Reading through the Bible together

Monday, June 18, 2012

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“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way . . .” (Ex. 13:21).


We learn that this mysterious “cloud” (Hebrew anan) signifies the presence of God.  Later, in Leviticus, we see this cloud coming to rest not only above the newly built tabernacle but inside it. “The Lord said to Moses: ‘Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover” (Leviticus 16:2).   


This mysterious cloud continues to appear throughout Scripture. In Numbers 9:15 this cloud is also associated with the time period “evening till morning” in Daniel 7, where it accompanies “one like a son of man” as he approaches the Ancient of Days.


Most shockingly of all, in Mark 16:62, Jesus of Nazareth stands before the high priest, Caiaphas, and says, “You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”


Caiaphas knew exactly what Jesus was saying: Jesus was equating himself with Yahweh, who had led Israel through the desert in the “clouds of heaven.” At this, Caiaphas did something the high priest was never supposed to do (see Lev. 21:6): he tore his clothes. In doing so, he effectively annulled the priesthood, giving way to the new high priest who stood before him.


This same high priest will someday return to earth: “Look he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him…” (Rev. 1:7).


Andy Nash

School of Journalism & Communication

Southern Adventist University