Cloud Look-a-Likes…

“A bird! That one dad, right over there! That cloud looks like a bird!”

It is one of our favorite games to play. My youngest has one of the most vivid imaginations, so she would usually spot the clouds that looked like something or someone. Since I am a bit slow, she would have to point out – “See dad, there is the head, and those are the wings…” Usually I’d just have to trust her, but every now and then I could see it – a small victory for dad.

Clouds. Living in a tropical state, storm clouds are a dailey treat. I had no idea what powerful metaphors clouds were in both the old and new testament. Admittedly, I was blowing through the last chapter of Exodus this morning – rushing to the end (this has been a hard book to read) and then the last 2 verses grabbed me:

“Whenever the Cloud lifted from The Dwelling, the People of Israel set out on their travels, but if the Cloud did not lift, they wouldn’t set out until it did lift. The Cloud of God was over the dwelling…”

This cloud covered the tabernacle even in the clearest day. It was not a cloud which the sun scatters. This cloud was a token of God’s presence to be seen day and night, by all Israel, that they might never again question, Is the Lord among us, or is he not? It guided the camp of Israel through the wilderness. While the cloud rested on the tabernacle, they rested; when it removed, they followed it.

A little research revealed the following (from Naves Topical Bible):

The Old Testament. The Literal Cloud.

Natural phenomena involving clouds are depicted occasionally in the Old Testament, but far from being only “natural,” these are invariably linked with the direct activity of God. The rainbow in the clouds is a sign of the covenant, and clouds themselves are presented as witnesses to the surety of the covenant with David.

The Metaphorical Cloud.

The biblical writers frequently employ phenomena of cloud formation and activity in order to metaphorically illustrate aspects of their theological message. In a positive sense, clouds represent unlimited extent of God’s faithfulness and truth; life-giving refreshment; shade or shelter from the “heat” of the ruthless. In a negative sense, clouds are used to symbolize prideful self-exaltation of the wicked.

The Theophanic Cloud.

The most common usage of the Hebrew terms for cloud comes in the context of divine theophany. By far the largest group (about fifty occurrences) of these refer to the visible manifestation of the divine presence during Israel’s exodus from Egypt and wilderness wandering. This sign of God’s presence is termed variously: pillar of cloud (Exod 13:21-22, ; plus eleven times), pillar of fire and cloud (Exod 14:24); a thick cloud (Exod 19:9,16), the cloud (Exod 14:20, plus thirty-three times); and the cloud of the Lord (Exod 40:38; Num 10:34).

While you and I may not see the same cloud Moses and his people did, we do have amazing manifestations of His presence. The church had divine revelation for its guide long before the WORD of God existed in a written form. But ever since the setting up of the Bible, we rest on that as our tabernacle. It accompanies us wherever we are or go, just as the cloud led the way of the Israelites. It is always accessible and can be carried in our pockets every day. It may be engraved on the inner tablets of our memories and our hearts. And so true, faithful, and complete a guide is it, that there is not a scene of duty or of trial through which we may be called to pass in the world, that it won’t furnish a clear, a safe, and unerring direction.

And when we can’t seem to trace His hand in our life, head outside to an open grassy field. Kick off your shoes, lay down and check out the clouds. God is there. And if you look hard enough, you just may find what you are looking for.


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