For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and returns not thither, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud…
It may be said that the rain and the snow do, in fact, return to the heavens whence they came, drawn up by the sun as it shines on sea and lake, on stream and river, everywhere. But not until they have done the work for which they came, not until they have "accomplished that which God pleases," until they have prospered in the purpose for which he sent them; not until they have fertilized the soil, and made it bring forth its precious fruits. The vast amount of rainfall which the earth receives during every year renders incalculable service before it returns to the skies. So also does all the outpouring of Divine truth on the mind and heart of men. There may be times when the human spokesman may question this - when he may have grave misgivings as to its utility, when it may seem unprofitable and vain. But we have the strong assurance that God's Word "shall not return unto him void" - that the issue shall be one in which all surrounding nature may well take its part with jubilant acclaim (vers. 12, 13). The excellency of sacred truth will be seen if we regard -
I. OUR CONDITION IN ITS ABSENCE.
1. The unproductiveness of the human mind when thus untaught; the sad fact that men who are capable of the loftiest conceptions, the most ennobleing convictions, the most elevating feelings and aspirations, live and die without cherishing any one of these, in blank and dreary ignorance.
2. The noxious growths which flourish: the errors, the superstitions, the dark and foul imaginations. which defile the mind in which they spring up, and those also on whom these are acting.
II. THE BENIGNANT POWER WHICH ST EXERTS.
1. The outward transformations it works - great and happy reformations in the conduct, the career, the condition of individual men, of families, and of nations.
2. The inward blessedness it confers - peace, freedom, purity, love, joy, hope.
III. ITS OCCASIONAL, APPARENT FRUITLESSNESS. Even as the rain and the snow often fall on rock and sand and sea without seeming to produce any beneficent result, so does the truth of God, as preached, or taught, or printed, often seem to be unavailing; and there is discouragement, despondency, even despair, in the heart of the Christian worker. But we look at, -
IV. ITS ACTUAL EFFICACY.
1. There is much of actual efficacy which we can discover - of incidental result, bringing strength and sanctity to those whose benefit is not sought; of indirect result; of ultimate result, being "found after many days."
2. There is more which we take on trust. God has ways of using material things which long escaped our notice, and doubtless many ways which still elude our observation. Has he not ways of using our spiritual efforts, of turning them to account, so that one day we shall find that his own Word never returns to him void - that it always prospers in the thing whereto it is sent? "He that goeth forth weeping... shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: