At Peachtree this year, our theme is God’s revelation to us through His Creation. This emphasis has led to teachings in our classes about God and His Handiwork, an inexhaustible wealth. One of His ever-present works is clouds - let’s look at how they exist, what they do, and how they reflect the Creator.
Clouds are a weighty matter, and that is true in both senses of the phrase! There is a lot to know about them and much of it doesn’t make sense. The pure white puffy ones are heavy, apparently running in a smaller size around 200,000 pounds up to over 2,000,000 pounds for the giant piles of fluffiness. From directly beneath them you can see contours and shadows they cast on the ground; they sometimes move easily with wind currents and other times they seem static. From above, there are at least as many contours and shapes to see in these sky mountains. Yet a plane moves through them easily, and it doesn’t even seem to disturb their shape or make them want to move with the plane. If they were as light and airy as they appear it would make sense that they move with such a disturbance, and yet they seem unaffected and close effortlessly back around the “hole” made by an aircraft. The darker rain-dropping clouds are even heavier, apparently weighing up to hundreds of thousands of tons. Yet they don’t fall from the sky either.
Science currently tells us that those light puffy clouds are so loosely bound together that their very dispersement of particles and water droplets keeps them afloat, along with warm air currents rising from the ground under them; yet their dispersed particles hang together purposefully in what appear to be random shapes. We also know that as a cloud gathers water vapor which condenses to raindrops, it will reach a point of saturation when it has to drop rain onto the ground because of the density of packed particles. We read that dirt particles further play a role: they can gather in the air as well and be included in the mass of a cloud to make it gather density more quickly and thus cause rain sooner.
Now, we further know that the physical law of gravity says objects that weigh more than air will drop to the ground once inside its reach. However, clouds seemingly bend this law, at least for a time. They certainly weigh more than air as bodies of water vapor, yet their particles are so dispersed that they can “ride” the air for lengths of time, shifting and changing shapes as they gently move and shadow the ground beneath. Winds can move them around and even disperse them, though the clouds’ weight might seem to defy that movement. God in His Infinite Majesty and Wisdom put the Law of Gravity in place, with all the other laws that govern His Physical Creation, yet He also quietly put in place something that doesn’t quite follow all those rules. What was He teaching us?
Out of many possible applications, one easily made is that laws don’t always apply in the ways we expect. Let’s look closer: most everything in Creation bows to the strictures of the law of gravity. Most creatures never leave the ground; plants and trees and fish and grasshoppers complete their lifespans without ever leaving earth. Birds fly, but only so high and not incessantly because they have to rest on earth/earthbound objects; bubbles float but only so high before bursting. We know that objects within reach of our gravitational forces have to succumb to them. Humanity figured out how to fly after thousands of years of effort, but we can only fly with help & for finite time periods before we have to succumb to gravity. The gentle clouds blowing across our entire visible sky are not affected by gravity in the ways we might expect: they gather strength and mass and eventually pour that out onto the earth, then regroup to float again. They are performing important tasks: refreshing the dirt and replenishing water sources for all life. We can see that the laws of nature were put in place for our protection and provision, but we also need to look up & remember sometimes God makes provision for things that go against expectation.
“He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.” Ps. 135:7
“By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast. He loads the thick cloud with moisture; the clouds scatter his lightning...Do you know how God lays his command upon them and causes the lightning of his cloud to shine? Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge...?” Job 37:10-11, 15-16
“Who can number the clouds by wisdom...or tilt the waterskins of the heavens...?” Job 38:37