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Not An Ordinary Cloud

God Reveals Himself


God’s ways are “past finding out,” but that does not mean He wants to remain mysterious to us.  He wants to reveal Himself in His glory to those who desire to know Him.  He “housed” Himself in a cloud to accompany Israel as they left Egypt, to be their guide and protector.  Miraculously, He has “housed” Himself in us, in the person of the Holy Ghost, to “guide us into all truth,” to be a comforter and to empower us to carry on the work of His kingdom.  Be spiritually sensitive and observant to the ways God continues to reveal Himself to His Bride while she waits for His return.  Don’t miss His visitations!

 “Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the temple when the man went in, and the cloud filled the inner court.  Then…the house was filled with the cloud, the court was full of the brightness…” (Ezekiel 10:3, 4).  What was a “cloud” doing inside the temple?  Clouds are for the heavens, not for the inside of a building, not even the temple.  When they are heavy with moisture, clouds drop rain.  When they aren’t, they lilt across the heavens.  They cast a shadow on the earth as they pass by the sun.

 Also referring to the temple, “…when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music and praised the Lord…that the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud…so that the priest could not continue ministering…” (2 Chronicles 5:13-14; 1 Kings 8:10).

 “Then Moses went up into the mountain, and a cloud covered the mountain” (Exodus 24:15).  When clouds are heavy with moisture, it would not be unusual for a cloud to drop down on the mountain, but there was no rain in this cloud.  What was “in” that cloud?

 As God was readying the Red Sea for the Israelites to be able to cross over on dry land, we learn in Exodus 14:19-20 that the “pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them...it was a cloud and darkness to the one and it gave light by night to the other.”  What a phenomenon!  Light to one, darkness to the other so they could not see each other all night.  An unusual cloud indeed!

 Then we find a “traveling” cloud associated with the travels of Moses and his people after their flight from Egypt.  “Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, after that the children of Israel would journey; and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would pitch their tents…they would camp; as long as the cloud stayed…Even when the cloud continued long, many days…the children of Israel…did not journey” (Numbers 9:17-19).

 “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9).  A gospel song says, “I love a cloudy day.”  A rather strange title, but the thought is that today’s sky might have the cloud that would be waiting to bring Jesus back to earth.  “…two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven?  This same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’ “ (Acts 1:10).  If He will come in like manner, then some assume that the same cloud is waiting some where in the heavens to be His chariot back to earth the second time.

 Looking at these incidents, we have to assume that these were more than ordinary nebulas formations, cirrus, cumulus or stratus clouds.  Their characteristics could not fit into clouds pertaining to the atmosphere.  No, their formation came from “another world.”  God has never left His people unattended since He created them.  It was God’s desire that the relationship stay close and intimate, but man was willful, rebellious and chose to split his loyalty between God and his own personal desires.  In order to protect man, God has veiled His appearance and presence among us.  But He has never left us alone!  He is just taking care of us.  He told Moses no one could see His face (holiness) and live, so He hid Moses in the rock to answer his petition to see the glory of God.  The only way we can approach God is through the vehicle of faith in the blood of Jesus to cleanse us from all our sins and make us holy and acceptable to Him.  Any other approach will result in eternal condemnation and expulsion from His presence.

 So, how does that relate to the “clouds” spoken of so often in the Bible that are not atmospheric clouds?  Sometimes these clouds veil God’s presence but assure us of His protection and guidance in our daily lives.  It seems that sometimes they veil yet reveal God Himself as in the case of the temple cloud.  “…the cloud filled the inner court.  Then the glory of the Lord went up from the cherub, and passed over the threshold of the temple, and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the Lord’s glory” (Ezekiel 10:3-4).  We know that the cloud was not the “glory of God.”  His glory is described in Exodus 33~-- 'gracious, merciful, longsuffering, abundant in goodness, keeping mercy, forgiving, judgment' -- but the cloud veiled the glory yet exposed it so that there was visible evidence of God’s presence.

 When Moses erected the tent of meeting (tabernacle in the wilderness), “…the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Exodus 40:34).  The awesome cloud was so great Moses could not enter because of it.  “For the cloud of the Lord was above the tabernacle…” (Exodus 40:38) leaves no doubt that this was the presence of God among the Israelites being veiled by the “cloud.”  It is another assurance that God presents Himself to us and desires fellowship.  The question is:  Are we spiritually minded enough to recognize His presence?  Moses did.

