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This paper has to do with what the scriptures have to say about the clouds of heaven.  After you read what I have written, if you have any questions or comments there is a place on the left side where you can “click here” to contact me by email.  If that does not work for your operating system my email address is,

Have you ever wondered why the scriptures speak so much about the clouds of heaven?  The inspired writers spoke of those clouds and Jesus, Himself, spoke of them.  He spoke of how He will be returning with the clouds of heaven or the clouds of the sky. 

Matthew records Jesus saying it on two different occasions.  When He spoke to His disciples of the day of His return He said that His sign will appear in the sky, “- - and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30) 

After He had been arrested Jesus was brought before the high priest to be charged and the high priest asked Him if He was the Christ, the Son of God.  Jesus responded, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN."  (Matthew 26:64) 

As if to make sure that we heard the message, Mark recorded Jesus making those same statements about those clouds in his gospel (Mark 13:26 and 14:62). 

John did not mention Jesus coming with the clouds in his gospel but he made that statement in his book of Revelation.  He said, BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.”  (Revelation 1:7) 

Those clouds are also mentioned in the Old Testament scriptures.  Daniel mentioned them, saying, "And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming , And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him" (Daniel 7:13).

Why all the mention of clouds in scripture?  What have clouds got to do with anything?  Do the scriptures say something that might help us understand what God is telling us?  

When we look at those scriptures and put them together, we can begin to see some interesting things. One thing has to do with what happened when Christ ascended into heaven.    

Why does the scripture include that statement about a cloud receiving Jesus when He ascended?  If it was just a normal cloud, He would have ascended "into a cloud".  Scripture says that as His disciples were looking on, "a cloud received Him out of their sight."  (Acts 1:9).  

Would a cloud receiving Him indicate that the cloud had some ability to accept Him?

Paul tells us about how Jesus will be returning.  He did not mention Jesus returning in clouds or with the clouds of heaven but he did say that He would be coming "with all His saints" (1 Thessalonians 3:13).  

In the next chapter Paul says that when Christ returns, "God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 4:14)  If the departed faithful will be returning with Him, are they with Him in heaven now?

He says the Lord will descend and the dead in Christ will rise first, "Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18).

Is Paul saying the same thing that Jesus said when He said that He would be returning with the clouds of heaven?  Are they both saying that Jesus will be returning with the spirits of the saints?  

Some Christians believe that Paul is speaking of an event (The caught up) that will take place long before Jesus returns with the clouds of heaven to judge the nations.  From the prospective of our lesson it does not matter.  We will see that as we continue reading scripture. 

In chapter 11, when the Hebrew writer spoke of the departed faithful, he ended the chapter saying that they could not have been made perfect apart from us.  All of the faithful for all time have become perfect in Christ Jesus because of His redeeming blood. 

He continued his discussion of the departed faithful in chapter 12.  He began by saying, "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1). 

He is still speaking of the departed faithful but not as though they are gone on but as though they are still with us in a cloud surrounding our church assembly. 

With regard to those ancient ones of faith surrounding us as a cloud of witnesses the Greek wording says they are a cloud, not a crowd.  If he meant exactly what he said about the departed faithful, they are actually present with us in the church.  

He continues by telling us to lay aside everything that could hold us back and run with endurance the race before us.  It sounds like the spirits of the departed faithful are a cloud of witnesses watching us as we are running our race of faith. 

Are they surrounding us like spectators at the games watching us and cheering for us as we run?  Did they first see Paradise and were shown their reward?  

If so they know by sight the great prize that is waiting for the faithful.  Would that not make them cheer all the more for us?  

They had run their race and won their victory before we started and we can read from scripture how they won their race.  

The writer tells us not to come short of the grace of God and be godless or immoral like Esau who sold his birthright for a meal.  He continues by speaking of what happened to that old Hebrew nation in the wilderness and how it relates to us. 

He says that we have not come to an earthly mountain, speaking of that earthly Mount Sinai that Israel came to in the wilderness.  

He says, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.”  (Hebrews 12:22-24)  

He is speaking of the goal that we are striving for as we run our race.  Our prize is that spiritual mountain of God and His holy city and we have come to the foot of that mountain. 

