Rain as Chastisement
First Baptist Church
Des Moines, NM
This week on the Ministerial Alliance program, Iím looking at what the Bible says about rain. Weíve had a hard spring here in Union County with almost no measurable precipitation up to this point. Iím sure some old-timers can remember a harder spring, but this oneís got to rank right up there. And like it or not, believe in God or not, thereís really not much we can do about it. Itís times like this that should remind us of just how little control we really have over our circumstances. Now, yesterday, I showed passage after passage after passage from the Bible that says that God controls all weather, including rain. After pointing that out, I showed that God uses this power in basically two ways- to bless man, or to chasten him. And sometimes theyíre the same thing! That is, if chastisement brings us closer to God, then isnít that, in the end, a blessing?
Make no mistake that, in this life, you will suffer trouble and tribulations ranging from persecution to hunger to possibly loss of everything earthly that you own. But as Jesus said:
Luke 12:22-34 Then He said to His disciples, "Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. (23) Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. (24) Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? (25) And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (26) If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest? (27) Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (28) If then God so clothes the grass, which today is in the field and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will He clothe you, O you of little faith? (29) "And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. (30) For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. (31) But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. (32) "Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. (33) Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. (34) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
And so, many times, we need a reminder of where our treasure is. The thing to say in hard times is not "Why me, Lord?" as if we were an innocent victim but rather "Lord, my sins are many against you. My personal transgressions are many and we as a people have sinned against you time after time. Forgive us, heal us, and point our eyes toward you again." This should be our prayer and I think that if we examine ourselves honestly and in the light, weíll see that we all need to pray that prayer.
Does God indeed use rain as a means of chastisement? Letís see what the Bible says about it. Yesterday, I used a passage from Genesis and here it is again:
(Genesis 7:4) For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made."
In this case, God is going to cause it to rain for 40 days and 40 nights to flood the earth and destroy from the face of the earth all living things that He has made, with the exception of Noah and his immediate family. Now, why is God doing this extreme thing and why is Noah escaping? The answer is found just a little earlier in Genesis:
Genesis 6:5-13 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (6) And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. (7) So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them." (8) But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (9) This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God. (10) And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (11) The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. (12) So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. (13) And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
The LORD has seen the wickedness of man was great, and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was evil. The earth was filled with violence. And so God determined to destroy life. Except for Noah. Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD and we see:
Genesis 7:1 Then the LORD said to Noah, "Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.
Now, Noah wasnít found righteous because of his own inherent righteousness- for indeed, after the flood was over and everyone came out of the ark, Noah became drunk. But Noah was righteous because his desire was to obey the LORD. He failed in execution, but his desire was obedience. I know this because of:
Genesis 6:22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.
And I know it because of:
Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.
Noah is also mentioned by Peter in:
2 Peter 2:4-5 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; (5) and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;
And by Jesus in:
Matthew 24:37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
Noah was spared because of his desire to please God. Peter calls him a preacher of righteousness, the author of Hebrews tells us plainly that Noah lived by faith, and God calls him righteous because he was obedient. The others, evidently, did not and were destroyed by a flood which God created by rain. So, here is one example of God using rain as a tool for judgment. Note carefully that even in the midst of this chastisement that the righteous are spared. If youíre familiar with the book of Revelation, you know this theme holds true there, too. Yesterday I used an example from the book of Mark where Jesus awakes from a nap to calm a storm that his disciples think is threatening their very lives. He was sleeping; they were worrying, and Jesus says "Where is your faith?" And so it goes in times of trouble- the righteous will be sustained by God, the wicked will perish.
Another place where Godís righteous judgment is carried out thru the means of weather can be seen in Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 13:8-14 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Because you have spoken nonsense and envisioned lies, therefore I am indeed against you," says the Lord GOD. (9) "My hand will be against the prophets who envision futility and who divine lies; they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord GOD. (10) "Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, 'Peace!' when there is no peace -and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar (11) say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down. (12) Surely, when the wall has fallen, will it not be said to you, 'Where is the mortar with which you plastered it?' " (13) Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "I will cause a stormy wind to break forth in My fury; and there shall be a flooding rain in My anger, and great hailstones in fury to consume it. (14) So I will break down the wall you have plastered with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that its foundation will be uncovered; it will fall, and you shall be consumed in the midst of it. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.
In this passage, God is unleashing his fury upon false prophets and upon the people they have seduced. These people have figuratively covered themselves with the plaster of lies. God is planning on sending a cleansing rain upon them, to uncover the foundation of the false teachers. This foundation will fall and, as the passage says "then you shall know that I am the LORD." Now whether or not God used a literal, actual rain in order to drive these false idols away from the people, I donít know. But I do know that Jeremiah records this passage:
Jeremiah 14:2-6 "Judah mourns, And her gates languish; They mourn for the land, And the cry of Jerusalem has gone up. (3) Their nobles have sent their lads for water; They went to the cisterns and found no water. They returned with their vessels empty; They were ashamed and confounded And covered their heads. (4) Because the ground is parched, For there was no rain in the land, The plowmen were ashamed; They covered their heads. (5) Yes, the deer also gave birth in the field, But left because there was no grass. (6) And the wild donkeys stood in the desolate heights; They sniffed at the wind like jackals; Their eyes failed because there was no grass."
Jeremiah 14:20-22 We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness And the iniquity of our fathers, For we have sinned against You. (21) Do not abhor us, for Your name's sake; Do not disgrace the throne of Your glory. Remember, do not break Your covenant with us. (22) Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are You not He, O LORD our God? Therefore we will wait for You, Since You have made all these.
And in this passage we see the correct attitude that I mentioned earlier. The people in Jeremiah cry out "We acknowledge, O LORD, our wickedness!" and correctly ask for mercy when they say "Do no abhor us, for Your nameís sake; do not disgrace the throne of Your glory." They are correctly giving God the glory. This passage ends with the claim "Are there any among the idols of the nations that can cause rain?" Judah has correctly recognized that God has withheld rain from them because of their wickedness.
Tomorrow weíll look at passages from Joshua and Deuteronomy in which God uses rain for correction and for blessings. Iím Bryan Kimsey from 1st Baptist Church in Des Moines. May God bless this message, may it glorify Him, may He grant us repentance, and may we turn from our wicked and God-disgracing ways to righteous and God-fearing ways. In Jesusí name, Amen!
Back to Rain, Part 1
Forward to Rain, Part 2