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Latter Rains

Early Rains Are Here!

Early Rains Are Here!

Every year, I tend to become more and more fascinated by the weather in Israel. In the fall, I begin looking to the digital sky and watch as the early rains begin to fall. Over the past several years, Israel has been experiencing a drought. This is evident not only in the data, but also walking around the land.

The water level in the Sea of Galilee has dropped several feet in the past several year. Places along the shoreline where I have taken my tour groups to board boats are no longer accessible. The water level is just too shallow for a boat to dock in those locations. In addition, as you visit different areas along the shore, more and more of the land is visible. This is especially evident along the northwest corner of the lake as there are many visual markers that show this fact with clarity.

But….good news…the rains have arrived. This morning, I took three screenshots from web cameras that are located in the northern part of the land. The first picture is from the city of Sefad, which sits a couple of miles north of the Sea of Galilee. On a normal day, you would be able to see part of the lake from this image. But, not today.

The second image is from the top of Mount Bental, about 50 miles north of the Sea of Galilee. Again, you will see that it is a rainy day. It is not uncommon to see visitors and families eating picnic lunches from this vantage point.

Finally, this picture is from Merom Golan, which is very near Mount Bental. Again, rain everywhere.

To me, these are beautiful views. These rains will fall through the Hula Valley and into the Jordan River. From there, they will flow into the Sea of Galilee and offset the water shortages that currently exist. In addition, they will make the land nice and green for us to see later next year.

“And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full.” - Deuteronomy 11:13-15

Early and Latter Rains

Early and Latter Rains

With a degree in Meteorology, I have a special interest in the weather. And, when it comes to the Bible, I pay particular interest to references to weather. In a few different instances, the writers of the Bible use the term "early and latter rains". Some examples include:

They do not say in their heart, “Let us now fear the Lord our God, who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in its season. He reserves for us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” - Jeremiah 5:24

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. - James 5:7

Contrary to popular belief, Israel actually receives a lot of rain every year. Admittedly, there are areas of the country where it is pretty dry (Jordan Rift Valley, Negeb, etc). But much of the land is very blessed by rain. 

The rain, however, falls in an interesting pattern. Every year, the rains start in late October and then continue until mid-May. This phenomenon is what the Biblical writers are referring to when they mention the early rains (October) and the latter rains (May). 

Since it is January, we are currently in the middle of the rainy season. The rains that fall right now help nourish the land for the rest of the year. Last week, Israel had an unusually rainy day. Many locations of the Galilee received nearly four inches of rain in one day. It was so much rain, that the water level of the Sea of Galilee rose three centimeters that same day. The Times of Israel had a very interesting story about it on their website.

Just as He did centuries ago, God is still ensuring that the land is properly watered. 

The Latter Rains

The steps on the southern end of the Temple Mount, with the Mount of Olives in the distance.I read a story yesterday of a tour group that was sitting on the southern steps of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. While they were there, a huge rainstorm came up causing them to retreat to the closest building for cover. As much as the tourists probably did not like it, I am sure that the people living in Israel and the West Bank were very thankful for it. They are in the midst of the period of year of the "latter rains". We read about this a number of times in the Scripture. Here is one example:

Then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. - Deuteronomy 11:14

The early rains fall in October to November and the latter rains fall in February to March. Between the months of April and October, the country of Israel gets very little, if any, rain. So, the rain that fell in Jerusalem over the weekend might be the last rain that the city sees for a number of months.

Isn't it interesting how the truths found in the Bible are still true?