 When Solomon finished the work on the temple, he assembled all the chiefs of the tribes of Israel and brought up the Ark of the Covenant and the furnishings.  When everything was in place, there began a sacrifice so great that it couldn’t even be counted (2 Chronicles 5).  When all the music and praise began …”the priest could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (2 Chronicles 5:14).  Oh that the “cloud of the Lord” revealing His glory would fill the churches today as then!  Unfortunately, too many are like the clouds spoken of in Jude 1:12 “…Clouds they are without water, carried about of winds…”  Thunder and lightning are displayed but there is no water, no rain to nourish the ones who are dry and thirsty, in need of refreshing.

 “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1). 

 Yes, there seems to be even clouds representing the deceased saints.  Hebrews 12:1 mentions a “cloud of witnesses” who seem to be encouraging us to run the race that they have already run and won.  If they are witnesses, then they must know something to tell us or they would not be credible witnesses.  These seem to be our cheerleaders:  “We made it; so can you!”  We are admonished to not be encumbered in this race by “weights and sins” that can cause us to veer off the track or stumble and fall, but look to Jesus as our example who “…for the joy that was set before him endured the cross…and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2)He won the race; they won the race; we can win the race!

 Perhaps one of the greatest displays of these special “clouds” in the Bible and the one most remembered is the cloud that accompanied the children of Israel as they traveled.  This certainly was no ordinary cloud.  Exodus 12:21 says, “the Lord went before them in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way.”  The truly amazing thing is the size the cloud would have to have been.  “He spread a cloud for a covering…” (Psalm 105:39).  It’s hard to even try to imagine a cloud cover enormous enough to cover from one to three million people!  Isaiah 19:1 says, “…the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud…”   Surely the cloud that covered the Israelites as they traveled must have been filled with God and His angels for guidance and protection.  “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.” (Psalm 34:7).  God certainly delivered the Hebrews from the hand of the Egyptians and guided through the wilderness and desert.

 The cloud didn’t just lead them, it covered them.  Imagine the intense heat marching people would have suffered through the desert’s noon day sun.  Their bodies would have been dehydrated and weakened by the desert sun without that covering.  This is an exciting incident giving us encouragement that He will provide whatever we need.  Sundown would have brought a drastic drop of the temperature in the desert.  The need then would have been warmth and God provided that also, as well as light.  “…and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night” (Exodus 13:21).  The pillar of cloud and fire were surely the presence of heavenly beings providing them with a compass showing them the way, a clock and calendar which told them when to travel and when to stop and was their covering and protection.  What a comfort we can derive from such a heritage.  God has promised to never leave nor forsake us, ever.  They were protected all the way to the Promise Land.  Isn’t that our promise also?

 When Jesus ascended, He was taken up …”and a cloud received Him…” (Acts 1:9).  Those who saw Him leave were told that he would return in the same manner.  Jesus Himself gives us a more detailed look at the cloud in Matthew 25:31, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory.”  It couldn’t be any clearer about the “cloud” that received Jesus at His ascension—“all the holy angels.”  They came and met Him as He was ascending, and they will accompany Him when He comes back.

 God doesn’t limit His presence with us to a cloud; He reveals Himself in many ways.  He has given His solemn promise that angels, His ministering spirits, are watching over us always.  God may reveal His presence to us in a way that is totally different from what we expect or anything we could even imagine, but it will be hard to ever look at a cloud in the same way again!

 The time will come when “every eye will see Him”—unveiled.  “Behold, he cometh with clouds [with all His holy angels, Matthew 25:31]; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because him.  Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7).  Some will see Him and eternally share in His glory; some will see Him to their eternal damnation.  The decision they made about Jesus will determine which it will be. 


 Points to Ponder

 God has always desired and planned for an intimate relationship with His creation.  After the sin-induced expulsion from Eden, that “cool-of-the-day” family meeting was revoked.  It didn’t change God’s desire, but it changed His method of communication with man.

 The change in God’s method was for man’s benefit.  The impact of face-to-face meetings would have been deadly for man.  God told Moses that no one could see His face and live.

God led His people out of bondage and guided them from the midst of the cloud, revealing yet veiling His glorious presence.

When the Tent of Meeting (Tabernacle in the Wilderness) was built according to the pattern Moses was shown and all things in place, God came to the Most Holy Place, veiled by a cloud.  His presence was so awesome Moses couldn’t minister.  Imagine what would have happened without the cloud covering His glory!

 When Solomon’s temple was completed and sacrifices offered, the priests weren’t able to continue ministering “because of the cloud”—the veiled glory of God.

 God was ever-present as Moses led the Hebrews from Egypt providing the comfort of His presence.  Their unbelief blinded them to His presence, but He didn’t leave them.

 Many have run the race before us—a “cloud” of them, innumerable; and they would say “Keep following the cloud of the glory of God; trust in His faithfulness to never leave you alone.”

 The “aloneness” that Jesus experienced on the cross was in our stead, so we will never have to walk alone.


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