe God raises up prophets to this day).

        Given enough time and enough thought, I think God gives us the opportunity to see earth and all in it with something of a heavenly perspective.

        Right now, David and I are in Israel, and we are watching from afar what is happening in the U.S. (where we live) in response to a recent decision of our judicial Supreme Court. We take note that the angry people are given more air time than the thankful people. Why? Is it more interesting news? Or is there something happening in the spiritual realm spurring that anger, and fostering sympathy for it in the press?

        My posts stay with the text of the Bible, and with ancient history. That said, the Biblical text does talk about what we think are only modern day topics, and the prophetic voices of antiquity have a word we need to hear today!

        Grace and peace, Joanne

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Hello Sister Joanne! So good to receive your perspective from Israel where I’m sure that you and David are sure to gain special Graces and Insights during your visit there!

        I very much appreciate your knowledgeable/historical perspective about my Sunday culmination of experiences, persons, events and dreams that coalesced in a very profound perhaps one might say mystical way but I know it is God that directs these things for His omnipotent purposes and I’m so thankful to be a humble servant in whatever way He wills; as I’m still in my own eyes just a lowly sinner and broken human being, but I know I should try hard to be strong in giving up my own will for His, it’s just part of the respect and reverence I am obligated to give our Father in heaven in Jesus’ holy name!

        So important, all you said here; which I take very seriously and this stood out.

        “Or is there something happening in the spiritual realm spurring that anger, and fostering sympathy for it in the press?”

        I have thought about this fact or realization of how much anger and hate is flowing from specific groups of people many of which absolutely reject Jesus Christ and then the many who fraudulently say they are Christians and are nothing of the kind but are blasphemers.

        This does distinctly tell me that in the spiritual realm indeed the battle is beginning to take shape or some kind of form, that we of course don’t see but can be sure the influence of the demonic is rapidly expanding and growing amongst the human race, as so many are becoming willing vessels or agents of this diabolical evil running rampant in all layers of social strata! The most obvious being in the Mass Media and Governments that have become so viciously corrupted and I’m sad to say quite antichrist, which is something I said for some years now how there is an active antichrist movement in place.

        As for example we observe top level political and military figures that are obviously very disturbed and totally unvirtuous individuals, being the polar opposite of what their predecessors in those high ranking positions emulated as well as projected in their actions over the decades and centuries! They now aren’t even being a cheap facsimile of the past heroic and Godly men and women who occupied such stations.

        Then there is of course this to be so thankful for!

        “Given enough time and enough thought, I think God gives us the opportunity to see earth and all in it with something of a heavenly perspective.”

        Thank you for affirming this point which is something I’ve thought about or actually have become aware of by my own personal experience and realization that God’s absolute presence is around us and how I’ve become more aware of how my life is not my own; but truly I must admit I’m nothing without Him, as all that I can be or desire to do with this opportunity bestowed upon me to exist in this miracle is only to serve Him! When all is said and done He absolutely is the only one that can provide all that is good to His beloved!

        1 Corinthians 2:8-10 “8None of the rulers of this age understood it. For if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9Rather, as it is written: “ No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined, what God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10But God has revealed it to us by the Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.”

        Again thank you for this opportunity! God’s abundant love and blessings to both of you while Jesus walks with both of you on your journey in the Holy Land. Amen. I didn’t know that you had already arrived there so the dream I had the night before last seems to connect for sure as it was religious and of a holy nature and the man I spoke to had a beard, which is something I have these days, and all of my life never did before; a simple additional connection amongst these many things!
        Shalom.

        Brother in Christ Jesus,
        Lawrence

        Liked by 2 people

      6. Shalom, Sister/Professor Joanne! Thank again and again for everything! God bless both of you and your family! Oh yes, I pray and my heart yearns that our heavenly Father will bring His shalom to us very soon I ask in Jesus’ name; oh please dear Lord! Amen.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Joanne

    Many thanks for your post. As you will see, I know Lawrence quite well. You will also see what I think re John and his meaning in my comment to Lawrence. Hope that’s OK.

    Kind regards

    Baldmichael Theresoluteprotector’sson
    Please excuse the nom-de-plume, this is as much for fun as a riddle for people to solve if they wish.

    Liked by 2 people

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