The first mention of clouds in the Gospels is on a mountain according to Matthew 17:1-5. This followed Jesus’ words about the cross in the region of Caesarea Philippi. Rather appropriate as I think about it, first the cross then the glory. Matthew’s gospel says, ‘…a voice from the cloud said, “this is my beloved Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” Did Peter, James and John’s minds recall their nation’s history when God spoke to Israel out of the cloud at Mount Sinai?
Later the disciples were in for a shock as the Lord spoke about other clouds. This was in the context of future events affecting Israel and the Gentile nations. (Matthew 24). ‘Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.’ (Matthew 24:29, 30) What a great incentive to be a cloud watcher!
Jesus was accused of blasphemy because He linked Himself to the quote of Daniel 7:13. ‘In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into His presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.’
If Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead but His body had remained in the tomb, the judgement of the High Priest and Sanhedrin would have been correct. The message of the angels is our victory chant, “He is not here; He has risen!” You are the conquering Lord over sin, death and Satan’s kingdom.
What an emotional moment it must have been for those with the risen Christ on the Mount of Olives. How would they have felt as Jesus was taken to Heaven in a cloud (Acts 1:9)? I’m sure they never lost the significance of the angel’s words when he said “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.” (Acts ). This is the promise of Revelation 1:7.
Fortunately, the Lord gave instructions that motivate His followers to make people aware of His mission and message. The heart must be occupied by Christ Jesus and the clouds, but the mind needs to be focused on service. This is our calling, the former is our hope and longing. Each disciple has their own God given or birth derived gift to exercise and refine for the Lord’s honour. The purpose of having our gifts and abilities is to express in meaningful ways the wonder of God’s transforming and enabling grace. This purpose remains for the Church until it is caught up to meet the Lord in the clouds, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
©Ray Hawkins Jan 2017.
Ray is a retired Church of Christ minister who now writes Biblically themed 31 day Devotionals. Titles include: Children, God’s special Interest. Captured by Calvary. Dynamic Ageing.