Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Spirit of Grace Ministries
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Rainy Seasons

Rain

by Dennis Pollock

As the Israelites camped on the edge of the Jordan, nearly ready for their long awaited entrance into Canaan, their promised land, God wanted them to understand that this new land would be radically different from their old home in Egypt. One of the major differences had to do with the way they would get the necessary water to grow their crops. Egypt had depended upon a large and complex system of irrigation. Receiving little rain, they made good use of the Nile river, which runs north to south throughout the entire nation. Irrigation ditches were dug all around the banks of the Nile which could be opened and closed to water their fields. But the little nation of Israel was situated on hilly land and there was no such river for them. God had a different plan of watering their fields, which He described through Moses:

For the land which you go to possess is not like the land of Egypt from which you have come, where you sowed your seed and watered it by foot, as a vegetable garden; but the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year. (Deuteronomy 11:10-12)

Depending on your perspective, this new system had both advantages and disadvantages. Certainly it would be nice to forget about digging and maintaining all those irrigation ditches they would need if they were to do things the Egyptian way. One Jewish commentator wrote: "Egypt drinks from the Nile, Babylon from the Euphrates. But the land of Israel is different; they sleep in their beds and God makes the rain fall for them."

The downside to this (from a strictly human perspective) was that the Israelites were no longer in control of things. Egypt had a constant source of water available day and night, in wet seasons and in dry seasons. Israel must look to the skies and to their God for the rain. A drought could be a real problem for them, and when the droughts came there was nothing they could do but pray, and repent when necessary!

Blue Skies and Dark Skies

Sometimes we Americans take water and rain for granted. We even speak and sing of rain as if it were a bad thing. We lament, "Into each life some rain must fall," and we're not talking about blessings here. Years ago the song Blue Skies cheerfully declared, "Nothing but blue skies from now on." But in truth if we were facing nothing but blue skies for any great length of time we would be in serious trouble. The grass would wither, the lakes and ponds would dry up, gardens would languish, wells would go dry, and our community would turn into a brown, lifeless desert. We desperately need rain and we need it frequently.

One of the interesting things about rain is that it never comes consistently. We may have a week where it rains every day, and then go a month where there is almost no rain at all. It would be more convenient if we could program the rain from heaven the way we program our sprinkler systems. We could set it to rain thirty minutes every other night, say around 1:00 am to 1:30. That way the rain wouldn't affect our daily activities or the rush hour traffic flow. But the rain does not pay the least attention to our desires for regularity. Despite our relative accuracy at forecasting precipitation, there is still absolutely nothing we can do to start or stop it.

In the Bible rain is often a symbol of God's grace, favor, and blessings. Often He speaks of "pouring out" His Spirit. In Malachi he promises to pour out blessings which cannot be contained upon those who tithe. In short, God's grace falls upon His people like the rain; it is "poured out." It is not always perfectly consistent. There are seasons of greater and lesser grace. There are times of drought and times of abundant outpouring. Hosea writes: "Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth" (Hosea 6:3).

The Former and the Latter

rain on grassIn Israel the farmers were well of aware of the land's two primary rainy seasons during the year. These were known as the former and latter rains. There could always be some rain during the other seasons, but it was in those rainy seasons that the majority of their rain would always come. In our lives as followers of Jesus Christ, we discover that God's grace and blessings come in a cyclical pattern as well. We have our rainy times and we likewise have our droughts. We have seasons of great blessings and abundance and seasons of scarcity and lack. Paul knew this well, and wrote, "I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need" (Philippians 4:12).

This is not only true with physical and financial blessings, but it also applies to emotional, spiritual, and every other type of blessings that come down to us from our gracious Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. We might prefer it if God were to send us blessings that flow consistently and continually, without ever a letup. There would be no dry times, no desperate seasons of wondering where God was, no need for intense prayer and fasting. The sun would come out precisely on schedule, the clouds would gather at just the right times, and the rains of God's grace and abundance would fall exactly according to our pre-determined timetables.

