Wednesday, September 28, 2016

consider the clouds

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; 
I will sing praises to you among the nations.  
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; 
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.  
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! 
Let your glory be over all the earth!  

(Psalm 108:3-5 ESV; see also Psalm 36:5; 57:10-11)

I love stepping outside in the morning and looking up at the clouds in the sky. Or in the evening I'll take a walk and enjoy a beautiful sunset, with streaks and colors of light illuminating the clouds.  

One thing clouds always remind me of is that God's steadfast love and faithfulness is gloriously high above me, infinitely surpassing any of my earthbound needs and concerns.  His love is greater than my sin and higher than any problem I face. His steadfast love and faithfulness is inexhaustible. We can never run out of his faithfulness nor reach the end of the love which he has toward all who are in Christ Jesus. (See Romans 8.)     

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758), America's greatest theologian, believed that all of creation was a kind of language that communicated the glory of God to us.  So, when God created rocks, and trees, and plants, and streams, and clouds, he had in mind certain truths that would be conveyed to observant minds and hearts.  The 11th volume of the Yale edition of Edwards' writings is the Typological Writings (1744, WJE Online Vol. 11), edited by Wallace E. Anderson, Mason I. Lowance, Jr., and David H. Watters. Edwards used Scripture as his guide for determining God's intended purpose of things created.  Here is one entry regarding the "heavens" and "clouds": 

#212. The immense magnificence of the visible world, its inconceivable vastness, the incomprehensible height of the heavens, etc. is but a type of the infinite magnificence, height and glory of God's work in the spiritual world: the most incomprehensible expression of his power, wisdom, holiness and love, in what is wrought and brought to pass in that world; and in the exceeding greatness of the moral and natural good, the light, knowledge, holiness and happiness which shall be communicated to it. And therefore to that magnificence of the world, height of heaven, those things are often compared in such expressions. "Thy mercy is great above the heavens, thy truth reacheth [unto the clouds"]; "Thou hast set thy glory above the heavens," etc.  
~ Jonathan Edwards, Typological Writings (WJE Online Vol. 11)

Edwards' teaching on the types (God-intended images and shadows) in creation has transformed the way I look at nature, like the clouds.  I see these things now not as convenient illustrations of God's nature and character (after the fact) but rather images and metaphors divinely intended from the beginning to be objects for our contemplation. Nature truly is a form of revelation from God.  

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