The Shadow of the Almighty

It is important to recognize that the Cloud was a theophany, a visible manifestation of the enthroned presence of God to His covenant people. Indeed, the Old Testament often uses the term Spirit as a synonym for the Cloud, ascribing the same functions to both (Neh. 9:19-20; Isa. 4:4-5; Joel 2:28-31; Hag. 2:5). The most revealing instance of this equation of God and the Cloud is where Moses describes God's salvation of Israel in the wilderness in terms of an eagle hovering or fluttering over her young (Deut. 32:11). How did God "flutter" over Israel? Why does the Psalmist continually seek refuge in the shelter of God's "wings" (e.g., Ps. 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; 91:4)? Certainly, God Himself does not have wings. But His angels do — and the special revelation of God's saving, judging and protecting presence was by the Glory-Cloud, which contains "many thousands of angels" (Ps. 68:17; cf. 2 Kings 6:17): "He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge . . . for He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways" (Ps. 91:4, 11).

Now, the fascinating thing about Moses' statement in Deuteronomy 32:11 - God's "fluttering" over His people by means of the Cloud - is that Moses uses that Hebrew word only one other time in the entire Pentateuch, when he tells us that "the earth was without form, and void; . . . and the Spirit of God was moving upon the face of the waters" (Gen. 1:2).

Nor is that the only parallel between these two passages; for in Deuteronomy 32:10 Moses describes the wilderness through which the people were traveling as a waste - the same word translated without form in Genesis 1:2 (and, again, these are the only two occurrences of the word in the Pentateuch). What Moses is saying, then - and this fact was surely understood by his Hebrew readers - is that God% saving of His people through the Exodus was are-enactment of the history of the Creation: In saving Israel God was constituting them a New Creation. As in the beginning, the Spirit-Cloud hovered over the creation, bringing light in the darkness (Gen. 1:3; Ex. 14:20; John 1:3-5), and leading on to the Sabbath-rest in the Promised Land, the New Eden (Gen. 2:2-3; cf. Deut. 12:9-10 and Ps. 95:11, where the land is called a rest).

Thus, God's re-creation of His people in order to bring them into fellowship with Him in the Holy Mountain was witnessed by the same manifestation of His creative presence that was there at the original Creation, when the Spirit gloriously arched His canopy over the earth. The bright radiance of the Cloud-

canopy was also the basis for the sign of the rainbow that Noah saw on Mount Ararat, assuring him of the faithfulness of God's covenant (Gen. 9:13-17). The glory of God's Cloud-canopy, arched over a mountain, is a repeated sign in Scripture that God is with His people, creating them anew, restoring His handiwork to its original Edenic state, and bringing the creation forward to His appointed goal.

A basic promise of salvation is given in Isaiah 4:4-5: "When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the Spirit ofjudgment and the Spirit ofburning, then the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies [the official gatherings for worship] a Cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. " This Cloud-canopy of God's presence, full of angels' wings, is called a pavilion, a covering (2 Sam. 22:12; Ps. 18:11; Lam. 3:44; Ps. 91:4). And that is why the word covering is used to describe the position of the carved cherubim that were placed hovering over the Ark of the Covenant (Ex. 25:20). It is therefore significant that this Hebrew word is the term translated booths and tabernacles when God commands His people to erect booths of leafy branches to dwell in during the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:34, 42-43); as we have seen, this feast was a reminder of Eden, a symbolic representation of the fact that salvation restores us to Edenic blessings.

The Garden of Eden thus served as a Tabernacle-Temple, a small replica of God's larger Temple and Palace in which the "heavens" are His throne and the "earth" is His footstool (Gen. 1:1; Isa. 66:1) - the invisible heavens together with the visible universe making up His great cosmic Temple. Close attention to the architecture of the Tabernacle and the Temple will reveal that they were modeled as copies, not only of the Garden of Eden, but of the original heavenly Temple: the Cloud-canopy (cf. Heb. 8:5; 9:11, 23-24).

Under the protection of the winged Cloud-canopy, man's responsibility was to fulfill the "cultural mandate," to "fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen. 1:28). In obedient imitation of his Heavenly Father, man was to reshape, understand, interpret, and rule the world for God's glory -in short, to build the City of God.

Simple restoration to Eden is never all that is involved in salvation, just as it was not God's plan for Adam and his posterity simply to remain in the Garden. They were to go into all the world, bring the created potentiality of earth to full fruition. The Garden of Eden was a headquarters, a place to start. But godly rule by King Adam was to encompass the entire world. Thus, the Second Adam's work is not only restorative (bringing back Eden) but consummative: He brings the world into the New Jerusalem.

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