“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The cloud of glory

When we think of clouds, we think of water. As water evaporates from the earth, it clumps together with other water vapor to form clouds. From a distance on the ground, those tiny particles of miniature water droplets look bright and misty, incorporeal. It was to this quality that the Bible writers compared the glory of God.

Glory flows from all things holy, which source is the one true God. That essence of light was seen by Peter and his fellow disciples. “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.” “While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son: hear Him.” (Matt. 17:5;Lk. 9:34,35).

The holiness of God, manifested by the white cloud is what made the “holy mount” holy, “when there came such a voice to Him [Jesus] from the excellent glory,” and when “the fashion of His countenance was altered, and His raiment was white and glistering,” “shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.” (2Pet. 1:17,18; Lk.9:29;Mk. 9:3). The cloud of His Father’s glory enshrouded and infused Him, thrilled and comforted His lonely soul, and from His transfigured corporeal body that light shone through and even brightened His clothing.

The glory of Christ’s original form was identical to His Father’s seen on the mount, for His Son was “the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person.” (Heb. 1:3). We see that ethereal essence in the pre-carnate Son of God, “the Lord” of the Old Testament. “The Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the vail before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.” (Lev. 16:2). “And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.” “And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with Him, then he heard the voice of One speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto Him.”

Likewise, a hue-laden aura, resembling a rainbow, crowns His spiritual glory. “As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face.” “I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon His head, and His face was as it were the sun, and His feet as pillars of fire.” (Ez. 1:28;Rev. 10:1).

“On the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning. So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.” (Num. 9:15,16;Ex. 25:22;Num. 7:89).

During their escape from Egyptian slavery, the Son of God was called a “pillar” and an “angel” because His divine form was only glory, but He would give no distinguishing features of Himself lest the idolatrous slaves begin to worship His appearance instead of His character of love; so a cylinder of light must do. “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: 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.” (Ex. 14:19,20 ). He can choose to be darkness for those who hate His light; and brightness to the ones who love Him.

In the following case, the Lord manifested His person again, not in approval for Israel, but in disapproval; to warn them off from their complaining and self-pity and unbelief. Nonetheless, He wanted to remind them that He was still desirous to be their God, planning to bear with their recalcitrance, though growing more impatient. “And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.” (Ex. 16:10).

So by the time the tribes of Israel arrived at His mountain, they had really blown it many times and were about to worship the golden calf. So He didn’t come down onto Sinai in pleasant glory, but in darkness and overwhelming power. “And the Lord said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever.” (Ex. 19:9). The people were increasingly needing a mediator with God. And they had one with Moses, who loved them with all his heart because he first loved God with all his heart.

Thus, the nation and the tent tabernacle they built were accepted by Him, as seen by the reappearance of the Lord in His unshadowed brightness. “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” (Ex. 40:34,35).

In a similar repeat, when Solomon dedicated the temple he constructed, the Lord God’s person we see again as a misty pale whiting out everything around it and growing so radiant that no one could bear its brilliance. “And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.” (1Ki. 8:10,11).

Another of this same cloud of glory, that shining “Ghost” came upon Mary at the incarnation of the God’s Son. “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Lk. 1:35).

This “cloud” was used to carry Jesus to heaven. “And when He had spoken these things, while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9).

It was the same “clouds of heaven” that Daniel saw carry Christ to His Father’s presence to receive His final kingdom. “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, One like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him.” (Dan. 7:13).

And when He returns for His kingdom of people, He will arrive here on the same glorious “clouds,” “in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” “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.” (Acts 1:11;Matt. 24:30).

“And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud One sat like unto the Son of man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in Thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for Thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And He that sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.” “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen.” (Rev. 14:14-16;1Thess. 4:17;Rev. 1:7).

The cloud of light was part of Israel’s baptism into a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. “And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” (1Cor. 10:2). That cloud must have had the same effect of disconcerting as it had on Peter on the holy mount. Fear at the sight of the unearthly purifies the soul.

We can expect the same experience again for God’s people before He comes again. “And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, and upon her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night: for upon all the glory shall be a defence.” (Is. 4:5).

I believe that the Spirit of God which came in the form of a white dove upon Christ at His baptism was like a small representative of His Father’s bosom, a gift of glory from His Father’s presence. “And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him: and lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:16). Likewise, that glow of light from the Spirit of God was seen on the apostles at Pentecost, described as a flame of fire.

And, just to keep us always in remembrance of God’s cloud of glory, He has left us the misty band of stars above our heads in the night sky, this time representing all those saints who have fought the good fight of faith by God’s grace, left us the light of their holy examples, and are now awaiting their reward. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” (Heb. 12:1).


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