God's Weather Forecast
Can Anyone Understand the Spreading of the Clouds?
I have always been interested and fascinated by clouds. Have you ever just taken time to look up and "ponder" the spreading of clouds? I recall when a boy I would with a friend, just lay back on a hill side and look at the clouds. He would say, "Oh, I see a rabbit? Do you?" Sometimes I would see what he sees, other times "no". The same in reverse. I would say, "Hey___ look at that house up there?" He would reply, "What house?" It was interesting, I am sure, that everyone at one time or another has experienced this.
I want to say at the off set that God does speak to us IN the clouds and God speaks to us BY the clouds. A cloud is a visible body of very fine droplets of water in the atmosphere. So, you see, what makes a cloud are tiny particles of water. And those tiny particles of water are messengers of God. Perhaps you have echoed the words of Job - when he said (as recorded in Job. 36:29)
"Can any understand the
In this writing we will see the spiritual application and will look at these aspects:
- There is Life in the Clouds
- There is Glory in the Clouds
- There is Direction (Guidance) in the Clouds
- There is Promise in the Clouds.
For those who walked with Jesus they indeed saw visible clouds in Palestine. There are in the Bible quite a few references to the word "cloud" and a few in respect to clouds connected with the phenomena of the weather conditions. The land of Jesus is a long, narrow country with sea on the west and the desert on the east. The wind from the east is always moist and brings clouds with it. If the temperature over the land is low enough, the clouds will be condensed and rain will fall, but if the temperature is high, as in the five months of summer, there can be no rain even though clouds are seen. As a whole the winter is clouded and the summer is clear.
Regardless of the name of clouds, whether be they as we know them circus, alto, cumulus or stratum the Bible says that the "Faithfulness of God reaches to the clouds." (Psa. 36:5). God can be trusted. Clouds may change, they may vary, NOT SO WITH GOD. Clouds can appear or disappear and nothing is more changeable than them, and perhaps that is why Job made the statement, "Can anyone understand the spreading of the clouds?" We can on this side of the Cross and with the Word of God say, "Yes, Mr. Job. We can now understand a little bit of the spiritual implication of the spreading of the clouds".
Because we live in a world in which there are so many things changing, it is easy for us to slip into the unconscious suspicion that God too is changeable. BUT, we are reminded in Psalms l36:5 that "His faithfulness abides!" God"s faithfulness even controls the changefulness of the clouds.
To begin may I get your thinking geared to YOUR PERSONAL CLOUDS. You do have them. They are floating around the home, the office, the school. i.e. problems. NOW real clouds are controlled by a faithful and unchangeable God in spit of their uncertain movements - consequently we can say that they are symbols of the shifting uncertainties of human life. OK?
Now, our cloudy experiences are many. We can"t escape them. It certainly calms me to know that according to Isa. 19:l,
"The Lord rides on a swift cloud".
That cloud that swiftly has come into your life has God IN it. We will elaborate on that later. Since we can"t escape the clouds, we must put our trust in God who controls the physical cloud. If we do this, we will rob, so to speak, the terror that might be in our personal cloud. I like these words from God"s Word. It is like God speaking personally to me and saying:
"Lo, I come to you in a thick cloud." Exodus 19:9
So..."He makes the clouds his chariot." Psalm 104:3
Cloudy experiences are weighed by benefits, just as the physical clouds are comprised by water droplets. The more water, the darker the cloud. The Psalmists said that the clouds pour out water that refreshes us. So, with the title in mind, "Can Anyone Understand the Spreading of the Clouds" I want you to look at some of my observations.
1. There is Life in the Clouds
In Palestine in the autumn rain storms often arise suddenly from the sea. What seems to be a mere haze, "as small as a man"s hand", such as Gehazi saw recorded in 1 Kings 18:44 over the sea, within a few hours becomes the black storm cloud pouring down torrents of rain. (1 Kings 18:45) It is stated (Psalm 65:9) "You care for the land and water it." It is God who controls the clouds!! Jesus who is the water of life by his own definition came to give LIFE . One of the essentials of life is that of water. We would not survive without water.
