Our valley has been smoke filled for the past week or more from the many wild fires in the Northwest. There are 101 fires in Northwest Montana alone. One family from our church has had to evacuate their property and others have been notified to be ready to leave. Last Thursday and Friday were especially bad with smoke and even visible ash falling. Those with any breathing problems were really struggling and didn’t dare go outside. Then Friday afternoon we had a thunder storm and a little rain which improved things a bit. Fortunately most of the lightning with the storm was cloud-to-cloud so didn’t start new fires. Friday evening it rained hard for a time and dropped the air temperature considerably. Saturday morning we awoke to cloudless, smokeless clear blue skies. What a beautiful sight and what a contrast to the past couple days. Many, ourselves included, got out and took advantage of the day, going for hikes, working in the yard, and just enjoying being outside and breathing clean air and seeing the mountains around us. The rain had done an amazing job of washing away the smoke and ash from the air. What a blessing the rain showers were. They also gave the fire crews a brief respite, knowing the battle is not over by any means. Many of these fires won’t be out until the snow comes, but at least for a day and a half, we had clear skies and clean air. The smoke is now back and temperatures this week will be back in the high 80’s and low 90’s with no more possibilities of rain until this coming weekend.
I was reminded of the old hymn, There Shall Be Showers of Blessing, based on Ezek. 34:26 which says: “And I will make them and the places around My hill a blessing. And I will cause showers to come down in their season; they will be showers of blessing.” It is a prophecy concerning the future of Israel when God “will deliver His flock, and they will no longer be a prey…” and He “will set over them one shepherd, His servant David, who will feed them;…and He will be their Shepherd” (vv. 22,23). It is a reference not to a resurrected King David, but to David’s greatest descendant, the Messiah (cf II Sam. 12:16; Isa. 55:3; Jer. 23:5), who will come and rule over Israel and the whole earth for a thousand years. Bible scholars refer to it as “the Millennial Reign.” During that time, God will establish a new covenant with His chosen people, Israel, and the blessings will include the taming of nature (Isa. 11:6-9), increased productivity in the land (Isa. 35:1,2), safe occupation of the land of Palestine (Amos 9:14,15), and the knowledge of God and acceptance of Jesus as Messiah (Jer. 31:34 cf Ro. 11:25-26). When you think of Israel’s situation today, facing the hatred of surrounding nations and increasing anti-Semitism world-wide, what a contrast the coming Millennium will be. Now they face the dark, smoky, ash-filled skies with fires all around (metaphorically speaking), but will one day (soon) experience the showers of blessing promised in Ezek. 34:26 which will produce the conditions described above.
Maybe you are experiencing a lot of smoky days in your life right now and are having trouble seeing the Sun. Maybe the fires of adversity are pressing in all around you and you long for a refreshing rain so you can again have blue skies and see things clearly and breathe in refreshing air. Well, if the fires and smoke are of your own doing by ignoring God and going your own way, then you need to repent, confess your sin, and ask God for the cleansing that comes through His shed blood. The Apostle John gives us this promise: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I Jn. 1:9). If the fires and smoke are just the result of living in a cursed world that has turned its back on God, just know that you can still experience the blessings of God in your life, no matter your circumstances. Maybe you can’t see the hand of God, but you can trust His heart and His promises to you such as: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand…When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the LORD your God…” (Isa. 41:10; 43:2); “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride” (Psa. 46:1-3); “for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’ (Dt. 31:6), so that we can confidently say, ‘The LORD is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me?’ (Psa. 118:6)” (Heb. 13:5,6).
So, no matter what we face, as Christians, “For this we have Jesus” in whom we have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:3).
“There shall be showers of blessing: This is the promise of love. There shall be seasons refreshing, sent from the Savior above. There shall be showers of blessing—precious reviving again; over the hills and the valleys, sound of abundance of rain. There shall be showers of blessing; send them upon us, O Lord. Grant to us now a refreshing; come and now honor Your Word…. There shall be showers of blessing; O that today they might fall, now as to God we’re confessing, now as on Jesus we call! Showers of blessing, showers of blessing we need. Mercy drops around us are falling, but for the showers we plead.” (Daniel Whittle and James McGranahan).