May the blessing of the rain be on you—
the soft sweet rain.
May it fall upon your spirit
so that all the little flowers may spring up,
and shed their sweetness on the air.
May the blessing of the great rains be on you,
may they beat upon your spirit
and wash it fair and clean,
and leave there many a shining pool
where the blue of heaven shines,
and sometimes a star. (Traditional Irish blessing).
What an unusual summer we are having here in Kentucky! Rain! Beautiful, refreshing, life-giving, life-sustaining rain! We had another two inches in the thunderstorms we had this past Sunday morning and more since then! Maybe it was a little much at one time, but it was rain that washes off the hot dust of August and keeps it away. Rain that nourishes the flora that in turn nourishes the fauna. The doe with her twin fawns that come to eat the apples that have fallen from my old apple tree are fat and sleek and the occasional squirrel is bushy tailed and frisky. The one thing I don’t like about all the rain we have been having is that with all the grass I have to mow I can’t keep up with it! But that is my fault for choosing to mow so much!
The first mention of rain in the Bible is in Genesis 2:5 where it is said that before the appearance of plant life (which took place on the third day of creation) there had been no rain. At that time man had not been created to till and keep the land and tend the life bearing creation. We actually don’t know when it began to rain. At first, it is said that “a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground” (vs. 6). Some have speculated that since there is no mention of rain before the flood (Genesis 7:4; 7:12) that there had been no rain prior to that time. They have worked out “scientific” explanations for why this was supposedly so, proposing that there was a “vapor canopy” that supplied the mist that watered the ground. (This theory has largely been abandoned because of later scientific evidence that shows by computer models that it couldn’t have been this way).
There is no reason for such speculation, however. That there is no mention of rain does not necessarily mean there had been none before that time. It just may be that God didn’t choose to tell us when it began to rain – if it did. There are many things such as this that must remain as the “secret things of God.” (Deut. 29:29). It is natural for us to be curious about things, but it is an arrogant man who thinks he must figure out exactly how and why God did the things he has done – even the things he hasn’t told us about. The Bible wasn’t written to satisfy our curiosity. It was written to reveal God to us, especially in the face of Jesus who is the Christ. Read it for any other purpose and we miss the point of it all.
Rain is a blessing from God. Rain was one of the blessings God promised Israel if they would walk in his statutes …
“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them, then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.” (Leviticus 26:3-5).
It is further promised to God’s people that when they came into the promised land that God would …
“…give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.” (Deuteronomy 11:14).
But if they were not faithful to him …
“… then 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 land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 11:17).
“Yet he did not leave himself without witness, for he did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”
Even the earth itself is engineered to cope with the runoff from the rain that falls upon it. God challenged Job with questions about his management of the earth including his wisdom in the provision for rain …
“Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain
and a way for the thunderbolt,
to bring rain on a land where no man is,
on the desert in which there is no man,
to satisfy the waste and desolate land,
and to make the ground sprout with grass?”
It should be evident that, when men build their houses and cities on flood plains and in valleys alongside streams, when there is heavy rainfall that area is going to be flooded. Rather than be surprised or upset with God, calling a flood an “act of God,” it seems that we should just face up to the fact that to build in locations like that was a mistake. God is not to blame for our foolishness.
God not only can use rain to bless mankind, but there have been times when he used rain – or withheld it – as a means of punishing wicked people. Of course the most familiar event of this kind was the destruction of the wicked from the earth by means of the flood. After instructing Noah to build the ark and to take some of all the animals onto the ark with him, he said… “… For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground.” (Gen 7:4).
When God sent Elijah, his prophet, to wicked Ahab, king of the northern kingdom of Israel, he told him to say to him, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” (1 Kings 17:1). Elijah then “…prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. (James 5:17-18).
The second prayer by Elijah took place after the famous contest between himself and the prophets of the false god, Baal. The prophet was so sure God would answer his prayer that he told Ahab before he prayed to “Go up, eat and drink, for there is a sound of the rushing of rain.”
Truly, rain is a great blessing from God, even though he has at times used it as an instrument for cleansing the earth and for bringing wicked men and nations to their knees. How thankful we should be for the blessing of rain! Its abundance makes us know his goodness and its absence makes us aware of our dependence upon him in times of drought.
As the Talmud says, “The day when rain falls is as great as the day on which heaven and earth were created.”
The rain certainly reminds that it is Jesus who is the Christ who is in charge of it all and is giving us the good blessings that sustain, refresh, and and give us gladness.