Ascension of Christ, 26 May 2022 Anno Domini
the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And 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)
How often have the imaginations of youth been tantalized by the cloud formations of a beautiful day! There is much to stir the imagination of the Bible scholar as well when he considers the many references to the cloud. One of the very important references occurs in the new world of Noah and the covenant God made with him and his descendants: “I 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 9:13-16) What a strong Presence of God and His promises has since appeared at the dimming of the storm! God does, indeed, ride upon the wings of the storm and His watchful eye is on the sparrow as well. WE know that God has made that bow in the clouds to lighten our heart with faith.
That Cloud-Presence is even more strongly revealed in the exodus of the Children of Israel out of the Land of Bondage, out of Goshen in Egypt. “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 13:21-22)
We have a perfect example in that Pillar of Cloud how the Lord leads His people out of bondage and sin.. “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: 22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”
The Lord not only goes before in the Pillar of Cloud, but also follows hard on in that same Pillar. He both leads and follows His children in all toils and dangers. God gives light to His people, but He brings darkness upon those who embrace darkness in their ways. “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: 20And 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 14:19-20) Even so, the wicked Pharaoh continued pursuit in spite of the signs and miracles he had observed of God in parting the sea and sending the cloud. So God worked a further miracle right from His Cloud: “And 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. 26And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. 27And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.” (Exodus 13:23-27) As you can see, there is great power in the cloud when God is present. God was in the CLOUD!
We next see the cloud that separated Christ from the Law and the Prophets on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus was seen in glorified form with Moses (Law) and Elijah (Prophets). When the disciples wanted to make a tabernacle for each, the cloud descended and the voice of God was heard: “This is my beloved Son: hear him.” The cloud lifted revealing only Christ who is the Lord of the Cloud.
In the next case, we find Christ at His ascension. As revealed in Acts 1:9-11, a cloud received Him. The two great angels told the disciples: “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.”
Here is good news that we may hang our hats upon: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30)