Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pray for rain...and repent

Last Sunday we joined churches across the southern states in praying for rain in the southeastern region of the country. The fires out west and the storms that recently ripped through the heartland have also left many people homeless and in very dire circumstances. Compassion compels us to pray to the One who controls wind and rain and to plead to Him for mercy.

Drought has a way of exposing the limitations of human strength and ingenuity. It calls us to remember our Creator, which is precisely one of His designs in withholding rain. Scripture is full of teaching that gives this perspective (1 Kings 8:35-36; 17-18; 2 Chronicles 7:12-14; Jeremiah 2:3-5, etc.). The prophet Amos spells it out in unmistakable terms.
“I also withheld rain from you, When there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, And where it did not rain the part withered. 8 So two or three cities wandered to another city to drink water, But they were not satisfied; Yet you have not returned to Me,” Says the LORD (Amos 4:7-8).
Drought, like hurricanes, floods, plagues and other natural disasters are warning shots fired by our Creator to awaken us to the fact that wrath awaits all who continue in rebellion to Him. They are, as even modern insurance companies recognize, "acts of God." People may live without fear of God for awhile, but He will not be forever ignored.

Jesus confirms this interpretation of natural disasters and shows that they are tools in the hands of God for all people and not merely His Old Testament covenant nation. When asked about the victims of an atrociously immoral act Jesus took the opportunity to teach that not only moral evil but also natural disasters are God's call to repentance.
“Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? Luke 13:5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:4-5).
Droughts, storms and fires, then, should awaken us to consider our ways in the light of God's revealed will. They should show us our weakness and and remind us our sinfulness before God. If we respond to them properly we will humble ourselves before the Lord of wind and rain and confess our sins, and seek His forgiveness by entrusting ourselves wholly to Jesus Christ.

So, when the heavens are shut up and there is no rain, when people are made to suffer because of natural disaster, what are we to do? We are to pray to the only One who can help and plead for mercy. And in our praying we are to repent of our sin against Him--"our" sin, not "theirs"--recognizing that something eternally more devastating than a drought awaits all those who continue to turn away from God.

11 comments:

Mike Hall said...

Dr. Ascol,

Thanks so much for that poignant reminder. It is a fool who forgets that:

Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust. - Isaiah 40:15

Keep up the good work and Lord willing, I hope to meet you at the Building Bridges conference.

Walterjc said...

Check out www.fbcw.org. Johnny Hunt preached an excellent sermon Sunday and reminded us we need to pray as hard for revival as we are praying for rain. He stated he has received 100's of e-mails asking him to pray for rain but none asking him to pray for the lost. Is God trying to show us something? Lev. 26:18-20

Jacob Douvier said...

Good thoughts.

It has been said that the agrarian life inclines one to humility, as your livelihood is dependent upon things completely beyond your control.

GeneMBridges said...

Check out www.fbcw.org. Johnny Hunt preached an excellent sermon Sunday and reminded us we need to pray as hard for revival as we are praying for rain. He stated he has received 100's of e-mails asking him to pray for rain but none asking him to pray for the lost. Is God trying to show us something? Lev. 26:18-20

I should the real irony is that his view, if pressed, one is the result of God working, the other is the result of men's "free will." Sorry, but I had to point that out.

I've been praying that the Lord will turn the hearts of the people, particularly in these wicked places (I've lived in them, so I know what they are like) to repentance, and that temporary pansy repentance we saw after 911, but the real, not the tears of Esau, but those of Thomas.

Also, I'd point out that the media has only recently begun reporting on this. I've sent several emails out requesting folks write on this topic on their own blogs to "get the word out" and to set aside time, if they are in a position in their church to do so, to join together this week and the next several really, to set aside special time in your service of choice to pray for these issues. Ask the Lord to remember His covenant, and to be merciful in its astipulations.

If there is sin your churches that needs to be dealt with, please examine yourselves and do so. As He told the people in Haggai, the drought was because of them - their inaction - not the Samaritans around them. Those people were being affected by their actions. I'd hate to find out on the Last Day that this event was a sacramental sign of what He saw in our churches.

Don said...

Tom,

Thank you for this reminder. God's sovereign rule of the weather, especially comfort robbing weather, points us to the undeserving sustaining grace he lavishes upon the just and the unjust alike. May we not use the occasion to presume upon his mercy. Instead, I pray that we would see the warning signs alerting us of the ultimate storm-of-wrath and drought-of-grace coming on the day of judgement.

