The Heavenly Dewfall
Hosea 14:5
I will be as the dew to Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.…

The former part of the chapter describes the experience through which a Church or a soul must pass before the fulfillment of this promise. The repentance, the vows, the hopes of the penitent are here crowned by Divine goodness. With a startling and sudden transition, in the fourth verse, Jehovah is represented as interposing amidst the prayers of those returning to him. So our Lord describes the father as unable to listen to the close of the prodigal's confession, before he breaks forth in a gush of generous pardon and blessing. How encouraging the truth this suggests for all who turn to God! We accept our text as a figurative description of the revivifying and beautifying influence of the Holy Spirit upon the human heart. Let us notice, therefore, some of the characteristics of the dew.

I. DEW IS UNSEEN IN ITS COMING. We see its effects when every leaf and flower glitters in the early sunshine; but the dew came unperceived, when darkness was over the earth.

1. Probably the most powerful forces are those which are unseen. The noblest part of man is hidden from human gaze, and of him who is the directing Power of the universe it is said, "No man hath seen God at any time." If it be argued that because God is, and always has been invisible, he must be non-existent; it may also be argued that the conscious ego does not exist, because it has never been seen. It is true that no research or analysis in the natural world has discovered God; it is equally true that no investigation of the human body, living or dead, has ever revealed the subtle consciousness of whose existence each man is, however, certain. Both are beyond the range of experimental science. We do not know how the Spirit of God affects us; we cannot discover the nexus by means of which holy thoughts and impulses from above becomes ours, yet we are confident that they are of God and not of us. In our holiest and best hours the Holy Spirit comes to us, but secretly, "as the dew lighteth upon the grass."

2. The evidence of the work of the Spirit is to be found in its effects; e.g. the conversion of Saul of Tarsus; the profound teaching of the unscholarly writers of Holy Scripture; the triumph of Christianity through the influence of such men as were its first representatives; the moral transformation of some we ourselves have seen. One example of genuine conversion will do more to prove the work of the Spirit than all the tomes of theology ever written.

II. DEW IS SILENT IN ITS FALL. We can hear the pattering of rain or the rippling of streams, but the dewfall does not disturb an insect's sleep.

1. The Church, as well as the world, depends too often on noise and bustle, as the signs or the causes of success. The preacher whose eloquence attracts the multitude, around whom are clustered societies and organizations to do all manner of work, is not always the man most richly blessed of God. Be that as it may, the signs that the work is of God are to be found, not in the outward, but in the inward - in truer thoughts of sin and holiness, in a loftier standard of Christian integrity, in the generosity and self-sacrifice of Christ's disciples, in the purity and love which are being silently inwrought by the power of the Holy Ghost. Hence we should be slow to measure success in our own efforts or those of others.

2. As a rule, spiritual blessing is richest when outward joy is least. The dew falls not during sunshine, but in the night. Note the spiritual richness and power of the Church in times of persecution. Refer to the development of Christian faith, peace, hope, devoutness, in the dark seasons of affliction. The world must be hushed that we may hear God's voice. Earth must be darkened before the dew of heavenly blessing falls.

III. DEW IS REVIVING IN ITS INFLUENCE. We see nothing comparable to that with which Hoses was familiar, living as he did in a land where no rain fell for months together, and where the withholding of dew meant the death of vegetation. Without it corn would not reach maturity, and olives and vines and fig trees would yield no fruit. A more terrible curse than that pronounced by Elijah in Ahab's reign could not have been inflicted. Christ Jesus foresaw the dearth of comfort arid hope and energy which would prevail in his Church if his disciples were left to themselves. Hence he gave the promise of the Comforter, whom he would send from the Father, to lead his disciples into all truth, and to convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. The garden, glittering and beautiful after its dewy baptism, may illustrate such spiritual refreshment as we see in Peter coming from the upper room at Pentecost, or in John rejoicing even in the exile of Patmos. What are the graces and gifts - the fruits of the Spirit in us, which need the heavenly benediction? Whence their impoverishment? Where their source of revival? "Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."

IV. DEW IS REPEATED AND ABUNDANT IN ITS FALL. Its departure, as well as its coming, is rapid and secret. Hence Hosea elsewhere uses it as an illustration of transient religious feeling. To give a dewfall once in a season would be of little use.

1. It comes night after night, and tags is in accordance with the Divine method. Thus God gave the manna, which could not be hoarded or stored up for future use. By this means the people learnt their constant dependence on God. Still we are taught to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread" - a prayer which includes spiritual as well as temporal sustenance. Israel could not live on yesterday's manna. You cannot live on the relics of your old faith. Your character will break down if it rests on the memory of your past experience. The feeling aroused when you first thought of God was enough to bring you to him, but not enough to keep you near him. The prayer which brought pardon must be daily repeated for purification from sin. And in our weakness this is necessary, lest we should lapse into a prayerless life, and go on our way in a spirit of presumptuous self-dependence.

2. It is not that God cannot give grace abundantly, or that he willingly withholds from the feeblest and most worthless what they want and can receive. He does not stint the world of dew. The humblest flower has its drop; unsightly things are baptized with that blessing; the rough bracken shares it equally with the rose, and the tiny flower on the window-sill of the pauper is as much blessed as the garden of the peer. Free to all, it is a fit emblem of the fullness of the Holy Spirit which God will in nowise withhold from him who seeks. "I will be as the dew unto Israel."

CONCLUSION. If God is prepared to give, are we prepared to receive? Let us not make a mistake about the Holy Spirit similar to that which men formerly made about the dew, which represents him. They supposed that the moon and planets poured it down upon the earth, regardless of its condition. But at the beginning of this century, Dr. Wells, by three years' experiments, established the theory which, as Dr. Tyndall says, "has stood the test of all subsequent criticism, and is now universally accepted." It was demonstrated, in short, that dew was not dependent on the condition of the heavens only, but on the condition of the earth; ay, and of the various things upon the earth. It was shown that the aqueous vapor condenses on things which are cooled by the radiation of their own heat, and on those only; so that if anything, a cloud, for example, comes between them and heaven, which prevents the giving off of their heat, the dew does not come; or, if they do not themselves freely give off their heat, though all around are blessed, they are not. Carry the thought into the higher sphere of which we have spoken. If there be no outgoing of warm earnest desire on your part, if there be not an honest putting away of any cloud, be it of doubt or of sin, which lies between your soul and heaven, though others may be blessed, you will fail to receive the fulfillment of the promise, "I will be as the dew unto Israel." - A.R.

Parallel Verses
KJV: I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.

WEB: I will be like the dew to Israel. He will blossom like the lily, and send down his roots like Lebanon.

The Grace of God Like the Dew
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