Walking on the wings of the wind
2nd October 2013, hej
1) Walking on the wings of the wind
In the light of the findings of science, how literally do we take what the scriptures say about the power of the God of the Bible, Yahweh Elohim (literally He who will become Mighty Ones)? Science at its best is a measurement of observable and repeatable phenomenon wrapped up in explanations which abound in analogy. There is no doubt in the benefit of investigating phenomena of the natural world. The surprising thing is that the more we investigate natural phenomena, the more it fits the explanations recorded over 2000 years ago.
David the Psalmist wrote:
O Yahweh my God, you are very great; Who covers yourself with light as with a garment: who stretches out the heavens like a curtain: Who lays the beams of his chambers in the waters: who makes the clouds his chariot: who walks upon the wings of the wind: (Psa 104:1-3)
This is a translation, and the translators were thinking David was writing poetry. However, the psalm is a very pragmatic explanation of the relationships observed in nature. It says, for example:
Man goes forth to his work, to his labour until the evening. (Psa 104:23 WEB)
The psalmist makes an observation in verse one when he says Yahweh covers or wraps Himself in light. This is a comment of a factual observed incident. Israelites did observe Yahweh's presence as a light on a number of occasions. To say the wrapping was 'like a garment', is a good analogy.
The next statement made is that Yahweh 'stretches out' the heavens. This may refer to the forces that move clouds, but the context might imply a cosmic scale. The surprising aspect is that modern science has only recently reached the conclusion that there is an observed expansion. Allowing for the fact that air filled balloons were not invented, the analogy of a 'curtain' as in a hanging that is billowing with the wind is a picture very close to the modern scientific analogy which speaks of the “expansion of space like stretching a rubber sheet” (http://news.discovery.com/space/astronomy/is-the-universe-expanding-or-just-getting-heavier-130822.htm).
In terms of clouds and 'stretching' it turns out that there is a peculiar characteristic of the troposphere that when air rises from the earth it “spreads out” (lukmweather.blogspot.com.au/2011/) More than that very few can explain just why it is that “our jet stream winds and their associated divergence (or convergence) almost always occur just below the tropopause.” There are tendencies in the jet stream winds to “divergence” or 'stretching'. Divergence, or air becoming less dense, and stretching the the atoms, beacause of the troposphere, pull airs up from the earth to fill the space.
So let us return to the Hebrew of verse 3 and translate the words as a literal scientific observation. As a dictionary proves, every word can be explained by a number of other words. The precise meaning of a word is determined by the context. We will use Strong's dictionary as shown in brackets.
Who lays the beams (appoints, lay or make beams, befall, bring, come to pass unto, floor, meet, send) of his chambers ( lofty, that is, a stair way; a second story room; figuratively the sky: - ascent, upper chamber, going up) in the waters:
We could translate this as: 'He appoints the base of his ascent in the waters.'
who makes (to put, appoint, bring, care, change, charge, commit, consider, convey, determine, heap up, leave, ordain, order)
the clouds (an envelope, darkness, or density) his chariot (vehicle as ridden on):
We could translate this as: He heaps up (waters) as density to drive them.
This simply explains that water is taken from the deep and conveyed to make clouds. This is observable fact. Today science says that this process is driven by the energy of the sun, and that the energy of the sun comes from nuclear explosions in the sun. We may as well say the Energy of the universe takes water from the deep and orders it into a denser envelope called 'clouds'. For being three thousand years old this observation is very advanced. Unless a civilization lived in a mountainous region, the observation that clouds were merely droplets of water is very extraordinary. Of interest is that poetic analogy may say clouds are like cotton-wool, but the psalmist is literal and accurate.
who walks (to walk literally and figuratively, come, depart, enter, go forth, forward, get, go about, go along, go forward, go out, grow, moves self, run along, spread)
upon the wings (an edge or extremity; specifically of a bird a wing, a flap, a quarter, a pinnacle: overspreading, quarters, skirt, uttermost part)
of the wind (wind; breath, exhalation; figuratively life; air, anger, blast, breath, mind, spirit, tempest)
We could translate this as: He moves himself on the extremities of the wind/storm or
He moves upon the extremity of the air.
The Psalmist says the actions of the wind and storm at the extremities of the air are used to increase the density of the water to make clouds. The 'extremities' being the furtherest extent up and down above the surface of earth (a bird has two tips). 'Extremities' or 'overspreading' must mean the full extent of up and down direction perpendicular to the surface of the earth as in verse one the psalmist speaks of the water coming from the floor and ascending.
If this is so, then Psalm 104 accurately describes the way clouds are produced when wind currents force warm moisture laden air up to colder altitudes: He appoints the base of the ascent in the waters. who heaps up them as density/clouds, who moves upon the extremity of the air/wind.
The Force /Energy active now
The psalmist was not explaining the phenomena, as that is observable, but rather that the force that was moving the water to make the clouds was Yahweh's active energy and power, applied moment to moment!
Before leaving this point. If radiant energy is evenly applied over a surface we could expect an even moisture evaporation. If the evaporation is even it forms humidity. Even when this humid air rises, it merely becomes denser. Even when droplets of water attract other droplets they should do so evenly. Why does some moisture coalesce to form dense clouds which leave clear patches between? An explanation is that the sun's radiation is not even. However, the action of the wind is has an observable effect on clouds. If Yahweh controls the wind He controls the clouds.
