What Do Clouds Symbolize In The Bible?

Christianity and clouds have always had a special connection. The Bible is also full of references about clouds. Just to give you some interesting statistics, the word ‘cloud’ appears 107 times in the Bible. On the other hand, the word ‘clouds’ appears 49 times in the Bible. To stretch it a little further, the word ‘clouds’ has six appearances in the Bible.

That aside, let us now dive in to look at the meaning of clouds as used in the Bible. Using the Law of First Mention, we shall start from the beginning, in the book of Genesis.

Carriers Of the Token of God’s Covenant

Carriers Of the Token of God’s Covenant

In Genesis 9:12-16, the Bible records,

“And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

In this verse of scripture, the clouds symbolize God’s covenant with mankind that He will never again destroy the earth and cut off life through a flood. The clouds are more or carriers of that sign or token of God’s promise.

A Symbol of God’s Guidance

Human beings do not have the ability to guide themselves through the unknown. When the covid-19 pandemic hit, everyone went into a panic mode, not knowing what to do. God in his wisdom and foresightedness, guides his children through difficult situations.

For instance, the Bible in Exodus 13:21-22 says,

“By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people”.

The pillar of cloud symbolized God leadership in the wilderness. It gave the children of Israel the much-needed protection and cover to make it through.

The Marvels of God’s Creation

God’s creation shows us the orderliness and awesomeness of his works. In the book of Job, the Bible gives us an illustration of the science and art behind God’s creation. In response to Bildad the Shuhite, Job said in chapter 26 verse 8 that

“He wraps up the waters in his clouds, yet the clouds do not burst under their weight”. 

Job rightly attributes the ownership of the heavens to God.

Acknowledging the weight of waters, he marvels at how the clouds can contain the waters without bursting. Such are the doings of the LORD; we are only left to marvel at his presence.

The Presence of God

In the Bible, God’s presence has been marked with lots of symbols one of which is the cloud. During transfiguration, God speaks through the cloud, apparently interrupting a conversation between Peter, James, John, and Jesus.

In Mathew 17:5, the Bible says,

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!

When the disciples heard the voice of God, they fell facedown in awe and fear. However, Jesus told them to get up and not be afraid. Whether it is in the wings of the wind or the clouds, God shows up as and when he so desires.

Luke recounts the same event in Luke 9:34 and adds that the disciples entered the cloud meaning they were in the presence of God.

Symbol of Lord’s Return

The Bible tells of how Jesus ascended to heaven. In Acts 1:9 the Bible says,

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

In the same manner he was taken to heaven, he will come back for the second time to pick up his faithful servants with him.

The Bible captures this in Luke 21:27 where it says,

At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” 

Saint Mark, in Mark 13:26 also repeats the message of his coming in a cloud.

Revelation 1:7 affirms the coming of the Son of Man. This is what the Bible says,

Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him"; and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.” So shall it be! Amen.”

A Symbol of Spiritual Falsehood

A Symbol of Spiritual Falsehood

The Bible in the book of Proverbs 25:14 says,

Like clouds and wind without rain. Is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely.

Spiritual gifts are from the LORD, and they are to be expressed for the glory of the GOD. However, pretense and falsehood has made many people to craft their own gifts and use them to hoodwink others.

The Bible refers to such people as spiritual fraudsters and likens them to clouds and wind without rain. Most certainly, nobody would want to be placed in such a category.

Conclusion

Clouds can mean different things to different people. However, the Bible has specific references to clouds. Depending on the context, clouds could represent the presence of God, the Lord’s ascension and second coming, God’s guidance, token of God’s covenant and so forth.

When interpreting the meaning of clouds therefore, it is always advisable to study the context, especially the verses before and after to understand what exactly the Bible means.

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