He says that we have come to the assembly of the church and when He lists those who are with us in the assembly he says it includes the Father and the Son and myriads of angels and it includes the spirits of the righteous made perfect.  

They would be the same spirits the writer said was a cloud of witnesses around us. 

That city is the prize.  It belongs to the church and it is the church.  Some of the faithful are serving with us as we have come to the foot of our mountain and it appears that some are on that mountain.  

That fits with us having a cloud of glory on our spiritual tabernacle just as there was a cloud of glory on that old Hebrew tabernacle.  

That seems reasonable because that old tabernacle was an earthly copy of our spiritual tabernacle and if the earthly copy had a glory cloud then our true tabernacle has its glory cloud.   

That old Hebrew salvation story was brought about by God as an earthly copy of what is spiritual for us.  Their worship was a part of that copy.  They worshipped at an earthly tabernacle to foretell how we would worship at God’s spiritual tabernacle. 

The Hebrew writer tells us that Christ is our true High Priest (Chapter 7).  He begins the next chapter by saying that the main point is that, “we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.” (Hebrews 8:1-2)

Christ is the true High Priest and He is seated in God’s true tabernacle, not the earthly copy.  The writer then tells us how those old Hebrew priests were serving a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (Hebrews 8:5).  

In the next chapter he tells us that Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24).  

Christ is our true High Priest and He is now seated at the right hand of the Father in the true tabernacle Holy of Holies.  He is serving as our High Priest in the inner room Holy of Holies as we serve in the outer room holy place of the church on earth. 

Remember, the church is His body (Colossians 1:24).  Christ went through the outer tabernacle room of His body of flesh on earth before He entered into the heavenly inner room to be with the Father.  

His serving priests are serving in the outer room of His tabernacle, the church on earth.  

When Moses erected the tabernacle, scripture says,
“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.  Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” (Exodus 40:34-35)  

A little later Moses spoke of that cloud and said, "throughout all their journeys, the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel". 

If that old earthly tabernacle had its glory cloud then our tabernacle has its glory cloud.  The Lord’s Spirit was in the cloud of glory on their tabernacle.  If we have been made one with Christ, have we not also been made one spirit with Him? 

In his first letter to them Paul told the Corinthians, But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Corinthians 6:17)

If the Spirit of the Lord is in our cloud and if we have been made one spirit with Him, then it appears that our spirit will join His Spirit in our glory cloud.  

It would seem reasonable that if Christ will be returning on His glory clouds and we will be with Him in the clouds, “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)  

In the meantime, is not that glory cloud on our tabernacle throughout all of our journeys just as there was a glory cloud on that old Hebrew tabernacle throughout all of their journeys?  

We are on a journey because this world is not our home.  We are just passing through.  Our cloud is traveling with us and it is on our tabernacle. 

Jesus said of those born of the Spirit, "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit"  (John 3:8).  

What did Jesus mean when He said that everyone who is born of the Spirit is like the wind blowing where it wishes?  Could He have been speaking of the spirits of the faithful who have been made one Spirit with Christ blowing about like the wind? 

Some day, Christ will send forth His angels "with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, "from one end of the sky to the other" (Matthew 24:31).  

Was Jesus saying the same thing through Ezekiel when he had seen that valley of dry bones become assembled into dead bodies?  He was commanded to prophesy to the breath and tell the breath to "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life" (Ezekiel 37:9).  

He went on to say "I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land."

When Ezekiel spoke of how he was commanded to prophesy to the breath and tell the breath to "Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they come to life", was he saying the same thing that Paul said when he spoke of Jesus returning? 

Paul said that Christ will return, bringing with Him those who had fallen asleep in Jesus and then He will resurrect their bodies and they will rise to meet Him. Will that not be the day when Jesus will lead them to their own land?  

Ezekiel foretold it all again in chapter 34.  God spoke through him and said, "I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day."  (Ezekiel 34:12)  

It will be a cloudy and gloomy day for most but a day of glory for those who are called from the four winds to be revealed in clouds of glory.  

Those departed faithful are there in the clouds now but they can only be seen by faith.  Some day they will be revealed with Him in glory.  When it happens, every eye will see Him coming with the clouds of heaven.