A Matter of Dependence

It is not at all difficult to figure out why God does not do things this way. The Egyptian way represented a man-made system, which did away with the need for God. Whether Egypt was righteous or wicked, whether they prayed often or never, whether they exercised much faith or no faith, still the Nile flowed, still the irrigation ditches carried the water to their fields, and still their crops were watered. Israel, on the other hand, lived in a place of constant and complete dependence. And in case they ever forgot it, God made a point to remind them of it in the Scriptures:

  1. If you earnestly obey My commandments…. I will give you rain in your land for its season... (Deuteronomy 11:13,14).
  2. Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, lest the LORD's anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you. (Deuteronomy 11:16,17).
  3. (If you diligently obey the voice of the LORD) The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season... (Deuteronomy 28:12).

 

From these and other verses that could be named we learn the following points: 1) God is the giver of rain to His people. 2) The rain He gives does not come in a continuous manner; it comes in particular seasons. 3) When God's people rebel against Him, He can and will withhold the rain. Translating this into the Christian experience, it is important for us to realize that we will experience rainy seasons and dry seasons, and try as we might, we will never be able to carry last season's rain into a new season of our lives. The grace that was so powerful and abundant yesterday has an expiration date. It can no more carry us through our entire lives than last year's rain can nourish this year's crops. We must have fresh grace, fresh anointing, fresh outpouring of God's favor upon us for today! The psalmist writes, "But my horn You have exalted like a wild ox; I have been anointed with fresh oil" (Psalm 92:10).

When the money begins to run out, or the relationship begins to fizzle, or the spiritual passion begins to wane, or the ministry begins to fail, or the hope begins to grow dim, or the dream begins to die, we have but one recourse – we must seek the Lord. Zechariah writes: "Ask the LORD for rain in the time of the latter rain. The LORD will make flashing clouds; He will give them showers of rain, grass in the field for everyone" (Zechariah 10:1). Isaiah writes: "The poor and needy seek water, but there is none. Their tongues fail for thirst. I, the LORD, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys" (Isaiah 41:17,18).

Seekers of God

As those belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ, this is what we do; this is who we are. We are seekers of God. We pray, we fast, we spend time in God's word. We remind Him of His promises and of our need of His fulfillment of them. These things are as natural to us as eating and drinking, breathing and sleeping. With every new season we learn to call on our God through His Son Jesus Christ. We plead the benefits of Jesus' cross and resurrection. We remind ourselves and God of the state of justification which Jesus' blood has brought about in our lives. We go on one meal fasts, two meal fasts, one and two day fasts, or sometimes longer. We turn off our televisions, hibernate our computers, close our doors and spend time on our faces before our holy God, fully believing that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. We confess Jesus as our Fountain of living waters, our never exhausted Source of supply, the One who is both Baptizer in the Holy Spirit and Re-filler with the Holy Spirit. He is the Nourisher and Cherisher of the church (Ephesians 5:29).

As it is with us individually, so it has been with the church corporately. The church of Jesus Christ has never grown or advanced in perfectly measured, always consistent steps. We have had our dry seasons and our wet seasons. Often, when it seemed that the church had come to a complete standstill, Christ would pour out His Spirit upon His people, and there would a tremendous surge of new life, new blessings, and new growth. A study of the great revivals throughout church history is incredibly encouraging and inspirational. These powerful and seemingly random surges of divine life and blessing are God's answer to our dry seasons. They should not be considered unusual. This is the way of the Spirit.

It can get a little scary when the old supply runs low. What seemed like a lifetime supply has now dwindled to almost nothing, and we find ourselves in desperate need once again. People run out of things. We run out of hope; we run out of money, we run out of energy, we run out of enthusiasm; we run out of ideas; we run out of time, we run out of patience. This is part of what it means to be human and finite. And when we find ourselves at the end of our resources, fear places its icy fingers around our throats. What can we do?

No need to worry. The same Jesus who poured out His grace upon us in that last rainy season is with us still. His supply of whatever we may need is infinite. He does not run out. We have a saying which goes, "There's more where that came from." Never is this more applicable than to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. To calm our fears, all we need to do is remember that last rainy season, and recognize that the God who gave us that rain so generously then is with us still. When we crossed into that new season, when we entered that new year, when we stepped across that demarcation line that separates the old from the new, Jesus stepped across it right alongside of us. We have not left Him behind. The forecast is promising. In Christ there is a 100 percent chance of rain for us in the days ahead.

For a full listing of all devos (written and audio) go to our Devos Catalog Page.

     

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