John tells us in Revelation 1:7 that Jesus would come with the clouds, and every eye would see him. But, what does he mean by saying this? Should we expect to see Jesus riding upon a puffy, white, cumulus cloud some day? Some people may think this is exactly what the text, and others like it, means. In other words, the most apocalyptic book among the records of the New Covenant must be taken literally, and, therefore, Jesus has not yet come! I have even seen paintings that indicate Jesus would literally return to the earth riding upon a cloud and all his saints with him. This, however, is far too literal an interpretation for an apocalyptic text such as this one.
According to scripture, when God is said to have come in the clouds (Psalm 97:2), he comes in judgment against the nation mentioned in the text. The Lord came in judgment against Egypt, riding upon a swift cloud (Isaiah 19:1). Coming in the clouds is an apocalyptic picture of him coming to judge the wicked (Nahum 1:3). The prophet, Joel, prophesied of the Day of the Lord as a day of clouds, when a great and powerful army would come against his people, the Jews. The land would be like a paradise before this army, but they would leave a wilderness behind them (Joel 2:1-3).
Jesus prophesied of such a time, telling the high priest he would see him sitting at the right hand of God and coming in the clouds (Matthew 26:64). This meant he would judge Israel, and his doing so was given as a sign that he was in the heavens; in other words, Jesus reigned as Messiah (Matthew 24:30). Speaking of the high priest, this was Annas, who had five sons, a grandson and a son-in-law, all of whom reigned as high priests in the first century AD. One of his sons even officiated that position twice, but was murdered by Felix, the Roman procurator for meddling in his affairs. Josephus tells us that Annas lived to see the beginning of the Jewish war with Rome. He tried to flee from the rebels, but was caught and slain. He died on the 6th day of the 6th month in the year 66 AD after being a high priest for 60 years (6-66 AD).
Of course, when John said “every eye would see him” (Zechariah 12:10), he didn’t mean literally. The point is that Jesus’ judgment of his people, the Jews, would be so swift and destructive that no one in the civilized world would miss it. Everyone would know of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, but no one would physically see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven. After all, who would ever seriously believe that the Egyptians or Pharaoh had actually seen the Lord coming in the clouds (Isaiah 19:1)? Such language is apocalyptic in character and not meant to be taken literally. Rather, the author concludes that the fulfillment of his prophecy simply couldn’t be missed or misunderstood.
According to John, the Jews of Jesus’ generation (cf. Matthew 23:36; 24:34), i.e. those who pierced him (Revelation 1:7) would see the judgment of Jesus, their Messiah, come upon them. That judgment came to pass in the form of the Roman army successfully defeating them and destroying their capital, Jerusalem, and their Temple.
In Revelation 1:8 Jesus says: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending.” However, some believers, usually those who don’t accept the divinity of Jesus, will say the Father is speaking in this scripture, just as it was he who spoke in Matthew 3:17 and Luke 9:35. Drawing upon similar language in Revelation 1:4 “who is, who was, and who is to come” where it obviously points to God, our Father, the conclusion is then assumed the same is true for Revelation 1:8.
Nevertheless, there are clear reasons why we should interpret Revelation 1:8 as being the words of Jesus. First of all, in Revelation 1:11 John turned to look behind himself, because he heard a great voice, and, when he turned, he saw one like the Son of Man (the Messiah) who said “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last…” Certainly, this refers to Jesus. In Revelation 11:17 the 24 elders fell down before the Throne of God and worshiped, saying, “We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.” The identity of the One that the 24 elders worshiped is understood in the identity of the One who has taken to himself great power and reigned. That one is Jesus (Revelation 11:15). Moreover, Jesus uses the phrase “I am… the beginning and the ending” (Revelation 1:8) in Revelation 1:17 “I am the first and the last” (cf. Revelation 2:8 and 22:`12-13, 16). So, John records Jesus’ words in Revelation 1:8, and, in doing so, he shows us that Jesus is an eternal Being. In other words, Jesus is God!