Throughout the nation, and in many other parts of the world today, prayers are being offered in many and various ways for the sending of rain upon the land. Rain provides many benefits including the growth of crops, the growth of grass for livestock, water for drinking for both man and beast, and the protection of life and property through the decreased fire risk.
With rain providing so many blessings, it would therefore make sense that the Church would want God to send rain upon the earth. But is rain a First Article gift, or is it solely connected to the First Article gifts in that it provides growth and nurture to, and the occurrence/absence of rain is related to something else?
Now the weather is not a major topic in the Bible, but consider those times when rain is specifically mentioned:
In 1 Kings 17-18, 2 Chronicles 6, and Revelation 11, the absence of rain is meant to bring about the repentance of God’s people. And in one instance, the occurrence of rain in Genesis 7-8, is also meant to bring about repentance.
On the other hand, the one place where we do have the promise of the sending rain to provide those First Article gifts, is in Deuteronomy 11, where the sending of rain is directly related to the love and obedience of the people toward God.
Notice that in both cases where rain is an issue, whether it is the occurrence or the absence of rain, it is used as a means to generate repentance and faithfulness. The people in the days of Noah were called to repent of their sins lest they be destroyed in the flood. The people in the days of Elijah were called to repent and turn to the Lord, lest they be made to suffer any longer. And where there is repentance, where there is faithfulness, there is timely and plentiful rain.
Finally, the cessation of rain is also a sign of the end times, of the increasing wretchedness of sin in the world. Drought and famine, both the effects of a significant lack of rain, are both mentioned in Revelation as a sign of the approaching end of the world. And as we approach the end of the world, when wickedness increases, there is also the related decrease in repentance as people increasingly turn from the Lord.
Yes, St. Matthew 5:45 does say that rain will be sent upon the just and the unjust alike, but if there are only the unjust, it stands to reason that there very well may be a ceasing of rain altogether.
Much can be said about weather occurring in cycles and there being times of drought and times of floods and times where the rain is just right; but one thing that must always remain is repentance. The people of God are called upon to love and serve Him in willing obedience, and when they do, the blessings will be poured out upon them. When that willing love and service is absent, so too will the blessings of God.
I will continue to pray that God will send timely and plentiful rain upon the earth, particularly in those places where that is not happening right now. But perhaps it is time for churches to not just pray for rain showers, but to also pray for showers of forgiveness to start raining down on those who repent.