Stories in the Clouds
Clouds. What fascinating works of creation! I like to watch great mounds of cumulus cloud move across the sky–snowy white against the blue, ever moving, ever changing. Clouds bring messages to farmers, meteorologists, and those of us who like to watch. Small clouds rising on the horizon tell of a possible shower to come. Dark, grey, angry looking clouds warn of pending storms. A pillar of cloud speaks comfort and protection.
In Old Testament times, God appeared in a cloud. As the Israelites were being led out of Egypt, they followed a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. When Pharaoh had a change of heart and pursued the people, his intentions to return them to slavery, the pillar of cloud moved behind them, coming between the Egyptians and the Israelites. To Pharaoh’s army, it was a cloud of darkness, to the Camp of Israel, it was a cloud of light.
When the children of Israel began to complain in the desert, Aaron said, “Come near before the Lord”. As they looked toward the wilderness, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. When Moses went into the tabernacle in the desert, a pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door as God talked with Moses. (Ex. 33:9) Years later, Solomon built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem. When the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the temple, to the holy of holies, the priests who were ministering could not continue because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple. (2 Chron. 6:14)
Again, one day when Jesus and three of His disciples climbed a high mountain, He was transfigured before their eyes, His face shining like the sun, His clothes as white as light. Moses and Elijah appeared talking to Jesus. Just when verbose Peter opened his mouth, a cloud covered them all and a voice was heard to say, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” (Matt. 17:5)
Imagine, the all-powerful God of the universe descending to earth in a cloud, to reassure His people. In each of the above cases, God made Himself known to His children. He was there to protect, to guide, to give assurance of His nearness and His love. God knows when we are frightened. He knows when doubt arises in our hearts. He knows when we need encouragement. He cares. He loves us so much, He actually sends a sign of His presence.
Several years ago, our family was traveling on a major highway when the heavens opened and the rains poured down. It was so heavy we couldn’t see, and my husband decided it best to pull over to the side of the road. There we sat, praying no one would run into us. The downpour lasted only a few minutes; and when the heavens cleared, I looked up. There in the sky was a pillar of cloud. I had never seen one quite like it; and at the time, I thought, we had a guardian angel looking after us. After reading the above scriptures, I wonder – was it God? Certainly, He looked after us that day as He looks after all of His children every day. Praise God our loving heavenly Father.
“Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men.” Psalm 66:5a