After several weeks of hot, dry summer weather and nearby forest fires producing lots of smoke, what a blessing it was two weekends ago to receive the blessed rain that not only aided those fighting to contain and control the fires, but cleared the air which had become hazardous to breathe. It was a blessing as well for all the gardens, lawns, crops and vegetation which desperately needed moisture. Hopefully we have some more rain headed our way this week as we have had a few really smoky days again.
Farmers, from the beginning of time, have been dependent upon the early (spring) and late (fall) rains in order to produce their crops. As the Israelites were preparing to enter the Promised Land, God told them that if they were obedient He would bless them with rain for their crops but if they disobeyed Him, He would withhold the rain. “And it shall come about if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all you heart and all you soul that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. And He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you shall eat and be satisfied. Beware, lest your hearts be deceived and you turn away and serve other gods and worship them. Or the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you” (Dt. 11:13-17).
When King Solomon gathered the people together to pray and dedicate the temple, included in his prayer was this statement: “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain, because they (the Israelites) have sinned against Thee, and they pray toward this place and confess Thy name and turn from their sin when Thou dost afflict them, then hear Thou in heaven and forgive the sin of Thy servants and of Thy people Israel, indeed, teach them the good way in which they should walk. And send rain on Thy land, which Thou has given Thy people for an inheritance” (I Kgs. 8:35,36). Several years after Ahab became king over the northern tribes, married wicked Jezebel and began worshiping Baal. It tells us that “Ahab …did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all who were before him” (I Kgs. 16:30,31). Then Elijah, God’s prophet, “…said to Ahab, ‘As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word’” (I Kgs. 17:1). Baal, the Phoenician storm god, was held by Ahab, Jezebel and his other devotees to control the rain. Elijah abruptly announced to Ahab that Jehovah would be proved to be the One who does so. Indeed God did withhold the rain—for 3 1/2 years (cf Jas. 5:17,18)! We thought it was difficult to go for two or three months without rain. It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to go for 3 1/2 years!
God sends rains to refresh the earth (Lev. 26:4; Job 5:10; Psa. 65:10; 72:6; Isa. 55:10; Acts 14:17) and it falls on the righteous and the unrighteous (Mt. 5:45). God can also withhold the rain as judgment on those whose hearts have turned away from Him in rebellion. When David lamented over the death of Jonathan and King Saul (even though Saul had been trying to kill David!), He prayed, “O mountains of Gilboa (where Saul died), let not dew or rain be on you, nor fields of offerings; for there the shield of the mighty was defiled” (II Sam. 1:21).
Of course rain can be a problem when more comes than the ground can absorb, as recently took place in Hawaii and will likely happen to the southwest coast of the United States in the next few days as a hurricane is headed their way. Rain, of course, came in judgment on the earth in the days of Noah, when it rained for 40 days and nights and all life on earth was destroyed except for Noah and his family and the animals that God sent to the ark.
But normally, rain is a blessing, God’s blessing as He sends the early and late rains to refresh the earth, the air and to help all vegetation grow and produce. It is a symbol of how God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). The Old Testament prophets, especially Isaiah and Ezekiel wrote much concerning a future time of blessing for the nation of Israel when they are restored to their land and their hearts are restored to worshiping the Jehovah God of Israel. Christ will return, the curse on the earth will be removed and the kingdom promised to God’s chosen people will finally come to fruition, with Jesus reigning for a thousand years from the throne of David. God spoke through Ezekiel saying, “ ‘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. Also the tree of the field will yield its fruit, and the earth will yield its increase, and they will be secure in their land. Then they will know that I am the LORD, when I have broken the bars of their yoke and have delivered them from the hand of those who enslaved them. And they will no longer be a prey to the nations, and the beasts of the earth will not devour them; but they will live securely, and no one will make them afraid. And I will establish for them a renowned planting place, and they will not again be victims of famine in the land, and they will not endure the insults of the nations anymore. Then they will know that I, the LORD their God, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,’ declares the LORD God” (Ezek. 34:26-31).
That’s quite an encouragement when you look at the world today and all the hatred toward Israel and the Jews and at the many nations that have vowed to eliminate the Jews from the face of the earth. Our God reigns and no one can thwart His plans. Israel may have experienced many times of physical and spiritual dryness because of rebellion against God, but one day, as a result of a period called in Scripture “The time of Jacob’s distress” (Jer. 30:7) or “great tribulation” (Mt. 24:21), the Jews who remain on the earth will turn to Christ. Paul prophesies in Romans, that at that time, “all Israel will be saved” (Ro. 11:26).
Praise God for His showers of blessing—both physically and spiritually. And Praise God for the blessings yet to come in the future to those who Know Him. I trust you are one of them. You can be. Put your complete trust in Him as Savior and Lord.