Letter To The Jews / Chapter 35

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35: Coming On The Clouds

And now, let us return to the riddle of how the king of Israel can come humbly on a donkey, and gloriously on the clouds of heaven.

It is not dependent on whether Israel is righteous or unrighteous. It is not the case that one will be fulfilled and the other will not. YHWH does not speak in vain. Israel's king comes on a donkey, and also on the clouds.

Neither does it require two Messiahs, but only one, if we accept that he must first of all be humbled and suffer, which is the pattern of YHWH's means of salvation in times past, and which foreshadowed how he would bring salvation in later days.

For Joseph was YHWH's means of preserving Israel, and the one to whom his brothers would bow down; and yet he was first thrown into a pit by them, and sold into slavery. And David was YHWH's anointed one, out of whom would spring the one you are seeking, and yet David was despised and suffered, even after being anointed.

YHWH's ultimate means of salvation, the one whom the nation of Israel abhorred, would also have to die the death of the suffering servant, in order to bear the iniquities of many, both of Jews, and of Gentiles who cannot benefit from sacrifices under the law of Moses.

But unlike the nation of Israel, this man would be crushed willingly, for he would “act wisely” and make many righteous “by his knowledge,” which could also mean that many become righteous because of their knowledge of him.

As when a serpent strikes a man in the heel, in a symbolic sense this man would be wounded “in the heel,” to become the means by which the curse of death could be lifted. As a result, he would have the authority to crush the serpent, the cause of death, “in the head,” which neither Israel nor the Law could do.

And he would have to be raised up from the dead, in order to fulfill the last part of the prophecy about the suffering, despised servant, and to take on death for us all. His resurrection would be a token and guarantee that humans could be raised from death to life.

Now, let us look at Daniel’s vision of the king coming on the clouds: “I was watching in the visions of the night, and look! one like a son of man was coming with the clouds of the heavens; and to the Ancient of Days he approached, and they brought him before him. And to him were given dominion, glory and kingdom; and all the peoples, nations and language groups will serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be destroyed.” 1

In saying “one like a son of man,” or a son of mortals, it suggests this man is from the earth. So then, how does he get to come on the clouds and be brought before YHWH himself? Only if YHWH first takes him from the earth!

And YHWH has already provided two witnesses, to testify that he can lift men from the earth. For Enoch did not die a natural death, but was taken by God; and Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind, and YHWH promised to send him to you again.

Furthermore, the first time Elijah was here, the rulers of Israel wanted to kill him, and he considered his mission to be a failure; but YHWH revealed to him that a remnant had been preserved. This, as well as the taking up and promised return of Elijah, is also a pattern for the “son of man,” who must first be taken from the earth, in order to come on the clouds.

Elsewhere, speaking about a series of kingdoms that would rule the earth until they get destroyed by a “stone,” Daniel says: “In the days of these kings, the God of the heavens will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed; and the kingdom will not be left to other people. It will smash and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it will stand forever, just as you saw that out of the mountain a stone was cut out not by hands.” 2

Now, as to when this eternal kingdom is founded, the account is ambiguous, as if it is being developed all through the days of those kings. It also does not say where it is located; but since both a court and the “son of man” himself seem to be in heaven, it might be that this kingdom is founded in heaven; or at least, is not bound by geography, as are kingdoms that can be destroyed.

And when the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, was divinely punished to live as an animal for “seven times,” that is, 7 years, the purpose was “that those living will know that the Most High is ruler in the kingdom of men, and that he gives it to whomever he wants, setting up over it even a lowly one of men.” 3

While it is true that Nebuchadnezzar was greatly humbled by this experience, he was hardly a lowly man. But the “son of man,” if he is the same despised one Isaiah writes about, the one who “did not open his mouth” while being led “as a lamb to the slaughter,” would fit this description perfectly.

And “seven times” would cryptically be the length of time to pass before he would be given the kingdom over all peoples, nations and language groups. This would need to be much longer than just 7 years, and is therefore the reason for the ambiguous term “seven times” instead of “seven years,” just as “seventy sevens” was used to cryptically mean 490 years; because the “son of man” would first need to become a “light of Gentiles” and YHWH's “salvation to the end of the earth,” to prepare the earth for his own rulership.

Now, what type of salvation could this be? Surely the greatest form of salvation would be rescue from death itself, by which we are all ultimately held as prisoners. But this would not happen immediately, for people would rest in death first, just as Daniel was told: “But you, go to the end; for you will rest, and will stand up for your lot at the end of the days.” 4 That death is described as “rest” is YHWH's assurance of an awakening from that state, at an appointed time.

But as for Zion and the holy place, they would be trampled on by the Gentiles for a long time, and the people of Israel would be without their king, as Hosea says:

“For many days the sons of Israel will dwell without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without a monument, and without a sacred vest and household idols. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek YHWH their God, and David their king, and they will be in awe of YHWH and his goodness in the last days.” 5

A little later, YHWH explains through Hosea why this would be the case. “I will go, and return to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt, and seek my face. In their distress, they will seek me eagerly.” 6

And so, one of the conditions of YHWH coming back is that they “acknowledge their guilt,” which is in contrast to the teaching that the nation of Israel itself is the suffering servant who did no wrong.

Then the people of Israel speak to one another: “Come, and let us return to YHWH, for he has torn to pieces, but he will heal us. He struck us, but he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us. On the third day he will raise us up, and we will live before him.” 7

Now, this must be speaking cryptically, for elsewhere, it is said of YHWH that “a thousand years in your eyes are as yesterday when it is past, and a watch in the night.” 8 Certainly your people were without the things necessary to be a nation before him for “two days.”

While that was a long time from a human perspective, it was just a few days to YHWH. And so we see how YHWH has an appointed time for all things. For the raising up and living before him is appointed for “the third day.”

1 Daniel 7:13,14. 2 Daniel 2:44,45. 3 Daniel 4:14 (4:17). 4 Daniel 12:13. 5 Hosea 3:4,5. 6 Hosea 5:15. 7 Hosea 6:1,2. 8 Psalm 90:4.

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