For a few days now I’ve been stuck in 1 Kings 8. Particularly verses 10-13.
“When the priests left the Holy Place, a cloud filled The Temple of God. The priests couldn’t carry out their priestly duties because of the cloud—the glory of God filled The Temple of God!
Then Solomon spoke:
God has told us that he lives in the dark
where no one can see him;
I’ve built this splendid Temple, O God,
to mark your invisible presence forever.”
This passage of course got me thinking about “God in the clouds.” He shows Himself quite frequently in the clouds…..or at least that’s how the Israelites were assured of His presence. Like in Exodus 19.
“And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”
And Exodus 40.
“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. 37But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 38For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.”
The Hebrew word used in the 1 Kings passage (not exact, but a variation) is the word “Shekinah.” In Jewish circles this is also known as “shekinah glory.” The meaning essentially is “an abiding presence.”
When I think about clouds it makes sense to me that God would reveal His presence with the Israelites through clouds. There could be lots of reasons for this. My first thought might be that it was an easy one for them to grasp and identify with. Having lived in Egypt for quite sometime the Egyptian god’s were often portrayed in the clouds as the deliverer of good (fertility and rain) and of anger and wrath (storms and droughts).
Even now clouds demand our attention.
Sometimes there are days when there is barely a cloud in the sky. Nothing but clear blue for miles. On those days I feel carefree and happy.
Then there are weeks here in Michigan where we have nothing but gray cloudy skies thanks to something called “the lake effect.” We don’t see the sun for weeks.
Clouds can tell us a storm is coming or clouds can tell us we have nothing to fear. They can mean wind, rain, snow or ice.
Sometimes we lay in the grass and spot pictures in them with our children.
Sometimes we dread them before they arrive, or we can be instantly mesmerized by their beauty.
But we are never without them. They are a constant presence in our lives and on this earth.
So it would seem fitting that when Solomon’s Temple was complete God showed up. He even blinded the priests with His glory (His presence). A reminder that Temple, no Temple, wealth, prosperity or even unfaithfulness, God would always abide with them.
God said he would be in the dark clouds, he said he would guide their way with a cloud. He even affirmed His love for His Son from the clouds in Matthew 17:5.
“He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
I don’t know what kind of clouds are outside your window today. I don’t know if you have thick dark clouds around you, or the sky is clear and blue without a care in the world…..but let whatever clouds you are experiencing be a reminder of His presence forever with us.
(This post id dedicated to those who are hurting in the aftermath of the Mumbai attacks. May God’s presence dwell among you.)