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1 The return of Christ - Appendix 1 Clouds in the Bible

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Clouds are objects we see everyday when we look in the sky

When we are outside and we look up above us we see large white objects floating across the sky. Though they may look fairly solid, clouds are only collections of water droplets, ice crystals, or mixtures of both.

Since early times people have observed the many shapes of the clouds in the sky and watched their seemingly endless formation and disappearance. Poets and artists have talked about their beauty in poetry and paintings. But farmers, sailors, and others whose lives and jobs depend on the weather have always relied on the weather to help them predict the coming of storms.

Introduction - how clouds are formed

To understand the usage of clouds in the Bible, we first need to look at how are clouds formed.

Clouds are formed by natural processes acting on moisture in the air. The air gets moisture in it through what we know as evaporation. Now evaporation, if you can remember back to your school days, is the escaping of water molecules into the air as a gas or vapor from the land and from the bodies of water like the sea and rivers. The oceans and other bodies of water alone cover about 71 percent of the Earth's surface. So a lot of the evaporation happens through this source.

Water in the form of rain from some clouds then drops back to the earth so as to renew the surface water lost to evaporation.

So what we find as a result of this is that the moisture in the clouds is constantly being renewed by evaporation of water from the ground and oceans. Water in the form of rain or snow from some clouds then drops back to the earth so as to renew the surface water lost to evaporation. Once this has happened the cycle has been completed.

As to the amount of water vapor that air can hold: well, this really depends on the air's temperature. The cooler the air, the smaller the amount of water it can hold. When the air is cooled enough some of the water vapor will condense to form a visible mass of tiny droplets. However, this condensation of droplets from water vapor will only happen if there are minute particles in the atmosphere. This is because the water needs to basically form or grip onto something solid. The most common sources of such particles, known as condensation nuclei, are grains of salt from ocean spray and particles from fires and volcanic eruptions. Clear ocean air may have less than 100 particles per cubic centimeter , while the air over an industrial city may have in excess of a million particles per cubic centimeter.

If the condensation from water vapor to droplets occurs on the ground, such as on grass or on flowers, it is called dew. If it happens near the ground it is called fog or mist. When it is up in the sky it is called clouds.

As I mentioned before, when the water vapour is cooled it condenses into clouds. Well air that rises becomes cooler, so when moist air is forced to rise, as for example wind blowing up a mountain side, clouds are likely to form. Therefore the windward sides of the great dividing range for example is often more cloudy and receive more rain than the inland side. Air is also forced upwards by intense heating of land. That is why areas at or near the Equator are nearly always cloudy during the hottest part of the day.

Clouds in the Bible

Clouds are used at different places in the Bible to teach principles to the believers. For example, in Exodus clouds teach baptism and in Isaiah they teach the concept of blotting out sin (forgiveness). In the book of Revelation they teach another concept - we will consider this in detail as it relates to the coming of Christ.

In Revelation chapter one we see that clouds heralded the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. Revelation 1:7 NKJV

In this verse we see Christ coming with clouds, and every person on the earth will see him coming. As with most parts of Revelation there is symbolism behind this verse. In this case the symbolism draws on things from nature.

The things in nature that it draws on are the sun, the clouds, the sea and the process of evaporation. Even though only clouds are mentioned we can make more sense of this verse if we make the connection between the clouds and the other processes of nature that I just mentioned.

The Sun - The Lord Jesus Christ

The first process of nature that can be tied to the clouds mentioned in this verse is the sun.

The sun is mentioned in a symbolic sense in Malachi chapter four and verses one and two:

 “For behold, the day is coming,
      Burning like an oven,
      And all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble.
      And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”
      Says the LORD of hosts,

      “That will leave them neither root nor branch.
      But to you who fear My name
      The Sun of Righteousness shall arise
      With healing in His wings;
      And you shall go out
      And grow fat like stall-fed calves.
Malachi 4:1-2 NKJV

The Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.      Malachi 4:2

We see in these verses that Christ is being likened to the sun. This is beyond doubt if you think about the number of times that Jesus is tied into this symbolism. In Luke he is referred to as the Dayspring from on high that hath visited us, to give light to them in darkness. In John, Jesus claimed to be the light of the world and in Revelation he is said to be the bright and morning star. In Isaiah, he is tied into the sun when it says that he is the light of Zion whose rising brings the call for Zion's awakening from the dust of down-treading and oppression.

