Sunday, October 28, 2012

Part 1 How did the new Gentiles members of the Church miss the NATURE of His Parousia?

If Christ returned as he promised the (High Priest, Caiaphas, you will) "see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. (Matthew 26:59-65) How did the new Gentiles members of the Church miss the NATURE of His Parousia?

Historical background. By the time of Christ and early Christianity started the nation of Israel had been under the domination of the Roman Empire for several decades. Jews had legal privileges because their ancestral laws predated Rome. Jews had legal privileges giving them the right to assemble, in the "Synagogue" have common meals own property, govern them self and enforce their own discipline.

When the word "Synagogue" is mentioned in Scripture it is important to note this is not simply some building. The Synagogue was the only place for teaching scripture and where the members of Israel could hear the Scriptures read from their Old Testament other than (the actual Temple in Jerusalem). Leaders were also responsible for schooling children, in the Mosaic, law among other things. Jesus went to the Synagogue on the Sabbath day as it was his custom. And he stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. (Luke 4:16-17)

All authority was placed under the auspices of the Synagogue and its legal body, the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a unique ruling body in Israel in the time of Jesus. The Sanhedrin was comprised of 70 men, plus the high priest, who served as its president. The Sanhedrin had its own police force which could arrest people, as they did Jesus Christ. Some of their authority, including judgement and punishment. As seen in the illegal trials of Christ. (Mark 14:54-55)

While the Sanhedrin heard both civil and criminal cases and could impose the death penalty, in New Testament times it did not have the authority to execute convicted criminals. That power was reserved to the Romans, which explains why Jesus was crucified—a Roman punishment—rather than stoned, according to Mosaic law.

The nation of Israel was only non-pagan religious group in the Roman empire who did not worship the gods of Rome as every other conquered people were forced to do. And they were despised by the rest of the Roman people for their religious practices. The Roman culture with their “gods”stood in great contrast to that of the Israel and their God Jehovah.

GENTILES ENTERING THE EARLY CHURCH.

In the midst of a Roman Empire society a Christian society was founded on the Day of Pentecost in Jerusalem 30AD. (Acts 2) Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost was entirely Jewish, quoting the prophets and the Psalmist David, and would have meant nothing to any Gentiles standing around, if there were any. The 3000 people who were saved that day would have been all Jewish. (Acts 2:1-41) A very noticeable minority.

In the earliest years of Christianity the Church was consisted of only Jews for the first ten years. The book of Acts makes it clear that the first Christians were Jewish and went to the Temple in Jerusalem, attended synagogue services, and wanted to remain Jews. They met regularly in the Temple, where Gentiles were excluded (Acts 2:46). The nearest the Gentiles could get was the Court of the Gentiles, that surrounded the Temple

Luke tells the story of the fundamental turning point in the history of the early church. For the first time Gentiles will be directly evangelized and admitted into fellowship with Jewish Christians ten years later. Cornelius (in Greek, Κορνήλιος) was a Roman centurion who is considered to be the first Gentile to convert to the faith, as related in (Acts 10). This section shows that God, through the Holy Spirit, is bringing the Gentiles into his spiritual body, the church. Acts 15:5-11 shows a decision regarding Gentiles coming into the Church.

There were minimal requirements for Gentiles who were evangelized and became a part of the body of Christ. However, Gentiles who made the conversion to Judaism had the SAME laws applied to them such as circumcision to become a member among the nation of Israel. (Exodus. 12:48-49; Numbers.9: 14;) Such gentiles were regarded as"proselyte.”

Some of the proselyte Jesus said the Jews traveled land and sea to win, but when they won, one they make him twice as much a son of hell as themselves. (Matthew 23:15) This did not apply to all proselyte however. See Acts 6:3-6.

The Gentiles proselyte that converted to Judaism were regular Synagogue attendees. While the evangelized Gentiles were not previously regular Synagogue attendees. These Gentiles Christians had no background in the Old Testament Levitical laws or an understanding of the prophetic apocalyptic and metaphoric language that was used.

Rather, they entered their "new faith" directly from the pagan Roman world, full of its anti-Jewish prejudices, As new "believers," they knew very little about God and Israel’s Messiah, and virtually nothing of the Torah and how God’s prophets used apocalyptic and metaphoric language. It would be foolish to think that new Gentile Christians had time to understand all that was written in the Torah and Israel’s prophetical writing. There was no "corner bookstore" for them to purchase a copy of the Old Testament and go home and read and study it.

Ever the Jews have had trouble with the elementary principles of Christ. (Hebrew 5:12-14; 6:1-3.) The need for “milk” in this context is an indictment of the reader’s spiritual maturity. Needing “milk” indicates spiritual infancy. Just what is “milk” and “solid food” in this context? The author of Hebrew for example wishes to teach his readers about Jesus’ priesthood. This entails going in-depth regarding the order of Melchizedek, biblical typology and fulfillment, and applying the significance of these truths to their current situation. These theological truths are considered “meaty stuff” and, thus, solid food. These truths were necessary to hear, understand, and heed, in order to avoid the temptation in their midst – returning to the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant.

“Milk,” on the other hand, is synonymous with the “elementary principles of the oracles of God” (vs. 12). These would be considered the “basics” one learns upon initiation into the New Covenant community. The most compelling definition comes through reading the immediate context. In chapter 6:1-2, the author exhorts: “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.” (Hebrews 6:1-2)

These are the “elementary principles” of the New Covenant. These are the “foundation” of the faith. These truths are the “milk” of which all believers partake. The author of Hebrews is “describing in no uncertain terms a level of immaturity among his Jewish readers. Spiritually, they are like babies still suckling at a mother’s breast, unconcerned with the rich, hearty foods of the adults’ table.

The people of God are called to grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews desire was the maturity of his readers in the Gospel.

So if these Jewish believers were still babies. Remember the Jews had been keepers of the written law for 15.000 years. There is no way the Gentiles who had no background in the Old Testament understood the prophetic apocalyptic and metaphorical language in such a short time.

CHANGING TIMES.

