Once upon a time there was no rain. Moses tells us that “YHVH God had not sent rain upon the earth . . . but a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground” (Genesis 2:5-6).
But then God gave rain on the earth and sent water on the fields (see Job 5:10). “Who has cleft a channel for the flood or a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land without people, on a desert without a man in it – to satisfy the waste and desolate land and to make the seeds of grass to sprout? Has the rain a father?” (Job 38:25-28) The Bible describes God as the Great Rainmaker.
Paul declared in Lystra (modern Turkey) that the God of all nations “did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17).
Messiah Yeshua taught us that the rains are a spiritual example to us, “so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).
“To every thing, turn, turn, turn” (The Byrds)
“There is an appointed time for everything, and there is a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1; see the Byrds video – www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPbR3uovtf8). Farmers can tell you that it’s not just that rain is needed. Showers need to come at the right time and in the right amount. “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” (Deuteronomy 11:14). The blessing of God is seen in the fact that rains come like clockwork and in due season: “Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains” (James 5:7).
The regulated certainty of God’s seasons was a baseline for the Hebrew prophets, as reflected in Israel’s cry: “So let us know, let us press on to know YHVH. His going forth is as certain as the dawn. And He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth” (Hosea 6:3).
The nearness of God’s rain is my good
Mankind needs rain to survive. The God of Isaac knows that. He is like a father who loves to give good gifts to his children, as Moses reveals to Israel: “YHVH will open for you His good storehouse, the heavens, to give rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hand” (Deuteronomy 28:12). Here YHVH is proving the irrevocable nature of His gifts and calling on Israel à la Romans 11:28-29: “You shed abroad a plentiful rain, O God! You confirmed Your inheritance when it was parched” (Psalm 68:9).
God’s rains are a manifestation of His desire to bring blessing to Jerusalem: “Then He will give you rain for the seed which you will sow in the ground, and bread from the yield of the ground, and it will be rich and plenteous. On that day your livestock will graze in a roomy pasture” (Isaiah 30:23).
In a dry and weary land
The mighty Nile has been called the lifeblood and the gift of Egypt. Farmers who lived close to the river used water wheels (sakia; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sakia) or operated small canals controlled by a foot-operated wooden sluice gate which opened and closed, allowing the canal-borne river waters to flood the fields:
The Jewish people in Moses’ day knew how to use their feet based on traditional Egyptian agriculture. But the Promised Land would bring in a totally different way of doing things:
- For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which YHVH your God cares. The eyes of YHVH your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year (Deuteronomy 11:10-12)
YHVH waxed poetic to the Jewish people, explaining to them that the Land of Canaan has very few perennial water sources or rivers: it “drinks water from the rain of heaven.” This was a divine setup: if the children of Israel obeyed YHVH and followed their calling, they received rain. If not, withering drought would appear.
- Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them, or the anger of YHVH 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 YHVH is giving you. (Deuteronomy 11:16-17)
Solomon proclaimed the same at his dedication of the magnificent Temple in Jerusalem:
- When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain, because they have sinned against You, and they pray toward this place and confess Your name and turn from their sin when You afflict them, then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and of Your people Israel, indeed, teach them the good way in which they should walk. And send rain on Your land, which You have given Your people for an inheritance. (1 Kings 8:35-36)
A hard rain’s gonna fall
Modern folk wince when the subject of God as Judge arises. It’s true that the prophets (like Ezekiel 14:21) and Moses (Leviticus 26) who knew God personally, described Him as a judge who uses war, plagues, wild beasts and drought against rebellious nations and individuals. But most Westerners get antsy dealing with such concepts. The God of the West is seen rather as a well-behaved gentleman with some excellent moral suggestions.
The God of Jacob is different.
- He harnesses the storms of nature for His purposes. “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or have you seen the storehouses of the hail which I have reserved for the time of distress, for the day of war and battle?” (Job 38:22-23; see also Jeremiah 10:13)
- He brings a world extinction event through a pre-planned 40 days and nights of rain in order to “blot out from the face of the earth every living things” that He created (Genesis 7:4)
- He rains brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah as well as hail on Egypt (Genesis 19:24; Exodus 9:23, 33)
- He destroys an entire wheat harvest in Israel by a huge thunder-rain storm (1 Samuel 12:16-18)
- He totally withholds rain from Israel through Elijah’s three-year long drought (1 Kings 17:1)
- He brings selective drought on specific areas due to local sins (Amos 4:7)
- The God of Jacob prophesies massive destruction on the armies of Gog and Magog through torrential rain, hailstones, fire, brimstone, plagues and blood (Ezekiel 38:22)
- The two witnesses will strike the earth with drought, plagues and the ability to turn potable water into blood, as often as they choose (Revelation 11:6)
- In the Messianic kingdom, Egypt will be struck with the curse of drought because of its bad attitude toward Israel (Zechariah 14:17-19)
God has not changed. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. The real issue here is mankind’s sin and rebellion: “Behold, YHVH’s hand is not so short that it cannot save, nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God” (Isaiah 59:1-2).
