Zechariah 10:1
Ask the LORD for rain in springtime; the LORD makes the storm clouds, and He will give them showers of rain and crops of the field for everyone.
Sermons
Asking of the LordRalph Wardlaw, D. D.Zechariah 10:1
Bright CloudsJ. A. Gordon, D. D.Zechariah 10:1
God in Relation to the Good and the BadHomilistZechariah 10:1
Prayer and PromiseT. V. Moore, D. D.Zechariah 10:1
The Latter RainH. Melvill, B. D.Zechariah 10:1
The RainW. L. Alexander, D. D.Zechariah 10:1
Parable of the RainW. Forsyth Zechariah 10:1, 2
Prayer for Temporal BlessingsW. Forsyth Zechariah 10:1, 2
God in Relation to the Good and the BadD. Thomas Zechariah 10:1-4

I. AGREEABLE TO OUR CIRCUMSTANCES. Dependent. In want. Instinctively turn turn God. We have his Word to cheer us; the record of his deeds to comfort us; the testimony of his saints to encourage us.

II. CONDITIONED BY THE NECESSITY OF THINGS. There are limits. Plainly there are things which it would be reasonable, and others which it would be unreasonable and foolish, to ask. "Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter," said our Lord. The flight was a necessity, but the time and manner were within the ravage of things unsettled. This seems hinted at here by the condition, "in the time of the latter rain."

III. SHOULD BE SUBORDINATED TO OUR SPIRITUAL GOOD. The soul is more than the body. It may not be necessary for us to live, but it is necessary that we should abide in the love of God and do his will. "Rain" is symbolic of spiritual blessings. Only God can give rain, and only God can give the quickening, invigorating, sanctifying influences of the Holy Spirit. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God."

IV. SHOULD BE OFFERED IN HUMBLE SUBMISSION TO THE WILL OF GOD. He is infinitely wise and holy and good. Let us trust him, for he cannot will us aught but good.

V. SHOULD BE ACCOMPANIED BY EARNEST USE OF ALL LAWFUL MEANS. It is an old saying that "God helps those who help themselves." Prayer without work is fanaticism and folly; but prayer and work is the highest wisdom and the surest way to success. "Wherefore criest thou unto me?" said the Lord to Moses. "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward" (Exodus 14:15). - F.







Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain
The rainfall in Palestine is normally periodical; occasional showers and even storms of rain may occur at any season, but as a rule it is at the time of the autumnal and that of the vernal equinox that the rain for the year falls. These two periodic seasons of rain the Hebrews spoke of as the early and the latter ram; and on the occurrence of them the fruitfulness of the field and the return of the harvest depended. In other passages both the former and the latter rain are referred to as indispensable to this. At an early period God promised to Israel that He would give the rain of their land in due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that they might gather in their corn, manifestation of special regard for His people by Jehovah (comp. Hosea 6:3; Joel 2:23; Isaiah 30:23; Jeremiah 5:24). The latter rain only is mentioned here, probably because this was the more important for the fructification of the grain; and possibly also, because, being this, it might be regarded as including or representing temporal blessing generally. This the prophet here exhorts the people to ask of the Lord "at the time of the latter rain," s.c., at the season when it was due; though God had promised it to His people, it was fitting and needful that they should pray to Him for it at the time when it was required. This "direction to ask" does not "simply express the readiness of God to grant their request"; it does this, for when God enjoins on men the asking for blessing, He implicitly engages to give the blessing asked for; but besides this, and even more than this, there is intimated here that the obtaining of promised blessing is conditioned by its being specially asked of God in the season of need. God's promises are given not to supersede prayer, but rather to encourage and stimulate to prayer.

(W. L. Alexander, D. D.)

The "latter rain" was that which fell in the spring, and which was instrumental in bringing the corn into the ear and filling it; so that if this rain failed, the husbandman would be disappointed of his harvest, notwithstanding all his previous industry, skill, and anxiety. He was indeed dependent also on the "former" rain, that which fell at the seeding time; but there would be a yet more bitter disappointment, for there would be the utter loss of much labour, the fruitless expenditure of much effort and hope, if the "latter rain" were withheld. And, consequently, there was even greater reason for his asking rain in "the time of the latter rain" than in that of "the former." If the "former rain" were withheld, he might make some other use of his capital and enterprise; but if "the latter," his disaster scarce admitted of repair. Take it metaphorically, and the "latter rain" is the grace needed for ripening the believer and fitting him for heaven. God may give "the latter rain," if the husbandman, conscious of his dependence on God for the harvest, continue meekly to supplicate the necessary showers; He may withhold the rain, if the husbandman, calculating on the ordinary course of His dealings, grow remiss in petitioning, and give up his fields to the presumed certainties of the season. There is no point in the life of a Christian at which he can do without the supply of God's grace; none at which he can expect the supply, if he be not cultivating the spirit and habit of prayer.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