Even so, I do wish I could send you some of our rain. :) We had about 8 inches yesterday. When I went to lay down in bed late last night, I noticed the torrential all-day downpour made its way through my camper roof right onto my bed, and completely drenched my mattress through and through. By God's providence I had an extra set of dry sheets available to bed down on the dry pull-out couch. I just need to seal the leak and get a new mattress. His mercies are fresh every morning.


--
by grace alone,

Pastor Don A. Elbourne Jr.
Lakeshore Baptist Church
http://lakeshorebaptist.net

Pastor's blog: Locusts & Wild Honey
http://elbourne.org

Rebuilding Lakeshore to the glory of God
http://rebuildlakeshore.com

SJ Camp said...

Tom:
I was just thinking about this today driving my youngest daughter to school and thanking the Lord of our third day of rain in a row.

You are so right my brother that when the heavens close, or the winds increase, and floods come - it forces us to fall to our knees before our Creator, humble ourselves, confess our sin, repent, and continue on by God's grace.

What a timely and needed article today. Thank you...

I love you man,
Campi
Col. 1:9-14

Tom said...

Mike:

Thanks...and I look forward to being in Ridgecrest with you, DV.

Jacob:

Good point. Our conveniences tend to rob us of our sense of genuine dependence.

Gene:

Indeed, we should be more rigorous in examining ourselves than we are in scrutinizing others. Was it M'Cheyne who said it is easier to condemn 1000 sins in others than to mortify one in yourself?

Don:

We are low on rain this year, but nothing like Georgia and the Carolinas. Glad you are well.

Campi:

I am glad you guys are getting some rain. The Lord is so good so often that we tend to presume on His common grace and mercy. Hope you are well!

ta

lordodamanor said...

Remember this too, "He causes it to rain on the righteous as well as the wicked." It is not the administration of justice, but the outcome. Let us be found after it rains, justified.

I think in both realms, the natural and the spiritual we are to learn. I remember tracing the names of Catrina and the two storms following and an interesting message developed. But, I do not want to get "spooky" spiritual. There is obviously rain needed in some places, here for one. However, we cannot preach repentance expecting the earth to repent, though God could cause the rocks to cry out. In either case it is God who grants the repentence so that we might pray for mercy.

It rained in New Orleans recently, excessively, straining the ability of the feeble safety of the riches of men. Again an unthankful city received what should be to them life. It threatened death, yet they do not fear. An evil city, with too much rain, another with none. Can we say then that the many cities that were "normal" were repentant? No. I am reminded of Baruch's request and the Lord's reply. A question that I asked a pastor when we were praying for revival and evangelism: "What if it comes to them and not to us, will we rejoice with those who rejoice, and if it comes to us and not to them will we invite them to our table so that they lack nothing, or think them undeserving?" Or, will we be like Baruch and seek good things for ourselves and not accept from the Lord, escape with our lives (eternal)?

We need Spirit revival throughout our nation and one must surely wonder about Catrina hitting the hotbed of the occult, and one must wonder about Californication and the Lord's wrath being revealed. At the same time we must ponder, "The righteous perish and none consider it in their hearts."

In my Charismatic days I had a "word" from the Lord, if I now shamefully can claim such a thing. It was this. Our country would be destroyed, not from enemies whose armies are men, but from armies of the Lord in storms, pestilence, earthquakes.... It is not a king's horses that deliver him, nor the rich man's riches, but the poor have no where (nor do they need anywhere) to run to for the Lord is their defense. Though those days were a dream and cannot be considered in truth, I begin to wonder.

I believe this in any case. Judgement will come, how and when is a mystery. It will not start with the wicked alone but with the Church also. However I do not make a claim that this thing we see now is any such thing, but Scripture cannot be broken and what was true for Job is true for us. This is the Lord's doing. It is his world and he will do as he pleases with it, regardless of what we might think that we are doing right or wrong.

So, get ready, put on the whole armor of God so that you might stand in that Day. I really think this is what God is telling us.

Tom Bryant said...

Brother Ascol,
Not sure what it's doing in Cape Coral, but north of you we're getting some serious rain for the first time in ages...

But even with the rain, we stll need to repent.

Tom said...

Tom:

I saw a weather report that you guys were due for heavy rains today, and thanked God for it. We may get some later, if the predictions are correct. I looks like the Lord may grant some relief to the Carolinas, as well. But you are absolutely right. We still need to repent!

-ta

Caddiechaplain said...

Tom,
Thanks for your prayers for those of us here in Socal and especially close to the fires (we live just below Running Springs and the "Slide" fire). We all remember well the fires here in 03'. This one tops that. Pray for our firefighters, State and Federal Officials, and local State Disaster Relief folks (CSBC).

On Fire for the Lord,

Ron