Remember as a child, taking a moment from play to observe the cottony clouds and imagine different characters? When was the last time you stopped to watch the clouds on a beautiful sunny day?
Watching the clouds is something that I still love to do, and I take numerous photos. Whether it’s sunny or a storm is rolling in, this wonder of nature always fascinates me.
While I may not always look for characters in the clouds anymore, there is someone that I do see: God.
In the Old Testament, the imagery of clouds is used to indicate the presence of God. The first occurrence is God’s promise to Noah after the flood. “I am putting my bow in the clouds. It will be the sign of my covenant with the world.” (Genesis 9:13). That tangible promise is still in place today and a symbol of God’s constant love and faithfulness. (Psalm 108:4)
Later in the book of Genesis, the entire nation of Israel experiences the presence of God during their escape from slavery in Egypt. “During the day the Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud to show them the way.” (Exodus 13:21) The bright, luminescent cloud reflected the glory of God, never leaving its place in front of the Israelites as they traveled farther away from Egypt.
After the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, the Israelites camped at Mt Sinai. While Moses was on the mountain to meet with God and receive the ten commandments, the people saw God’s glory as a cloud covering the mountain for 40 days. (Exodus 24:15)
The finished temple in Jerusalem during King Solomon’s time received the Lord’s presence when it was filled with a cloud. (1 Kings 8:10)
Many often associate the clouds with what is currently happening in their life. Sunny days with puffy white clouds relate to not having a care in the world. In contrast, grey, cloudy days convey depression and life’s troubles weighing them down.
It is the same way we often see God. It is easy to feel that God is with us when it is a beautiful, sunny day. Yet when the clouds bring rain or menacing darkness, we no longer sense that God is there when we need Him.
Oswald Chambers, in his classic book, “Utmost for His Highest,” reflects that “it is by those very clouds that the Spirit of God is teaching us how to walk by faith. If there were no clouds, we should have no faith . . . the clouds are a sign that He is there. His purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child.” A child-like faith.
I have experienced many cloudy skies in my own life, and I am sure to have more. Instead of becoming downhearted, I try to see those same clouds as a sign that just as long ago, God is always there. No matter how dark the clouds may seem, God has promised that He will never leave us or abandon us. (Hebrews 13;5b) King David knew this truth when he wrote: “Where could I go to escape from You? Where could I get away from Your presence?” (Psalm 139:7)
As believers, we can trust God promises, just as the promise he made to Noah with a rainbow in the clouds. There is another promise that we can look forward to — when we again see Jesus in the clouds (Luke 21:27).
Next time you are outdoors, try looking at the clouds differently than you have before. Whether rain or shine, may you see those clouds as God’s presence with you.
Want further study? Here are more references of God’s presence in the clouds:
- Exodus 14:20 – It came between the Egyptians and Israelites
- Exodus 33:9-11 – It was at the Tent of Meeting
- Numbers 9:22 – It let Israel know when to set out and when to camp
- Matthew 17:5 – A voice came from a cloud at Jesus’s transfiguration
- Acts 1:9 – Jesus ascended into the clouds
- Revelation 1:7 – Jesus will return in the clouds.
Scripture references are linked to BibleGateway for the reader’s convenience.