It's Beginning to Rain
By Iverna Tompkins
Transcribed by Jane Vaughn
Everyone today is wondering about something or other. Whether they know Jesus or not, there are all kinds of questions out there and it’s no longer limited to the USA. As you travel throughout the world, you’ll find people saying, “What’s going on here? What’s happening? What’s next?” In my whole lifetime, I’ve never known of a time when those questions have been more prevalent in the minds and often on the lips, of both men and women, young and old. “What is going on?”
We know that time has been speeded up – ::whish:: and it’s three years later! We understand that the disasters taking place are no longer centralized – it’s not happening only in this state or a specific region or particular country. It’s not just in the more impoverished third world countries, but it’s happening throughout the whole world. And yes, all during our lives we’ve had “wars and rumors of wars” (Mt. 24:6) and disasters – famines and earthquakes, tsunamis and floods and hurricanes – all the things Jesus said were going to precede His return. We’ve had those things happening all through our lives. Is that not true?
But amazingly, not many of them have occurred very close to us in our nation, on our soil. It’s much easier to pick up the newspaper and read of these tragic things happening thousands of miles away, across vast oceans and say, “Oh, my! God help those poor people.” But it is truly a stirring and personally disastrous thing when it happens just next door. And we are seeing that now… in the path of a string of massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and especially Hurricane Katrina that all but wiped New Orleans off the map in August of this year, 2005.
Can you, and I’m speaking spiritually now, can you just about feel the ground shaking under you? I have never seen so many displaced people. So many people suddenly feeling and believing they should uproot from here and go to there – and not all related to severe weather tragedies. They’re being re-placed and re-located. The ground truly is shaking beneath us, even in the Church, and it could cause a moment of panic if we weren’t certain of the things we sing about today! In my day, we sang about the same things but with different words. We used to sing: “On Christ, the solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.” The same message – from so many years ago – is being sung today because that’s what we cling to with tenacity. That’s what we have as our security – the Rock.
But why is all this happening – now? What are we feeling? Why that insecurity, if you will? Why do we find it so difficult when things begin to change? The simplified answer is – we simply don’t know the Word! And so we question the strength of our foundations.
I want us to look at Deuteronomy, chapter 32. We recently have experienced the disaster of rain – too much rain. And yet, is that not what the Church has been praying for? Rain? “Oh, Lord! Send rain! My God! Rain upon us!” We pray it. We sing it. We really and truly want it. And God says, “Alright! Get ready!” :-)
Now through the years, we’ve learned that it’s first in the natural realm – and then in the spiritual. But when things happen in the natural scene, we’re just so surprised by the occurrences we often fail to comprehend the spiritual signals or lessons. We are inept at handling that, and instead of rejoicing and preparing ourselves for what is about to come spiritually, we just panic along with the unbelievers! A sad commentary but, by and large, it’s true.
Throughout scripture, rain is spoken of as the blessing of God and that is wonderful. But rain in the Word of God is actually symbolic of both blessing and judgment. If we don’t have rain we have dearth (lack, shortage, drought, famine, deficiency) and barrenness (unfruitfulness, emptiness, bleakness) and even death. Things just cannot live without rain. Of course, if we get too much rain we also get – floods. One of the reasons, spiritually, that we flood out is because we do not have enough outlets from our lives – hear it now – to handle the rain that comes in answer to our own (good) prayers. Are you okay? Are you understanding the parallels between the natural and the spiritual?
I get excited when I hear the things in which a local church becomes involved, especially when they are activities in the community. It’s like saying to the people: “It isn’t just for us, you know – these blessings, the Rain...” I know churches that sit in Rain, spiritual Rain, up to their eyebrows – every week. They even remind me of Jonah in the whale – when the water kept coming in – and kept coming – and Jonah survived only because the Lord didn’t allow any more water to come into the whale.
They sit there in their pews crying: “Give us more!” and the Lord says, “If I did, you’d die! You can’t handle anymore!” Too many people, and churches, have come to a place where they know more truth than they possess! We need to think about that statement – to really ponder what it is saying. I love you, Friends, but that’s what I believe I hear from the Lord. It’s just time to put what we know into everyday practice – regularly. We need to possess it – to walk in the Truth of it.
When we have pastors and leaders who are truly prophetic, we receive the revelation of the Word of the Lord long before we discover it in the written Word of the Lord. Now, that can be a wonderful thing! It’s powerful! It’s Rain! It just comes to us and waters us. But if we never learn that the Solid Rock is to be discovered by individuals coming to His Word, and if we don’t understand that every prophetic utterance is to be founded solidly on the Word of God, and in agreement with it’s details, we will find ourselves on sinking sand all too soon!
Now, I invited you to a portion of scripture. Let’s look at it: Deuteronomy 32, verses 1 through 6. We’ll read from the NIV: “Listen, O heavens, and I will speak. Hear, O earth, and the words of My mouth will speak. Let My teaching fall like rain and My words descend like dew, like showers on new grass the abundant rain on tender plants” (vss.1 and 2).
What does it mean when it says that the rain will come “on tender plants?” Each of us, I think, has done something called gardening, in one form or another. We have flower boxes or tomato plants or something – some experience of taking care of plants. You dig in the dirt, put the little seed in the hole or trench, replace the dirt, pat it down, and say a prayer – praying for rain. :-) That’s particularly important in the desert where I live! :-)
When the Lord says, “Listen, I’m going to speak to the tender plants, or to the new grass, or the newly mown grass,” spiritually He is saying: “‘the newly planted Christians’ – I’m going to teach them.” I don’t know how long you’ve known the Lord, but I assure you if you’ve known Him for as short as a single week, He wants to teach you! And you will learn from Him if you’ll go to His Word – the Bible.