So, my friend, when you see or experience your cloudy experiences of life, realize that it is not unto death, but life. And some of the most dark experiences one goes through will produce an abundance of life giving water. I can look back on some really dark clouds that came in my life and see the benefit now. But going through those clouds the feeling was different. Perhaps you have tapped on to that many times before and not been aware of it?
2. There is Glory in the Clouds
I want you to pull up from your memory bank a past dark experience. Now that you have passed through "your cloud" you might be able to see the rainbow of God"s glory. Yes, there is the wonderful glory of the Lord in the darkness. The experience or problem or situation labeled as a cloud should not produce fear, but an expression of hope for the glory.
Example. Exodus 40:36,
"The cloud covered the Tabernacle, and
the glorious presence of the Lord
Example. Matthew 17:5
God IN the cloud
"But even as he said it, a bright cloud came over them, and a voice FROM the cloud said, 'This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him listen to him.""
Example: Exodus 19:9,16
"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'I am going to come to you IN a thick cloud so the people themselves can hear me as I speak to you..."
Future example: Luke 21:27
"Then everyone will see the Son of Man arrive ON the clouds with power and great glory."
Future again: Revelation 1:7
"Look" He comes with the clouds of heaven..."
Look for the glory of the Lord in your present cloud. Now look at the sequence of events in the passage above from Matthew"s account. (17:6, then 17:7)
"The disciples were terrified and fell face down on the ground."
...because of the cloudy experience. BUT THEN NOTICE
"Jesus came over and touched them. 'Get up," he said, 'Don"t be afraid.""
Let God be glorified in difficulties.
Let God be glorified in distress.
Let God be glorified in illness.
Let God be glorified in heartaches, etc. etc.
If God is IN your cloud, then look for and experience His glory. Yes, while the world says, "There is a silver lining behind every cloud." we say, yes and yes. There is the silver of the glory of God.
3. There is Direction (Guidance) in the Clouds
I love Psalm 78:14,
"In the daytime he led them by a cloud..."
You do recall that story in Exodus, don"t you. What a sight!! Echoed in Psalm 105:39,
"He spread out a cloud as a covering, and a fire to give light at night."
On a hot summer day we have all been refreshed when a cloud appeared, blocking out the sun for a moment, thus giving us shade. Well, for these people walking in a desert it was indeed God"s "air conditioner".
Don"t minimize the fact that God might be leading you with the cloudy experience you are faced with. Yes, could and often is true. That is a PTL.
Look at two personal experiences. A girl is engaged to a young fellow. Something goes wrong and the engagement is broken! What a dark cloud to experience for that young lady? At the same time, miles away, a young man has a terrible automobile accident. He is laid up several weeks which necessitates his being removed from all classes in the graduate school. This forces him to not graduate as scheduled but put in another quarter of school.
The girl travels to New Orleans, Louisiana and enrolls in the graduate school where the young man is "forced" to remain another school quarter. It is during those first few weeks that they meet each other....fall in love....get married.
So, the dark cloud of a broken engagement and the dark cloud of an automobile accident both proved to be clouds that had great direction in them. (Incidentally, the young lady was Nancy DuBois and the young man, me, Neal Carlson. Nancy came to work on her Master"s in Religious Education and got a "MRS." instead – Neal ends up with his Master"s in Divinity.)
Consider Nehemiah 9:19 and Exodus 13:21,22:
"But in your great mercy you did not abandon them (you in this case) in the wilderness. The pillar OF CLOUD still led them forward by day..."
"The Lord guided them by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night."
So to review, don"t lose sight that there is life in your cloud. There is glory in your cloud and as we have seen, don"t minimize the face that God might be guiding you with your dark cloud.
