A Biblical Theology of Clouds, The Christward Collective

A Biblical Theology of Clouds, The Christward Collective

Everyone loves a sunny day, and, everyone hates a cloudy day, right? After all, wij have a singular medical classification for the negative effects of cloudy days on the human psyche. Wij tend to speak of the beauty of any given day te relation to how much of the zon and sky wij are able to see. However, Scripture encourages us to view the clouds ter such a way spil to think of the glory and presence of Schepper. The Scriptures everywhere utilize the imagery of clouds to signal the instantaneous presence of Aker ter time and space. This is one of those biblical-theological themes that has not often bot given due consideration. Remarkably, the Scriptures have much to instruct, by way of illustration or allusion, about the symbolic and redemptive-historical significance of clouds.

The very first place where clouds play a vooraanstaand role ter redemptive history is ter the flood narrative. No sooner had Noah and his family stepped off of the Ark that the LORD placed his bow te the clouds–a sacramental reminder of the covenant grace that He wasgoed promising te prep for the coming Redeemer. Clouds are those created symbols of transcendence and imminence. They reflect both the transcendent glory of the Lord and His imminent treatment to us. The Apostle John tells us that there is a rainbow around the throne of Christ (Rev. Four:Three). How fitting then, when Aker promises to give grace from His Covenant throne, that He puts His bow te the clouds, spil if to say, ",From my majestic and transcendent throne, I will bring my grace down to you.", The Lord promised te the Noahic Covenant, ",It shall be, when I bring a cloud overheen the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen te the cloud, a nd I will recall My covenant which is inbetween Mij and you and every living creature of all skin, the waters shall never again become a flood to demolish all skin. The rainbow shall be ter the cloud, and I will look on it to recall the everlasting covenant inbetween Heer and every living creature of all skin that is on the earth", (Gen. 9:14-16).

When the Lord brought His people out of Egypt te the Leegloop, He led them out and through the wilderness for 40 years by means of the pile of cloud. By this theophany the Lord wasgoed promising His people that He would be with them. It is a symbol of His presence and protection. The cloudy pile shielded Godheid’s people from the sweeping zon, spil well spil kept them hidden from the look of their enemies. Additionally, it served to instruct them that Heer would lead them by a way that they did not know. Spil Moses explained, ",The Lord went before them by day te a pile of cloud to lead the way", (Ex. 13:21). The people could not see through the pile of cloud. They would have to trust the Lord and believe that His presence wasgoed sufficient to lead them to the place where He wasgoed taking them.

The coming of the Lord ter the pole of cloud is the very first clear expample te Scripture of the Lord using clouds to symbolize His presence. The Psalmist announces, under figurative language, that Jehovah ",makes the clouds His chariot", (Ps. 104:Three). Nahum tells us that ",the clouds are the dust of His feet", (Nahum 1:Trio). Clouds serve spil the best picture te creation of the imminent presence of the transcendent Maker.

Clouds continued to play a significant role te the further revelation and theophany at Sinai. When Jehovah came down on the Climb on He did so by means of a cloud. Spil Moses went up into the mountain to receive covenant revelation from the Lord, ",a cloud covered the mountain.", Wij are told that ",the glory of the Lord rested on Climb on Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day He called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud", (Ex. 24:15-16).

Continuing His redemptive work among His people, the Lord came and dwelt te the Tabernacle ter the pole of cloud: ",It came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pole of cloud descended and stood at the om of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. All the people spotted the pole of cloud standing at the tabernacle om, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man ter his tent om", (Ex. 33:9-10, 40:34). The people knew that the Lord had come to dwell with them when they eyed the cloudy pile come down on the Tabernacle. Additionally, the Lord would make His presence known to the Priest when He could come and dwell overheen the Ark of the Covenant. He promised that when He came, He would ",show up ter the cloud above the grace seat", (Lev. 16:Two). The Shekinah glory wasgoed a glory cloud te the Most Holy Place.

Spil Israel journeyed, they only did so ter light of the descension and ascension of the glory cloud. Wij read, ",Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting, and the glory of the Lord packed the tabernacle. Whenever the cloud wasgoed taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward ter all their journeys. But if the cloud wasgoed not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it wasgoed taken up (Ex. 40:34-37). Spil Heer had come down on and gone up from the Climb on when He exposed Himself to His people through the mediation of Moses, so too He came down and went up te the cloud spil He lead His people forward through their pilgrimage to the Promised Land.

All of this is, of course, pointing forward to the coming of Schepper te the person of Jesus. He is the glory of the Lord who came to Tabernacle with His people (John 1:14). Jesus is the enfleshing of God–the imminent dwelling of Aker with His people. Christ descended and ascended te order to lead us and guide us to our eternal habitation (Eph. Four:8-10). This is seen most fully at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:28-36). Jesus took Peter, James and John up on the mountain to be witnesses of His glory. Moses and Elijah (signifying the law and the prophets) appeared there to bear witness to the Mediator of the Fresh Covenant. Spil Moses had seen the glory of Heer on Sinai, He witnessed that glory shining te the face of Jesus. Luke tells us that spil Jesus wasgoed speaking, ",A cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were fearful spil they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, telling, &ldquo,This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!&rdquo, Aker the Father came down on the mountain and spoke out of the cloud, announcing and explaining that Christ wasgoed His eternally beloved Son–the fulness of His revelation. When Peter reflected back on this incident so many years zometeen he remembered most of all the glory cloud out of which Heerser the Father spoke. He explained that on the mountain Jesus ",received from Heerser the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, te whom I am well pleased.’", (1 Peter 1:17). Jonathan Edwards captured the essence of the glory cloud at the Transfiguration when he wrote:

",There wasgoed a glory ter that cloud that the apostle calls an excellent glory. When it is said te the evangelists that a bright cloud overshadowed them, it is not meant such a light or white cloud spil shines by a personages of light upon it from some shining figure, such spil are some clouds by the bright reflection of the zon&rsquo,s light, but a cloud bright by an internal light shining out of it, which light the apostle calls an excellent glory. It very likely wasgoed an ineffably sweet, excellent sort of light, flawlessly differing from and far exceeding the light of the zon. And there most likely wasgoed an precies resemblance inbetween the glory that the disciples eyed ter Christ&rsquo,s face, and that which they spotted te this cloud, which proclaimed him to be the Son of Godheid, for they spotted him to be his express pic.",

The last place ter which clouds play a significant role ter redemptive history is te the ascension and ter the comeback of Christ. After His resurrection, Jesus took His disciples up to a high mountain where ",He wasgoed taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their look", (Acts 1:9). Jesus’ ascension on the clouds wasgoed foretold by Daniel (Dan. 7:13-14). He is the Son of Man ascending on the clouds of heaven and coming to the Ancient of Days to receive the Kingdom that wasgoed promised to Him. Likewise, the Scriptures tell us that ",He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. (Rev. 1:7). The Scriptures promise that He will ",come ter like manner", spil that by which He ascended to glory (Acts 1:11). One of the ways te which believers are to convenience one another ter this life, while wij await the utter revelation of Christ, is that when Jesus comes again, ",wij who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (i.e. believers who have already died) te the clouds to meet the Lord te the air. And thus wij shall always be with the Lord.",

From the post-deluvian revelation to the parousia, the Scripture utilizes clouds to symbolize the presence of Schepper. The next time wij are tempted to complain about it being a cloudy day, wij should pause and consider how the Lord uses clouds to remind us of His imminent presence and the promise of the coming of Jesus.

Christward Collective is a conversation of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. It is supported only by its readers and gracious Christians like you. Please prayerfully consider supporting Christward Collective and the mission of the Alliance.

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