What does Jesus returns on the clouds mean? That’s a great question. Let’s look at this verse in the Bible from the book of Revelation.
From Jesus Christ… the firstborn from the dead… To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood… Look! He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him.
These Clouds Announce a Deity
These clouds don’t rain; they’re the glory clouds that accompany God’s throne and announce the presence of a deity. In this case, the risen Jesus appears, and He’s God Himself.
God the Father
“I watched until the … Ancient of Days (God the Father) was seated, … and the hair of His head like the pure wool. His throne was like the fiery flame, and its wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came out from before Him. The judgment was set, and the books were opened (Daniel 7:9-10).”
When Will Jesus Return to Earth On the Clouds?
Jesus the King
The event described in the passage above will happen at the end of the future tribulation time when Jesus receives His Kingdom and reigns over the earth, as described below.
Jesus the Son of Man
An Everlasting Dominion
“There was one like a Son of Man (Jesus) coming with the clouds of heaven. He came to the Ancient of Days …. There was given to Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples… should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion … and His kingdom shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).”
Daniel tells us that this Son of Man who comes with the clouds of heaven is God.
Jesus will Return with the Clouds
When Jesus’ disciples ask Him how and when He’ll return, Jesus answers by giving His Olivet Discourse. He says,
“But in those days, after that distress, … the powers that are in heaven will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory (Mark 13:24-26).”
The table below lists other times the Bible visualizes God coming in the glory clouds:
Table: Passage that Portray God Coming with His Glory Clouds
|1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
|For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven … and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up (raptured) together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we shall be forever with the Lord.
|And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spoke to him (Moses), and took of the Spirit that was on him, and gave it to the seventy elders.
|While they (Jesus’ disciples) looked, He (Jesus) was taken up. And a cloud received Him from their sight. … two men (angels) stood by them …. They said, “Men of Galilee, why stand looking toward heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you to heaven, will come … as you saw Him go into heaven.”
|A whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud with fire flashing forth continually … and in its midst, something as glowing metal in the midst of the fire.
|I (Satan) will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”
|So he (God) cut out two tablets of stone like the first, and Moses … went up to Mount Sinai…and took in his hand the two tablets of stone. Then the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord.
|The Lord said to Moses, “Indeed, I am going to come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and always believe in you.”
Jesus Confesses He is God’s Son
Jesus Before the High Priest
The high priest at Jesus’ trial sought a reason to condemn Jesus. He couldn’t find one until he asked the following direct question:
“Again the high priest asked Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One (Mark 14:62)?”
The High Priest Before Jesus
Jesus turned the tables on the high priest, saying,
“Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven. (Mark 14:63)”
He heard Jesus say He’d judge the priest at the final judgment. He’d come while sitting at the Father’s right hand and coming with the clouds of glory:
The High Priest’s Judgment
The high priest tore his robes, saying, “What need do we have of any further witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy (Mark 14:64).”
The high priest knew exactly what Jesus claimed. He was God’s Son, which made Him equal to God. And He came with the glory clouds that accompany God’s throne, wherever it goes. Someday He will judge all of us, and at His Name, every knee will bow:
Every Knee Will Bow Before Jesus When He Returns On the Clouds
“Therefore God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.