So it is beyond doubt that Christ is represented by the sun.

The Sea - the nations of the world

Another process of nature we need to look at so as to understand the clouds mentioned in Revelation chapter one, is the sea.

In Revelation chapter 17 and verse 15 we can see what the sea symbolises.

Then he said to me, “The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues.

Revelation 17:15 NKJV

From this verse we can see that the waters of the earth in fact represent the great masses of people who live across the face of the earth. As the sea washes to and through across the earth so do the peoples who live on the earth move to and through across the earth.

So we now know that the sun represents Christ and the sea represents the many nations of people who live on the earth.

The cloud - the worthy believer (the saints)

Now that we understand this we can work out what the cloud represents in Revelation chapter one and verse seven.  

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. Revelation 1:7 NKJV

So the picture we get from all of this is that:

Christ's saints (clouds) will empty their knowledge (rain) upon the nations (the sea).

The influence of the sun of righteousness (Jesus Christ) upon the waters (in other words, peoples) of the earth has the effect of separating a few from the bulk (like evaporation), and in due time, drawing those few into the political heavens where they will be formed into clouds. As clouds these selected few will ultimately empty their contents (their knowledge) upon the earth.

So the clouds represent those few that have been judged as being worthy to be one of Christ's saints.

They have been called from the great sea of people who live on the earth. The prophet Amos says this:

 He made the Pleiades and Orion;
      He turns the shadow of death into morning
      And makes the day dark as night;
      He calls for the waters of the sea
      And pours them out on the face of the earth;
      The LORD is His name.
Amos 5:8 NKJV

Here Christ as the sun, calls to the waters of the sea through evaporation, which forms them into clouds and then pours them out in the form of rain onto the face of the earth.

The water cycle - God's righteousness imparted to the people

So the few are formed into clouds like the water is evaporated from the earth to form into clouds. Once these clouds of the saints have been formed then they will rain their righteousness upon the earth like a cloud would release it's water in the form of rain.

As an example of this, Deuteronomy 32 has the following words: 

“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak;
      And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.

 Let my teaching drop as the rain,
      My speech distill as the dew,
      As raindrops on the tender herb,
      And as showers on the grass.

 For I proclaim the name of the LORD:
      Ascribe greatness to our God.
Deuteronomy 32:1-3

The righteous shall let God's doctrine drop as rain onto the many who are still on the earth. Once the rain falls on the earth it will help for the living things to grow so as to produce fruit. Have a look at Isaiah chapter 55 and verses 10 to 11.

 “ For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
      And do not return there,
      But water the earth,
      And make it bring forth and bud,
      That it may give seed to the sower
      And bread to the eater,
       11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
      It shall not return to Me void,
      But it shall accomplish what I please,
      And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11 NKJV

So we can see that the rain will come from these clouds of righteousness so as to nourish those who are on the earth and produce fruit that will be pleasing to our Heavenly Father.

So there we have the full picture of God's righteousness being exercised on the people's of this earth.

Let us hope that in the future we will be part of that cloud that the power of our Heavenly Father will dwell in.

In Revelation ch.1: 7 the word coming means the act of coming or going, and not mere arrival. The coming in question, therefore, is the moving from one point to another, and here indicates the movement of Christ and the saints from Sinai to Jerusalem. The clouds thus comprise the saints in glory who will be with the Lord in his day of triumph. 

Let us pray and hope that each one of us here will be called from the great sea of humanity so as to join others in the cloud of righteous that Christ will be in.

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Last Updated: Sunday, 08 March 2015