After the destruction of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel. There was a split between Jews and Gentiles, which brought with it the beginning of Christian anti-Judaism, anti-Jewish sentiments. Christianity attacked the old religion as fiercely as it could, including demonization.

Anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews began to creep into the church toward the Jews just because they were Jewish. The Jews were demonized because of the crucifixion of Christ. More on this part of history in my next article.

The church became greatly influenced by Gentile thinking such as the Church, was God’s plan B after the Jews rejected their Messiah. However the birth of the early first century Church was brought about from within the womb of Judaism. Salvation is of the Jews. (John 4:22) Paul was a saved Jew and member of Israel who had come to Christ and who would never be cast out (John 6:37) The Church was thoroughly Jewish from its earliest days (since there were no Gentiles in it from 32 to 42). When the Gentiles did begin to come into the church it was at the council in Jerusalem. ( Acts 15)

Along with the gentile influence came the idea of the “end of the literal world” and last days of the New Covenant ever though Hebrew states the New Covenant is everlasting. (Hebrews 13:20) In order to determine how the phrase “last days” was originally used in the Hebrew Scriptures. We will consider the first usage of the phrase "last days" and consider those who are primarily addressed:

Genesis 49:1 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. So, it is clear that Israel is the subject of Jacob ‘s swan song about the last days and the last days concern the Jews.

Moses confirms that in the latter days the Jews would be ultimate scattered among the nations. Deuteronomy 4:27 And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you. Deuteronomy 4:30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice.

And what about the end of the world?

And He built His sanctuary like the heights, Like the earth, which He has established forever. (Psalms 78:69)

You who laid the foundations of the earth, So that it should not be moved forever, (Psalms 104:5)

Your faithfulness endures to all generations; You established the earth, and it abides. (Psalms 119:90)

One generation passes away, and another generation comes; But the earth abides forever. (Ecclesiastes 1:4)

Ephesians 3:21KJV Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

So Gentiles who became a part of God’s Israelis starting teaching (different concept about scripture) and the (nature of the coming/Parousia of Christ) that was totally alien to the teaching of the Old Testament.



Part 2 How did the new Gentiles members of the Church miss the NATURE of His Parousia?

If Christ returned as he promised the (High Priest, Caiaphas, you will) "see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. (Matthew 26:59-65) How did the new Gentiles members of the Church miss the NATURE of His Parousia?

After Jerusalem’s destruction there is evidence that anti-Judaism, anti-Jewish sentiments. Whatever its source, became a prominent aspect of Christian thought and life.


The Deicide charge is deeply in the anti-Judaism that began to infect through the church, in the early centuries of Christianity. “In the earliest centuries of the Christian era, preexisting pagan antagonism toward the Jew was replaced by the conviction that Jews, all Jews, were forever responsible for murdering God. This anti-Jewish attitude became a permanent element in the fundamental identity of Western Christian civilization.”

Some examples of anti-Jewish attitudes of this period: The emperor Constantine adopted a policy of Jewish segregation so that faithful Christians “would not be polluted by Jewish false teachings.” The church father Origen declared that “… the blood of Jesus falls not only on the Jews of that time, but on all generations of Jews up to the end of the world.” John Chrysostom, (344-407 A.D.) – One of the "greatest" of church fathers; known as "The Golden Mouthed." a bitterly anti-Jewish church father, A missionary preacher famous for his sermons and addresses. The synagogue is worse than a brothel… it is the den of scoundrels and the repair of wild beasts… the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults… the refuge of brigands and debauchees, and the cavern of devils. It is a criminal assembly of Jews… a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ… a house worse than a drinking shop… an den of thieves, a house of ill fame, a dwelling of iniquity, the refuge of devils, a gulf and an abyss of perdition."…"I would say the same things about their souls… As for me, I hate the synagogue… I hate the Jews for the same reason. From "The Roots of Christian Anti-Semitism" by Malcolm Hay.

St. Augustine (c. 354-430 A.D.), Confessions, 12.14 How hateful to me are the enemies of your Scripture! How I wish that you would slay them (the Jews) with your two-edged sword, so that there should be none to oppose your word! Gladly would I have them die to themselves and live for you!

Peter the Venerable – known as "the meekest of men, a model of Christian charity." Yes, you Jews. I say, do I address you; you, who till this very day, deny the Son of God. How long, poor wretches, will ye not believe the truth? Truly, I doubt whether a Jew can be really human… I lead out from its den a monstrous animal, and show it as a laughing stock in the amphitheater of the world, in the sight of all the people. I bring thee forward, thou Jew, thou brute beast, in the sight of all men. From "The Roots of Christian Anti-Semitism" by Malcolm Hay

Martin Luther – 1543 On The Jews and Their Lies. What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews? Since they live among us and we know about their lying and blasphemy and cursing, we can not tolerate them if we do not wish to share in their lies, curses, and blasphemy. In this way we cannot quench the inextinguishable fire of divine rage nor convert the Jews. We must prayerfully and reverentially practice a merciful severity. Perhaps we may save a few from the fire and flames of hell. We must not seek vengeance. They are surely being punished a thousand times more than we might wish them. Let me give you my honest advice.

First, their synagogues should be set on fire, and whatever does not burn up should be covered or spread over with dirt so that no one may ever be able to see a cinder or stone of it. And this ought to be done for the honor of God and of Christianity in order that God may see that we are Christians, and that we have not wittingly tolerated or approved of such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of His Son and His Christians. Translated by Martin H. Bertram, "On The Jews and Their Lies, Luther's Works, Volume 47"; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971.

John Calvin. A Response To Questions and Objections of a Certain Jew Their the Jews rotten and unbending stiffneckedness deserves that they be oppressed unendingly and without measure or end and that they die in their misery without the pity of anyone. Excerpt from "Ad Quaelstiones et Objecta Juaei Cuiusdam Responsio," by John Calvin; The Jew in Christian Theology, Gerhard Falk, McFarland and Company, Inc., Jefferson, NC and London, 1931.