We have here expressed the connection between prayer and promise on the one hand, and prayer and the processes of nature on the other. The blessing of rain, which, to an agricultural people, was inclusive of all other temporal blessings, and symbolical of all spiritual ones, was promised; but this promise was dependent on its supplication in prayer. Just so the great blessing of the descent of the Spirit on an individual or a Church, though a free gift, must be obtained by prayer. It is this fact that makes the spirit of prayer in the Church at once an index of her piety, and of the spiritual blessings she may expect from God. When the Church pours out a fulness of prayer, God will pour out a fulness of His Spirit. The inspired writers see no difficulty in the connection between prayer and the processes of nature, such as the mole-eyed philosophy of modern times discovers. The inspired writers think that the God who has created the elements may direct them according to His will. We must not suppose that because God has begun to bless us, we may relax our prayers and efforts. The former rain may be given, but we must also ask for the latter rain. We may have the former rain of conversion, but if we would have the latter rain of ripened sanctification, we must continue to ask of God. So, also, in the revival of religion. The former rain may occur, and souls be converted, but if we would have the ripening seed in active Christians, we must ask of God, and He will give growth, greenness, and maturity.

(T. V. Moore, D. D.)

Homilist
I. GOD ATTENDS TO THE PRAYERS OF GOOD MEN. The abundance of corn promised in the last clause of the preceding chapter depends upon rain.

1. God gives rain. A pseudo-science would ascribe "rain" and "clouds" and showers to what they call the laws of nature. The Bible directly connects them with the working of God. "He watereth the hills from His chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of Thy works" (Psalm 104:13-15; Psalm 65:9-11).

2. The God who gives rain attends to human prayer. But it is not absurd, because

(1)Man is greater than material nature.

(2)Prayer is a settled law of the Divine government.To cry to the Almighty in distress is an instinct of the soul. Prayer, instead of interfering with the laws of nature, is a law of nature.

II. HE ABOMINATES THE CHARACTER OF RELIGIOUS IMPOSTORS. "For the idols [the household gods] have spoken vanity," etc. "Thus, under such misleading guides, such selfish and unprincipled shepherds, the flock was driven about and 'troubled.' They had 'no shepherd,' no truly faithful shepherd, who took a concern in the well-being of the flock." — Wardlaw. Now, against such impostors, Jehovah says, "Mine anger was kindled." "That the shepherds and the goats," says Hengstenberg, "are the heathen rulers who obtained dominion over Judah when the native government was suppressed, is evident from the contrast so emphatically pointed out in the fourth verse, where particular prominence is given to the fact that the new rulers whom God was about to appoint would be taken from the midst of the nation itself." Are there no religious impostors now, no false teachers, no blind leading the blind, no shepherds fleecing the flocks?

III. HE WORKS IN ALL FOR HIS PEOPLE. From Him comes stability. All stability in moral character, in social order, in political prosperity, is from God. What a sublime view of the Almighty have we here!

(Homilist)

1. Mark the importance of cultivating the spirit of dependence and prayer. We are, as creatures and as sinners, dependent for everything we need, whether for the body or the soul, — for this life or the life to come. It is fitting that we should feel this dependence, and that we should give it expression. Prayer is the expression of it; but prayer is something more. It is "asking of the Lord." It is a precious privilege; it is a sacredly incumbent duty. It is one of the Divinely ordered means for obtaining any desired good. God's Word ascribes to it an efficacy on His own counsels and doings; its being His inducement to act in one way rather than in another.

2. But we must never be satisfied with praying. We must never separate prayer from action. The two must go together. It will not do for the husbandman to be ever on his knees, pleading that his fields may be productive. All the labour and all the skill of husbandry must be put forth by him. He must work and pray: he must pray and work. It is a mockery of God if he does otherwise. To work without praying is ungodliness and presumption; to pray without working is enthusiasm and hypocrisy. And so it is in the spiritual department. It is not enough that we pray God to "work in us to will and to do of His good pleasure." We have no right to expect that He will hear us, or bestow upon us any portion of His gracious influences, unless, by the diligent use of the means of spiritual "improvement," we are fulfilling the injunction, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." In vain do Christians seek the conversion of Israel, unless they are putting forth efforts for removing the veil of ignorance and prejudice by the communication of the light of instruction. And in vain do they look for "the knowledge of the glory of the Lord" filling the earth, if all they do is praying that it may. They must send it to earth's utmost bounds.

(Ralph Wardlaw, D. D.)

So the Lord shall make bright clouds
The water that a little while ago lay in yonder sluggish pool, is now raised up into the sky by the sun's attraction — all its impurities left behind, and itself transformed into a cloud, which glows like emerald or sapphire in the sunlight. Can you imagine two things more utterly unlike than the stagnant pool and the radiant cloud? Yet it is precisely the same substance. It is the same water in yonder cloud, white and fleecy as an angel's wing, that before made up the turbid pool. And what saith the Scripture? "If the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you." This body taken, out of the stagnant pool of our fallen humanity — taken out of the corruption of death and the grave, and now filled and completely permeated by the Holy Spirit, so that it is transfigured like Christ Himself.

(J. A. Gordon, D. D.)

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