Has Jesus Already Come?
Question: Some Bible teachers claim that Revelation 1:7 was already fulfilled in the past as a reference to God’s judgment on Jerusalem in AD 70. To prove their point they quote our Lord’s words to Caiaphas in Matthew 26:64: “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” If Caiaphas is going to actually see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven, that coming must refer to something that has already happened long ago.
Answer: Preterists love to tell those who will listen to them that Revelation 1:7 was already fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem. They will invariably take you to Isaiah 19:1 where the prophet says the Lord is riding on a cloud and coming to destroy the idols of Egypt, and that this figure of the Lord riding on a cloud signifies judgment.
Well, they are right about that. Jesus is coming in judgment. But Isaiah 19:1 is localized. It speaks about judgment on Egypt. Revelation 1:7, however, is universal. It doesn’t speak about judgment on Jerusalem, as preterists contend. Rather it says: “and every eye shall see him . . . and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.”
So yes, I agree that Revelation 1:7 speaks about Jesus coming in judgment, but it was not fulfilled in AD 70, or in any previous time.
Question: What did Jesus mean when He told Caiaphas that he would see the Son of man “sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven”?
Answer: There is no doubt that Caiaphas would see Jesus coming in judgment. However, there is no valid reason to believe that Caiaphas would see Jesus coming in judgment in AD 70.
When the Lord Jesus Christ returns to earth, two things will happen. There will be blessings for those who believe; and there will be woe and suffering for those who don’t. Philippians 2:10 tells us: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.” Jesus is telling Caiaphas that His messianic identity will be acknowledged even by unbelieving Caiaphas himself.
This is really the issue in our Lord’s discussion with Caiaphas. Caiaphas doesn’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah. But Jesus is saying that one day Caiaphas will believe. In fact, Caiaphas will be able to do nothing else.
This is the major weakness of the preterist interpretation of this passage in Matthew 26. If Jesus were referring to AD 70, how would the destruction of Jerusalem prove anything about Jesus as the Messiah to Caiaphas? When the Romans came and destroyed the Temple, no one saw Jesus. Nothing was demonstrated to unbelievers about our Lord’s messianic identity. In their zeal to prove their point, preterists have missed the whole point.