Rain-storms and thunder often play a role in God's theophany:
"The waters saw You, O God; the waters saw You, they were afraid; the
depths also trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies sent out a sound; Your arrows also
flashed about. The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind; the lightnings lit up the world;
the earth trembled and shook." (Psalm 77:16-18).
"He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters, Who makes the
clouds His chariot, Who walks on the wings of the wind, Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a
flame of fire." (Psalm 104:3-4).
"He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not
rent under them. He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it.
He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end." (Job 26:8-10 KJV).
"The Lord will cause His glorious voice to be heard,
and show the descent of His arm, with the indignation of His anger
and the flame of a devouring fire, with scattering, tempest, and hailstones."
"Or who shut in the sea with doors, When it burst forth and issued from the
womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band; when I fixed My limit
for it, and set bars and doors; when I said, 'This far you may come, but no farther, and here your
proud waves must stop!' ...Have you entered the treasury of snow, Or have you seen the treasury of
hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?... Who has
divided a channel for the overflowing water, or a path for the thunderbolt, to cause it to rain on a
land where there is no one, a wilderness in which there is no man..." (Job 38:8-26)
What is the significance of these revelatory down-pours? How can
this prosaic aspect of earthly life intimate God's presence? God
made this lower world to be like a child's picture book, with colorful imagery providing us a lesson
in color of God's eternal design. The visible rain-storms signify and symbolize the spiritual
rain: "See, the streams of living waters, Springing from eternal love, Well supply thy sons and
daughters And all fear of want remove: Who can faint while such a river Ever flows their thirst to
assuage? Grace which, like the Lord, the Giver, Never fails from age to age." (John Newton,
Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken). The thunder-storm shows God's
grandeur, power and majesty:
"When in a sultry summer day the sky gets overcast, and
angry clouds gather thick upon its brow, and bush and brake are
silent, and the very cattle, like human beings, draw close together,
standing dumb in their untasted pastures, and while there is no
ripple on the lake, nor leaf stirring on the tree, all nature seems
struck with awe, and stands in trembling expectation; then, when the
explosion comes, and a blinding stream of fire leaps from the cloud,
and as if heaven's riven vault were tumbling down upon our head, the
thunders crash, peal, roar along the sky, he has neither poetry, nor
piety, nor sense, who does not reverently bow his head and assent to
the words of David, 'The voice of the Lord is full of majesty.'"
(Thomas Guthrie, The Gospel in Ezekiel, Chapter XXII, Kindle location
The pagans applied the economic principle of specialization of
labor to the heavens, and unfortunately today's secular Bible
scholars follow their lead. However all of nature is under God's sovereignty, including the weather: "He sends out His command to the earth; His word runs very swiftly.
He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes; He casts out His hail like morsels; Who can stand before His cold?
He sends out His word and melts them; He causes His wind to blow, and the waters flow."
(Psalm 147:15-18). Rain brings life to a desert land. In the pagan pantheon there is division of labor.
Those Bible critics who take paganism as normative will tell you
the Lord is a 'storm-god' like Baal: "The divine qualities resemble those of
the Canaanite god Baal as described in the second millennium BC
literature of Ugarit, a city on the northern coast of Lebanon."
(Israel: Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention?, edited Daniel I. Block,
Kindle location 1181). But the living God is no
specialist, He is a generalist! Nothing in nature falls outside of His
sway. Nevertheless, some of these features of the natural world form
part of His theophany in a distinctive way.
The meteorological fountain of life-giving waters flowing onto a
parched land symbolizes the spiritual fount. Precious as water is in an arid land, there
is another river flowing from the throne of God, of greater worth than the visible watercourses.
Robert Lowry's great hymn tells of this river: "Shall we gather at the river, Where bright
angel feet have trod, With its crystal tide forever, Flowing by the throne of God? Yes, we'll
gather at the river, The beautiful, the beautiful river, Gather with the saints at the river That
flows by the throne of God." (Robert Lowry, Shall We Gather at the River?).
The waters of this river give wisdom: "The words of a man's mouth are
deep waters; the wellspring of wisdom is a flowing brook." (Proverbs 18:4). Jesus promised these
waters to the woman at the well: "Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will
thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the
water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting
life." (John 4:13).
The promised fountain of life-giving water is the Holy Spirit: "For I
will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your
descendants, and My blessing on your offspring; they will spring up among the grass like willows by
the watercourses." (Isaiah 44:3-4).
This is the life-giving stream Jesus promised the woman at the well: "On
the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts,
let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart
will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning
the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy
Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7:37-39).
The Odes of Solomon is a piece of extra-Biblical literature of doubtful
orthodoxy, but this bit about the life-giving waters is too good to pass up quoting it:
"As the hand moves over the harp and the strings speak
so the spirit of the Lord speaks in my members
and I speak by his love,
"for he destroys what is foreign
"So he was from the beginning
and will be to the end:
nothing will be his adversary
nor resist him.
"The Lord multiplied his knowledge
and was zealous to make us know what he gives us
through his grace.
"He gave us praise for his name
and our spirits praise his holy spirit.
"A stream went forth
and became a long and broad river.
It flooded and broke and carried away the Temple.
Ordinary men could not stop it,
nor could those whose art is to halt the waters.
"And it spread over the face of the whole earth,
and the thirsty of the earth drank
and their thirst was quenched.
"The drink came from the highest one...
"They gave strength to our feebleness
and light to our eyes.
"Everyone knew them in the Lord
and by the water they lived forever."
(Ode 6, The Odes of Solomon).
The expansion into flood of the living waters is looked for also in
the inspired scriptures,
“And in that day it shall be that living waters
shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea
and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and
winter it shall occur. And the LORD shall be King over all the
earth. In that day it shall be— 'The LORD is one,' and His name one.”
Hallelujah -- the God in whose presence we will spend eternity is Father, Son and Holy Spirit!