WONDERS IN THE SKY
We humans have always had a fascination with the sky: solar eclipses; full moons; twinkling planets; falling stars; images in the clouds; etc.. In a generic kind of way all of these things ought to capture our attention and prompt us to think of The Almighty One. How is it that such a grand creation cannot evoke praise for our awesome Creator? Long ago a little boy named David grew up to be a powerful king. Gazing from the rooftop of his palace brought with it a temptation emboldened by arrogance (as seen in the account of David's coveting Bathsheba / 2Sam.11:2f). But, if one's gaze is properly fixed heavenward, that same rooftop can bring humility. In one of his psalms David proclaimed (Ps.19:1): The heavens are telling the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals His knowledge.
The synoptic gospels record the transfiguration of Jesus (Mt.17:1f; Mk.9:2f and Lk.9:28f). One day Jesus invited Peter, James and John to ascend a high mountain by themselves in order to engage in prayer. Once there, the text reveals that while Jesus was praying the appearance of His face 'became different' and His clothing became white and gleaming (Lk.9:29). Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared and were talking with Jesus. Perhaps driven by a yearning to please, Peter quickly offered to build three tabernacles to honor Jesus, Moses and Elijah. Matthew's rendition notes that while (Peter) was still speaking, behold a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold a voice out of the cloud, saying, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to HIM' (Mt.17:5). Mark's gospel specifies: All at once they looked around and saw no one with them any more, except Jesus alone (Mk.9:8). In keeping with the Lord's directive, the apostles kept silent about this matter until after the resurrection of Jesus. cf. 2Pet.1:16f.
On the day of Pentecost, a few weeks following our Lord's crucifixion and resurrection, Peter appealed to the prophecy of Joel as an explanation for what they were witnessing. He referenced Joel's prediction of events that were to transpire during Israel's latter days leading up to the arrival of the great and glorious day of the Lord: wonders in the sky above, and signs on the earth beneath, blood and fire, a vapor of smoke... (Acts 2:17-20). The happenings on Pentecost signaled the beginning of “the wonder years” - - AD 30-70 - - a generation of forty years during which time the Holy Spirit would continually confirm the teaching of the apostles concerning the changing of the covenants.
As in Old Testament times, clouds of glory often spoke more powerfully than words. “Clouds” are mentioned frequently in Scripture: in the wilderness journey (Ex.13:21-22); at the giving of the Law (Ex.19:9); and, especially, in numerous judgment scenes (e.g., Isa.19:1 & Ezk.32:7-8). Nahum writes, clouds are the dust beneath His feet (Nah.1:3). In a psalm with a poetic bent one can read, (God) makes the clouds His chariot; He walks upon the wings of the wind (Ps.104:3). Clouds proclaim the power, authority and glory of God. It should not surprise us to hear Jesus speaking of His coming in the clouds (Mt.24:30 & 26:64; Lk.21:27; and Rev.1:7; 14:15 & 19:11f). After Jesus ascended to heaven in a cloud, two angels assured those watching: This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven (Acts 1:9-11). In the New Testament The Lord's coming in the clouds is clearly connected with the fall of Jerusalem, also known as Babylon. cf. Mt.24:30 & 34 and Rev.1:7 & 18:2.
Terry Siverd / Cortland Church of Christ