Friday, May 20, 2022


Elijah prophesied that a drought was coming upon Israel. With drought comes famine. With famine comes hunger, and we can create all kinds of narratives around hunger (how God fed His hungry people in the wilderness, how physical hunger drives your hunger for God, etc.). 

But drought was a great judgment of God not just because of the hunger that it produces, but because of all of the things that it strips away. Specifically, drought strips away every offering you might bring to God until there's nothing left to bring but yourself. 

When there's a drought, your crops don't grow. That's the first thing you're going to notice; what used to be green is now very, very brown and nothing around you is edible. This is the first thing we think of, and it's what leads us to think of a famine. There is no grain. No wheat. No barley. No nothing. There's nothing to grind into flour, nothing with which to make bread. The Table of the Lord sits empty.  

There is also no harvest, so there are no firstfruits. There's no tithe. There's no grain offering to bring before the Lord.

It's not just grain, of course; none of the crops grow. That means there are no fruits coming from the trees, no figs, no pomegranates. Nothing with which to make raisin cakes. There are no grapes growing in the vineyards, which means no wine. No drink offering. 

The livestock cannot find good grass on which to graze, so they start to starve. Their breeding slows down because they are too weak to mate, let alone to carry and birth young. Their bones are starting to show through their hides. All of their defects are starting to come out. All of a sudden, there is nothing healthy or without blemish or even fat enough to bring to the Lord as an offering. There are no rams, no lambs, no goats. There is no sacrifice. 

It doesn't take long after a drought hits before life at the Temple starts to slow up, too. There's simply nothing to bring. There's simply nothing to burn. There's not even anything to wave before the Lord. There is no wine, no grain, no olive oil, no incense, no livestock, no nothing. Slowly, you lose all of the ritual and there's something in you that won't even let you go to the Temple any more because you know you're empty-handed (remember, this is before the Cross - before grace), and no person of God in his right mind is going to show up to the Temple empty-handed. So you start to go less and less, with less and less in your hands, until you don't go at all. 

That's when famine hits. That's when hunger hits. That's when you start to long for the days when you felt connected to the Lord. That's when you start to long for that feeling of standing in the Temple courtyards. You realize how full that made you feel, how satisfying that was to your soul, and you start to look around and wonder if there's anything, anything at all left that you can bring to God as an offering, as a sacrifice - anything that will let you stand in His presence again, even for just a few seconds. Even for just as long as it might take for the priest to lift it up and wave it around. Anything...

And then you realize, there is. It's you. 

You're all you've got left. You, your heart, your hands, your hunger. Your desperation. Your love. The only thing you can offer to God in the midst of a drought is...yourself. And so, you go to the Temple, you run to the Temple, and you throw yourself on the altar. You cling to its horns. You beg the priest to anoint you anew, to make you clean again, to give you a standing - any standing - in this place. Because the drought has done what it was intended to do. It has stripped away all of your offerings until you've got nothing left to give to God but yourself. 

That's why God keeps sending droughts on His people.

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