The Pursuit of God

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Hymns That Lead Us Astray: Showers of Blessing

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No one is more generous, gracious, and loving than Yahweh, Jesus, and the magnificent Holy Spirit.  In our relationships with Them, They always initiate.  They reach out to us before we even know who They are, and They are the Ones who graciously call us to repent when we are giving Them a bunch of attitude.  No one loves humans more passionately, faithfully, and deeply than our three glorious Lords.  They bestow countless blessings on our heads every day.  They are with us at all times.  Their attentive care of us never ceases, and They invite us to speak to Them anytime, anyplace because They are always listening.  Simply reviewing these basic facts about our Gods should make us eager to worship Them and express our great gratitude.  Or, we could break out that nasty, greedy little hymn entitled Showers of Blessing.  After all, what better way is there to express our gratitude to Gods who so abundantly bless us than to sing four verses and a chorus which all tell Them that we don’t think They’ve done nearly enough?  Picture some ungrateful child sitting among a mountain of birthday presents with a dark scowl on his face saying, “This is it?  Where are the rest of my presents?  You promised I’d have presents for my birthday!”  This is the ugly sentiment of Showers of Blessing, and the fact that this lemon has been souring our hymnals since 1883 is a real testimony to how ungrateful Christians can be. 

[Verse 1] There shall be showers of blessing: This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing, Sent from the Savior above.

This song claims that God has promised us Christians showers of blessing in the Bible.  Then, for four verses and a chorus, we keep demanding that God fulfill that promise, which we clearly feel has gone unfulfilled.  You see, we totally discount the deluge of blessings that God throws down on our heads every day.  We never stop to appreciate how many problems we don’t have, nor do we care about all of the billion things that go right for us.  No, we want those showers of blessing, darn it.  We’re already adrift in an ocean of blessings, but that doesn’t count, because apparently we have very particular blessings in mind.  God promised us, He hasn’t delivered yet, and we’re now having a bratty little fit about it.  But because we’re throwing a tantrum to music, we say it’s worship.  Not so much.

So just where in the Bible did God even use the term “showers of blessing”?  You’ll only find that phrase showing up one time in Ezekiel 34. And of course any time we try to say that Yahweh was addressing modern day believers while we quote from the Old Testament, we’re being absurd.  Trying to rip a promise of blessings for Christians out of Ezekiel 34 is as ridiculous as trying to rip a promise of wealth out of Malachi 3. But far be it from us to respect context when we’re on one of our greed trips.

Our snarky little hymn is borrowing language from Ezekiel 34:26, in which Yahweh says:

“I will bless My people and their homes around My holy hill. And in the proper season I will send the showers they need. There will be showers of blessing.”

Are you living next to Yahweh’s holy hill?  No, but the people who lived in ancient Jerusalem were, and they are the ones who Yahweh is talking to in this passage.  At the time that He said these words, the ancient Israelites were in a serious crisis.  The capital of Jerusalem and Yahweh’s Temple have just been sacked by the mighty Babylonian army.  Scores of Jews have died brutal deaths in all of the mayhem, and many more have been dragged off as slaves to ancient lands.  True believers are few and far between, for most Israelites are entrenched in spiritual rebellion.  The souls who are loyal to Yahweh in this time are wrestling with deep fears that He has totally abandoned them.  Ezekiel 34 is a long parable about shepherds and sheep in which Yahweh assures His faithful followers that He cares about the hardships they are enduring and that He has plans to help and bless them (see Parables of Yahweh: The Good Shepherd Rescues His Flock).  While this passage teaches some very encouraging lessons about the Character of Yahweh, it contains no specific promises to Christians.  The showers of blessing mentioned here were for a desperate people who have remained loyal to Yahweh in a very dark and difficult time.  For us to try and rip off specific promises that God gave to other people who lived thousands of years ago is more than a little carnal.

[Chorus] Showers of blessing, Showers of blessing we need;
Mercy drops ’round us are falling, But for the showers we plead.

Notice the acknowledgement that God is already raining down mercy onto our ungrateful little heads.  And indeed, mercy is the only thing saving us from getting smacked with the wrath of God as we keep whining for goodies.  Notice that we don’t bother to thank God for the mercy He is giving us. Instead we choose to emphasize how unsatisfied we are.

[Verse 2]  There shall be showers of blessing–Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys, Sound of abundance of rain. [Repeat Chorus]

Here we say that an epic flood of blessings will be what revives us.  Well, no, it won’t.  You see, you can’t fix spiritual issues by improving earthly circumstances.  The ungrateful snark we’re expressing in this hymn won’t be suddenly turned into humble gratitude if God lets loose with some tidal wave of more goodies.  Correcting bratty behavior in humans is best accomplished by taking toys away, not by heaping on more.

[Verse 3] There shall be showers of blessing: Send them upon us, O Lord;
Grant to us now a refreshing; Come and now honor Thy word. [Repeat Chorus]

How cheeky of us to tell God that He needs to honor a promise that He never gave us.  This obvious attempt to guilt God into blessing us by saying “You promised!” just shows how manipulative we are being.

[Verse 4] There shall be showers of blessing: Oh, that today they might fall,
Now as to God we’re confessing, Now as on Jesus we call! [Repeat Chorus]

We want our showers of blessing, and we want them today. Well, by now we’ve sung three verses and three rounds of chorus, but God still hasn’t delivered.  So now we toss in this reference to confessing and calling on Jesus.  What are we confessing?  This is either a reference to confessing our faith in God or confessing our sins for the purpose of clearing out any obstacles that might be clogging up that pipe through which that tide of blessings will flow.  Christians often promote the notion that we can coerce God into doing what we want simply by putting on some emotional show of repentance or by flinging the Name of Jesus around.  It’s all irreverent rot, of course, but this is what we do.

In this song, you’re not just asking God for showers of blessing—you’re demanding them.  Notice how you don’t say “Can we have showers?” but “There shall be showers.”  You’ve already decided for God what He will do for you, and then you nag Him to hurry up and deliver as you greedily anticipate receiving this deluge that you think He owes you.

There isn’t a single word of thanks in this song.  There isn’t a single compliment given to God.  There isn’t any acknowledgement of how much He’s already blessed us in the past, nor are we expressing any desire to please Him.  His feelings get no acknowledgment, and the fact that He has His own agenda which might conflict with ours is left unrecognized.  Instead of expressing our submission to Him, we are trying to dominate Him with greedy demands and guilt trips.  What is this piece of rot even doing in our hymnals?  This isn’t worship, it’s putrid carnality.  The next time you want to praise God through music, ask Him for His input before you start flinging garbage like this in His face.

FURTHER READING:
Hymns That Lead Us Astray: There is Power in the Blood
Practicing Discernment: Bible Promises

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