The cloud always follows the stormy wind. If you have the wind, surely you will have the cloud. What is the meaning of the cloud? By considering the history of the people of Israel it is easy to understand the meaning of the cloud. After the Israelites came out of Egypt, they arrived at Sinai, camped there, and set up a tent for God. Then God’s glory descended upon that tent. All the people saw that the cloud was covering the tent of meeting. That cloud was a figure of God covering His people. That was God brooding over His people. The cloud is just the brooding God. He comes as the wind, but He stays as the cloud. By His staying as a cloud, He is covering, overshadowing, and brooding to give us the enjoyment of His presence. This is to produce something of Himself in our daily life. It is wonderful! Whenever we experience God as the blowing wind, we also have the sensation that He is overshadowing, covering, and brooding over us. The blowing of the wind brings the presence of God to us in the form of a heavenly cloud. The presence of God is just the heavenly, brooding, and overshadowing cloud.
On one Lord’s day afternoon in 1935, I was ministering about the Spirit. When I came to a certain point, I had the sensation that a cloud had come down and was covering me. Though I saw nothing with my physical eyes, I did have the sensation that something was overshadowing me. I was in that covering. I had a sensation of the practical presence of the Lord. It is not only a matter by faith; it is also a matter of sensation. I did have the sensation that I was covered and overshadowed by the presence of the Lord. At that time the presence of the Lord was like a cloud to me. It was so wonderful, so sweet, so comforting, so strengthening, so energizing! Immediately I began to speak in a very powerful way.
Surely you have experienced the Lord in such a way. In your morning watch or in your pray-reading, the stormy wind came and blew upon you. Then following the blowing wind came the cloud. Perhaps the cloud even lasted the whole day. All day long you had the sensation that something was following you, covering you, brooding over you, and overshadowing you. You had the sensation of the enjoyment of the Lord’s presence all day long. I have experienced this many times. In my morning watch, the stormy wind blew upon me. The Lord came to me from the north like a blowing wind. Right away, I received the Lord’s presence as a cloud. The presence of the Lord was covering me like a cloud. His presence then became my enjoyment. All day I was experiencing His covering and enjoying His presence. We must all have this kind of experience. When you come to the Bible, do not seek after the teachings or the doctrines. You have to say, "Lord, blow upon me and grant me the overshadowing cloud. Lord, grant me the wind and grant me the cloud."
Ezekiel saw that the cloud which overshadowed him was covered with fire flashing continually. This is really according to our experience. When the stormy wind comes from the Lord and the covering cloud with the overshadowing presence of the Lord remains, there is also the sensation that something within us is shining and searching and burning. Under such an enlightening, flashing, shining, and searching, we realize that our attitude toward certain brothers is wrong or that other things are wrong before the Lord. Under the searching of the Lord’s presence we are exposed. We condemn ourselves and confess our shortness. Then the searching and shining will burn within us to burn out all the negative things. If you experience the Lord in such a way, there is no need for me to tell you that you are wrong with a certain brother. If I tell you, you might be offended and not take my word. But even if you are not offended and you take my word and you go to the brother to get clear with him, that means nothing as far as the inner life. We must be under the searching of the Lord’s presence. Under the condemnation of His shining, we will be willing to say, "Lord Jesus, burn me up. I am good for nothing. I am only good for being burned. Lord, burn out my disposition; burn out my intention; burn out my self-aim; burn out my motives; burn out my goal; burn out this and burn out that." What is this? This is the real experience of the inner life. This is not just some teaching.
After ministering the word of the Lord to the Lord’s people for many years, I have found that mere teaching never works out anything. You and I all need the blowing of the wind; we need the overshadowing of the Lord’s presence; and we need the searching, burning of this fire. The wind is the Lord Himself; the cloud is the Lord Himself; and the fire is also the Lord Himself. When He comes, He comes as the stormy wind. When He remains with us, He remains as the cloud. When He burns and searches, He burns and searches as the consuming fire. No one can experience the Lord as the blowing wind, covering cloud, and as the burning fire without having a real change and transformation.
Once an item is consumed by fire, only ashes remain. That is a real transformation and change. We all need the transformation by fire. We need to be transformed by being burned. Our God, the Lord Jesus, is not only the living water, but also the consuming fire. Many Christians enjoy Ezekiel 47 because in that chapter is the flowing river. But the flowing river is not the first thing in Ezekiel. The first thing is the burning, consuming fire. In chapter one is the fire; in chapter forty-seven is the river. The fire always comes first. What is the source of the fire? It is from the blowing wind plus the covering cloud. The fire does not come to us directly. God always comes to us as the blowing wind and stays with us as the covering cloud. Then under His covering we are exposed by His shining. Under such a shining we would confess, "Lord, I am just good for nothing. I am only good for being burnt. Oh Lord, burn me, Lord! Burn me out! Burn out my old nature! Burn out my self, my disposition, my attitudes, my goals, my aims, my motives, my intentions, my relationships with other people, my worldliness. Lord, burn all these things out of me." One such burning is better than a thousand teachings. I do not have much trust in the teachings, but I would like to see all of you burned by the Lord.
(The Visions of Ezekiel, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)