Within Christian circles, a common interpretation of Daniel 7:13 is this one “coming with the clouds” must be Jesus at the time of his second coming; however, upon reading the text in context as well as with nearly every other prophecy made by the prophets, we learn much about this particular cloudy day as well as who emerges.
I submit to you today that this sentiment of one coming with the clouds may not be Jesus victoriously floating in the cloudy air coming down to earth to rule and reign as some imagine, but more like a person emerging from the ashes or smoke upon the smoldering day of the LORD as the prophets frequently describe.
We know in the final moments of this earth and this heaven, there will come a time when Israel is surrounded and attacked, but God literally and physically saves them from annihilation (see Zechariah 12, as one example). We also see in numerous prophecies written by more than two or three witnesses, being the prophets of Tanakh/the Hebrew Bible, words like earthquakes, fire, burning, melting, dissolve, stubble, blazing, steam, and clouds are all used to describe the great and terrible day of the LORD. Furthermore, we see in Isaiah 45:22 Israel’s sins are forgiven like a cloud covering their transgressions from the sight of the LORD.
How does the LORD prefer for His people and the earth to be cleansed throughout the Hebrew Bible? By water and fire – think about the great flood in Noah’s day or washing the hands before various rituals of the Jewish people or being ritually made clean in a mikvah before the feasts of the LORD and other lifetime events (where baptism came from), as well as the burnt offerings using fire and smoke, a sweet-smelling aroma to the LORD. Now consider the LORD previously used water to cleanse or create a new earth, but this time, He will use primarily fire since He already promised not to flood the entire globe at once; hence, the symbol of the rainbow for that covenant. Many Christians understand this concept as even Peter wrote about it in 2 Peter 3:7-13.
Therefore, it should not be too difficult to comprehend this terminology used in Daniel 7:13 as one “coming with the clouds” is referencing one emerging from the smoke or ashes. Review the previous verses in Daniel 7, specifically verses 9 as it references a “fiery flame”, a “burning fire”, or in verse 10, “a fiery stream..” or verse 11 referencing a “burning flame” all leading up to this one coming with the clouds.
Also, notice in these plethora of passages, they all reference an unbelievable amount of destruction using the fire and earthquake or possibly nuclear related terminology described previously (see Isaiah 24:3-6, 13, 18-23, 44:22-25; Haggai 2:6-7; Zechariah 14; Joel 2:2; Ezekiel 30:3, 34:12, 38:18-23, Malachi 4:1-3; Zephaniah 1:14-18, 3:8; Amos 5:18-20; Jeremiah 30:23-24). Nearly every prophet describes the same or similar event.
Is it not possible this earth-shattering epic event full of fire would not create much smoke-filled clouds? Having lived near the gas and oil refineries in the Galveston Bay area of Texas, it was not unusual for explosions to erupt causing smoke-filled plumes of clouds in the sky. Now, consider how at this same time throughout Scripture, the prophets also speak to a resurrection of the dead, specifically all of Israel, all twelve tribes, and the miraculous reunion of both houses of Israel (see Jeremiah 29-31; Ezekiel 34-37) as God forms a New Jerusalem centered in the New Earth and New Heavens (see the article I wrote, “Are We Raptured to Heaven?” ).
While understanding all of Israel is resurrected as promised by the LORD regathering them to the land of Israel no matter where in the world they were scattered and died, then the LORD washes them/us clean and dispenses His Spirit of Holiness onto them (see Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:27), ponder the plausibility of literally David also being resurrected to rule and reign as the prophets reference numerous times in Ezekiel 34:23-24; 37:24; Jeremiah 30:9; Isaiah 9:7; Hosea 3:5. Notice in Daniel 7:14 and 18, just after describing one who comes within the clouds, that it speaks to one who will rule the reunited kingdom matching what the previous references state as well fulfilling God’s Davidic Covenant or covenant made with King David. Equally interesting is that Ezekiel 34:12 references a cloudy destructive day and then a few verses later also refers to David being made King in Ezekiel 34:23-24.
Due to all of the overwhelming discussion in the Hebrew Bible of said events, it is my conclusion and belief that Daniel 7 is referencing one, specifically King David, emerging from the smoke-filled plumes of clouds due to the fiery day of the LORD, to rule and reign along with the rest of “the saints of the Most High” being Israel (Daniel 7:18), while God’s presence encompasses the newly formed New Jerusalem, New Earth, New Heavens, and activates the promised New Covenant (Ezekiel 36:27, 37:26-28; Jeremiah 29-31; Isaiah 2, 11, 51,59:16-62:12; Micah 4; Zechariah 14).
Just as Daniel foretells, a cloudy day of the LORD indeed appears to be in the forecast.
Carrie R. Turner, 9.7.2020