To be sure, the early days of Christianity did not tread a smooth path. It wrestled with internal dissension (such as shall the just live by faith) and eschatological disputes, especially over the ("doubts about the imminence of the Lord’s return ) So begins the thinking of a physical body of Jesus desending out of the sky for a second coming??!!!

And theological disputes, over how to describe and define Christ. . Even the settlement of some of those matters — such as whether Christ had one or two natures and whether he was God the Father’s first creation or, rather, was co-eternal with the Father — produced schisms and dissension that threatened to atomize the church.

Now Listen to Kurt Aland another will know Church father as we discover a decisive turning point in the second half of the second century of how the Gentiles tampered with the clear understand of scripture about the return of the Lord and the expectation of that return by the first century saints a watershed decisive for the development of the Christian church.

It was the definite conviction not only of Paul, but of all Christians of that time, that they themselves would experience the return of the Lord; The Apocalypse expresses the fervent waiting for the end withing the circles in which the writer lived-not an expectation that will happen at some unknown point in time, but one in the immediate present. If we browse through the writings of that period we observe that this expectation of the end continued. In fact, we also find ti the writing of the first half of the second century sufficient evidence to indicate that the expectation of the Parousia was by no means at an end then.

At the end of the Didache ("the teaching of the twelve apostles"), from the time shortly after 100, there is, for example, an apocalyptic chapter which corresponds completely in its outline to the Synoptic apocalypse in Mark 13 (and the parallel chapters in the other Synoptic Gospels.); here we can only very cautiously say that it used the same words, but that its content is imperceptibly in the process of change. It quite similar to the Epistle of Barnabas which was written a little later that the Didache, where we read: (The day is near in which everything will perish together with the evil. The Lord ans his recompense are near).

Again and again the old expressions echo. They echo apparently almost unchanged, but ("doubt about the imminence of the Lord’s return is increasingly mixed with them until around the middle of the second century when the Shepherd of Hermas thinks he has found a solution and expresses it with great thoroughness and emphaisi: the Parousia-the Lord’s return-has been postponed for the sake of Christians them selves. The building of the tower has not been stopped,) it is only temporarily suspended. Therefore and this is the warning of the Shepherd of Hermas, on account of which the entire work was really written do good works for your purification, for if you delay too long, the construction of the tower may be finished and you will not be included as stones built into it.

The thought of a postponement of the Parousia appears all through 2 Clement but here it is expressly mentioned for the first time. Thus, about the middle of the second century, a decisive turning point occurs one which can be compared in significance to all other great turning points, including the Reformation. Obviously, we cannot fix this turning point precisely at the year 150, for it took a while until the though caught hold everywhere. But a development does begin with the Shepherd of Hermas which could not be stopped-a development at the end of which we stand today. As soon as the thought of a postponement of the Parousia was uttered once and indeed not only incidentally, but thoroughly presented in an entire writing-it developed its (own life and power).

At first, people looked at it as only a brief postponement, as the Shepherd of Hermas clearly expresses. But soon, as the end of the world did not occur, it was conceived of as a longer and longer period, until finally-this is today’s situation nothing but the thought of a postponement exists in people’s consciousness. (Kurt Aland. A History of Christianity. (2 vols.) Fortress Press: 1985. Vol. 1,pp.89-102

Sense the Gentile’s entered into their "new faith" in Christ directly from the pagan Roman world, full of its anti-Jewish prejudices, and were never associated with the Synagogue were they teach the Torah and prophetical writing such as the apocalyptic and metaphorically language. And Christianity, hostility toward Jews and Judaism became central to religion and the Church for the first time. It would be foolish to think the early Gentile Church took the time to ask any Jew how they understood their Jewish apocalyptic and metaphorically language.

If they were wrestling with a simple concept like the (The just shall live by faith) we know they were also wrestling with the timing of Christ because of the NATURE of his coming/Parousia. So begins the thinking of a physical body of Jesus descending out of the sky for a second coming??!!!

Well they missed the NATURE of the Parousia when Jesus promised the High Priest, Caiaphas, that (he would) "see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven. This prophecy is cut from the same cloth as those in the Old Testament which speak of God in the clouds. No wonder Caiaphas, tears his garment an outward expression of extreme anger towards Jesus. You have heard His blasphemy! (Matthew 26:59-65)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The "Parousia of Christ."

The Jewish rabbis have taunted Christians throughout church history saying Jesus can't be their Messiah, since the Messiah would accomplish redemption, and judgment, in one generation with no gaps, delays, parentheses or postponements.

Notice how various well know the Jewish writer has expressed this. The Jew refused to accept the excuse that the major prophecies concerning the Messiah will only be fulfilled in a "second coming." (He expects the Messiah to complete his mission in his first attempt.) [The Real Messiah Reprinted from Jewish Youth, June 1973 page 15.]

The full establishment of the Kingdom could not be delayed. (The Real Messiah. Reprinted from Jewish Youth, June 1973. Page 15).

Since Jesus did not fulfill the most important Messianic prophecies, they expected Him to return to complete this task in a "second coming." At first, Christians expected that this (second coming) would come very shortly... In their lifetime. When their prayer was not answered they began to hope that it would come a thousand years after Jesus' death. This was the millennium or thousand years kingdom.

Finally, after a thousand years passed and Jesus still had not returned, (they postponed his second coming to an indefinite time). We therefore see that the (early Christians were forced to radically alter the Jewish concept of the Messiah in order to explain Jesus’ failure). This compounded by the pagan influence on the (early church, gave birth to a Messianic concept totally alien to Judaism. [Pinchas Stolper, ed. Pages 32, 33)

You will discover that whenever any really strong question [such as why Jesus hasn't fulfilled all Messianic prophecies]… is asked [of the Christians], the (standard answer is that it refers to the second coming). It therefore becomes extremely important to ascertain the validity of this claim. The success of the Christian claim or its failure (rests to a very large extent on the theory of the second coming). It is clearly an answer born of desperation. [Samuel Levin. You Take Jesus, I Will Take God. Los Angeles 1980. Page 15]

A vital point, totally ignored today, is that the Jewish prophecy never implied two comings divided by centuries. That kind of language is not used by the i.e, Jewish Old Testament prophets. A good book of the Bible that both Jews and Christians accept as highly Messianic is the book of Isaiah. It should become apparent very quickly that Isaiah did not know of any “second coming.” For it is the day of the Lord's vengeance. The year of recompense for the cause of Zion. (Isaiah 34:8) The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me. Because the Lord has anointed Me to (preach good tidings to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives. And the opening of the prison to those who are bound.) To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, And the (day of vengeance) of our God. (Isaiah 61:1-2)

Indeed the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the world, "Say to the daughter of Zion. Surely your (salvation is coming) Behold, His (reward is with Him) And His work before Him." (Isaiah 62:11)

For the (day of vengeance) is in My heart. And the year of My (redeemed has come). (Isaiah 63:4) These are just some of the Old Testament scriptures and there is not one distinction between "a coming in redemption and a coming in vengeance.”