The point the pslamist is making that his God controls the heavens, now, moment to moment. Its nto wound up and let run, it's monitored and tweaked, and actively moved, to make life good here, and bring rain.
As Yahweh is able to control the clouds, He must certainly control the rain. The scriptures are certain on this point. Elijah prays to Yahweh for rain to the end of a drought and sees a small cloud become a black cloud that drops a deluge. Jeremiah states that the drought in his day was a punishment for idolatry. (Jer 3:3). Jeremiah states on a number of occasions that Yahweh can cause it to rain (Jer 14;22, Jer5:24). The book of Jeremiah is an argument that Yahweh is the only power on earth, and that idols are vanity. In this context there is no poetry. Jeremiah is saying that on one hand we have idols which are 'stocks' that don't move except one picks them up, and on the other we have the Being who actively and intelligently moves water and wind.
In Jeremiah chapter ten he states Yahweh stretched the heavens. This to modern ears sounds acceptable as it implies an action back at creation. In verse thirteen however, he states Yahweh causes the vapours to ascent to clouds, and that he makes lightening for rain and that he moves the wind. These are a challenge to us as these all say that Yahweh is now, at this moment in time, using His power to act on the face of the earth. This is the core of Jeremiah's point. We have an active God. We have a powerful deity who is constantly and intelligently using His power in the world today. We could ignore Jeremiah's opinion, however in chapter fifty one, Jeremiah records Yahweh as swearing that he would carry out his promise as surely his power made the earth as surely as his words now cause the multitude of waters in the heavens.
He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heaven by his understanding. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth: he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures. (Jeremiah 51:15-16 KJV)
It is past tense that Yahweh made the earth. It is in the present and active tense he moves the water and wind. It is also a point to note that there is no analogy of clouds being like wool, rather they are simply a “multitude of waters in the heavens”, which is an advanced scientific understanding. The second point of note is that Yahweh controls the movement of the active systems by making commands.
God as the motivating force
Some scientists ridicule the idea that God could be a motivating force. They suggest that such an idea prevents the furthering of science. They claim God is the stop gap explanation for things we can't explain. To test this idea let us accept that Yahweh controls the wind to move the clouds. In this explanation we have an intelligent being acting to control one aspect of a complex system to maintain balance. This explanation does not stop us exploring the mechanism as to how Yahweh does this. If we have a model in our mind of an active intelligence controlling the system, it is likely we will look for ordering devices and mechanisms of adjustment. Our model would be one of control and feedback, which fits very well what is observed on every level.
If people begin with the idea that the whole world “just happened”. They might wonder how the world works. They have to explain how any system we observe worked in the first place. They have to explain why it still continues to work. They have to explain how life can arise from nothing, when it has never been observed that life can arise without life of the same type or species. Using models that assume the system that suports life “just so” one-day becomes right to support life, most researchers become worried that the system will become unstable one day and then will not work any more. The system is watched for any signs of abnormality. When a abnormality is observed, much effort is made to determine how to return the system to the previous state. This is where the fears of some godless people as to “warming”, “climate change” and “sea level rise” come from.
The truth is that science that defines out God cannot identify any casuses, only observed mechanisms: they can find out 'how' but never 'why' things happen! The truth is that the truly great findings have only been seen by those who sought God and who sought truth. Isaac Newton was one who with others who also loved the Bible, defined the method of observation of truth in the natural world. Another who followed him was Joseph Priestly who exemplified the experimental method. There is every evidence that literal belief in the God of the Bible has given us great good in finding out about how things work in the natural world, often to great benefit.
Observation might show us that indeed the God of the Bible who calls himself the Casue of all things, in his name “He who is now becoming and will become” Yahweh, the Good of the earth, driving the systems of the earth, as if a chariot, so that the wind draws waters from the sea, and transports the bound waters over land to rain on the just and unjust, so they might eat.
Elihu rebuked his generation,
'But none saith, “Where is God my maker, who gives songs in the night; Who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth, and makes us wiser than the fowls of heaven?” (Job 35:10-11)
May each of you who read this find, as I have found, the truth of the Psalmist words,
You through your commandments have made me wiser than my enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for your testimonies are my meditation. (Psa 119:98-99)
For more Clouds
Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. (1 Corinthians 4:5)
This may be one of the most misunderstood passages of the Bible. Paul is notorious for long sentences of connected thoughts, and this is part of a complex wide ranging thought which lasts 2 chapters, and includes what seems opposite advice:
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (1 Cor. 5:11-13)
As I was thinking to write this article, having just read Psalm 46 as I do each year on that day, on January 25th a Bible was found untouched after a tornado hit Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
We have been given many time periods to prophetic events in the Bible. Many people think it too hard, and do not make an effort to understand them. However, if they were not to be understood, why were they given? And the Bible says the wise shall understand (Daniel 12:10).
The God of Israel is approachable and reasonable. He often speaks directly to his people. The following will seek to understand a passage where he speaks via the prophet Amos which has a few variant translations.