Florida is facing a major hurricane. We were recently talking about a drought, and now we are talking about feet of rain!
This got me thinking about rain in the Bible. Storms are a sign of God’s blessings and care on the one hand, and his anger and wrath on the other. With rain, God both “judges people [and] gives food in abundance” (Job 36:27–33).
With moisture He loads the thick cloud; He disperses the cloud of His lightning. And it changes direction, turning around by His guidance, that it may do whatever He commands it on the face of the inhabited earth. Whether for correction, or for His world, or for lovingkindness, He causes it to happen (Job 37:11–13).
Forecasters use spaghetti models to predict the path of storms, but God commands them! Jesus points out that God, “causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45). “He gives rain on the earth and sends water on the fields” (Job 5:10). God even sends rain for the benefit of the grass itself, in a land where no people live (Job 38:26–27). God is the Father of rain (Job 38:28).
Then again, rain is only a blessing if God sends it in just the right amount. In fact, the very first rain God ever unleashed on the face of the world fell for forty days and nights, as the “floodgates of the sky were opened” (Genesis 7:11) and the water which had been stored above the earth poured down and covered even the mountain peaks. After the deluge, which killed every living creature not safely tucked aboard Noah’s ark, God promised never to destroy the earth by water again. Now, when God sends rain upon the earth, it is often accompanied by a rainbow, the sign of his covenant (Genesis 9:11–17).
Of course, this promise does not restrain God from punishing particular groups of people with rain, or lack of it. In Exodus 9, God sent a driving hail as one of the plagues against Egypt, which ruined the flax and barley crops. In 1 Samuel 12:17–18, Samuel called for a hammering rain which destroyed the wheat harvest, to protest Israel’s sins. In 1 Kings 17:1, Elijah confronted wicked King Ahab and declared that “there shall surely be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” And sure enough, through Elijah’s prayers, no rain fell for three-and-a-half years (James 5:17–18). God told Israel through the prophet Amos that He withheld rains to turn their attention to spiritual things (4:7-8).
Not every time devastating rain or drought strikes is God punishing someone. Nor does the Lord always bring such punishment when it is deserved, or when it is called for. A few decades ago, a prominent televangelist infamously prophesied that a hurricane of unprecedented strength would sweep across the peninsula and level Disney World, as punishment for their immoral productions. It has yet to occur.
Nevertheless, we recognize the power of the one who presided “as King at the flood” (Psalm 29:10). The next time a thunderstorm rolls in from the West, Listen closely to the thunder of His voice,
And the rumbling that goes out from His mouth. Under the whole heaven He lets it loose, and His lightning to the ends of the earth. After it, a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice; and He does not restrain the lightnings when His voice is heard. God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing great things which we cannot comprehend (Job 37:2–5).
Remember whom to ask for relief. After all, it is not the pagan gods of weather, but the Lord God who “tips the water jars of the heavens when the dust hardens into a mass and the clods stick together” (Job 38:38). It is God, not man, who “draws up the drops of water, they distill rain from the mist which the clouds pour down, they drip upon man abundantly” (Job 36:27).
It does us good to tremble a little bit when the thunder rolls. We know God is not the thunder, but it reminds us of His majesty! There will be a day when the blackest of clouds, the most fearsome electrical storm, and the heaviest hail will pale in comparison to the terror and glory of the coming of the Lord. –John Guzzetta