Nowhere do the Old Testament prophets teach a "second coming" to fulfill the rest of the things He was unable to fulfill the first time. They saw one short fulfillment period with two phases to it; a suffering humiliation phase and a victorious consummation phase. They expected the consummation of all these things during one short fulfillment period, according to God's prophets (see Isa. 35:4-6, 40:10, 61:1-2, 62:11, 63:1-6, Zech. 14; and Mal.4:1-6) Reader, God's Jewish prophets who wrote the Old Testament had no such distinction.

Before anyone in our day can make such a distinction that the Lord’s coming was to be separated by a thousand years, they must first show from the Old Testament where God’s inspired prophets taught such an idea. After all, it was Israel’s Jewish prophets who first taught the notion of the Messiah in the first place. And it seems quite reasonable to respect their inspired opinion more than anyone’s opinion today.

If we approach the New Testament apocalyptic language about the Parousia of Christ with a 20th century understanding and not recognize it for what it meant to the Jews living in the first century who knew the Old Testament prophecies, our ability to comprehend it will be doomed to what has become traditional confusion. We must keep in mind that Jesus was Jewish and was familiar with the Jewish prophetic thought.

When God used the means of a nation or people to carry out His judgment, His “presence or parousia” was said to have come in the clouds. "This type of apocalyptic language was well known to all in the Jewish communities. This language was studied by all the congregation of Israel on the Sabbath and in the synagogue. It was passed down and spoken in homes, from generation to generation. That is why Jesus chose to use apocalyptic language as He described His soon return in judgment upon the people of His day.

In Matthew 26:63-65 we read where Jesus promised the High Priest, Caiaphas, that he would "see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven.” This prophecy is cut from the same cloth as those in the Old Testament that speak of an "appearing" of God. By this statement Jesus was claiming to be divine, Israel's Messiah, and the Son of God as stated by the prophet Daniel.

"I was watching in the night visions, And, behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. 14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel.7:13-14).

Caiaphas knew Jesus was quoting Daniel; that is why Caiaphas accused Him of blasphemy. (Matthew 26:65) Jesus' claim to come on the clouds elicited an immediate response "He has spoken blasphemy!" Why did this instigate such a vehement response? Only the God of Israel could ride the clouds of heaven in judgment (Psa. 104:1-3; Isa. 19:1-3; Joel 2:1-2; Nah. 1-3). The inspired apostle John stated that the Jews sought the more to kill Jesus because He was making himself equal to God (John 5:18, 8:58).

As a ruler and High Priest of Israel, a fleshly seed of Abraham, who rejected his Messiah, he would see Jesus return in judgment. A fleshly concept of Jesus coming on the clouds was contrary to the nature of Caiaphas' understanding of the Old Testament prophets.

The Parousia and Deity of Christ.

The Old Testament gives us a very specific definition of the nature of the Parousia, but it has been misused and understood by the religious world and Bible teachers of today.  But honest students of the Word cannot ignore the Biblical language any longer.

Without question, the nature of the Parousia is at the heart and core of the controversy surrounding Covenant Eschatology. Did Jesus predict that He was to return physically, bodily, on literal clouds at the (end of time), or did He predicts a "spiritual" coming at the (time of the end) of Biblical Judaism?

The key to understanding any passage of Scripture has always been a good grasp of their language, culture, and historical setting in which Scripture was ORIGINALLY written.

In order to understand the manifestation or Parousia of the "Son of man" on the "clouds of heaven," one must understand the language of Israel's Old Testament prophets.  After all it was Israel’s Jewish prophets who first taught the notion of the Parousia in the first place.  It seems quite reasonable to respect their opinion more than anyone’s opinion today.

In Biblical language, "clouds" are symbolic of God's wrath and judgment against the enemies of God's people. David said that the Lord delivered him from his enemies while descending on the clouds. (Please read Psalm. 18:3-15). Of course, clouds also speak of God's majesty and divine presence and power.

In the Old Testament, Jehovah came many times.  He came on the clouds, with fire, with angels, in judgment, and "heaven and earth" passed away.  He came when He delivered Israel from Egypt (Exodus 3:8). He came in the fall of Babylon (Isaiah 13-14). He came in the fall of Edom (Isaiah 34). He came with the destruction of Egypt at the hands of the Assyrians (Isaiah 19-20). He came with fire and the shout when He defeated the Assyrians as they besieged Jerusalem (Isaiah 30, 37).

Each of these events was the coming of the Lord. They were "theophanies," manifestations of the majesty and glory of God in judgment. They manifested God's sovereignty and justice (Isaiah 26:9). The fulfillment of His predictions to "come" showed Him to be the true God (Isaiah 41:21f).

When God used the means of a nation or people to carry out a judgment, He was said to come on the clouds.  The Day of the Lord was tumultuous, frightening and awesome. But God did not visibly appear. 

The New Testament unveils or reveals many truths that are in the Old Testament.  One such truth is how God uses the language of clouds.  This apocalyptic language was well known to all in the Jewish and early Christian communities.  This language was studied by all the congregation of Israel on the Sabbath in the synagogue.  It was spoken in homes and by the rulers of Israel.  This is the reason Jesus chose to use apocalyptic language as He described His SOON return to the people of His day.

