Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades? Can you loosen Orion’s belt? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons or lead out the Bear with its cubs? Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth? Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’? Who gives the ibis wisdom or gives the rooster understanding? Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens when the dust becomes hard and the clods of earth stick together? – Job 38:31-38
The education of Elihu (and me) continues in this passage. God is making it clear just how much we can know and how much God knows. The Father of the rain wants to make it clear that we cannot determine our own destiny any more than we can re-position the stars, no matter how much we might desire to do so.
God poses the rhetorical question “Can you raise your voice to the clouds and cover yourself with a flood of water? What an interesting way to phrase this. Elihu and Job’s friends have been raising their voices to the clouds as they tried to rebuke Job for doing the same. God is saying that they do not have the understanding needed to advise anyone about how “clouds” behave or operate.
Ultimately God is the source of the living water that nourishes our spiritually thirsty souls. He provides the rains that we need when we need them. Sometimes this feels like a deluge of God’s rain and other times it feel like a gentle rain on tender plants.
Who has the wisdom to count the clouds? Counting clouds has no meaning from a scientific perspective. Clouds are not discrete, they have no distinct boundary, and they are in continuous motion. All of these attributes clouds share with God. How could one count them? Kind of like trying to count or categorize God. We are foolish to try just as Elihu and Job’s friends were foolish to think they could categorize and know the mind of God in the case of Job’s “storm”.
I think we are guilty of trying to “count clouds” when we try through our many efforts to connect with God through religious traditions. None of these traditions are in themselves bad, but I sometimes wonder if they are missing the point. Maybe all these efforts are the equivalent of trying to “count clouds”, and we need to sit back and simply gaze in wonder at “the clouds high above us“, relish the times when we are surrounded by the dew, enjoy the gentle rains, and endure the deluges with confidence that God will send the rain when, and how, we need it.
This verse has really turned into a hidden well for me. I think it will become for me like the Meribah Test that I found back in the book of Numbers (Numbers 20:23-24). In that case the question was “is what I am doing leading people toward or away from God”. In the case of the “counting clouds” test the question will be “are my efforts drawing my soul closer to God or am I just counting clouds”.
Prayer: God thank You for this hidden well. I want to do more than just count clouds. I want to know You deeply and intimately through experience.