Within the last 100 years, people around the world have reported a glittery cloud that sometimes appears in worship services—from house churches in Brazil to mega-churches in California. The cloud is described as a glittering swarm of gold-like particles which settles downward on people, then vanishes upward. It cannot be wiped off, but comes and goes as it pleases. Others describe the substances as more like jewels or more like feathers. Some pastors have said the cloud sometimes is so thick around them as they preach they had trouble seeing through it. Though there are references in the Old Testament of God appearing in a cloud or leading His people by a pillar of a cloud, there is no reference to this so-called "glory cloud" in the Bible.
Is there such a thing as a glory cloud? Are so-called glory clouds biblical?
Reports of a glory cloud usually always come from Charismatic or Pentecostal churches. These Christians attribute it to God's presence anointing the preacher or congregation for worship and preaching. They use passages such as 2 Chronicles 5:14, 1 Kings 8:11, Ezekiel 10:4, and Exodus 40:35 for support.
But is a glory cloud truly biblical? The term itself is not used in the Bible. Note that all the references to God and a cloud appear in the Old Testament under an old covenant. We now live under a new covenant, so there is not a solid basis for believing such a thing would be a genuine manifestation of God's presence.
When the people of God were freed from Egyptian slavery, God guided them "in a pillar of cloud" (Exodus 13:21). Later, God filled the tabernacle in the form of a cloud (Exodus 40:34–35), but no person, including Moses, was able to even approach the cloud, much less be touched by it or be engulfed by it. There is no mention of a glittery aspect, or of gold.
In other encounters with God, Old Testament prophets and others universally were struck with fear or awe and could not hardly stand the encounter (Ezekiel 1:28; 44:4; Isaiah 6:5; 2 Chronicles 5:14; 7:3). Those who describe "glory cloud" encounters today seem to greet the appearance with shouting, dancing, singing, and basking in the glitter. Such a response is not consistent with the biblical accounts of times when God's presence was manifest in a cloud.
God displays His glory in thousands of ways. The most revealing way in which God has appeared is through His Son Jesus Christ (John 1:14; 14:9). Those who put their faith in Jesus become God's children and they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (John 1:12; 14:16–17; 1 Corinthians 6:19; 2 Corinthians 5:5). God is always present in the life of a believer.
While God could certainly choose to manifest Himself in a glory cloud, there are significant reasons to doubt that He does. We need not seek for signs (Matthew 16:4). God has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ and extended the offer of salvation by His grace through faith in Him (John 3:16–18; Ephesians 2:8–9). He has given us His Word and the Holy Spirit to guide us (John 14:26; 16:13–15). The best way to enjoy God's presence is to put our faith in His Son, follow after Him, and walk in the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 25).
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