Notice the language. "I was watching in the night visions, And, behold, One like the Son of Man Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, And they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, Which shall not pass away, And His kingdom the one Which shall not be destroyed. (Daniel. 7:13-14). This is highly Messianic.

The New Testament references to Jesus’ coming with clouds, the majority of scholars agree that Jesus is pointing back to this passage, referring to Himself as the “Son of Man” in Daniel.  Was the main point of Jesus in doing so to assert a “physical, bodily” coming, or was it more to identify Himself with that Son of Man who was to receive glory and a kingdom that would not end or pass away? (See Daniel 7:14). Preterists believe the latter.

Jesus’ claims to identify Himself with Yahweh of the Old Testament.  It confirmed His claims to be the divine Messiah.  In my opinion, this is actually the capstone of the preterist view, that the language of Jesus in describing His Parousia was a bold, undeniable claim to deity.  Does this put Preterism outside of orthodoxy?

The inspired apostle John stated that the Jews sought the more to kill Jesus because He was making Himself equal to God (John 5:18, 8:58).  Only the God of Israel could ride the clouds of heaven in judgment.

Let me also say that preterists will not argue that the Parousia of Christ was literal. In every episode in the Old Testament where God “came” in judgment, it was a literal pouring out of His wrath.  When God came upon Jerusalem in 586 B.C., it was a literal destruction of that city.  So Christ’s Parousia in judgment upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70 – was a literal destroying of the Temple and the literal city.

Now I would like to make some broader observations about this text and compare it to other passages on the coming of Christ.  It is clear that the New Testament teaches that Jesus’ Parousia  was to involve clouds (Matthew 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27). Wanting to interpret Scriptures by the Scriptures (as you rightly insist “that Scripture MUST interpret Scripture”), let us look at some Old Testament passages that would help us to understand the New.

Exodus 16:10 – It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.

Exodus 19:9 – The LORD said to Moses, "Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever." Then Moses told the words of the people of the LORD.

Exodus 34:5 – The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD.

Leviticus 16:2 – The LORD said to Moses: "Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, or he will die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat.”

Numbers 11:25 – Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke to him... Note that in several of these passages, Yahweh is said to have “come,” He “descended,” “came down,” and “appeared.” This is language similar to that which Jesus used in reference to His own Parousia.

Question:  was the “body” of Yahweh seen at these times or was it just that the cloud signified the presence of Yahweh?  Were these manifestations of Yahweh “bodily and physical?” The answer is obvious.

Psalm 18:9-12 – He bowed the heavens also, and came down with thick darkness under His feet. He rode upon a cherub, and flew; and He sped upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness His hiding place, His canopy around Him, darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies.  From the brightness before Him passed His thick clouds, hailstones and coals of fire.

Psalm 97:2-3 – Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Fire goes before Him and burns up His adversaries round about.

Psalm 104:3 – He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters; He makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind...

Isaiah 19:1 – The oracle concerning Egypt.  Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt; the idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them.

Daniel 7:13 – I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him.

Joel 2:1-2 – Blow a trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming; surely it is near, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness.  As the dawn is spread over the mountains, so there is a great and mighty people; there has never been anything like it, nor will there be again after it to the years of many generations.

Nahum 1:3 – The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.  In whirlwind and storm is His way, and clouds are the dust beneath His feet.

Zephaniah 1:14-15 – Near is the great day of the LORD, near and coming very quickly; listen, the day of the LORD! In it the warrior cries out bitterly.  A day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness...

Note also that many of the references to Yahweh coming in or with the clouds has to do with His bringing judgment upon His enemies and those who rebelled against His covenant.  Again, there was no physical, bodily coming of Yahweh at these times.

The contention of the preterist is that Jesus taught that He was going to come “in the glory of His Father” (Matthew 16:27), meaning that His coming was to be in the exact same manner as His Father's was in the Old Testament. This is the language that the people of His generation would understand.  It is the language that the High Priest understood when he charged Jesus with blasphemy (Matthew 26:64-65). They understood that Jesus was identifying Himself with Yahweh Himself and claiming all the glory of deity!

The parousia of Jesus our high priest to complete salvation.

A vital point, totally ignored, in Scripture is that it was never implied in the Old Testament that the High Priest would come out of the tabernacle to bless the people with salvation centuries later.  This kind of language is not used in Scripture. 

The language used to closely connect the High Priest going into the tabernacle once a year to offer a sin offering for himself and for the peoples’ sins, and coming out of the tabernacle to bless the people with the good news that God had accepted the blood offering for their sins another year.

They saw one short fulfillment period with two phases to it; the High Priest is going into the tabernacle to offer the sin offering, and the High Priest coming out of the tabernacle to bless the people with the good news.  They expected the consummation of all these things during one short fulfillment period. 

Aaron, as a Levite, was chosen by the Lord to serve as High Priest, and his sons as under the priests. (Exod. 28:1) God outlined all the arrangements for the consecration of the priesthood. (Exod. 29)

One of the principal duties of the typical priesthood was to offer sacrifices to the Lord to secure his blessing upon the people of Israel.

In Leviticus 9:1-7 we read, It came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel.  And he said to Aaron, "Take for yourself a young bull as a sin offering and a ram as a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the LORD." And to the children of Israel you shall speak, saying, “Take a kid of the goats as a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering, also a bull and a ram as peace offerings, to sacrifice before the LORD, and a grain offering mixed with oil; for today the LORD will appear to you."  So they brought what Moses commanded before the tabernacle of meeting. And all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD.  Then Moses said, "This is the thing which the LORD commanded you to do, and the glory of the LORD will appear to you."  And Moses said to Aaron, "(Go to the altar, offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people). Offer the offering of the people, and make atonement for them, as the LORD commanded."

Here Aaron, as Israel’s High Priest, is going into the second part of the tabernacle to make atonement for himself and for the peoples’ sins (Hebrews 8:7).  Phase one was Aaron going into the tabernacle to make atonement for himself and for the peoples’ sins.

