By Elizabeth Prata
Clouds. They’re there.
They’re beautiful. They make the skies dynamic. They are a landscape all their own which changes every day, sometimes every minute. Maybe we should call them an ‘airscape.’ In the Hebrew, the ancient root of the word cloud meant ‘covering’, which is apt.
Have you ever noticed how often clouds are mentioned in the Bible? And not just related to the weather, though there are those references too. No, when clouds are mentioned, they mean different things, spiritual things. Let’s take a look.
The first mention of clouds is in Genesis 9. After the Flood, God said He would make ‘a bow in the clouds’ as a covenant with man promising He would not flood the world again.
Proverbs 3:20 reminds us that dew comes from the clouds. It’s a reference to the hydrologic cycle God instituted. Those two mentions are weather related.
When talking of wicked people, the Bible uses clouds as a metaphor. Wicked people are Clouds without water (Jude 1:12). A ‘cloud without water’ is an old proverb, meaning a man who does not keep his promise (see also Proverbs 16:15, Isaiah 18:4; 25:5).
Wicked people are also compared to the morning fog, another ephemeral item, and eventually disappearing like dew, or smoke. (Hosea 13:3). Clouds are a good metaphor for that because on His day they will easily be wiped away. Another mention of the ephemeral nature of clouds is from Isaiah 44:22, where God wipes away sins, “I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you.”
The word cloud is frequently is used as a symbol of God’s Divine presence. God’s glory is too bright and cloud is used as an indicator of His concealing His splendor of that glory (Exodus 16:10; 33:9; Numbers 11:25; 12:5; Job 22:14; Psalm 18:11).
A bright cloud is the symbolic seat of the Divine presence. The Pillar of Cloud was the glory-cloud which indicated God leading the people through the wilderness (Exodus 13:22; 33:9, 10). This pillar went before the people as they walked, resting on the ark (Exodus 13:21; 40:36). By night it became a pillar of fire (Numbers 9:17–23).
This glory cloud/brightness was called the Shechinah. Jehovah came down upon Sinai in a cloud (Exodus 19:9); and the cloud filled the court around the tabernacle in the wilderness so that Moses could not enter it (Exodus 40:34, 35), nor the priests.
The cloud eventually came to reside in the Temple, indicated by … you guessed it, a cloud!
And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, (1 Kings 8:10).
so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God. (2 Chronicles 5:14).
An exciting use of the word ‘cloud’ is in an eschatological sense. Last things… When Christ returns He is described as coming “in the clouds” (Matthew 17:5; 24:30; Acts 1:9, 11).
Cloud is used six times in Revelation.
Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. (Revelation 1:7).
Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. (Revelation 10:1).
Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them. (Revelation 11:12)
The Harvest of the Earth
Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. (Revelation 14:14)
And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped. (Revelation 14:15-16).
At the end of all things, we will not need clouds to conceal God’s glory,. We will not use cloud as a metaphor for His glory, or even as a symbol for wicked people. His glory will shine undimmed, not from behind a cloud but fully, overspreading the earth with light and love.
And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. 26 They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Revelation 21:22-26).
So, keep looking up at the clouds!
Some more cloud pictures, just because I like them! 🙂