The cloud, that misty covering that ofttimes falls upon God's people, is not a blot in God's handwriting. With Jesus, clouds come as a part of His train of glory. Clouds are really not our enemies; they do not hide His face; they are not warnings of an approaching storm. Once you understand that clouds are instruments of divine love, they should no longer be feared.
You will never understand your trials and sufferings until you understand the meaning of holy clouds. It is true, Christ will return at the end of this age in clouds of glory. But He is also coming to us with clouds throughout our journey here on earth. When you invite Christ to come into your life to meet your needs, He comes with clouds. The clouds are chariots of His divine blessings. "[He] maketh the clouds his chariot" (Psalm 104:3).
The cloud that may be hanging over your head at this very moment is not some cold, foreboding mist of wrath. We are so afraid of clouds, we almost always attribute them to storms. We call them storm clouds because we don't understand that they are, in reality, pillows of peace and comfort. When our Lord comes with clouds, He comes to lead, to reveal Himself, and to provide a protective covering for His people. Let me prove to you from the Scriptures that clouds, no matter how dark or fearful they may appear to the human eye, are the habitation of the Christ of glory. When you know He is in your cloud, you can rest in quiet confidence, knowing He is at work.
1. The cloud in your sky is a sign of God's faithfulness!
"...the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud" (Genesis 9:14).
God set a rainbow in the cloud as an everlasting sign of His faithfulness. Listen to His amazing promise to all believers:
"And 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 9:16).
Do you understand the meaning of what God has actually promised those who trust Him? He is saying, "When I see the cloud covering you, it will remind Me that I have promised to keep you from destruction. Your trial will not destroy you! Fear not; no matter how dark it may seem, your King sits Lord of the flood. You don't have to remind Me to be faithful; your cloud causes Me to remember."
Talk about getting your prayers through! Talk about being heard in heaven; nothing gets our Lord's attention quicker than a cloud passing over one of His children. "I will look upon it (your cloud), that I may remember...."
I have heard of war clouds, storm clouds, clouds of depression, clouds of fear, and clouds of gloom. But these descriptions of fearful clouds are only from a carnal eye view. Actually, clouds are "divine markers." If you have a cloud hanging over you right now, you have been set apart for divine action. God is getting ready to reveal Himself to you in a supernatural manner.
What we think are clouds of woe are, in reality, clouds of deliverance. What happens when God is at work bringing about a glorious miracle? David sang this song the day God delivered him from the enemy: "At the brightness that was before him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire. The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave his voice...he shot out lightnings, and discomfited them.... He delivered me from my strong enemy..." (Psalm 18:12-17).
David didn't know until it was all over what the storm was all about. No doubt David sat trembling in a cave, while the lightning bolts struck — the hail stones came hurtling earthward — and the deafening thunder shook the ground. "What does it all mean?" David must have asked himself. "Here I am fighting a terrible enemy. Now I have to sit here hopeless under these fearful, scary clouds." But when the storm had passed and the cloud had lifted, David looked about and not one enemy was in sight. God had sent the clouds, thunder, lightning, and all — to deliver him.
Does your cloud have thunder in it? Is lightning striking all around you? That is not the devil at work, my friend; that is an all-powerful God, showing His arm of strength on your behalf. When you call on God for help, He comes in a cloud and answers with thunder:
"Thou calledst in trouble, and I delivered thee; I answered thee in the secret place of thunder..." (Psalm 81:7).
Ask Samuel about clouds and thunder. The Philistines had surrounded Israel and were about to close in. "...but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel" (1 Samuel 7:10).
2. Your cloud is a sign God has answered your prayer for guidance.
"And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them in the way..." (Exodus 13:21).
How could Israel explain to the pagans around them that they got guidance from a cloud? "They will tell it to the inhabitants of the land...that the cloud standeth over them...."
Can you picture God's people, day after day in that horrible wilderness, staring into a cloud? I am sure the enemies of Israel went about saying, "If their God is so powerful, why do they not have sunshine all the time; why do they suffer daily under that gloomy cloud? Everywhere they go, the cloud appears."
Not to worry, my friends. That cloud others thought to be so unwelcome was their daily scout. When the cloud moved, they moved; when it stalled, they stood still.
- "But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up" (Exodus 40:37).
- "...as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents" (Numbers 9:18).
- "Whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried...they stayed in their tents, and journeyed not..." (Numbers 9:22).
What kind of guidance was this? Nothing happening for two days, a week, a month, and even a year? The cloud settles down upon them and stays, and stays, and stays! Can't you hear them in their tents, complaining: "When will God ever get us going again? Time is wasting! The promise is delayed! How much more of this idleness, this inaction can we take? God gave us His word to see us all the way to our haven. Why do we just sit here? A cloud of guidance? Why, it's more like a cloud of forgetting!"
God has good reason to stall our cloud. God proved His children, to see if they would run ahead of Him, forgetting to wait for His leading. He waits until we come to the end of our patience and are willing to cry out, "Lord, I'll wait in this wilderness for ever, if that is Your will. I'll do it Your way; I won't move until You give me the word."
