ARLINGTON, Va., May 15, 2012 – The Bible promises that Christ will come again to the earth. When he returns, will he come one day “on the clouds,” that is, will he suddenly appear literally in the sky? With genuine respect for those who are convinced otherwise, there is actually a great deal of evidence suggesting that he will come in a way similar to the manner in which he came the first time, as a man born in the natural way on earth.
In the Book of Revelations there is a famous verse that seems to prophesy Christ appearing in the sky. This is Revelations 1:7, which promises, “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him …” Moreover, Matthew 24: 30-31 seems to predict the same thing, with a similar reference to “clouds.” Of course, a literal interpretation of these verses will lead one to believe that he will appear in the sky.
There are other verses however, that suggest a physical birth. One of them is Revelations 12:5, which prophesies, “She brought forth a male child, one who was to rule all the nations with a rod of iron [Word of God], but her child was caught up to God and to his throne.”
In another verse, Jesus himself predicts Christ’s return by declaring, “But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation” (Luke 17:25). If Christ literally manifests in the sky such that everyone on earth will see him, who on earth would possibly dare to persecute him? Who would want to attack or oppose him, appearing in such a miraculous and supernatural manner?
On the other hand if he returns in the physical way, it is far more likely that people will fail to recognize him, just as most of Jesus’ contemporaries failed to realize who he was and treated him with disdain, finally going to the extreme of killing him. If Christ comes again in the physical way, it is far more likely that precisely as Jesus predicted, he will initially be “rejected by this generation.”
It is also very interesting to consider an Old Testament prophesy that very likely contributed to making it difficult for those at Jesus’ time to believe in him, because, similar to Revelations 1:7, it seemed to predict that the messiah would come literally out of the sky. Long before Jesus was born from his mother Mary, Daniel had delivered the prophetic declaration, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man …” (Dan. 7:13).
Any devout person of Jesus’ time who was committed to the scriptures might understandably have expected that the much anticipated messiah would be appearing miraculously in the sky. Alas, Jesus did not appear in such a supernatural way. Aside from three wise men, a handful of shepherds and a few others who were directly led by Heaven, Jesus appeared to be no more than an ordinary human baby, born to ordinary, poor and unremarkable parents. Those who clung to a literal understanding of Daniel’s prophesy would have felt the Jesus could not possibly be the messiah.
If the concept of “clouds” in the Bible is symbolic instead of literal, what does it mean? It has been suggested that it refers to people. When water is standing on the ground, it is often very dirty. But when it becomes water vapor and then clouds, the water is purified. The predictions of the messiah coming “on the clouds” could have been meant to suggest that he will be surrounded by people, either spiritual or physical or both, who have turned their lives around and are working to support the messianic mission.
If God and Jesus choose to accomplish the return of Christ through the natural birth of a man on the earth, it may be as difficult for people to recognize him as it was for people to recognize Jesus.
Suppose Christ does come again, born as a man on the earth? Is there any one of us who can with absolute certainty declare what he will look like? Will he be tall or short? Will he have black hair, brown hair or blond hair? Who can confidently describe the color of his eyes, the shape of his face or the language that he will speak?
Is it within the realm of possibility that he might be African, or Central American or Asian? Surely the wise thing to do is to pray earnestly for God’s guidance, to search for answers and to maintain an alert and open mind!
To find more discussion of the return of Christ from the Divine Principle viewpoint, visit: http://www.unification.net/dp96/dp96-2-6.html#Chap6
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