Every Eye Shall See Him

“Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him.” —Revelation 1:7

HAVING noted in a previous study that the heavens, the clouds, the sun, the moon, and the stars, associated in prophecy with the second coming of Christ, are all symbolic, picturing political, national, and religious conditions that exist at the time of his presence, it seems reasonable to conclude that it is also symbolic sight that is referred to in our text. Indeed, it would seem most difficult to understand how one literally could see Jesus in symbolic clouds. If, then, we find that the Scriptures use the literal sense of vision to symbolize mental perception or discernment, it will clarify still further the much misunderstood subject of the second advent of Christ.

Some, in the past, have tried to uphold the thought of a literal seeing of Jesus in human form by insisting that the Greek words translated “see” in the prophecies relating to the second advent mean literal sight of the eye. Emphasis has also been given to this literal interpretation of sight by calling attention to the fact that every “eye” shall see him; the claim being that if it were mental perception that is meant the Lord would not have referred thus to the organ of literal sight.

We will not here, however, attempt to refute the arguments of the literalists as to the meaning of the Greek words used in the prophecies relating to the manner in which the world will see Jesus during the time of his second presence, except to remark that these words are frequently used to signify discernment rather than literal sight of the eye. What we do wish to emphasize is that just as the literal moon, sun, stars, heavens, clouds, etc., are used symbolically in the second advent prophecies, so literal sight is also used to symbolize discernment.

Not only in the second advent prophecies do the Scriptures use the sense of sight to illustrate or symbolize mental perception, but in connection with other subjects as well. Note, for example, the statement of the Prophet Job in connection with the manner in which God dealt with him. When near unto death with a loathsome disease of the skin this faithful prophet said, “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself, mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.”—Job 19:26,27

Those holding to the Dark-Age theory that Job and all other good people have gone directly to heaven at death would probably argue that the prophet is stating that while his body would be consumed after death, it would be raised from the dead and restored to him in heaven, so that in his flesh he would see God. Such an explanation of the prophet’s words does not stand up very well against the Apostle Paul’s argument concerning the resurrection, to the effect that the body sown in death is not the body to be raised from the dead: “Thou sowest not that body that shall be.”—I Cor. 15:37

Later in his experiences Job reveals to us what he really meant by seeing God in his flesh; namely, that while at the time he was very, very sick, and it appeared as though he would surely die, yet he had faith to believe that God would deliver him from his sickness, and that in this deliverance he would have a still further evidence of the goodness and love of the One whom he had so faithfully endeavored to serve. He says, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.” (Job 42:5) Thus it was that in his flesh—that flesh that at one time was well-nigh destroyed—Job saw the Lord, even as he had prophesied he would. And then, too, from his mention of the Redeemer in chapter 19, verse 25, it is evident that Job also spoke prophetically of his restoration to life upon the earth, when he will see God in even a fuller though similar sense.

But how did Job see God? Surely not with his literal eye, although he does say, “Now mine eye seeth thee.” The Scriptures declare that no man can look upon God literally and live. (Exod. 33:20; John 1:18) Evidently, then, Job is here employing the organ of sight and the sense of seeing in a symbolical way. Nor is it difficult to understand why the prophet thus speaks so emphatically of his new vision of God. He had known and loved God previous to the great test that came upon him; but through the trials, and through his subsequent deliverance from them, he had learned to know and appreciate God in a much deeper sense than he had ever experienced before. Prior to his great trial, Job’s knowledge of God was more or less theoretical: “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear,” he says, “but now mine eye seeth thee.” Ah yes, now Job had a real vision of God—something that was much more precious to him than merely that which he had been told.

Here then is a scriptural example which shows that the eye and eyesight are used by the Lord to symbolize mental perception. And it seems very fitting that Job should be the one to furnish us with this very enlightening use of language, because in many respects his experiences seem to well illustrate the experiences of the entire human race. For more than six thousand years the world has been going through a time of severe trial; but, like Job, will finally be restored to divine favor and, like him, will have restored to them all that was lost. And, like Job also, the world of mankind will then learn really to know the great God and Creator whom previously they had merely heard about with the “hearing of the ear.” Yes, even as Job with symbolic eyes saw the true God, so the world also will see him, because he will be revealed to them through Christ, whom every eye will symbolically see, or recognize, as earth’s new King.

We See Jesus

An appropriate New Testament illustration of the symbolic use of sight is that of Hebrews 2:9. Here the apostle calls our attention to the prophecy in the 8th Psalm to the effect that God would visit the human family, and would restore it to its original position of honor and glory as enjoyed by our first parents before the fall. All things of the earth had been put under man, but he lost that dominion. This dominion is to be restored, Paul points out; but this work of restoration is not yet a reality, as he says, “We see not yet all things put under him.” “But,” he adds, “we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”

How did Paul and the Hebrew Christians see Jesus? Surely not with their literal, physical eyesight. No, the obvious thought here is that they discerned in Jesus the One whom the Heavenly Father had sent into the world to be the Redeemer and Restorer of the human race. Through the prophecies and through the manner in which Jesus fulfilled the prophecies, they could see that he was the promised Messiah, that in sending him into the world Jehovah had visited man, and would ultimately restore to him all that was lost because of sin.

But only a few, comparatively speaking, have been privileged as yet to see Jesus. Concerning these few the Master himself said, “Blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear.” (Matt. 13:16) To see Jesus now requires a great deal of faith, as well as a willingness to pay the very high price of purchasing spiritual vision, because during this Gospel Age true spiritual vision is very costly. The time will come, however, when the present handicaps of seeing Jesus will be removed, and then all the blind eyes will be opened, and all will see.

The Prophet Isaiah likens mental perception, or discernment of things pertaining to God and to his messianic kingdom in which Christ is to be the “King of kings,” to seeing and hearing. He says that the vision of all is like unto a book that is sealed. The unlearned are not able to understand the book, because they are not properly trained, the prophet states. The learned offer the excuse for their spiritual blindness that the book is “sealed.” Thus has the world gone on through the ages. Very few, indeed, have really perceived God, or seen Jesus, because few have understood the glorious plan of salvation that is revealed in God’s precious Word.

But the prophet shows that the time will come when this condition of things will be changed. He says that “in that day,” the day of Christ, when he is present as King over the whole earth, “shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.” (Isa. 29:11,12,18) Continuing, the prophet says of that day, “The meek also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. For the terrible one is brought to naught, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off.”—Isa. 29:19,20 (see also verse 24).

The “terrible one” that is “brought to naught” is evidently Satan, the great ‘deceiver and oppressor of the people. Speaking of him the apostle says, “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (II Cor. 4:4) While we see Jesus through the glorious Gospel and the eyes of our understanding and faith, it is impossible for the world to see him thus now, because Satan has blinded their eyes. But early in the new day—“that day”—Satan, the great deceiver of the people, will be bound. “The terrible one” shall be “brought to naught,” and then the “books” will be opened, as both Isaiah and John testify. Then every eye will see him, even as the church sees him now.—Rev. 20:2,3,12

Holy Arm Made Bare

In Isaiah 52:10 and 53:1 Jesus is referred to as Jehovah’s “holy arm.” The prophecy declares that God will make “bare his holy arm in the eyes [sight] of all the nations.” But this has not been done as yet. In chapter 53:1, the prophet indicates that very few indeed, to begin with, would be able to see, or to recognize Jesus as the Holy One whom God had sent into the world to be Redeemer and King; but rather, the prophet says, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” The implied answer, as shown by the remainder of this chapter, is that Jesus was not revealed to very many at his first advent, but rather, was taken and crucified—“brought as a lamb to the slaughter.” But at his second advent it is different. Before the full end of his second presence it will become true that “The Lord hath made bare [caused every eye to see] his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.”—Isa. 52:10

Another blessed promise, very much akin to the one just quoted, is that of Isaiah 40:5, which reads, “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Mankind, as yet, knows very little of the glory of the Lord. In fact, the true God has been hidden from view by the many theological misconceptions of the creeds. About the only gods that the world knows are the torment deity, the god of war and of hate, the god of greed and avarice, and the money god. But with the establishment of the messianic kingdom all this will be changed. The eyes of their understanding will be opened, and they will see the true God as he will be revealed to them through Christ.

Blind Eyes Opened

While the faithful followers of Jesus have the eyes of their understanding opened even now to behold the glory of the Heavenly Father and of the resurrected Jesus (Eph. 1:18-20), the time for the opening of all eyes is yet future, it being a further work to be accomplished during the presence of Christ. Concerning that time we read, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.”—Isa. 35:5

True, this includes, doubtless, the restoring of sight to those who are literally blind, but that it also includes the clarifying of mental vision, so that the people of that kingdom period may know and serve the true God intelligently, is shown by verse 8, where we are told that the way will then be made so plain, that “the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.” Just as there have been literally blind, deaf, dumb, and lame, so these characteristics have been true of the world with respect to their mental perception, knowledge, and service of God.

And it is interesting to note that these blessings are shown as coming to the world immediately following the day of the Lord’s vengeance. In Isaiah 35:4 those who are now able, by faith, to see in advance of the world the presence of the Lord, and who are able to recognize that present conditions of world distress are the undeniable signs of his presence, are commissioned to say to those whose hearts are now failing them for fear, “Fear not: behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you.”