Vindication by water
The prophet Joel lets us in on a spiritual secret concerning His End of Days dealings with Israel. Just prior to the final outpouring of God’s Spirit (“it will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit”; Joel 2:28 in English), YHVH announces to the Jewish people that He will pour out “the early rain for your vindication . . . the early and latter rains” (Joel 2:23; the Hebrew words are moreh/yoreh and malqosh, the two yearly periods of rain in October/November and March/April).
YHVH announces that this pre-revival rain is a sign of His favor. Huge agricultural bumper crops of wine and oil will result. All Israel “will have plenty to eat and be satisfied and praise the name of YHVH . . . who has dealt wondrously with” Israel (Joel 2:24-26). The God of Jacob stresses two times in a row, “My people will never be put to shame” (Joel 2:26-27)!
When God opens the physical heavens and pours out His rains, Scripture lets us know that this is a sign to the nations that He still loves Israel, He still favors Jacob, and He is still pressing forward with sovereign resolve to restore Israel.
Lord willing and the creek (don’t) rise
Over many recent years Israel has been suffering bone-crushing seasons of drought. Lawns have gone brown, showers had to be timed, and forest fires ravaged ancient hills. At the same time the nation of Israel has not yet seen a massive spiritual swing to revival. Sexual sins, demonic spiritualties and hard-heartedness characterize too many people here. Based on the cumulative teaching of the Scriptures looked at so far, one might assume that Israel would be overcome by massive drought.
Yet something very different is happening in the Promised Land. Southern Israel has broken a 76 year record for increased rainfall, while northern Israel has broken a 50 year record. The Lake of Galilee (which had of late been sporting some new bald-headed mini-islands emerging close to the shore-line) is now less than 10 millimeters from being totally topped off. This is so astounding that every Israeli is aware of this mini-miracle, and there is wonder in the air about it.
Why is God blessing Israel when we are not deserving of it? Why is the country overflowing with rain and water when we have not yet entered into deep national repentance? Do these rains violate His holy character or His immutable word?
Part of the reason can be found in a simple word – ‘grace.’ The word has the sense of ‘unmerited favor.’ God is treating Israel with amazing unmerited favor. That’s the same pattern in Ezekiel 37:9-14: God brings the Jewish people back to the Land of Israel while most of us are spiritually insensate; He breathes His Spirit into us, makes us come alive through a New Covenant revelation of Yeshua, and turns us into His mighty army. It’s all based on grace and it’s all activated while we’re still undeserving.
This ‘gospel for the undeserving’ is a challenge to some believers. But is it not true that every believer in Yeshua is saved “by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves. It is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:7-9)?
The national salvation of Israel is being crystallized through a process similar to that which every Gentile believer undergoes – a magnificent work of God dripping in grace.
The Hebrew word for grace is hesed. It spotlights God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises. Israel’s psalmist confesses, “Had it not been YHVH who was on our side when men rose up against us, then they would have swallowed us alive when their anger was kindled against us” (Psalm 124:1-3). If YHVH were not faithful to His promises, we the Jewish people would be up a creek without a paddle. Jeremiah laments our spiritual condition in Exile: “Behold, listen! The cry of the daughter of my people from a distant land: ‘Is YHVH not in Zion? Is her King not within her . . . Harvest is past, summer is ended, and we are not saved’” (Jeremiah 8:19-20).
The rescue and salvation of the Jewish people is an unattainable goal – unless YHVH pours out His spirit of grace and of supplications on our people Israel (see Zechariah 12:10). At some point in history God has to move us beyond labor pains and into full birth: “As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons. ‘Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery? says YHVH. Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb? says your God’” (Isaiah 66:8-9).
The present rains reveal to Israel and to the world God’s unchanging and overwhelming love for Jacob. They challenge us to chew on the amazing scriptural promises of restoration yet to come for Isaac’s children.
It’s time to favor Zion
What time is it in the Spirit? It’s time to consider the words of the psalmist: “You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to be gracious to her, for the appointed time has come” (Psalm 102:13).
There are those who say that the time is not yet to favor Zion and to show compassion on Israel. Some say that what is needed to bring Israel face-to-face with Messiah is earth-shaking desolation on Israel and nearly total destruction of the Jewish state. This stance may sound uncompromising and courageous, but in light of the scriptures we have looked at, it sounds like something foundational is missing – and that something is called grace/covenant faithfulness.
Yes, there have been and there will be some hard times comin,’ not only for Israel but for the entire planet. But let’s keep on track with God’s enscripturated promises to restore and comfort Zion, to bring her back to the Land and to pour early and latter rains upon her. We are all eyewitnesses to these events. Now it’s time for each one of us to wrestle in prayer and be involved in works of restoration for the fulfillment of all of Jacob’s promises!
How should we then pray?
- Pray for a revelation about God’s grace for Israel, His covenant faithfulness and restoration purposes for Jacob, to increase among believers worldwide
- Pray for the anointing of Zechariah 12:10 to cover the hearts, souls and minds of Jacob’s sons and daughters
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s prophetic Jewish army
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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