My dear young friends --- I am disposed to call your attention to the immense blessing God gives to men in sending rain from heaven. Indeed, it is spoken of as a witness for Himself, as the living God, who “left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” (Acts 14:17) Rain is a necessity of life, so it is one of the most, beneficent gifts of God to man. How barren would our fields be without it; how would the cattle languish! And what would become of our great cities and towns without the cleansing, refreshing showers heaven’s bounty gives? Yet, the constancy and sufficiency of the blessing deadens our minds to our dependence on its ever-bountiful Giver. By a grievous famine He made Israel know both their sin and dependence. (Jer. 14)
Rain is a fertilizer. To Israel, God gave it as a token of His acceptance of their diligent observance of his commandments, in their national covenant. “And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto My commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve Him with all your heart, and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.” (Deut. 11:13,14) The “first rain” is the “rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal.” (Isa. 30:23)
Disobedience brought drought. “And if ye will not for all this (previous judgment) hearken unto Me, then will I punish you seven times more for your sins. And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass. And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.” (Lev. 26:18-20))
It will occupy you well to look out the scriptures which show that drought was often sent as a punishment for national sin.
On the other hand, God sometimes used this bounty of His as a punishment by sending it in such quantity as to be ruinous. “He causeth it, to come whether for correction” (“a rod,” margin), as the “great rain of His strength.” (Job 37:6,13) Such was the flood whereby the world was drowned.
Then, rain is spoken of metaphorically. i. In a gracious sense. “Give ear, 0 ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, 0 earth, the words of My mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, My speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.” (Deut. 32:1,2) This most gracious and sovereign promise is fulfilled in the election of grace, when Christ comes down as rain upon mown grass, as showers that water the earth. (Ps. 72:6) God grant that you, my friends, may be favored with hunger and thirst after righteousness, then you will one day receive the refreshing, reviving rain of pardon, peace and joy.
ii. Rain is spoken of in the sense of solemn and overwhelming judgments of God on the ungodly. Concerning Gog, who came into the land of Israel, God said, “And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood: and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire and brimstone.” “Upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest this shall be the portion of their cup.” (Ezek. 38:22; Ps. 11:6)
No wicked person shall be able to avoid this fearful storm. The rain descends, the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon all who are not built upon the Rock, and great will be the ruin which will swallow them up. (Matt. 7:26)
What an infinite mercy it would be for us, if the doctrines of sovereign, electing love, grace, regeneration, justification and sanctification should rain upon us!
Your affectionate friend and well-wisher,
J. K. Popham
Brighton, July, 1921