There is much hanging in the balance at the moment. In Israel, the weather can be very changeable, and has a huge impact on the destiny of the famous seven species of crops that God promises to the people of Israel. It would have been tempting for ancient Israel to revert to praying to idols to control the forces of nature during this time to get the ideal conditions for good crops. Today, we are also in a season of great trouble in the Middle East, which will most likely have alarming ramifications for Israel, also raising the question – on whom will Israel depend?
The wrong balance of weather can wreak havoc on Israel’s agriculture. Historically, Israel had to trust God to navigate between harsh climatic contrasts and make sure that there is enough cold and rain that are good for wheat and barley, but also enough sun and heat for grapes, olives, and figs…
No wonder they were tempted to worship other gods just to make sure they get the perfect weather and plenty of crops.
Deuteronomy 8:8 lists the seven species of crops that God specifically gives as part of the bounty of the land, but the chapter begins with a commandment to carefully observe all that the Lord has commanded, and ends with a dire warning to never forget Him and not to follow other gods. It is sandwiched between cautionary instructions to depend on God alone:
v1: “Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors…”
v8: “It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey…”
v19-20: “But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed. Just as the Lord has destroyed other nations in your path, you also will be destroyed if you refuse to obey the Lord your God.”
The Feast of Shavuot is also known as Firstfruits, because offerings of the first fruits brought to the Temple in Jerusalem at this time. It is easy to see how the contrasting weather phenomena of the season between Passover and Shavuot – the hot southern winds bringing extreme dryness and cold winds from the north and west producing storms with thunder, lightning and rain – could have been viewed by Israelis as battles between various deities. There was a very real danger of being lured away to serve other gods, worshiped by the local Canaanites. These weather conditions were totally foreign to Israelis who came to Israel from Egypt. They had to learn that God is the God of the weather and the Creator of all crops. Their very lives depended upon it.
These days, Israel can easily survive a bad agricultural season, but the threat of death comes from outside her borders. All around the nations rage, and the international community seems hesitant to act, or unsure of what to do in this crisis. Today, the Iron Dome defence system has been set up to protect Israel’s citizens. Their success rate in bringing down missiles before they do any damage to Israeli towns has been noted worldwide.
But where will Israel put her trust? In their Defense Forces? In the wisdom of her leaders? In the international community? Or in the One who called and redeemed her, the covenant-keeping God of Israel?
Just as the ancient people of Israel had to learn to depend on God for well-timed sun and rain for the crops, Israelis today must now learn to depend on her God to defend her in these times of trouble.
Please pray with us for Israel’s borders, for the government and leaders, and for the protection of her people. Please pray in earnest that Israelis would quickly recognize that their future depends upon God alone.
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore.
Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash