Eschatology is the study of the end times, the term deriving from the Greek “eschatos”, which means “last”. The prophet Daniel had an eschatological vision of the coming Messiah.
In this vision the coming Messiah is called “Son of Man”, a name Jesus applied to Himself many times in the New Testament. The vision describes the return of Jesus, whom God promised to give an everlasting throne and a never-ending kingdom. I tend to think Daniel thought his vision pertained to the one and only coming of the Christ, since the reality of a first and second coming was not really revealed until Jesus walked this earth. But perhaps the Holy Spirit told Daniel about the plan of salvation in greater detail than what he recorded in his book.
Daniel is not the only book in Scripture which mentions the arrival of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven – this vision is abundantly supported by the New Testament.
But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Matthew 26: 63 – 64
So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Acts 1: 6 – 11
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4: 16 – 18
Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1: 7 – 8
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like a son of man, having a golden crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand…Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped. Revelation 14: 14, 16
The Scripture teaches in multiple places that Jesus will return on the clouds of heaven. His return will be one of judgment, for it is at that time when the wheat are separated from the tares, the sheep are separated from the goats, those granted eternal life are separated from those given eternal torment.
It is fitting that Daniel, who saw such a great vision of Jesus upon the clouds, would also be the one to give the first clear reference in Scripture to the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.
To those who are in Christ, who have embraced His first coming, His second coming will be a day of rejoicing. But to those who reject His first coming, His second coming will be a day of trembling. It will also be a day fulfilling the prophecy of Daniel, given thousands of years ago, and currently awaiting fulfillment.
It will be fulfilled. Are you comforted by the coming of the Son of Man? May all who are in Christ take comfort in the promise of the resurrection that awaits, a promise given to Daniel.