And Every Eye Will See Him

Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth [land] will mourn because of Him.”

This passage from Revelation 1:7 is often read by Christians—out of context—and assume that it is a future event. (“Obviously, this hasn’t happened yet!”) The preterist view, popular views not withstanding, is that this happened in AD 70 when Jesus “came in judgment” against apostate Israel. It would be helpful, as a prerequisite, to read my other articles including, “When Was Revelation Written” and “Revelation: Its Central Theme Illuminated” in section B at my website:

Articles on Eschatology – Prophecy Questions

In understanding this passage, we must grasp the context, where we find several qualifiers that present difficulties for the futurist view, but perfectly fit the preterist view. We first note that it is in the context of critical time-statements that limit the time of fulfillment of the events of Revelation. There are some 30 passages at the beginning, middle, and end of Revelation that demand an imminent fulfillment soon after the book was written in the 60’s AD. The opening sentence in the book tells us that it is about events that MUST shortly take place. We also see that the time was near, Jesus would come quickly/soon, and these things were about to happen.

The cloud language will jump out at the serious student of prophecy. It is the same language used in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:29-34) where Jesus says all prophecy would be fulfilled in his generation, in conjunction with the destruction of the temple (Matthew 24:2-3). Such language is reflective of how God came numerous times in the Old Testament—on clouds of glory—usually in judgment against his enemies. (Examples include Psalm 18:4-15 and Isaiah 19:1-22.) These comings of God were real, even though nobody visually saw Him. Jesus was emphasizing his own divine authority, as his “coming” would be similar in nature to that of Yahweh.

“Tribes” (also in the Olivet Discourse, Matthew 24:30) can only mean the tribes of Israel—those who pierced Him—so this ties to local Israel in the first century. The word translated as “earth” is the Greek word ge. In other places, it is translated as “country,” “district,” or “land,” thus having a regional connotation (Matthew 9:31; Acts 7:3; etc.). So clearly, the events John foresaw were to be local rather than global.

We should see how the statement, “those who pierced him,” connects to prophecies of Jesus such as in Matthew 26:64 where He tells the Jewish leaders that they would see Him coming on clouds of heaven. Given this context, it seems best to understand seeing in the sense of revelation rather than literal sight. Isaiah 40: 5 says, “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” Elsewhere we find the concept of “to look upon” God in the sense of profound earnest regard or to “look to the Messiah as the source of salvation.” See Zechariah 12:10. In a similar way many passages in John’s gospel speak of faith in terms of “seeing” (John 6:40; etc.).

What about “every eye” seeing Him?” The words “all” or “every” are often used in Scripture as hyperbole for emphasis rather than in a literal sense. (Examples include: Matthew 2:3; 8:34; 10:22; Mark 1:5; 9:23; Luke 2:1). Should we really understand from this text that the Eskimos in Alaska would see Jesus standing in Jerusalem? I don’t really think so. The interpretive principle of audience relevance helps us understand that the prophecies of Revelation applied to those in the first century in the region of Judea and the Roman world.

Yet, in a more literal sense, consider an amazing event related by Josephus (from The Wars of the Jews, Book 6 (6.5.3) of seeing chariots in the clouds in about AD 66 near the start of the Jewish-Roman War:

“Besides these [signs], a few days after that feast, on the one-and-twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Jyar,] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, CHARIOTS and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the CLOUDS, and surrounding of cities. Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the] temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, ‘Let us remove hence.’”

In addition to Josephus—Tacitus, Eusebius, and the Jewish Talmud mentioned this phenomenon! (Tacitus Histories (Book 5), Eusebius Ecclesiastics History (Book 3, Chapter 8, Sections 1-6), Sepher Yosippon A Mediaeval History of Ancient Israel (Chapter 87, “Burning of the Temple”).

Perhaps we should take this with a grain of salt, but this is an astounding account of an event reportedly witnessed by many people. It should not be discounted. The sight of the soldiers and chariots in the clouds surrounding cities could be interpreted as the Second Coming. This satisfies the visibility requirement.

In sum, Revelation 1:7 was fulfilled with Jesus’ coming in judgment against old-covenant Israel with the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 66-70.


For more about the book of Revelation and related prophecies, see the articles in section B at this website.

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