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Explaining the Cloud controversy

cloud[The following account is taken from an endnote in Owen Jorgensen’s “Supernatural: the prophet and his revelation”, Book Six; it provides an excellent explanation to the confusion as to the time and place when Brother Branham met the seven angels]


There has been some misunderstanding concerning the photographing of the mysterious cloud over Arizona and the actual time when the seven angels came to William Branham. The pictures of the mysterious cloud that appeared in the May 17, 1963 issue of Life Magazine were taken on the evening of February 28, 1963. After hearing some of William Branham’s statements about this cloud and about the pictures that were taken of it, many people (myself included) assumed he was hunting on February 28, the angels met him in the morning, and the supernatural cloud was photographed in the evening over the same spot. However, that is not what the facts indicate, nor is it exactly what William Branham said.

During my research into this topic, I contacted Arizona’s Game and Fish Department. Melissa Swain, who is their current librarian, sent me a copy of the 1963 Arizona hunting regulations for javelinas. In 1963 the hunting season for javelinas began on Friday, March 1, and ended on Sunday, March 10. Since William Branham said he shot his javelina the day before the angels met him, if we put him out there hunting on the same day the mysterious cloud was photographed, that would mean he was illegally hunting on the 27th and 28th of February. Speaking from my 23 years of researching this man’s life, I can guarantee you he respected the law. As a young man, besides preaching and working full time for the public utility district, he had a part-time job as a game warden. He received no direct pay as a game warden, but was supposed to receive a portion of the fines when he ticketed people for violating the state’s hunting laws. He worked as a game warden for many years, but he never wrote anyone a ticket. When he caught poachers, he explained to them the importance of obeying hunting laws, and then let them go with just a warning. That was the kind of man he was.

However, I don’t just have circumstantial evidence. William Branham actually said he was NOT hunting in the Sunset Peak area on the same day the mysterious cloud was photographed. Three months after the seven angels met him, while speaking at a house meeting in Tucson, he told his audience about the day when he first saw the pictures of the mysterious cloud in Life Magazine. He said, “…right there was them angels just as plain as they could be, setting right there in that picture. You see? I looked to see when it was, and-was time-same-about day or two before, or, day or two after I was up there. I looked where it was at-northeast of Flagstaff-or Prescott, which is below Flagstaff. Well, that’s just where we was at, (see?) just exactly”. (Sermon: “Come follow Me”, 63-0601, E-7) This statement tells us that he knew from reading the article in Life Magazine that the pictures of that mysterious cloud were not taken on the same day the seven angels met him. Speaking impromptu to that audience two weeks after he read the article in Life Magazine, he couldn’t remember if the mysterious cloud was photographed before or after he was hunting near Sunset Peak, but he knew for sure it was not the same day. At the same time it was clear to him that the mysterious cloud pictured in Life Magazine looked exactly like what he saw on the morning of March 8 when the seven angels left him and went up into the sky.

So how did such a misconception concerning these events get started? It was the result of our misunderstanding of other things William Branham said that connected the mysterious cloud over the Flagstaff-Prescott area with the seven angels that met him near Sunset Peak. I have listed all of these references before this note, so I’m not going to list them again. But if we look at a representative statement and examine it closely, that should help you understand all the other things William Branham said on this subject.

In his sermon “Standing in the gap” preached in Jeffersonville, Indiana, on June 23, 1963, he said, “How many saw, ‘A mysterious cloud in the sky?’ You see the hands. And now the Life Magazine picked it up, and I have the-the article here this morning, in the Life Magazine, of-to show. Now here it is-the same time I was there. See the pyramid of the cloud? I was standing just below this. And there, see the distinctive angel on the right-hand side? See the pointed wing of it? Just exactly what was said. And here it’s in the view of Mexico and different places from where they took the picture”. (63-0623M, 82)

This sounds like he is saying he was standing directly below this cloud when it was being photographed. But that can’t be what he is saying because the mysterious cloud was photographed at least a hundred miles northwest of Sunset Peak. Is William Branham making something up? No he isn’t. The answer is obvious when you compare this statement with the one I quoted previously. Look more closely at what he said in “Come follow Me”. Referring to the pictures of the mysterious cloud in Life Magazine, he said, “was time-same-about day or two before, or, day or two after I was up there”. You see, he is using the term “same time” in a slightly broader sense than what we originally assumed. He means that it all happened in the span of about a week (as opposed to two events happening months or even years apart). Notice he does the same thing with the location where the mysterious cloud was photographed. He said, “I looked where it was at-northeast of Flagstaff-or Prescott, which is below Flagstaff. Well, that’s just where we was at, (see?) just exactly”. Here again he is using location in a broader sense, meaning that it happened in the same area of Arizona where he went hunting (as opposed to the mysterious cloud appearing over, say, Tallahassee, Florida, or Sao Paulo, Brazil, or anywhere else in the world, for that matter. The world is a big place when compared to a 30-mile-long cloud).

