Devotion for August 29-31, 2017

Devotion for August 29-31, 2017

‘But you will receive power when the Holy spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. And when [Jesus] had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into the heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw go into heaven.’” (Acts 1:8-11).

In the Bible, clouds are often symbolic of God’s presence. Clouds reveal God, but they also hide Him, for no one sees God and lives (Exodus 33:20). Most striking, however, is the image of Jesus returning on the Last Day as the One who rides a cloud into battle.

Clouds are an important motif in the Bible, with almost every reference having to do with God’s presence. After the great flood, God established a new relationship with man, symbolized by a rainbow “in the cloud” (Genesis 9:12-17). God accompanied the Israelites after the exodus from Egypt in a pillar of fire by night,  and a pillar of cloud by day (Exodus 13:21). At the giving of the Ten Commandments, where God gave His presence and His law to Moses and the people on top of Mount Sinai, we read that as the people looked up the mountain, they heard and saw “thunder and lightening, with a thick cloud over the mountain” (Exodus 19:16). Later in the Tabernacle and Temple, at Jesus’ transfiguration, and with His ascension, clouds are all specifically mentioned.

Most poignant, is the promise that when Jesus returns to earth, He will come with the clouds to judge the living and the dead. On that Day, clouds will not hide Him, but carry Him. Clouds will be His chariot, and every eye will see Him. No one sees God and lives—that is, unless you have “seen” Him first in faith.

Jesus lived, died, and rose again in order to win you back from sin and death. When He comes again, all those who have believed on His Name, will be gathered into the New Heavens and New Earth.

Rejoice in the fact that your sin has been paid for, and that you are given the triumph of Christ. But you don’t have to wait for His return to have assurance of your salvation. He comes to you now in  Scripture, a word of forgiveness, Baptism and the Holy Supper of  Christ’s true body and blood. These gifts are given to all who are willing to speak the truth about their sin, and hold-fast to the promises of Christ.

Take time to look up at the sky, and be thrilled to see the clouds gather, for your salvation is near.

 

PRAYER Almighty, everlasting God, You gave Your only Son to be a High Priest of good things to come. Grant unto us, Your unworthy servants, to have our share in the company of the blessed for all eternity; through Jesus Christ. Amen.