Anglican Morning Devotion for 24 July 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” (Nahum 1:3)
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Since time immemorial, clouds have been a symbol of mystery. But clouds often shroud mysteries of great beauty and truth. As a boy, I used to lie among the sagebrush on autumn days peering up at the white puffy animals and monsters in the sky. A pirate ship would often appear followed by a dragon. The clouds were more the toys of my imagination than any store-bought plastic or wooden models. I wonder what enabled the clouds to float about heaven on pristine Fall days – what were they made of? My father told me they were made of moist air in which the water droplets would soon condense to form rain, but that did not make sense to me in the defiance of the law of gravity. Our ignorance often hides beautiful truths of nature and of nature’s God.
God has used clouds to reveal His works and promises to men. God’s covenant with Noah and every living creature was symbolized by the rainbow in the cloud: “And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth. 14And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.” (Genesis 9:12-16)
God used the Pillar of Cloud by day to lead, and to follow, the Children of Israel in the wilderness Journey. God was in that Cloud – “And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. 23And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the LORD looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, 25And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptians.” (Exodus 14:22-25) Researchers have found evidence of those chariot wheels strewn across the depths of the Red Sea at the historic point of crossing.
There are clouds which give a false promise. We may find them begging for money (filthy lucre) every day on your TV channels. These are empty clouds that promise rains of blessing, but have no water. Our Lord’s description of these scoundrels is far better than mine: “These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” (Jude 1:12-13)
You will recall another cloud that contains a promise most blessed – that which held within the Person of the Lord on the Mount of Transfiguration: “5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. 6 And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. 7 And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid. 8 And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.” ( Matthew 17:5-8)
I still love to look up to the sky and see beautiful clouds. They still pique my imagination but no longer with the simplicity of a child, but with better understanding. I still search the Heavens hoping to see that Cloud return in likewise as it departed with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ with the Hosts of Heaven trailing in His wake.