To me, this high altitude lifestyle would seem to get boring really fast—especially over an entire eternity—and the image provided a rather monotonous view of God’s heavenly kingdom.
Furthermore, having flown on passenger jets that often rose above cloud formations I saw no evidence for such a portrayal of heaven.
Some time later, I came across the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg who described heaven as consisting of a luxuriant landscape based on the inner qualities and richness of a person’s heart and mind, that is, one’s inner and spiritual reality. The flora of heaven corresponded to our thoughts and the fauna to our loves and affections. In other words, Heaven was not a place you go to, but something you become (from following God’s tenets).
This made sense to me because Jesus claimed that the kingdom of heaven is within us (Luke 17:20). The only way heaven could be “within” is if it represents our deepest values and life choices.
Ironically, this special spiritual knowledge brought me back to the idea that angels perhaps do live atop clouds! According to Swedenborg, “clouds symbolize the obscurity of human understanding towards profound spiritual realities.” Therefore, angels would actually reside and function on a level above this mental obscurity!
This obscurity is also the mental condition of much of the human race in their current understanding of the sacred narratives and phrases of God’s Holy Word. Swedenborg claimed that a mere literal and terrestrial grasp of the Bible stories represents a clouded mind relative to the higher, heavenly meanings that can be abstracted from its full divine message.
It is through this mental obscurity that God appears to reveal new things.
This is why when the Lord God does reveal hidden knowledge to humankind it is said that it is done from clouds—both as Jehovah in the Old Testament and as Jesus in the New Testament. Such as:
“Behold I come to thee in the density of the cloud” (Exodus 19:9) and “At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds . . . “ (Mark 13:26) also, “Look, he is coming in the clouds… “ (Revelation 1:7).
Remember, the Lord—when on earth—specifically stated that His heavenly kingdom would not come with “observation” (Luke 17:20). This could only mean that the Lord’s return would be a spiritual, not a physical event. That many Christians are still waiting for the Lord’s physical return is evidence of doctrinal obscurity and clouded thinking. Worse yet, this intellectual obscurity is causing the post-modern world to increasingly challenge the authority and infallibility of God’s Holy Word.