Glory Clouds Connected to The Cloud of Witnesses | Awakening Magazine
Years ago when I was pastoring in Texas, I looked up one morning and could not see the back wall of the sanctuary. This place could seat around 500 people, and there was a balcony that would hold additional people, but it wasn’t normally used. There were probably 350 to 400 people present that day. I couldn’t see the back wall and the back area of the sanctuary because what I thought was smoke had “rolled into” the sanctuary. It was the spring of the year in Texas. As I was preaching, I became aware of this “smoke” and wondered where it came from. I remember thinking that the doors to the outside were open and smoke had drifted in from someone burning leaves. Suddenly, however, it dawned on me that I didn’t smell smoke. This was when I realized the smoke must be spiritual. I had heard about the “glory cloud,” but had never seen it. There was a pretty strong move of God in the church at this time. People were being saved, healed, and delivered. The weight of God’s presence had increased substantially. Now I was literally seeing smoke in the room. I remember calling the people’s attention to it. From this point on during our services, this smoke would appear frequently. At times it would look like smoke. At other times it was more like a cloud. There were even times when it was like a mist hanging in the air as the services progressed. I only knew to refer to it as the “glory cloud.” I considered it to be the weight of God’s presence tangibly manifesting. I still believe this, but now I’m convinced something more was occurring. I believe it was a portion of the Great Cloud of Witnesses coming in. I had no concept for this then. I now, however, believe that what we consider the manifestation or expression of the glory of God can also contain spirits of just men made perfect. Even still, if the Cloud of Witnesses play a role in this manifestation of glory, it’s always to focus attention all the more on the reality, majesty and holiness of Jesus. Cloud Encounters To further substantiate this belief, I should tell you another more personal encounter. Yes, these are my own personal stories, however, I base these experiences on the Bible as well as my desire to encounter the supernatural of God. I am convinced we must have new levels of the supernatural without compromising the Word of God. If the level of supernatural we currently have could accomplish all that God requires, it would have been accomplished years ago. We must become settled in our theology so we can open ourselves to the supernatural without fear. We must know how to see Heaven and earth in agreement so Heaven can shake earth! I had begun to have several encounters with the Cloud of Witnesses. This was happening through dreams, in church services, and other venues. I will share more of this as we progress. It seemed that this realm had opened to me. I am not saying it happened all the time, but frequently. I had, however, not really talked about it. One Monday after Easter I was talking to my son, Adam, who pastors his own church. He begins to tell me what happened during the Easter services he was leading the day before. He says that at the end of the services that a cloud came into the sanctuary and the weight of God’s presence intensified. He spoke of how special this was. Many of the people were aware of the Cloud and were swept up in the glory of God that came at the end of the service time. We thanked God for that experience and how God was so faithful to honor the service and the people with His closeness. I simply stated, as Adam was telling this to me, that I had come to believe that “The Cloud” was more than just the presence of the Lord. I shared with him that I felt confident it was the Cloud of Witnesses who were being drawn to us and coming to be part of our gatherings. When I said this, Adam gasped and said, “Dad, I just remembered something that happened before the services as I was praying.” He then tells me that while he was praying before the services that morning, the Lord spoke to his spirit. He said he heard the Lord say that his Mamaw (his grandmother—my mother) would be in the services that day. That is not spectacular except for the fact that she had died several years before. You must understand that this is not something we had ever talked about before. We hadn’t talked against it, but definitely not for it either. For Adam to “hear” this was out of the ordinary at the very least. This is not something he would be given to or was gravitating toward. He was sure he had heard God say this. He, however, had not connected what God had said before the services to what happened at the end of the service time. When I spoke of the cloud being the Cloud of Witnesses, it triggered his remembrance. I’m emphasizing this to say we didn’t manufacture this situation. In fact, Adam didn’t connect the dots until after the fact. Plus, I didn’t know what God had said to him until after I spoke of the cloud of glory being the Cloud of Witnesses. I now believe that the smoke, cloud, and mist that would regularly hang in our services were in fact a constituency of the Cloud of Witnesses. This does have scriptural backing. There are several places in the Bible where we see a cloud appearing. When Jesus was on the Mount Transfiguration with His three disciples a cloud overshadowed them. Matthew 17:3-5 shows Moses, Elijah, and a cloud involved in this encounter: And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” I think it’s interesting that Moses and Elijah, who are definitely no longer alive in human bodies yet are clearly still alive, appear to Jesus. They are having a conversation. When Peter decides he needs to talk, a bright cloud overshadows them. By the way, this word “cloud” in both this Mount of Transfiguration encounter and Hebrews 12:1 is the same Greek word nephos and it means a cloud or cloudiness. There is no contradiction here. It could be that Moses and Elijah were not traveling alone. They were with a group of saints who overshadowed Peter and the other disciples. Moses and Elijah talked with Jesus, while the cloud of saints overshadowed the apostles. The word “overshadowed” in this Scripture passage is the Greek word episkiazo and means to cast a shade upon. It also means to envelop in a haze of brilliance and to invest with preternatural influence. This is the same word used in Luke 1:35 when the angel told Mary that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her: And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” The result of this “overshadowing” was an impregnation or impartation that occurred. Mary would begin to carry a holy child from the Lord who is our Lord Jesus Christ. Could it be that on the Mount of Transfiguration as the cloud overshadowed them, they received something from Heaven? If this was the Cloud of Witnesses, they were doing more than just hanging out. They were potentially participating in imparting and investing something into the emerging apostles. I will share more concerning this in a later chapter. Just suffice it to say here that it appears at times the Cloud of Witnesses has things to impart and invest into us in a spiritual dimension, as we are all connected as children of our heavenly Father. Another place we see the cloud is when Jesus was taken up into Heaven after His resurrection. Acts 1:8-11 shows the cloud involved in Jesus’ ascension: But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” I don’t believe the Bible states there was a cloud just to make us think it wasn’t a clear day. There is a reason why a cloud received Him out of their sight. The word “receive” here is the Greek word hupolambano and it means to take from below, to carry upward. So the cloud was more than just moisture in the sky. It accompanied Him into Heaven. It could clearly be the Cloud of Witnesses welcoming Jesus back into Heaven after His complete obedience and faithful fulfillment of the Father’s will on earth. I also think it is interesting the two “men” stood by the disciples and asked why they stood gazing up? The word “men” is the Greek word aner. It means a man, properly an individual male. Traditionally, many considered these two to be angels. The Bible doesn’t, however, call them angels. It says they were men. Could they have been from the Cloud of Witnesses? There are many instances in Scripture where, upon initial read and review, we assume we know exactly what the author is communicating. But in situations like this, we need to consider the possibility that perhaps there are more dimensions to what we are reading. Especially when we consider other portions in Scripture where the language is used. For example, this cloud that accompanied Jesus will also be with Him when He returns again to earth. Matthew 24:30-31 reveals Jesus coming back in the clouds: Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Notice it’s the “clouds of heaven” that Jesus comes back in. These are clouds from and assigned to the heavenly realm. We can get a little more idea concerning these clouds in Revelation 19:11-14. Here the Bible calls them the armies of Heaven: Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Clearly this is Jesus leading the armies of Heaven. Could this be the “clouds of heaven”?Everything is clothed in white and clean. The armies are even riding white horses. This could explain the appearance of this being as clouds in the sky at the coming of the Lord. The Great Cloud of Witnesses may be more prevalent in Scripture than we think.