Meteorology  and the Bible     by G.Thomas Windsor                                                   3/08
 

There are various examples in Scripture related to the field of meteorology that give evidence of Divine inspiration.  Some of these are in what ancient writers described thousands of years ago. Things that they couldn't have known or that aren't self evident.   These truths have only been discovered in modern times .

Some of the more well known are as follows:  

The hydrological cycle   (evaporation /transportation /condensation of water around the globe)
Job 36:27-28  " For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapor thereof: Which the clouds do drop [and] distill upon man abundantly. "; he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD [is] his name. (KJV)

Eccl. 1:7  "All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again."
 Jeremiah 10:13   " When He utters His voice, There is a multitude of waters in the heavens:
 And He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth."

Also Amos 9.6   " he that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth"

The concept that air has weight

Job 28:25  "To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure. "(KJV)
 Also in Job 37  "by watering he wearieth (to make heavy ) the thick cloud: he scattereth his bright cloud"
 
The Jet Stream circuit

The large "rivers" of winds that circle the globe are described in  Ecclesiastes 1.
 It states, "the wind .. blows round and round on its circuits... " )(NET)
Ecclesiastes 1:6 (KJV)  "The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits."
 

The "Whirlwind" in  Scripture  

Relating to the jet stream, let us go to a more detailed look at the subtle atmospheric characteristics the Bible makes reference to that wouldn't  be discerned by visual observation in ancient times.  These are some lesser known evidences of inspiration.  The Scripture speaks so much about whirling winds when they are actually statistically very rare to behold (even for those living in highest probability areas.)
         
In the natural world, whirlwinds/tornadoes are devastating.  These violent rotating columns of air can lift up almost everything in their path, scattering vast amounts of  materials far distances down wind.
 
There are spots on the globe where favorable terrain, etc., helps create  this dynamic as in the central States of the US.   The Middle East is also such an area.  Certain other major factors create this weather ; simplistically stated, colder drier air slams into very humid warmer air.  Next, the turning and veering in the direction of the winds at differing heights    creates the rotating columns (" the  pillars of cloud " to use another biblical term) and explosive updrafts .
These are essential in the formation of the  mesocyclone.

(see illustration)

So we have two main factors A- rotation and B- updraft       

The principle of rotation

Job 37:12  " The clouds  go round in circles,  wheeling about according to his plans,
 to carry out  all that he commands them over the face of the whole inhabited world, v-13.
 (NET)
In another translation it states "  And it is turned round about by his counsels: that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth ( kjv. )"
 
The large  scale movement of air takes the shape of a meandering river.
Although winds  generally move  in a linear direction, they also contain many circuitous swirling movements.  Also, amongst the movement of  bodies of air,  countless eddies are produced like in a turbulent flow of water .  

The earth's wind streams have areas of clockwise rotations and counterclockwise rotations on many scales.
On a continental view, one could have a very large upper level cyclonic area of the atmosphere that can form  mesocyclones (a rotating "supercell" thunderstorm) at lower levels. These can spawn  tornadoes which themselves can  have within them multiple vortices.  These all wheel around, from the massive pinwheel of a hurricane hundreds of miles across in size, to the swirling  dust-devil  in a hot farmer's field.  

(See illustration )
credits  National Weather Service (source of the data) and Unisys Weather.

The Bible makes a connection with the whirlwind in a repetitive them of whirling wheels and chariots (Jeremiah. 4:13; Daniel. 11:40; Isaiah 5:28;  Zechariah. 6:5; Psalm 104:4; Isaiah 66:15 .)

     
The principle of updraft
 
Typically, these  thunderstorms have visible large-scale cloud rotation, even if it doesn't produce an actual tornado that touches the ground.  The people at that time when the Scripture was penned didn't understand the rapid updraft in  severe storms.  However, they wrote of Elijah having been taken up in the whirlwind into heaven.  2Ki.2:11 -  "As they were going along and talking, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire .... And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven. "

Also, in the updraft portion of a severe storm a trained eye can observe clouds lifting upwards and  infolding upon themselves  as it rotates around.
   Ezek. 1:4
And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire."
Speaking of this whirlwind it states in the Greek, "I beheld (pneuma) a wind (exairon) lifting up."  In the Hebrew it can also translate to "touching itself around,"  as "in a circle.")

This is incidentally probably one of the earliest historical accounts of a mesocyclone.

The " rolling " of the heavenly winds

When there is a turning or a veering in the direction of the winds at differing heights (low level winds and  the upper  jet stream winds,) this creates a "rolling " effect  in the clouds of the  thunderstorm  which is thought to spawn tornadoes at the surface.  So we have horizontal and vertical turning in the atmosphere .    

This rolling of the atmosphere helps  produce a spiraling  updraft .

(See illustration )             
Images and photographs courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Bible also speaks of this effect as in Revelation 6  (see also Isaiah 34):  " 13.....even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.  14And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together" (KJV.)   
                      

 It is interesting that another  passage may speak of this concept.  When God delivered his people at the Red Sea (remember the pillar of cloud)  it was described in this way: "The crash of thy thunder was in the whirlwind,..." (Psm. 77.)   Other translations state "The thunder of your (God's) chariot wheels resounded; your lightning lit up the world; " (NAB.)     In another translation it states   "the voice of thy thunder in a wheel.... ".  (D.R. B.)
Here the psalmist uses the Hebrew word for "wheels" (GalGal) by an analogy and metaphor in describing the storms in the heavens and  again portrays the heavens as  in a rolling dynamic.
    
(Image)
Images and photographs courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration        


Nature is transcendent

 God uses the natural physical heavens and winds to teach us of the heavenly spiritual world.  This metaphor for the spirit is used more than any other in the Bible.  The Old testament prophets saw these and other storms as revelations and manifestations of His glory.   The physical heavens (with its clouds and the winds) is the shadow of the true realities.  The creation that God made to show us  for  "The heavens declare his glory"  (Psm.19 . )    






About the author ---   G.Thomas Windsor,   is a storm chaser and does weather photography.     <www.windphoto.com>