By Glenn Pease
Jean Baptiste Lamarch, the distinguished French naturalist, came from a military family and, at the age of 17 and in keeping with his family's tradition, enlisted in the army.
At 21, however, his health failed and he went to Paris for a year of treatment.
It was the bleakest time he had ever known.
Poor and alone, he lived in a small attic room where he spent days on end, flat on his back.There were no windows in the room.
There was only a small sky-light, through which he could watch the clouds drifting overhead.
As time passed, though, Lamarch became more and more intrigued by the different cloud formations.
Each type, he noticed, was associated with a particular kind of weather.
There was the nimbus which heralds a storm, the cumulus which comes at the end of a fine summer afternoon, the cirres which, says that good weather is on its way.
When the year was over, Lamarch was an expert on clouds.
Military life, he decided, had lost its appeal.
He switched to science and fundless though he was at first, went on to become one of the outstanding scientists of his generation.
Most of us do not have our lives changed by watching clouds, but the fact is most of us have had times when watching clouds has had some effect on us.
My granddaughter Jenny and I just this past summer were sitting out on the front lawn finding different animals in the clouds as they changed formations, and I watched clouds enough so that every time I see a pretty cloud now I praise the Lord.
It has become a habit because I spent enough time dwelling on clouds to make a deep impression on my mind.
I can identify with the unknown poet who wrote-
"Oh, it is pleasant, with a heart of ease,
Just after sunset, or by moonlight skies,
To make the shifting clouds be what you please,
Or let the easily-persuaded eyes
Own each quaint likeness issuing from the mould
Of a friend's fancy, or with head bent low
And clear as light, see rivers flow of gold
"Twixt crimson banks; and then, a traveller, go
From mount to mount through cloud and gorgeous land."
Probably the most impressive clouds I have ever experienced was when I was a chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol and was taken up in a small plane.
When the pilot got above the clouds I could not believe the brightness as the sun reflected off the masses of billowing clouds.
It was the brightest experience I have ever had.
Miles and miles of brilliant shining clouds.
It was awesome, and again enables me to identify with HIGH FLIGHTby John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
"Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds -- and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of -- wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence.
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."
I have had some marvelous experiences with clouds, but not until recently did I ever realize how important a place clouds play in the Bible, and in the plan of God.
They play a major role in life on this planet, for without clouds there would be no life.
They also play a major role in the weather.
Man has spent millions of dollars and hours trying to learn all he can about clouds for he knows they hold the secrets to much of what he wants to know.
The Bible says much about the role of clouds in weather and this is important to understand, but today we are going to focus on the spiritual values in clouds.
Let me just share this one paragraph on the scientific nature of clouds.
What are clouds?
Clouds are water.
Either small liquid water drops or tiny pieces of ice.
Meteorologists rank clouds according to their height and whether or not they are flat or puffy.
How are clouds formed?
Clouds form when the air rises.
As a blob of air rises it expands and gets colder, the colder air cannot hold as much water as warmer air.
As the temperature and air pressure continue to drop, tiny water droplets group together into clumps called cloud droplets.
At this point, the blob of air becomes a visible cloud.
If the cloud keeps going up, the cloud droplets will clump together and form water droplets.
These water droplets are too heavy to float in the air and they fall from the sky as either rain or snow.
There are 148 verses in the Bible dealing with clouds, and so it would take most of our time, if not all of it, just to read what the Bible says about them.
But I do want to give you a powerful impression of their role, and so I will read a number of verses where clouds are directly connected with God.
GOD'S PRESENCE IN A CLOUD
Nu 11:25 And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.
Nu 12:5 And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.
De 31:15 And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle.
Mt 17:5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Mr 9:7 And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
Lu 9:34 While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.
Lu 9:35 And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.
THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST IN THE CLOUDS
Lu 21:27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
Mt 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
Mt 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
Mr 13:26 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.
Mr 14:62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
1Th 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Re 1:7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.
Even so, Amen.
CHRIST SETTING ON THE CLOUD AS HIS THRONE
Re 14:14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
Re 14:15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.
Re 14:16 And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped.
THE GLORY OF GOD IN THE CLOUDS
Ex 16:10 And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.
God used the cloud as a means of conveying His glory.
The clouds still do that, for when they are awesome in their beauty and grandeur you cannot help but think of God.
Their gigantic size and the beauty of their whiteness convey a glory that is Godlike.
Their are many texts that convey this idea.
Ex 40:34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
Ex 40:35 And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.
Nu 16:42 And it came to pass, when the congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tabernacle of the congregation: and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared.
1Ki 8:11 So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of the LORD.
2Ch 5:14 So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.
Eze 10:4 Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD'S glory.
That was 24 of the 148, but those are enough to give you an impression of the key role clouds play in the Word of God.
Then there is the fascinating text we read in Ps.104 about the clouds being God's chariot.
Ps 104:3 "Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind."