Yesterday I sat and watched the rain fall, the wind as it whipped the bare trees and then late in the afternoon, the beginnings of a promised snowfall. As I watched I was reminded of what is said in several passages of scripture about God being in control of it all and using weather for his purposes.
“For I know that the Lord is great,
and that our Lord is above all gods.
Whatever the Lord pleases, he does,
in heaven and on earth,
in the seas and all deeps.
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” (Psalms 135:5-7).
The nations surrounding the people of God in the days in which this Psalm was written believed in many idols. This Psalm boldly states that God is above all the gods of the peoples around them. He alone is God. Idols are nothing. They are imaginary gods with no power whatsoever. What the peoples imagined their gods doing was really done by the one true God. Jesus said of the heavenly Father… “…he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
In this Psalm, it is asserted that God does whatever he pleases and wherever he pleases – in heaven or on earth or in the seas and all deeps. The seas are mentioned here probably because people thought of the sea as the source of conflict and chaos. But God is in control of even the forces deemed by men to be without order.
The false god Baal was called in the literature of these idolaters, “cloud rider,” because his worshipers supposed he brought the clouds with their rain to nourish the earth and give them plentiful harvests. But the psalmist describes how God controls the rain. Although it would be many years before scientists would comprehend the water cycle, it is described here – He “makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth” and carry their burden of moisture to the thirsty lands, borne by his wind and accompanied by his thunder.
In verse 7 of the above Psalm and in the following quote from the book of Job, God is said to keep these elements of nature in “storehouses.” Some versions of the Bible have “treasures” (treasuries). God asked Job…
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I have reserved for the time of trouble,
for the day of battle and war? (Job 38:22-23).
God has, on occasion, used the forces of nature against enemies of his people. One of the ten plagues he sent on Egypt was the plague of hail…
“Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field” (Exodus 9:23-25).
Remember the event when the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua had begun their conquest of the land of Canaan and a number of the minor kings of the land banded together to stop them? As the battle wore on and the day drew to a close, Joshua spoke to the Lord and asked him to allow the sun to stand still “until the nation took vengeance on their enemies” (Joshua 10:12-13). In verse 11 he tells how God used huge hailstones to help his people win this battle…
“…the Lord threw down large stones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died because of the hailstones than the sons of Israel killed with the sword.” (Joshua 10:11).
While the violent forces of nature were used as weapons of destruction, rain is a gift from God’s bountiful, beneficent hand. As the Psalmist said,
“You visit the earth and water it;
you greatly enrich it;
the river of God is full of water;
you provide their grain,
for so you have prepared it” (Psalms 65:9).
The power and goodness of God are seen in his provisions for creation through the workings of nature.
“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Rom 1:20).
“Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17).
When we hear the rainfall on our roof or the wind that moves the clouds, the thunder that accompanies the storm or feel the gentle breeze that caresses the flowers that come as a result of the late winter/spring rains, let us be reminded of how God is working in it all to take care of the earth. When we awake in the morning and (perhaps) see a fresh blanket of snow, let us remember that God is enriching the earth and our lives with the beauty of his exquisite artistry.
“The effect of the discoveries which are made in the works of God is not to diminish our sense of his wisdom and majesty, but to change mere wonder to praise; to transform blind amazement to intelligent adoration. Every new discovery of a law of nature is fitted more to impress the mind with awe, and at the same time it becomes the basis of a new act of intelligent confidence in God. This is true of snow as of other things” (Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible).