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CLOUDS

The word is used as a symbol of the Divine presence, as indicating the splendour of that glory which it conceals (Ex. 16:10; 33:9; Num. 11:25; 12:5; Job 22:14; Ps. 18:11)......A bright cloud is the symbolical seat of the Divine presence (Ex.29:42, 43; 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Chr. 5:14; Ezek. 43:4), and was called the Shechinah (q.v.). Jehovah came down upon Sinai in a cloud (Ex. 19:9); and the cloud filled the court around the tabernacle in the wilderness so that Moses could not enter it (Ex. 40:34, 35). At the dedication of the temple also the cloud "filled the house of the Lord" (1 Kings 8:10). Thus in like manner when Christ comes the second time he is described as coming "in the clouds" (Matt. 17:5; 24:30; Acts 1:9, 11). (Eastons Bible Dictionary)

The Theophanic Cloud. The most common usage of the Hebrew terms for cloud comes in the context of divine theophany. By far the largest group (about fifty occurrences) of these refer to the visible manifestation of the divine presence during Israel's exodus from Egypt and wilderness wandering. This sign of God's presence is termed variously: pillar of cloud (Exod 13:21-22, ; plus eleven times), pillar of fire and cloud (Exod 14:24); a thick cloud (Exod 19:9,16), the cloud (Exod 14:20, plus thirty-three times); and the cloud of the Lord (Exod 40:38; Num 10:34).

The Theophanic/Eschatological Cloud. The remaining twenty-two New Testament occurrences of the word "cloud" appear in the context of theophany, and encompass six theologically crucial, eschatologically related events or visionary scenes in salvation history: (1) the pillar of cloud at the exodus, viewed as a type of Christian baptism in the time of eschatological fulfillment (1 Cor 10:1-2); (2) Jesus' transfiguration, as a foretaste of the kingdom of God, during which the Father appears and speaks in a cloud (Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34); (3) Jesus' ascension, explained by the angels as a paradigm for his return (Acts 1:9); (4) the "mighty angel" descending from heaven wrapped in a cloud, announcing (against the eschatological backdrop of Dan 12:7) that time should be no longer (Rev 10:1); (5) the two resurrected witnesses ascending to heaven in a cloud, described in the context of the eschatological measuring of the temple of God (Rev 11:12); and (6) Jesus' parousia, against the backdrop of Daniel 7:13, as the Son of Man coming with/on/in a cloud/the clouds/the clouds of heaven (Matt 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 12:54; 21:27; 1 Thess 4:17; Rev 1:7; 14:14-16). (Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology Edited by Walter A. Elwell Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Book House Company, PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, Michigan)

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