A Preview of the Second Coming

Does the Ascension Give Us a Sneak Peek of the End Times?

Several years ago, my daughter Miryam and I went to see a James Bond movie and we walked into the theater during one of the coming attractions. The preview was action packed, a lot like a James Bond movie. Then after a couple of minutes, we realized—it was a James Bond movie—and it wasn’t a preview but the end of the Bond movie we had come to see! As it turned out, the same movie was showing in two different rooms and we had walked into the wrong room. Instead of going into the room where the movie was starting, we went into the room where the movie was ending. So we saw the end of the movie before the beginning! Oy gevalt!

A preview is supposed to give us a glimpse of what is coming. That is why they are called coming attractions. Have you ever considered that God sometimes gives us previews to encourage us? One of the most dramatic previews of all time was when Yeshua gave us a sneak peek of the Second Coming.

In response to His disciples’ question, “What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?” Yeshua says in Luke 21:27:

“At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

Among the four Gospels, only Luke’s account records Yeshua saying that He will come in a cloud. The other accounts say “clouds” (Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26; Revelation 1:7; Daniel 7:13). Why does Luke emphasize the singular “cloud”? Luke is preparing his reader for what he writes a few chapters later in Acts 1. We have to remember that Luke’s Gospel and Acts are not two separate books. They are rather volumes 1 and 2 of a single narrative. 

In Luke’s Gospel, Yeshua says that people will see Him coming in a cloud at the end of the age. Four chapters later, in Acts 1, Yeshua gives His apostles a preview of the Second Coming, a sneak peek. Before the eyes of the eleven disciples, Yeshua ascends higher and higher into the sky. Then, like something out of Star Trek, a single cloud takes Him back to heaven. As Luke says in Acts 1:9:

“…He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.”

You might have an English translation that says “He was lifted up, and a cloud hid Him from their sight.” However, “The compound verb epairo, with its idea of ‘taking up in support’ placed alongside the mention of the cloud, suggests that the cloud enveloped Him from underneath and took Him away (Daniel 7:13).”[1] Acts 1:9 presents a preview of what is to come. This cloud was not your run-of-the mill cloud. It was a chariot (Psalm 104:3). Yeshua Anani (the King Messiah who rides on a cloud) ascended into His cloud chariot and then returned to heaven, warp speed. Note that right after the cloud takes Yeshua away, we are told in Acts 1:10-11:

“They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Yeshua, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.’”

In the same way that Yeshua ascended into His cloud chariot and returned to heaven, He will in the future descend from heaven riding in His cloud chariot. And He will return as a Jew (Revelation 22:12, 16). On that day, the Son of David will protect His people, and His feet will once again stand on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:3-4; Acts 1:12). Marana ta (Our Lord, come)!

[1] Darrell Bock, Acts (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007), 67.

Dr. David Rudolph
Dr. David Rudolphhttp://collective.tku.edu
Dr. David Rudolph is professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies and director of the Messianic Jewish Studies program at The King's University in Southlake, Texas.