In Leviticus 9:22-23 we read, Then Aaron lifted his hand toward the people, blessed them, and came down from offering the sin offering, the burnt offering, and peace offerings.  And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people.  Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people.  Phase two: Aaron the High Priest had to come out of the tabernacle to bless the people.

Notice here that Israel had no idea their sins were forgiven until Aaron the High Priest came out of the tabernacle to bless the people. (Verses 22,23.)  No one dared go into the tabernacle to see what happened, for fear of death on the spot.

God’s dealings with the priesthood of Israel are important to us because, as shown in the New Testament, they were illustrative, or typical of a higher priesthood consisting of Jesus Christ. Thus, it is clear that in the mind of the writer of Hebrews, the type and shadow of Leviticus 9 are fulfilled in Christ. 

In Hebrews 9:24-26 we read,  For Christ has not entered the holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, (now to appear in the presence of God for us); not that He should offer Himself often, as the High Priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood of another. He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared (to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself).  

Phase one: Jesus entered into the heaven and appeared in the presence of God for us.  Thus fulfilling the type and shadow of Aaron going into the tabernacle to  make atonement for himself and for the peoples’ sins.  In the case of the Aaronic priesthood, animals were offered in sacrifice, but this is not true of the antitypical priesthood, consisting of Jesus.  Instead, Jesus presented himself in sacrifice to God, thus introducing the work of the antitypical priesthood. (Ps. 40:6-8; Heb. 10:7-10)

Then we read in Hebrews 9:28: So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.  Phase two:  Christ comes out of the heavens to bless Israel with complete salvation.

These are also no such distinction in Hebrews between the first appearing of Christ to bear the sins of many and a second appearing of Christ with salvation.  In the mind of the writer of Hebrews, the language used to closely connect the appearing of the Lord with atonement of many and salvation.

Every Jewish Christian understood simply that the second appearance of Christ our High Priest would be during the same age… unto salvation.  The Jews never had the concept of a second coming, and since it was the Jews who first taught the notion of a Messiah via the Jewish prophets, it seems quite reasonable to respect their inspired writing more than our traditions, or anyone’s uninspired opinion today.

Jesus did not do or say anything that wasn’t written in the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets concerning Himself. That language is another way of saying, ’Holy Writ,’ or as we call it today, the Old Testament.  Hebrews 10:7-12:  “Then I said, 'Behold, I have come--In the volume of the book it is written of Me To do Your will, O God.' " Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and [offerings] for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law) then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God."  He takes away the first that He may establish the second.  By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.  And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.  But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.

How did the train derail of the track about the Parousia of Christ in church history.

Think deeply on these things as we now listen to these suggestions by Kurt Aland.... We discover a decisive turning point in the second half of the second century, a watershed decisive for the development of the Christian church.  It was the definite conviction, not only of Paul, but of all Christians of that time, that they themselves would experience the return of the Lord;

The Apocalypse expresses the fervent waiting for the end within the circles in which the writer lived--not an expectation that will happen at some unknown point x in time, but one in the immediate present.  If we browse through the writings of that period we observe that this expectation of the end continued.  In fact, we also find the writing of the first half of the second century sufficient evidence to indicate that the expectation of the Parousia was by no means at an end then.

At the end of the Didache ("the teaching of the twelve apostles"), from the time shortly after 100, there is, for example, an apocalyptic chapter, which corresponds completely in its outline to the Synoptic apocalypse in Mark 13 (and the parallel chapters in the other Synoptic Gospels.) Here we can only very cautiously say that it used the same words, but that its content is imperceptible in the process of change.  It is quite similar to the Epistle of Barnabas, which was written a little later than the Didache, where we read: (The day is near in which everything will perish together with the evil. The Lord and His recompense are near).

Again and again the old expressions echo.  They echo apparently almost unchanged, but ("doubt about the imminence of the Lord’s return is increasingly mixed with them until around the middle of the second century, when the Shepherd of Hermas thinks he has found a solution and expresses it with great thoroughness and emphasis: the Parousia-the Lord’s return-has been postponed for the sake of Christians themselves.  The building of the tower has not been stopped,) it is only temporarily suspended. Therefore and this is the warning of the Shepherd of Hermas, on account of which the entire work was really written, do good works for your purification, for if you delay too long, the construction of the tower may be finished and you will not be included as stones built into it.

The thought of a postponement of the Parousia appears all through 2 Clement but here it is expressly mentioned for the first time.  Thus, about the middle of the second century, a decisive turning point occurs, one which can be compared in significance to all other great turning points, including the Reformation.  Obviously, we cannot fix this turning point precisely at the year 150, for it took a while until the thought caught hold everywhere.  But a development does begin with the Shepherd of Hermas which could not be stopped-a development at the end of which we stand today.  As soon as the thought of a postponement of the Parousia was uttered once and indeed not only incidentally, but thoroughly presented in an entire writing-it developed its (own life and power).

At first, people looked at it as only a brief postponement, as the Shepherd of Hermas clearly expresses. But soon, as the end of the world did not occur, it was conceived of as a longer and longer period, until finally-this is today’s situation nothing but the thought of a postponement exists in people’s consciousness. (Kurt Aland. A History of Christianity. (2 vols.) Fortress Press: 1985. Vol. 1,pp.89-102

Stephen, and the Parousia of Christ.

It is so very easy to read certain Bible passages for years and never fully realize what they are saying.

Sometimes we discover (time statements) within Scripture that disturb our preconceived idea and go against what we have been taught over the years that challenge us to rethink our long-held traditional views.

A similar passage is to be found in Acts 6:9-14: Now Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people. Certain members of the so-called Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, came forward and debated with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and the spirit with which he spoke. Then they instigated some men to say, "We have heard him (speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God)." They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, accosted him, seized him, and brought him before the Sanhedrin.. They presented false witnesses who testified, "This man never stops saying things against this (holy place and the law). For we have heard him claim that this (Jesus the Nazarene will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses) handed down to us."(Acts 6:9-14) New American Bible (emphasis added).

