Rain can really ruin your day. Growing up in the U.S. I viewed rain as an enemy. Many beach days, little league baseball games, camp trips were ruined because of rain.
Here in Israel we have a very different attitude towards rain. When I was 18 and just out of high school I spent a year studying in Israel before starting university back in the U.S. Sometime around November of that year Israel experienced her first rainfall. The Israeli students went outside without raincoats and were dancing, singing and just having a great time in the rain. It all seemed really weird to me yet it began to change my attitude and understanding of rain.
Other than terrorism, dealing with the issue of water shortages in Israel is possibly the most important and challenging issue. Approximately between the months of April and November Israel receives no rain at all. It is the dry season. From November through April is when we can expect it to rain though many years have been less than stellar in the amount of precipitation. When the rainfall during the rainy season is below average and when this happens for more than one year consecutively, it creates a very serious issue here.
This year November passed with practically no rain at all. For this reason, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel urged the public to begin saying a special prayer daily to ask God to bless us with abundant and bountiful rain. All over Israel, communities and individuals are reciting this prayer.
It is important to remember that Mother Nature also has a Father. We don’t see a lack of rainfall as merely a scientific event divorced from God’s control. Take a look at these three verses and you will see something special about rain in Israel.
“For the land to which you come, to possess it—it is not like the land of Egypt which you left, where you plant seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. But the land to which you cross over to possess it is a land of hills and valleys; from the rain of heaven will it drink water. A land that the Lord your God seeks out; the eyes of the Lord your God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year to year’s end.” (Deuteronomy 11: 10-12)
The verses are contrasting the land of Egypt with the land of Israel. What does it mean when it says that in Egypt you planted and watered with your foot? This is a reference to the method of irrigation that was used in ancient Egypt. The Nile River was a year round source of water. Irrigation channels were dug which were closed off by small doors. The farmer decided which areas of the field needed water and he would use his foot to kick open these small doors which would allow a flood of water to enter the irrigation channels. Water was plentiful and simple to access.
The land of Israel had no major water source like Egypt. It was completely dependent on the rains from the heavens. Water would no longer be easily available as it was in Egypt—it would now become an expression of our relationship with God.
This is the context of the last verse---it is the land that the eyes of God are always upon it. God answers our prayers and provides rain as a blessing and it is His way of showing that he is connected to the land and cares deeply.
As I write these words we are experiencing our first rains of the season. The forecast is for three straight days of heavy rain. We are truly saturated with blessings!!