Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Language of God: drought

God communicates with His people. Isn't that magnificent? He wants to have a relationship with us. God has always used different ways to communicate with man. He wants us to know Him, His expectations of us, His love and His reproof.

In the Garden, He would walk in the cool of the day. (Gen 3:8). With Moses He spoke face to face. (Exodus 33:11). Or through a bush! (Exodus 3:1).

He spoke to the the prophets (Jeremiah 36:2). In this way He sent the Law and then later He sent the Spirit to inspire the words of the bible, written down by the chosen apostles and disciples. (1 Corinthians 2:12-13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17). He sent angels with messages (Acts 8:26; Luke 2:9). He speaks to us through discipline (Hebrews 12:5-11) and trials (1 Peter 1:6-7). Sometimes He even uses a donkey (Numbers 2:28).

He uses symbols. "And God said to Noah: I will make a covenant with you. Never again will all men die because of a flood. This is my token to remind you of my promise. I will set a rainbow in the sky." (Genesis 9:11-17). Bread is a symbol of Jesus' life sustaining eternal truth. "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life..." (John 6:35)

If you think about the myriad ways God speaks to us, it is amazing. There is another way He speaks, and like all the other ways, He uses vocabulary. For example, if you hadn't read the bible you would not know that God is speaking to us when He sends a rainbow. This next language He uses to speak to us is through 'natural' events. Earthquake, fire, hail, thunder, drought...are all ways God sends His people His word and expresses His will.

God is the creator of the earth and all the universe. (Psalm 24:1). He can and does use anything in it to get His point across. In Revelation we see 100 pound hailstones, a sun that turns up the heat, earthquakes, and at one point, no rain for three and a half years. (Revelation 11:6).

Remember that everything that happens on the earth, God either indirectly allows to happen, or directly causes to happen. Allows, or causes. That's it. When people mock the notion that a particular natural disaster event was due to God, they are wrong. We don't always know the reason behind the event's occurrence but because God is sovereign, He either caused it or allowed it. Here is God causing an event:

"Then the LORD's anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the LORD is giving you." (Deuteronomy 11:1)

Here is God allowing an event. Satan had come to God and asked to harass Job. God said OK, but do not kill him. The great wind that came and killed Job's sons and daughters is one of the events that God allowed to happen:

"While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother's house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.” (Job 1:18-19).

Let's focus on drought as one of God's vocabulary words. Drought is not a sudden cataclysmic event like an earthquake. It takes a long time to happen and its build-up is more creeping than instant. That is what makes it even more amazing. Only God who knows the end from the beginning, knows how to start a drought years prior and allow its progression to increase to the point of pain just at the moment the people need to be pricked. That is the heavenly dynamic. This article from NASA explains the earthly dynamic,

"While much of the weather that we experience is brief and short-lived, drought is a more gradual phenomenon, slowly taking hold of an area and tightening its grip with time. In severe cases, drought can last for many years, and can have devastating effects on agriculture and water supplies. ... In general, drought is defined as an extended period–a season, a year, or several years–of deficient rainfall relative to the statistical multi-year average for a region."

Australia is susceptible to droughts-- "Why are droughts dangerous? When there is a drought, there is less water available for growing crops, farming animals, industry and our cities. Droughts also impact the environment by causing erosion, harm animals by destroying their homes and cause people to pay more for food and affect our water supplies. Droughts are hard to predict and also hard to live with." (Source)

Places in Africa are in a terrible drought. "Two of Africa's impoverished drylands - the Horn of Africa in the East and the Sahel in the West - have experienced devastating droughts and famines in the past two years: the rains never came, causing many thousands to perish, while millions face life-threatening hunger."

The United States of America is in a terrible drought right now.

Corn prices hit record as crops shrivel
"Corn prices surged to a new record high Tuesday, as the worst drought in more than 50 years continues to plague more than half the country. Almost 90% of the United States' corn crops are in drought ravaged areas, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and nearly 40% are situated in the hardest hit spots. Corn prices have soared more than 50% during the past six weeks as the crops continue to shrivel in relentless dry heat throughout the Midwest."

Source
 Worst U.S. Drought in 50 Years to Raise Food Prices in 2013
"We’re expecting another year of tough food prices, bad news for consumers,” said USDA food economist Richard Volpe. “The difference between normal and higher than normal in this case is one hundred percent attributable to the drought,” Volpe said. The food price index data is released by USDA each month; it is a set of numbers that indicates how much an average shopper is likely to pay at the supermarket. ... More than 60 percent of America’s farms are located in areas experiencing drought. Two thirds of all crops and two thirds of livestock are produced in areas experiencing at least moderate drought."
The dry section of the Morse Reservoir, one of three reservoirs which supply water to nearby Indianapolis, in Cicero, Indiana,on July 12, 2012. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

This next verse is a direct example of how He uses the language of drought to squeeze His people and warn them they need to repent-

"When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place." (2 Chronicles 7:13)

God is telling us a few things here. First, He controls the heavens and allows or disallows rain. Second, when God shuts up heaven and prevents rain it is because they have turned their faces away from Him. Third, He makes a promise, if they repent and turn their faces toward Him, He will re-open heaven. What a blessing! God is holy- He hates sin. God is kind, He warns His people.

