Friday, September 16, 2016

The LORD's coming and the clouds - Part #1, in the Old Testament

Dear in Christ,

God's interactions with his children are not arbitrary, they follow a definite pattern. We need to keep this in mind this while attempting to understand the scriptures. Though often misunderstood, while Peter said that “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation”, what he meant was that prophecies are a cohesive whole and none of them have come from the understanding of individual prophets. (Please read 2Pe 1:19-21.) Prophecies are to be understood in their aggregation and not in isolation.

Recently, while I was reading a preacher’s understanding of Acts 1:9-11, I was wondering how often we err while we try to interpret passages in isolation.

While we think about the LORD coming in clouds, our first thoughts would be of the LORD guiding Israel from Egypt to the land of Canaan, while seated atop a pillar of cloud and fire. I would love to bring to your notice a few other cloud comings of the LORD.

The LORD came in the clouds to destroy King Saul!


We know that King Saul killed himself by falling on his own sword. (1Sa 31:4-6; 1Ch 10:4. 1Ch 10:14’s mention of the LORD killing Saul has to do with the LORD bringing about Saul’s destruction, rather than the LORD personally slaying him.

Now, let us read David’s narrative about Saul’s death.
Psa 18:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, the servant of the LORD, who spake unto the LORD the words of this song in the day that the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul:
While reading the relevant portion of this Psalm, let us not forget that it was about the LORD delivering David from the hands of Saul and other enemies he had.
Psa 18:6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
Psa 18:7 Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth.
Psa 18:8 There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
Psa 18:9 He bowed the heavens also, and came down: and darkness was under his feet.
Psa 18:10 And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: yea, he did fly upon the wings of the wind.
Psa 18:11 He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
Let me ask you this: Did any of these things literally and physically happen while the LORD saved David from the hands of Saul or any of his any of his enemies?

The LORD didn’t literally and physically come to save David, but all his enemies were destroyed. Please don’t ignore the mentioning of clouds in Psa 18:11.

The LORD came on a swift cloud to destroy Egypt!

Isa 19:1 The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it.
The repeated theme of the chapter is the destruction of the idols of Egypt. This is not something to be accomplished in the future, because present day Egypt is a nation of Muslims (90%), Orthodox Christians (9%) and other Christians (1%), none whom are into idolatry.

According to some of the best (futurist) Biblical scholars, the altar and the pillar mentioned in Isa 19:19 are structures erected by Onias II, son of Simeon the Just, the then Jewish high priest.

Again, even futurist Biblical scholars say that the highway from Egypt to Assyria, mentioned in Isa 19:23, was meant for the children of Israel who were taken captives to Assyria to travel to Egypt. According to them, the scattering abroad of Israelites was not a curse, as it appears to be. Because of their reaching remote places of Mesopotamia (Assyria was located there), monotheism became popular in those places. It was because of the belief in one god that the kings of Assyria volunteered to destroy the idols of Egypt.

In Isa 19:4 it is stated that the LORD would handover Egypt to a cruel king. The undoing of Egypt started during the days Nebuchadnezzar attacked Egypt, but he didn’t destroy the idols there. The idols were destroyed either by Cambyses II, son of Cyrus the Great or by Esarhaddon, king of Assyria.

Anyway, the LORD didn’t come to Egypt on a swift cloud. In fact, the next chapter of the book of Isaiah reveals the identity of the person who came and destroyed Egypt:
Isa 20:1 In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it;
Yes, you are very smart to identify Ashdod as a place on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, but, have you read the whole chapter before jumping you’re your conclusion? In the succeeding verse, the LORD commands Isaiah to move around naked and barefooted as sign against Egypt and Ethiopia, because:
Isa 20:4 So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.
So, the LORD didn’t come to Egypt on a swift cloud, but the nation and the idols, against which the prophecy was made, were destroyed.

The destruction of Jerusalem in the 6th century BC and the clouds.

It is not mentioned that the LORD came in the clouds to destroy Jerusalem in the 6th century BC. We know from the Bible as well as history that the destruction was at the hands of the Babylonian army, during Nebuchadnezzar’s reign. Nevertheless, the presence of clouds in the historical event can’t be overlooked.
Lam 2:1 How hath the Lord covered the daughter of Zion with a cloud in his anger, and cast down from heaven unto the earth the beauty of Israel, and remembered not his footstool in the day of his anger!
In short, clouds or the LORD’s coming in the clouds have to do with the anger and wrath of the LORD. Please do note that in none of the cloud comings, the LORD alighted up on the surface of the planet earth.

In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal