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Return to 4th Quarter 2023 articles.

The title of this article is WILLFUL BLINDNESS with a picture of a man with a blindfold saying atheism.

The sky is falling! Well, not exactly. Actually, the clouds are falling. Clouds are made of water, and everyone knows water is heavier than air, so how can clouds float in the air? Have you ever thought about that? Are clouds floating, or is it an optical illusion?

Before we answer that question, here is another one. What does the Bible say about clouds? Clouds are mentioned many times in the Bible. God gives us a creation story in the book of Job that expands on the Genesis account. These are some of the words God used to challenge Job and his friends in Job 38:8-9 (NKJV):

Or who shut in the sea with doors,
When it burst forth and issued from the womb;
When I made the clouds its garment,
And thick darkness its swaddling band;
When I fixed My limit for it,
And set bars and doors; When I said,
“This far you may come, but no farther,
And here your proud waves must stop!”
a hand showing stop.

In this poetic account, when the early Earth was a water world, God shut up the ocean “with doors” and told it, “Here your proud waves must stop!” I love that word picture of the creation process! God speaks, and the seas listen!

In this Job passage, God explains something we wonder about in Genesis 1:1, where it says, “darkness was on the face of the deep.” The garment of clouds explains the darkness covering the oceans. Otherwise, we have to wonder why the first part of Genesis 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” The heavens would have to include the Sun, Moon, and stars, as well as all of the galaxies and everything in them. Why, then, was there darkness on the water-covered Earth? God answers that question by saying: “I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band.”

a hand showing stop.

Genesis tells us that God divided the water covering the land from the water in the sky, meaning the clouds (see Genesis 1:9-10). We read further in Genesis 1:14-18 that God caused the clouds to clear up enough to allow the Sun and Moon to be fully visible “for signs and seasons, and for days and years” and to “give light on the earth.”

We see that God's description of the creation process in Job clarifies some questions that the Genesis creation account leaves unanswered. But that is not all God said about clouds in Job 38.

God challenges Job with this question in verse 34:

Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That an abundance of water may cover you?

God verifies that clouds are made of water, and as Genesis tells us, God divided the water on the surface from the water in the air. So, how did God make the water float in the air? Are the clouds defying gravity, or is this an optical illusion? Is God breaking his own laws of physics, or is he fooling us? The short answer is clouds do not float on air — at least not exactly.

We have two things to learn. The clouds are falling, and only God can tell the clouds what to do. Let us return to where we left off in Job 38, where God speaks of clouds as he challenges Job and his friends. These are God's words in verses 34-38:

Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
That an abundance of water may cover you?
Can you send out lightnings, that they may go,
And say to you, “Here we are!”?
Who has put wisdom in the mind?
Or who has given understanding to the heart?
Who can number the clouds by wisdom?
Or who can pour out the bottles of heaven,
When the dust hardens in clumps,
And the clods cling together?

God asks Job if he can tell the clouds what to do, sending rain when the ground is dry. Of course, the answer is “No.” Human wisdom and understanding cannot do that, but God can. Before God spoke to him, Job seemed to believe that sometimes God used rain as a form of punishment (Job 37:13). God did withhold rain from Israel for years because of the evil leadership of Ahab and Jezebel, but Elijah's prayer brought it back.

So, does God make a practice of withholding rain as a punishment? Not according to Jesus. He told us to love our enemies, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).

a hand showing stop.

We cannot tell the clouds what to do, whether we want it to rain or not rain. Only God can do that, but he is not a punishing old man in the sky ready to withhold rain or zap us with lightning if we misbehave. Many people have that confused idea, but the Bible does not support it. God sends sunshine and rain on the just and the unjust through the weather system he created. All weather conditions occur naturally according to God's designed system, except in rare cases when he intervened with a timing miracle.

Let us get back to our original question about clouds. They are water and sometimes ice, so how can they float in the air? The answer is that they do not float. They are falling very gradually. Any unsupported object will fall to the ground because of Earth's gravity. As it falls faster, the friction of the air molecules increases.

Any falling object will eventually reach terminal velocity when the friction force equals the pull of gravity. We can ignore the air friction for a bowling ball because it is minuscule compared to the ball's weight. However, the weight of a water droplet in a cloud with a diameter measured in microns is minuscule, so the terminal velocity may be less than a hundred feet per hour. When you consider that clouds are thousands of feet in the air, their “falling” is too slow for us to notice, and the water droplets may “dissolve” into the air before they fall very far. When they converge into larger droplets, they fall more quickly as rain.

a hand showing stop.

The bottom line is, yes, the clouds are falling, but you will only notice it when they fall as rain. The more important point is that only God can tell the clouds what to do. Remember that God's love sends sunshine and rain for everyone, even those who refuse to recognize his existence. That is the kind of love we should show to everyone.

Picture credits:
© Denis Rozhnovsky/Bigstock.com
© gluuker/Bigstock.com
© everest comunity/Bigstock.com
© Grisha Bruev/Bigstock.com
© famveldman/Bigstock.com

Scripture links/references are from BibleGateway.com. Unhighlighted scriptures can be looked up at their website.