At this point a critic might suggest that somehow William Branham saw this cloud, either in person or in a newspaper article, and then made up a story to match its mysterious nature. That scenario doesn’t fit the facts. First of all, the cloud wasn’t seen from Tucson, where William Branham was at when it appeared. Secondly, it is clear from Gene Norman’s testimony and from William Branham’s reaction that he didn’t know such an unusual cloud was photographed until he saw the pictures of it in the May 17th, 1963 issue of Life Magazine. Furthermore, William Branham had a vision of this event three months before it happened, which he described in detail on December 12, 1962, in his sermon, “Is this the sign of the end, sirs?” When describing that vision, he still was not sure how many angels would come to him, but he knew there would be at least five.

Consider this: for the first time in the history of the world a cloud-like object was photographed in the stratosphere/mesosphere and published in a national magazine, and that was on February 28, 1963, in the sky above central Arizona. (Another article on this puzzling cloud appeared in the April 19, 1963 issue of Science Magazine). Isn’t it interesting that this mysterious cloud (which scientifically can’t exist at that altitude) just happened to look like the head of Jesus looking down on our world; and isn’t it interesting that it just happened to appear in the same location and at the same time (broadly speaking) that William Branham said seven angels met him. It could be a coincidence, but I don’t think so.

Next, I want to deal with the fact that William Branham saw the seven angels form the same cloud-like pyramid above him after they commissioned him near Sunset Peak on March 8. In his sermon “Trying to do God a service”, which he delivered at a ministerial breakfast in Shreveport, Louisiana, on November 27, 1965, he told his audience about the seven angels coming to him while he was hunting 40 miles northeast of Tucson in 1963. When he came to the part of the story where the angels left him, he said, “In there I watched it until that circle went up, started sweeping up, and they turned into-like a mystic light, like a fog. Just exactly the way-How many seen the picture of it that was taken in Houston? [Note: He is referring here to the photograph of the Pillar of Fire that was taken at one of his meetings in Houston, Texas in January of 1950. See Supernatural: Book 3: Chapter 46.] Nearly all. See? Well that’s just the way this was. It turned into the same thing. It kept going higher and higher. I was running and running, trying to find brother Fed and them. After a while, about a half hour later, I could see him way down, waving his hands; and brother Gene coming, waving. They knowed something had happened”. (65-1127B, 75).

Now compare the above statement with Gene Norman’s testimony of this same event which was recorded at a church in August of 1985. Starting at around 27 minutes into the recording, Gene Norman said, “I had hunted, oh, probably about half an hour, and that blast went off, and it sounded like it was right above my head. And I looked up and I didn’t see nothing-uh-I seen something-I didn’t see the cloud in the form it shows in the picture. When I looked up I seen two long streaks of-like a plane, you know, leaving a trail. Two streaks with a great-miles one way and miles the other way, with a big space in between it. But I couldn’t see no planes. I thought what it was that probably a plane busted the sound barrier, but there were no planes in the area. There just wasn’t any there, you know. And I didn’t know what it was. And first thing when I got on top, the first thing Brother Branham asked me was, ‘Gene, did you hear that noise?’ I said, ‘I’ve been hunting here many times and never heard anything like that’. But he didn’t say anything more about it”.

Something probably did break the sound barrier that morning, but it wasn’t an airplane. There is no contradiction between these two testimonies. William Branham was looking into that spiritual realm and watching those seven angels forming into a circle of light that looked like the Pillar of Fire. He should be able to recognize the Pillar of Fire. He had seen It thousands of times over the years while praying for people during his faith-healing campaigns. Many times while under the Spirit’s anointing, he asked his audience, “Can you see that light hanging over that woman? …or that man?” (Search for the key words “see that light hanging” in the Message Software Package). Only rarely did anyone else in the audience see that supernatural light. But occasionally God did allow individuals to see it; and sometimes He graciously allowed His Pillar-of-Fire form to be photographed so everyone could see it, as He did in Houston, Texas in 1950. He also wanted those seven angels to be photographed over Arizona in the spring of 1963, as a perpetual testimony to the fact that William Branham was telling the truth.

The overall story of the breaking of the seven seals is amazing enough without including the misconception that those seven angels came to William Branham on the same day that the pictures were taken of that mysterious cloud. Seven angels came to William Branham, true enough, but they met him eight days after the mysterious cloud was photographed. That doesn’t make this whole story any less miraculous; and as I stated in the text of this biography, it is absolutely scriptural for God to announce a major prophetic event in the heavens before He does it on earth.

You know, something similar to this misunderstanding happened in the first years of the Christian church. During the last few days Jesus lived on earth, Peter wanted to know what would happen to the disciple John in the future. Jesus said to Peter, “If I will that he remains until I come, what is that to you? You need to just follow Me”. Peter repeated this to others, so the saying spread among Christians that Jesus said John would not die. But that wasn’t exactly what Jesus said, and it certainly wasn’t what Jesus meant. John corrected this misconception when he wrote his biography of Jesus approximately fifty years later, and you can read what he said about it in John 21: 20 - 23.

In my biography of William Branham I have spent a lot of time and effort trying to describe the events of his life accurately, so that his amazing story can rest solidly on facts where corroborating facts are available. (By the way, if you look at the colour photograph of the mysterious cloud in Life Magazine, the bottom right-hand corner of the cloud really is pointed, and it really does look like the wing of a giant dove, or else an angel-just like William Branham said.)

SMORGASBORD, NEW ZEALAND

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