Anglican Morning Devotion, 7 June 2021 Anno Domini
a ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“ And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.” (Exodus 13:20-22; all scripture quoted is from the King James Version)
Clouds have always presented impressions of mystery and wonder. As a child, I used to lay among the sagebrush of the field on spring days and wonder what the clouds were made of, where they came from, and where they were going. I pictured airplanes, cowboys, and ballerinas in fancy gowns in my fertile imagination. But clouds do have meaning and are used extensively in Scripture to reveal or conceal, mysteries of God.
The most profound reference to the cloud in the Old Testament is found in the leading text of this devotion. We see that the Pillar of Cloud by Day and Fire by Night not only led the way for the Children of Israel but also followed as a defense from those who were the enemy. “And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them.” (Exodus 14:19) That cloud represented the presence of God both leading and following. To the children of Israel, the cloud gave light and cover – to the Egyptians it was darkness and a shield against them. “And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night.” (Exodus 14:20) Ex 14:20 (KJV) The leading and protective hand of God is a blessing to the elect but a curse to the enemy of His people.
The one dollar bill (US) depicts the Great Seal of the United States on the obverse side. Above the great eagle floats the Glory Cloud representing the same cloud that led Israel in the wilderness. Within the cloud are thirteen stars representing the Thirteen original Colonies arranged in the shape of the Star of David. The Founders felt God was leading the establishment of the American Republic in the same way He led Israel of old.
But clouds figure prominently in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, too. You will recall the Mount of Transfiguration when Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ in glorified body; but a bright cloud descended and when it lifted there was only the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter, James, and John suggested building three tabernacles – one for the Lord, one for Elijah, and one for Moses; the Voice of God emanated from the cloud – “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” (Matthew 17:5) God would have us worship no man by Christ! The presence of Moses and Elijah represented the Law and the Prophets which foreshadowed the righteousness of the Lord. Christ Himself represented the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets.
There is another cloud of renown that we should mention for it is very important for our spiritual expectations – that cloud that received our Lord Jesus Christ at His ascension. “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9And 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 1:6-11)
It is with the patience and hope of the saints that we keep watch for that same cloud that bore our Lord Heavenly and will, at God’s own time, descend at His return in clouds of Glory.