4. There is A Promise in The Clouds
Yes and yes. You might recall the story in the book of Genesis. Let me review with you from chapter 9.
"I have placed my rainbow IN THE CLOUDS.
It is a sign as evidence of my eternal
covenant with you and all living creatures.
I have placed MY rainbow in the clouds. It is
the sign of my permanent PROMISE
to you and all [the reader of these lines]
Remember the rainbow is never seen except in showery weather. And for us, unless the sun shines (Jesus) we will not see the Divine presence and hear the promises.
Yes, "If the clouds be full of rain they empty themselves." (Eccl. 11:3) The darker the more likely they yield plentiful showers...and there are showers of blessings.
The Bible is full of promises. Someone counted them as being 1,100. For us I see it ensuring me that in my cloud there is protection from almighty God. Therefore I am not afraid, for what can man do to me?
TO WRAP IT UP.. Life is sometimes living in clouds. Again, don"t be afraid. Don"t rebel. Be teachable through cloudy experiences. Remember this
"Lo, I come to you in the clouds."
Let it sink in! Someone wrote: "God has a purpose in permitting the clouds to form, the thunder to roar, and the lightning to dazzle us." The Disciples on the mountain we are told, "and they feared as they entered into the cloud." But what an outcome.
The faithful God permits change and uncertainty in order to inspire fear. Don"t revolt against the idea of fear. Far better to fear than to remain insensitive. Better too have dread than irreverence. But what follows is a sense that "love casts away all fear".
Remember the cloud IS THE HOME OF GOD. (Would you pause and say that out loud right now? ____________________. Yes, the cloud IS the home of God. That is true from the Exodus experience in the Tabernacle to the Mt. Hermon experience with Jesus and his 3 disciples in the inner circle. The cloud is the home of God.
And a footnote. As black clouds cover the sky, there is really a 5th point. That being found in Isa. 44:22
"I have swept your sins away like a cloud."
Job asks the question. "Can any understand the spreading of the clouds?" I, today, answer yes. Because (Ezekiel 30:18)
"as for her a cloud covered her."
and I recall 1 Thess. 4:17,
"He comes with clouds..."
So, its OK God. It"s you"re allowed cloud in my life. Someone said, "Remember, Lord"s love letters often comes in black edged envelopes." Don"t worry about clouds, sing, because May flowers are brought to us through April clouds and showers.
Another quote? "The blue of heaven is larger than the clouds." And always remember that above the clouds the sun is still shining. Let us resound today and in the tomorrows, God is in my cloud regardless of the intensity of the blackness. From white clouds (yea) to the dark of darks, God is in them - hallelujah.
It"s OK God. It"s your allowed cloud - "at any level".
Always remember "IT IS GOD WHO CONTROLS THE CLOUDS" (Eccl. 11:4)
Always remember THE CLOUD IS THE HOUSE OF GOD. Further in 2 Samuel 22:10 we are reminded that the storm clouds are beneath His feet.
Lord, I do acknowledge that I have been living in a cloud. I acknowledge that I am now living in a cloud over a particular situation. I acknowledge that in the future there will be cloudy experiences coming my way. I also acknowledge, God, that you are IN these clouds. I ask for the Holy Spirit"s help to keep me focused on that fact.
Help me not fight you since I, through my spirit eyes, see you IN this cloud. I want to partner with you and try to understand the spreading of the clouds. I ask that I see a glimpse of glory in the situation so that I will be encouraged and not discouraged.
The disciples received a great deal of peace while they were in the cloud on the Mt. Transfiguration when they heard you speak to them. May I also hear you say to me personally, "Get up and don"t be afraid," because "perfect love casts out all fear."
- White - Revelation 14:14
- Black - 1 Kings 18:45
- Dark - Job 22:13
- Bright - Matthew 17:5
- Thick - Exodus 19:9
- Great - Ezekiel 1:4
- Swift - Isaiah 19:1