What is “the cloud”, exactly?
And where is it, honestly?
And who is in charge, precisely?
Are the pictures of my grands and my garden floating somewhere in space? Are my documents being filed in a cosmic cabinet in the sky? Is my stuff safe up there? Am I a fool to trust my work to an ethereal nimbus?
It seems we are not the first generation to question “the cloud”.
The Israelites, who had been delivered from slavery in Egypt, had to deal with a cloud as well. They would wake up in the morning, look out their tent flap and see what the cloud was doing. If it was lifting up, it was time to pack and move. If the cloud was settled over the Tabernacle, they could go back to bed after gathering their portion of manna for the day.
If the cloud moves, you move.
If the cloud stays, you stay.
Imagine — a visual representation of God’s glorious presence right outside your door 24/7. A comforting cloud during the day to shade the intense desert sun and a fiery pillar at night to provide warmth and a nightlight. What more could anyone want?
Except people tend to get stiff sleeping in tents. And stiff-necked.
Only a few days after walking through the Red Sea on dry ground,
there was grumbling.
Only a few weeks after being delivered from 400 years of enslavement,
there was quarreling.
Only three months into their trip to the Promised Land,
the people had stopped looking at the cloud
and decided a golden calf was a better option.
I’m tempted to think it would have been easier to follow God back then. Yet His visual presence didn’t seem to make obedience any easier for people. Perhaps it was just as tempting then for people to take their eyes off the Lord as it is now. Then again, it’s hard to love a cloud.
How glorious is it that the cloud returned when Jesus came onto the scene in the New Testament? There was a cloud at Jesus’ baptism, at the transfiguration and at His ascension. How starkly revealing is it that there was no cloud present at the crucifixion? The death of Jesus at Golgotha was the one time the Father turned His back on His Son because of the sin He carried on our behalf.
When Jesus returns, He will be seen coming in the clouds — unbridled glory for all the world to see. All believers who are living on earth will be caught up in those very same clouds.
It takes a lot of faith to hit “save” and believe that our personal information is safe and sound, somewhere in “the cloud”. May we all have the same kind of trust in “The Cloud”.
“Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out;
wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped.
Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year,
the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out;
but when it lifted, they would set out.”
Numbers 9:17, 22