It is really important to understand the historical setting in which this was originally written. These false witnesses were making the claim that Stephen was speaking against the (laws of Moses and the holy place).  In other words, the Holy Temple.  For this they accused Stephen of speaking blasphemous words.  We have to remember when reading this that the Jews had the Torah of Moses and the Holy Tabernacle (later the Temple) which represented (the Shekinah of glory) for over 15,000 years..  They were still hanging on to many of the Judaistic rituals that had been so much a part of their life.   It was extremely difficult for the Jews to accept the superiority of the New Covenant.  It was especially hard for them to make a clean break with the old Mosaic customs.

What is it about these verses that is so challenging to our long-held traditional views today?  Please ask yourself the following question:  If the return or Parousia of Christ is, as you and I have always been taught, a time-ending future event, how in the world could these people falsely accuse Stephen of saying (Jesus the Nazarene will destroy the Holy Temple and change the customs that Moses) handed down to us?"  It is not important if these false witnesses were making false claims against Stephen or not.  The point is, these people had another concept of the (timing and nature of the Parousia of Christ. Sola Scriptura: The Scripture alone should be our standard.

The real purpose of this whole episode is to accuse Stephen of the crime of saying Jesus will destroy the Temple and the Mosaic law handed down to them..  How is it possible for Jesus to return and destroy the Temple and change customs of the Mosaic law handed down to them in our day?  Was not the Temple and the customs of the Mosaic law handed down to them destroyed in A.D 70?

Stephen or his accuser also tied the Parousia of Christ and the destruction of the Temple at the end of the Judaistic (age or world).  Matthew 24:1-3: Then Jesus went out and departed (from the Temple), and His disciples came up to show Him the (buildings of the Temple).  And Jesus said to them, "Do you not see all these things?  Assuredly, I say to you, (not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down)."  Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of (Your coming, and of the end of the age)?" (emphasis added)

Not only had Jesus actually said the Holy Temple would be destroyed, he predicted the entire destruction of Jerusalem along with his Parousia (Luke 21:20-27). The members of the Synagogue of Freedmen, Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and people from Cilicia and Asia, had reason to fear the prophetic declaration of Stephen.  For those who had ears to hear, this was a threatening prediction that Jesus would return in that very generation (Matt.24:34) and destroys the “Temple” and change the customs that Moses handed down to them." (Matthew 24:1-3) Sola Scriptura:

The destruction of the Temple represented a major crisis for Judaism because of all that the Temple had signified for them.  It meant the customs of the Mosaic law handed down to them and the Presence of God the Shekinah of glory, the place of the daily sacrifice (the Cultus), Israel’s place in the election, etc.  Given this reality, why should we not expect that the prophecy of Jesus’ Parousia given by Stephen is to be understood in a non-literal sense?  The early church understood the Parousia of Christ to simply be a reappearance along with the destruction of the Temple.

Stephen’s defense was not a response to refute the charges against him, but took the form of a discourse that reviewed God's Word to Israel, and led to a prophetic declaration, a plea for the hearing of the words.

Act 1:11

 Acts 1:11 is one of the most misunderstood verses in our New Testament assimilating spiritual truths!  The primary rule of hermeneutics is to let (Scripture interpret Scripture).  Scripture is the best interpreter of itself.  Because that is the case, the first commentary you should consult on a passage is what the rest of the Scriptures have to say on the topic being examined.

Jesus replied by interpreting Scripture with Scripture.  What did He do?  He quoted Deuteronomy 6:16: “You shall not tempt the LORD your God.”  Jesus used Scripture to interpret Scripture when He was tempted by the devil.  By doing this, Jesus was saying to us that a passage of Scripture must be understood in the light of those clearer and more expressive Scriptures.

First, it is agreed by all that Acts 1:11, "... this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven," refers to the Parousia.  Jesus used the term "Parousia," (presence) four times in Matthew 24, speaking of His return.  But let’s look at all the context.   Acts 1:9-11: who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

Often times we hear the argument that Acts chapter 1 is speaking of a literal physical coming of Jesus Christ.  But is there another Biblical alternative for these three verses?  First, as with all passages, we should try to use some sort of a consistent hermeneutic. 

Let's draw some Biblical lessons from the Bible to see what the account of Acts 1:11 really says.   Most people agree that Jesus was in a material body at this time.  That is indeed correct.  The angels tell the disciples that Jesus will return just as He left -- bodily and visibly, right?  Is that correct?  Problem One. That is NOT what Acts 1:11 says.

Let’s take a closer look at verse 11:  "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so (COME IN LIKE MANNER) as you saw Him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11)   The verse says Jesus will (come in like manner).  There is no mention that Jesus will return just as He left -- bodily and visibly.  The Bible is not to be read in such a way that it is made to conform to our opinions and assumptions; instead, we must conform to what it says.

What was the (manner) that the disciples saw Jesus go into heaven?   Verse nine contains the answer.  Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and (A CLOUD RECEIVED) Him out of their sight. (Acts 1:9)  Verse 9 speaks of the (manner in which Jesus was going into heaven).  What was that manner? A cloud received Him out of their sight.

The two Greek words that Luke uses in the construct (OUTOS… TRAPON) specifically means, “the same manner.”  The angels verify that Christ would return in the “same manner.”  Here are the Hebrew Cloud: CLOUD anon OT:6051, "cloud; fog; storm cloud; smoke."  Cognates of this word appear in Aramaic and Arabic.   Its 87 appearances are scattered throughout the Biblical material; (A) of the "cloud" which covered Israel in the Red Sea, 1 Chronic 10:1-2; (B), "The cloud, of course, symbolizes the Divine Glory of God,

Problem Two.  The angels tied Christ’s coming directly to (the disciples).  "This Jesus, who was received up from you (the disciples) into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you (the disciples)  beheld him going into heaven." v. 11    Jesus stated the same thing on numerous occasions.  Worth noting is Matthew 10:23.  For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the (Son of Man comes).