Yes, we have been commissioned by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the facts of the day of vengeance, and to point out to the distraught world that while what we see going on is evidence that the day of vengeance is upon us, yet just beyond these troublous times God will apply his remedy for a world gone mad, which will be the establishment of his long-promised kingdom, which will bring salvation. Yes, “All the ends of the earth shall [then] see the salvation of our God.”—Isa. 52:10 (see also, for comparison, Zeph. 3:8,9).

Revealed in the Clouds

Our text (Revelation 1:7) states that the Lord comes in the clouds and “every eye shall see him.” Luke’s account of Jesus’ prophecy of his second parousia, or presence, states that “Then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” (Luke 21:27) Both these passages indicate that it will be as a result of the symbolic clouds of trouble, discussed previously herein, that the world of mankind will gradually come to recognize the presence of earth’s new King. Not only will it be the clouds that will reveal his presence, but the manifestation of his kingdom power and glory will also play an important part in opening the eyes of mankind to discern the presence of their King.

Narrow conceptions of God’s plans frequently cause the student of the Bible to place a very restricted interpretation upon certain passages of the Word. Actually, the work of bringing every individual to the point of seeing the Lord, as described in our text, is one that will require the entire thousand years of the kingdom to complete. Not until the full end of that period, when the dead shall have been raised and the knowledge of God’s glory caused to fill the whole earth, will it be true that every eye has fully seen him.

No doubt, however, the increasing severity of the great time of trouble now developing all over the world will have much to do with arousing the living generation to the fact that a power beyond that of man is taking a hand in earth’s affairs. Just how this will come about the Scriptures do not clearly show, except to indicate that it will be in the symbolic clouds of trouble that they shall see him, or discern his presence. This shows clearly that clouds as well as the seeing are symbolic, because literal clouds obscure literal vision.

God created man in his own image, and endowed him with the desire and the ability to worship the Creator. And while the world today is endeavoring to cast aside the very thought of God, and often openly ridicules the idea that a higher power is taking any interest in the affairs of men, yet frequently in the depth of trouble the most calloused sinner will think of God. What is true in the case of individuals will doubtless become true with respect to the world in general. As one after another of the pet schemes of men that are now being tried to deliver the world from its trouble fails, and instead year after year the distress becomes more and more acute, it is reasonable to suppose that the nations will indeed begin to wonder if, after all, there may not be a God in heaven who is speaking to them in the ways and means employed. No doubt, in due time, God will use his earthly spokesmen and representatives to broadcast literally the divine message. But until then his message is obscured to those not now divinely instructed in symbolic language—parables and dark sayings.

God’s Silence

One reason the world in general has little or no faith in God is that heretofore he has not interfered in their affairs. “Now we call the proud happy;” says the prophet, “yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.” (Mal. 3:15) Because this has been true in the past men imagine that it will always be so, and therefore have concluded that if there is a God he surely is not interested in the affairs of men. Thus men have resorted to their own wisdom, their own selfish devices, and therefore by their wisdom know not God.

But when they discover that all their supposedly wise plans have come to naught, and their boasted civilization comes tumbling down upon their heads in spite of all their best efforts to bolster it, then no doubt the remnant of that quality within them which was once the image of God will assert itself, and in their distress they will cry unto their Maker for help.

In Isaiah 42:13,14 the Lord explains that for a very long time, and particularly since the time of the Flood, when he last spoke to the world as a whole, he has held his peace, or restrained himself from interfering in the affairs of men. No wonder the world has come to think there is no God! But through the returned Christ he finally speaks; he cries like a travailing woman. (Isa. 42:14) That is, the successive spasms of travail that come upon the old order, as described by Paul in I Thessalonians 5:1-4, will gradually arouse the world to the fact that there is a higher power than man, and that now their only safety will be found in looking to him and to the provision he has made for their salvation, which provision is the messianic kingdom—the “mountain of the Lord.”

Concerning this final and happy outcome of the present time of trouble, symbolized by the clouds in which Messiah’s presence is manifested, the prophet declares, “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it. For all people will walk every one in the name of his God, and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.”—Micah 4:1-5

And then the true God will be the God of all the nations, because after the fire of his jealousy shall have devoured the symbolic earth he will “turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent.” (Zeph. 3:9) When the kingdom, the symbolic mountain of the Lord, is established and recognized by the people, and when its blessings shall flow out to the poor distraught world, then they will see, or recognize, the source of their blessings, and they will say, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, … we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”—Isa. 25:6-9

Dawn Bible Students Association
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