More often, the cloud stalls so that God can do battle with Satan on behalf of His children. Israel's cloud stalled one day, so that God could set up a battle line to stop the enemy from hassling His chosen.
- "...and the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them" (Exodus 14:19).
- "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 Israel: so that the one came not near the other all night" (Exodus 14:20).
That stalled cloud was performing a mighty work of God. It was saving their lives; it was confusing the enemy. God was saying, "Not one inch further, Satan. I will lead and protect My people! Get away! Leave! You are powerless!"
So it is today, saints of God! While we complain and question God about why our cloud won't leave, He waits for us to see that He sent the cloud.
Right now, our nation has a heavy cloud hanging over it. To the carnal eye, it is a cloud of financial depression, unemployment, hard times, evil reports, things coming apart. To the world, it is a cloud of gloom, despair, wickedness, and restlessness. The governments of this world see it as an economic storm cloud. The whole nation is waiting for the thunder and lightning to strike.
Not so for the true believer! God's people see the same cloud suspended over this nation; but they see something quite different. They see God in that dark cloud! The cloud has always been, and always will be, viewed in two different ways: darkness to the carnal, brightness to the saved. How you view the cloud is most important. If you have entered into the rest and confidence of faith in God, you see nothing but Jesus in the cloud. Believers have nothing to fear! The cloud that causes the sinners' hearts to fail for fear must cause the hearts of Christians to look up and rejoice — because "our Lord cometh with clouds...."
So what if the Arabs shut down all the oil fields? So what if hard times fall upon this nation and the world? So what if our lifestyles are cut way back? God is still on the throne; He is still King of the flood; and as the cloud settles over the land, let us know that our Lord is about to show Himself strong on the behalf of all who trust Him. There is nothing at all to fear. These troubled days should be the brightest for God's people — the cloud is coming to take us home!
Why should we be surprised that a cloud has settled over our land? It is a pre-coming situation.
"And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven...and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Matthew 24:30).
Yes, my Christian friend, we see in that cloud the power and glory of a Savior, leading us into the new Kingdom. Why be afraid of the gathering clouds? Why tremble as the storm nears? Saints, when it hits — know that it is our God who is thundering with His voice. He is answering our prayers for revival and renewal. Repentance is bringing forth a Lord riding swift upon a cloud. "Behold, the Lord rideth upon a swift cloud..." (Isaiah 19:1).
3. Your cloud is His gift of strength in your hour of need.
"Ascribe ye strength unto God...his strength is in the clouds" (Psalm 68:34).
The cloud is not meant to weaken and discourage those who live under its shadow. Rather, it is meant as a sure sign that the God of strength is on the scene to help.
Do I hear a child of God say, "How can God be in this cloud hanging over me? How can it be God showing His strength, when it leaves me so cold and weak and fearful?"
Often people who lose a loved one talk about a cloud of despair and doubt that falls upon them. Those who seek love talk about their cloud of loneliness that never seems to go away. Others who worry about a financial crisis talk about their cloud of worry and uncertainty. But, no matter what you think caused the cloud, it is not the work of Satan trying to bring you down. In the darkness of any cloud, you can find the Lord at work.
Daniel had a vision of Christ coming with clouds. He said, "I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven..." (Daniel 7:13).
The disciples also beheld His glory in the cloud on the Mount of Transfiguration. "...a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son...hear ye Him..." (Matthew 17:5).
His glory, His voice, the brightness of His presence — it was all in the cloud. No, your cloud is not an accident! Your cloud is a part of Himself, sent to cover you with strength and protection.
Elihu, the only counselor of Job's who was not rebuked by the Lord, said, "...He scattereth his bright cloud: And it is turned round about by his counsels: that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them.... He causeth the cloud to come, whether for correction, or for his land, or for mercy" (Job 37:11-13).
If we are under a cloud of correction, it is still a marvelous sign of His love to us, for He corrects only those He loves. Mostly, they are mercy clouds that come from His presence.
Stop everything! Take another look at the cloud hanging over you or your home. You have allowed it to discourage you, no doubt. You would prefer God chase away your cloud and bring you out into sunshine and clear skies. But you are safe under the cloud — God is at work, and the cloud is His tent. It is the pavilion of His love. So stand still and see His salvation in your cloud!
If you knew the good that will come out of your cloud, you would not ask for its removal.
I am convinced that every true Christian would choose the very course God has chosen for him, if he knew all that God knows. Life is like a beautiful tapestry, but the Master Weaver only shows you one strand at a time. If you could see the wonderful plan He is working out, you would rejoice rather than recoil.
If God could explain in detail all the mysterious workings of His divine will — if He could show you why each tragedy, why the suffering, why the lonely hours, why the delayed answers to prayer — if He could show you how all these things truly are working together for your final good — you would, if you had the power, choose for yourself the very clouds, the very plan, the same pathway God has chosen for you. You would not change one step — one detail. If God were to take you a different route or keep you from a certain trial, you would cry out, "No, Lord, I won't be what You revealed to me I should be if You change things. Keep me on schedule. Keep me on course. Let me finish the race the way You laid it out. Your way, Lord, after all, is best!"
Truly, the Lord cometh with clouds!