Paul said that whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction (Romans 15:4).  It was written so that we might have hope.  

We can have hope to live with Jesus in eternal glory but as our earthly tabernacle is still traveling toward our land we can hope to continue to travel with it after we depart this life.  

Jesus will keep His promise; He will be with us to the end of the age.  He will not leave us alone, even after our bodies fall asleep.  He is with those who are serving in the tabernacle outer room and He is with those departed ones who are in the cloud around us.  

How can the spirits of the departed saints be in the clouds around us but Judgment Day has not come? How are the departed saints with Jesus in a cloud of glory if they have not been judged?  

Is it possible that they have already been judged? We don't know all of the answers but everything God wanted us to know is in the scriptures.  We know that all will be judged, including the faithful.

Will the saints be judged before the unbelieving nations are judged?  Was Peter speaking of that when he wrote, "For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God" (1 Peter 4:17)?  

Peter included himself and he said that we who are of God's household will be judged first, before unbelievers are judged.  He also said the time had come for judgment of the saints to begin.  He made that statement nearly two thousand years ago.  

Did judgment of the saints begin as the first century saints fell asleep?  The exception would be for those who will still be living when Christ returns.  It sounds like they will be judged before unbelievers are judged.

Does the story of the rich man and Lazarus tell us how God's people are being judged after they depart this life (Luke 16:19-31)?  

After those two men died, the rich man was cast into torment in Hades while Lazarus was in a place of comfort.  The rich man's brothers were still alive on earth.  That means final judgment had not come but those two men had been judged and the rich man was condemned to torment.  Lazarus was with Abraham. 

With regards to what happens to the faithful when they die, Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross (Who had asked Him to remember him when He came in His kingdom), “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

The thief wanted Jesus to remember him when He came in His kingdom.  When Jesus told him that he would be with Christ in Paradise that day was He speaking of receiving His kingdom that very day? 

We know that Paradise is God’s heavenly home because the tree of life grows there (Revelation 2:7).  The tree of life grows by the river of life that flows from the throne of God (Revelation 22:1-2). 

Was it foretold in what Daniel saw in his night visions in Daniel, chapter 7?  Daniel saw the Ancient of Days take His seat. 

Scripture says, “I kept looking Until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat; His vesture was like white snow And the hair of His head like pure wool.  His throne was ablaze with flames, Its wheels were a burning fire.” (Daniel 7:9)

A little later Daniel says, I kept looking in the night visions, And behold, with the clouds of heaven One like a Son of Man was coming, And He came up to the Ancient of Days And was presented before Him.  “And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion Which will not pass away; And His kingdom is one Which will not be destroyed.”  (Daniel 7:13-14)  

Daniel saw Christ coming before the Ancient of Days to receive His kingdom.  Many people believe that event happened after He ascended on high (In His resurrected body).  That was when a cloud received Him. 

The reason that I believe it may have happened before His resurrection is because of what He told His disciples just before He left them and ascended on high. 

He told them, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20) 

He said that all authority had been given to Him in heaven and on earth.  He had already been made King. It happened before He ascended on high, therefore, it must have happened after He died and before His resurrection from the dead. 

Scripture says that Christ went in before the Ancient of Days with the clouds of heaven.  Were those departed faithful ones in the clouds of heaven that went in with Jesus when He was presented before the Ancient of Days?   

On the day that He died Christ went to Paradise.  He had offered His perfect atonement blood for God’s family.  He had become their sin offering and He had perfected those who were of the faithful. 

That would have included those faithful ones who had departed this life before Christ died on the cross.  They had been made perfect when Christ died and could be presented before God as the spirits of the righteous made perfect.  

The scriptures mean what they say.  Some scriptures are hard to understand and for those things it may take a long time to begin to understand them.  

I have given you my opinion of what the scriptures have to say about the clouds of heaven.  You may want to go back and read the scriptures that have been presented in this paper.  

Our job is to listen to what the scriptures have to say because Jesus is explaining the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven to His disciples. 

Johnny Rogers 12/27/04

Revised 4/7/15

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"Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
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