In this next biblical example, God is telling us that His decision to send drought or rain is extremely precise. He is very much in control.

“I also withheld the rain from you when there were yet three months to the harvest; I would send rain on one city, and send no rain on another city; one field would have rain, and the field on which it did not rain would wither;" (Amos 4:7).

Annie Vallotton Amos 4:7 illustration Good News Bible
"Still you did not come back to Me"

Most of America, and part of Africa and Australia are without water. At the same this time China and Japan and North Korea have endured torrential rains in just these last weeks.

Yesterday- Torrential rains hit China's arid northwest
"The heaviest downpours in six decades have hit Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui autonomous region, since Sunday, authorities said.Precipitation from 8 a.m. Sunday to 8 a.m. Monday in the city proper exceeded 100 mm, or half of the average annual precipitation in the city, according to the city's flood control and drought relief headquarters."

Credit AP, from Salon.com
 God either directly causes or indirectly allows each thing to happen on this earth and in heaven. Every drop of rain is noted by Him. Each arid seed blowing down a Kansas drought-stricken path is seen by Him. God speaks to us in many ways, praise His name! One way is through what the secular world calls 'natural disasters'...but I call it the loving Hand of an angry God who seeks to turn His rebellious children from their ways. It's all in the vocabulary. And the dictionary to understand this language is the bible.

7 comments:

  1. Whenever I think of drought and the Bible the very first story that comes to mind is I Kings 17 & 18, Elijah and the Ravens, Elijah and the Widow, Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. Some of my favorite stories from childhood.

    James 5:13 "Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. 14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

    17 Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops."

    Colorado is one of the states in extreme drought (it is usually in some kind of drought!). Here is an article, photo and video of a mudslide that happened after torrential rain yesterday in the Waldo Canyon Burn Scar (from earlier this month). Monsoon season has arrived in full force! Not enough rain to break the drought throughout the state, but enough all at one time to cause this.

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  2. What about earthquakes? Say like in Haiti or Japan? Are they judgments for the wickedness of those nations? The tsunami that hit India back in 2005 I think was a judgment that nation has many many pagan religions and idol worship. Great article :)

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    1. Hi MyRedeemer_Lives,

      I wrote a piece about The Language of God-Earthquakes and that is on the right menu bar also.

      I think it's too specific for us to say that this earthquake or that one is a specific judgment against Haiti or Japan. We know THAT He causes or allows, but we don't know WHY in specific cases. Job never knew why the wind came and made his house fall on his kids. But we DO know he used fire and brimstone hail on Sodom, and as MacArthur describes, "the destruction of Capernaum, the judgment of God on Korazin, Bethsaida, and in history, God has judged whole civilizations through cataclysms that took unbelieving people and catapulted them into eternity, such as Pompeii"

      He says, "cataclysmic expressions of God's wrath often on cultures that have found themselves in this position, having rejected the knowledge of God."

      So all we can do when a cataclysm happens is to say, OK, God allowed satan, the god of this world to influence weather for My purposes, or we can say that "I caused this to show My displeasure." We can't be specific and tie in that *Haiti* was displeasing particularly or only, because God is the God of the whole world and we don't know what was on His mind when He sent or allowed that quake and the bible doesn't tell us.

      I think it is safer to say He uses cataclysmic events to demonstrate His power and anger to those who have turned from Him. No matter the location of the event, it is ultimately a message to all of us.

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  3. You touched on some very important areas here Elizabeth. First God is sovereign, he does give and withhold.
    You also touched on He allows things to happen as a result of sin, and to turn His people from it. (The church).
    I discovered that the enemy was impacting me because I was allowing it.

    Matt. 16:
    13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

    When Gods people sin and fail to repent they allow satan to affect themselves and everyone one else nearby.
    The binding and loosing is allowing or disallowing.
    If you belong to Christ, you can stand against that which is against Him.
    If you read on notice how Peter is being rebuked by the Lord as an agent of the enemy.
    Will we hear what the Spirit has to say?

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  4. May I ask what version of the Bible you are quoting for the (Genesis 9:11-17) verses?
    One "revelation" that came to me a few years ago, that really stood out to me, is that God said in these verses that the rainbow reminds HIM of his covenant with His people every living creature .
    HE will look and HE will remember.
    Reread vv 15 and 16.
    Mary T

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    1. Hi Mary T,

      If you hover your mouse over the verse, it will show you the verse and the translation I'd selected. RefText program is so cool!

      You're right, the verse does say God will remember! Thanks for bringing that up. This is the way I meant it- God set it in the sky as a reminder that the covenant was 'between Myself and all flesh on the earth' so in that way, when WE look at it we can remember what God said to us. I am speaking of going a bit further than 15-16, to verse 17. Mathew Henry Commentary puts it this way:

      "As God looks upon the bow, that he may remember the covenant, so should we, that we may be mindful of the covenant with faith and thankfulness. Without [His] revelation this gracious assurance could not be known; and without faith it can be of no use to us;..."

      Thanks as always for good reminders to be very precise with my language and for the opportunity to clarify what was a sticking point with you. :)

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  5. Thank you, Elizabeth! For everything! Your writing and a witness are a daily reading for me.
    Mary T

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