And from the manner in which He went up into heaven, we can learn certain things respecting the manner of His return:  Letting Scripture interpret Scripture.    Did Jesus ever mention returning in the clouds other places when speaking of His Parousia?  This is precisely the thought Jesus was conveying to Caiaphas when he told him he would see him coming in the clouds.    But Jesus kept silent.  And the High Priest answered and said to Him, "I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!" Jesus said to him, "It is as you said.  Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." (Matthew 26:63-64) 

When Jesus said he was going to come in the clouds this was a claim to the Messianic office and divine nature; Caiaphas responded, "He has spoken blasphemy!" Caiaphas was not responding to a claim that Jesus would literally return on a physical cloud.  He was responding to the IDENTITY which Jesus was claiming by associating himself as the One to come in the clouds of heaven!  Jesus adopts the classical style of Jewish apocalyptic literature.

The idea of God's coming in the clouds is also associated with the exercise of his sovereignty in JUDGING his enemies.  In Zephaniah 1:14-16 we are told the "great day of the Lord is near;" and that it would be a day of "wrath," "distress," and a "day of clouds," when the Lord would come.  This is precisely the thought Jesus was conveying to Caiaphas when he told him he would see him coming in the clouds.

In Daniel 7, one like the Son of man is depicted as coming in the clouds of heaven.  This concept of Messiah in the clouds was certainly one well known to Caiaphas and all the Jews in the first century.

One final thought.  The New Testament TIME FRAME for the coming of Jesus in the clouds.  Jesus told Caiaphas, he would see Him return in the clouds.   He did not say Caiaphas would die and be resurrected a thousand years later to view the Parousia.  He was living and was told he would witness Jesus' return.

"Any interpretation of Acts 1:11 that fails to honor the time limitations for the Parousia is not "exegesis" but "eisegesis"!"

Every eye will see Him.

When attempting to explain that Jesus returned in the fall of the Old World of Judaism in AD 70, one of the first objections that is offered is Revelation 1:7, "Behold, He cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also that pierced Him, and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him." Such objections are to be expected when we all have been deeply-seated in the traditional concepts about the coming of Jesus.

However the first thing one must understand about Revelation is that it is a book composed almost entirely of language that a first century Jew would have found immediately recognizable.    This language was used before in such books as Deuteronomy, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah.   When the phrase “every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him” is used, it should bring to mind as it did the Jews a previous reference found in the Old Testament.  We should use the Old Testament first and foremost to see how the language was first used and then look in the New Testament literature to see how it is unfolding God's plan and purpose being the ultimate goal.    Unfortunately a lot of people today are not as familiar with the Old Testament as the first century Jews to whom John was writing.

We also need to use the proper rules of interpretation so we stay focused and not read into scripture what we want. Such rules include context, scripture interpreting scripture, and syntax, word meanings, and grammar.  Words are used as communication and expression tools to convey the thoughts of the author; and, in the case of the Bible, what God is saying to us.  Thus, we need to know " when a term or sentence  was first used in scripture” (its various meanings as applied to its context) and "audience" (how is it used in the culture and how its readers would understand it) to get the most out of it.  This includes the form of the words, such as how it is put together in sentence structure and context.

Let's examine the structure and context of Zechariah 12 to see what John was conveying to his Jewish audience.  In Zechariah 12:10-14 we read,  And I will pour out on the house of David, and on the (inhabitants of Jerusalem), the Spirit of grace and prayers. And they (i.e., the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall look on Me whom they have pierced), and shall mourn for Him. As one mourns for an only son, and will be bitter over Him like the bitterness over the firstborn.  In that day (i.e., when they look on Him whom they had pierced) the morning (in Jerusalem) will be great, like the morning of Hadad-Rimmon in the valley of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, families by families alone; the family of the house of David alone, and their wives alone; the family of Nathan alone, and their wives alone; the family of the house of Levi alone, and their wives alone; the family of Shimei alone, and their wives alone; all the families who are left, family by family alone, and their wives alone.  Zechariah 12:10-14  (emphasis added)   John’s Jewish readers were very aware of the fact that John borrowed his  every eye shall see him, and they also that pierced him,” from, other  Jewish Book.

The Hebrew word for "family" is mishpachah and it means "family; by extension a tribe or people." So, in essence, Zechariah was saying that the "tribes of the land" would mourn for Him whom they had pierced. Who were those "tribes?" "The inhabitants of Jerusalem." This is undeniably an emphatic time statements. 

According to Zechariah, the "earth" is the land of Palestine, specifically, Jerusalem.    Also, it is those tribes, i.e., the nation of Israel, who would "look on Me whom they had pierced." And because of that, "the mourning in Jerusalem" would be great.

With all of this information, we can see that the "tribes of the earth" in Revelation 1:7 are the nation of Israel. The "earth" is Palestine. The land that would mourn is Jerusalem.    For John Zechariah 12:10-14 was applicable to Jesus' crucifixion; but it would receive final fulfillment when "all the tribes of the earth" would mourn when they looked on him whom they had pierced.  To John this would be when Jesus returned in the clouds of glory.

God often used the term for a big group of people within Israel seeing a big event together in scripture.   Another phrase that is similar in context to the inhabitants of Jerusalem is found in Isaiah 40:1-5.  “Comfort, yes, comfort My people!” Says your God. “ Speak (comfort to Jerusalem), and cry out to her, That her warfare is ended, That her iniquity is pardoned; For she has received from the LORD’s hand Double for all her sins.” The voice of one crying in the wilderness:  “ Prepare the way of the LORD;  Make straight in the desert  A highway for our God.  Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low;  The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; (The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,  And all flesh shall see it together); For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”   (emphasis added)

Do you see what Isaiah is saying?    These verses are talking about John the Baptist and it states, (The glory of the LORD shall be revealed,  And all flesh shall see it together) For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”  Do every single person who has ever lived see the glory of the LORD revealed together?  I can safely say no one from our day was there to see the glory of the LORD revealed. And  yet Isaiah said “all flesh shall see it together.”

If we assume words are always literal when they are not, we will make an erroneous conclusion that will lead us away from the correct precept.   Then, if we teach it, we lead others astray from the correct teaching all because of our pride or ignorance of the Old Testament.  We should use the Old Testament first and foremost to see how a term is first used and then look in the New Testament literature to see how it is unfolding  God's plan and purpose being the ultimate goal.