This is the day of revelation and God is teaching some things many of us didn’t know for many years. All He wants is for us to – “Draw nigh to God and He’ll draw nigh to you” (1Jn.4:7). He only wants you to look in The Book!
I have met hundreds of new Christians who’ve said, “When I try to read the Bible, I just don’t understand it.” That’s when I suggest, “Throw out that version and get another one!” :-) There are so many good translations these days – easier to understand the language, and fully accurate. Get the New Living Translation. Get the Amplified Bible – if you can’t understand that one, go back to kindergarten! :-) There are many reliable and contemporary translations available that can open up the Word for us. Read those as new Christians and after awhile you’ll want to go to some other older translations as well. Then you’ll find yourself reading in many of them for comparisons – to get the whole picture of what the Lord is saying.
Because our many versions of the Holy Scriptures are a product of translation and not transliteration, we find they differ somewhat from one another in some areas of the text, and some actually may be more accurate in some places than others. Translations are a result of scholars’ research – academically sound, yet the work of the human mind and understanding and interpretation.
So, how do we know we have what God actually said? Where is the purity of thought? God says here in Deut.32, “If you will accept the Word as My rain, I will rain upon it understanding. If you don’t even try, if you don’t look, if you never read it, I might as well not rain on it because there’s no seed!” Are you getting this? You may wish you weren’t! :-) Now you’re responsible for that truth! :-)
The Word is the seed (Mk.4:14; Lk.8:11) and it has to be planted in you and in me. We have to come to the Word itself. It isn’t, “What does Brother So-and-So think about this passage?” Or, “What does Sister So-and-So say about this verse?” We actually could empty our counseling chambers if we would get everyone into God’s Word for themselves – for their own feeding, for their own understanding. For their own rain! That’s because His mighty Word contains the answers to every question of every individual life. The absolute, specific directives for us come from the Word of God! I promise this is true.
If you don’t have a habit of reading the Word of God daily, but only carry your Bible to church because it’s the holy day, or because someone on the platform might ask, “How many have your Bibles with you today?” and you want to be able to lift yours along with all the others… You see – if you cannot be trusted to do other than simply carry it with you, get a big Bible that’s too heavy to carry and leave it open on the table at home – maybe you’ll glance at it from time to time! :-)
Some of the versions in translating this particular verse read: “Let My teaching fall like rain . . . I will let it fall on newly mown grass.” Now, I’m one of those despised desert dwellers who has a lawn – and I use water on it. :-) I like the soft green grass and we have a man who comes once a week to mow that grass. There is nothing that excites me more (in the natural) than that day. I actually look forward to Monday afternoons when he has been there mowing the grass. I go outside just to smell the new mown grass.
But when I think of this verse from a spiritual perspective, I think, “Oh, my! This must be speaking of people that have been mowed down!” Just about the time you get up and think you’ve got it altogether – you’ve had a prophetic word and you’ve seen it in the written Word – and the joy of the Lord is spilling out and you’ve got a purpose and a plan: “Alright! Now I know what God has ordered for me!” Just about that time – when you’ve grown enough that you’re a healthy green :-) – something comes along (it might be a hand-pushed mower! :-) ) – and mows right over you! :-) “If you were really a Christian, you’d…” ::errgh!:: Have you ever felt like you’ve been mowed down? That is a horrendous feeling when you are doing the best you know to do and are at the highest level of growth you’ve ever achieved or obtained or come to and you are suddenly cut off! What is the purpose of that?
I’d like to remind you of Psalm 84. It talks about a man that is. . . Well, I’ll just tell you the story – I can tell it so much better than it’s written. :-) The psalmist talks about a man – or a woman – who’s making their way through a certain valley – the Valley of Baca. Now that word means “weeping.” The valley was actually named because of the weeping of the many balsam trees in the area, so they, whoever named it, said, “that’s the ‘Valley of Weeping.’” But as he or she walked through this valley in our story, they stopped long enough to make or dig a well, and then they passed on through the valley.
How do you make a well? And why would you make a well – when you’re going through a Valley of Weeping? Wells are dug out of the ground. The digging continues deep enough until they hit water. One of the ways we do that is just to cry it out. Hellooo. Have you ever been that mowed down that you just couldn’t do anything but weep? I have. You just weep and… Come on, men, you do too! – and it just comes out of your being – the weeping.
First, we weep in self-pity. ::whine::wail::whine:: “Oh my God! I was doing the best I knew to do. Ohhhhh! I was just following Your Word…” Waah! Waah! :-)
And then we weep in despair. We’re so woeful and whiny: “I don’t know where to go from here and I don’t know what to do now. I can get up but if I do – where will I go? It’s just hopeless! I’m hopeless.” :-) I can just about hear your guilty laughter! :-) So, there we are in this valley – weeping. We announce, “There’s no good thing that’ll come from this!” And finally we go on our way but realize, “I have left a well.” And the next person to come through that same valley will be refreshed by my tears.
Now if that was the only point I wanted to make, we could read about where Paul says, “the reason we’re suffering is for you (2Cor.1:4-6). We have to go through these things so we know how to help you go through them later.” And I can prove that scripturally, but I’m going to challenge YOU to prove it in the Word! It’s in the Word! It’s in the Book! You see – I’d like that to become a motto for you – “It’s in the Book!” Learn how to study the Book (2Tim.2:15; 2Tim.3:16,17).
You need to know The Book so well you know what’s in the Book. Then, if a flood should hit us and floated away all the Bibles – so we were left with nothing written, nothing tangible – we still could look at one another and say, “Help me read it!” “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not miss the mark!” (Ps.119:11). And we’d just trade verses and passages to encourage one another, and remember what He said. I’d say, “I remember where Paul said…” and you’d say, “I remember this from John…” And we’d just share the Word back and forth – because there’s life in His Word!
Go to Part 2