Clouds and thick darkness surround Him; righteousness and justice are the foundation of His throne. Fire goes before Him and burns up His adversaries round about. His lightnings lit up the world; the earth saw and trembled. Psalm 97:2–4 (NAS)
My uneducated first guess on what the second coming of the Lord will look like was complete and blinding light. As usual, on closer study, my first impression was wrong. He comes clothed in thick darkness, or in a dark cloud. Moses and his people can attest to their exposure to the Almighty.
“You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the very heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom. Deuteronomy 4:11
So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Exodus 19:16
As we creep towards another Christmas day, we will be reminded, at least some of us traditionalists will, of the Lord’s humble beginnings, lying in a manger, surrounded by lowing animals. But the next time he comes, he will arrive in a dark cloud of doom and all will tremble.
It might be more useful these days to focus on the second incarnation rather than the first. The real meaning of Christmas is that the only thing left to anticipate is “thick gloom.” Like Christmas, thank goodness the Lord chooses a slow and deliberate pace.