Rain or Irrigation: Blessing or Curse
Deut. 11:10 For the land that you are about to enter to occupy is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sow your seed and irrigate by foot like a vegetable garden. 11 But the land that you are crossing over to occupy is a land of hills and valleys, watered by rain from the sky, 12 a land that the LORD your God looks after. The eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
Looking over into the promised land God reveals to them a major difference when compared to Egypt. The land of Egypt was fertile, but it required huge amounts of human labor. There was little rainfall and so the only way to have enough water for the crops was through a complex irrigation system. Channels needed to be dug and maintained so that water could flow to the fields. Everything was dependent upon maintaining and trying to control the Nile and it took the backbreaking work of thousands of workers to make it happen.
In contrast to Egypt God was showing them the promised land before them. This was a different kind of land where no human labor was to be required for watering. God would do the watering for them, providing them with rain from the sky. This was a place where God would look after them and their success would not be determined by the power of a human workforce.
The two alternatives are seen as “blessing” and “curse.” It wasn’t just about the land, but about a covenant agreement with God. It’s also about perspective. Both Dathan and Abiram in Numbers 16:12-14 had claimed that Egypt was a fertile land and couldn’t see what God was promising in the new land. They didn’t understand that the promise was about the land and God’s people. It was a relationship in which the people would not trust in their own human abilities, but place all of their trust in God who would care for them. The promise was not just for them, but for the generations who would follow after them. The care of the land is a symbol of God’s love for his people. He will provide for the land and love his chosen people.
Turning back to Egypt is symbolic of turning to other gods. Trusting in gods of human hands, or simply in human hands is not blessed by God. Rather it becomes curse for those who refuse to walk in the land of promise with their Beloved.
The land was not to be possessed by the sheer will of the Israelites who were following the law. God was placing it before them as a gift, one which they could take if they simply moved forward, following God’s loving grace into what he placed before them. The early rain from heaven came through the law, and the later rains would come in the time of the incarnation, but always, God would provide the rain and the people had the potential to flourish. This was the choice of blessing.
We have a choice to live life in the land of curse or blessing. We can, by sheer effort, try to make things happen. The reality is that the Egyptians had a pretty amazing system of irrigation and it worked. The problem was that it took much time and energy. The things that we are doing in life on our own, they may be taking all the energy that we have. The result is that we feel that we have no time for God, because we don’t allow God to be a part of what we are doing on a daily basis. We are working so hard trying to get it all done that we have no time for him. This is living in curse. It’s not what God expects for his people.
I’m afraid that we fail to see or understand God’s work which is already ongoing in our world. His grace goes before us like the beautiful spring rain, preparing the way for us. If we live in the promise of blessing, then we move through life, following the leading of the Holy Spirit. Just like the rains which come from heaven for which we do not need to labor, we do not have to expend energy on the rains!
In a very practical sense it means that we need to spend time walking with God in the land of Promise. While we fellowship with God we learn more about God’s heart and leadings. Even in our daily work, we discover the hand of God present, providing rain. In our relationships, God is there, providing rain. In our ministry, God is there providing rain.
We may choose the curse of trying to make it rain on our own. We will become tired and worn out for it will be backbreaking, or we may walk in blessing as God provides the rain for what he has prepared for us in advance.
Lord, may I trust in you, walking in the rain of your leading and blessing. Amen.