The Bible Delusion – extract.
Hang On A Minute Moment 96
No Rain for Three Years and Six Months.
Luke and James both refer to the idea that Elias (Greek for Elijah) claimed it did not rain for three years and six months.
Luke records “But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land.” (4:25). No rain at all for three and a half years would produce far more than just a famine. Loss of human life, flora and fauna, diseases; not to mention the mayhem that would ensue, would all be at unimaginable levels.
James confirms the event, also citing Elias as claiming a lack of rain for three and a half years. “Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” (5:17-18). God answered a prayer, stopping the rain, until another prayer resulted in it starting again.
Hang on – firstly, there is absolutely no mention of any such thing in the OT; secondly, if there were any truth to the claim (not about Elijah – but rather the actual lack of rain), it would not only completely disrupt the ecosystem (by somehow actually making it stop, at least in that area), all humans would have migrated away – and there would be records of that. Other local life forms would be extinct by the end of it. The concept of stopping the water cycle is, scientifically, completely impossible. It was not a miracle; the consequences are all too obvious. It would be a miracle (metaphorically speaking), if anyone, or any thing, were to actually survive such a cataclysmic event.
In ancient times, people really believed gods controlled the weather, and moreover that they used it to bless or punish, just as they pleased. Many ancient gods were credited with control over weather. Humans relied on good weather and timely rain for their crops in order for them to survive. In bad crop seasons, famine could decimate a society. The belief in gods using weather to bless or curse people, quite naturally rolled over into the Hebrew religion. Their God was no different, although Yahweh was somewhat more violent and cruel in his use of the weather than many gods of the ancients.
In the OT, rain, or the lack thereof, is inexorably connected to God using it in relation to sin or righteousness. The recorded incidences of Hebrew belief in God controlling rain are numerous. (See Appendix F. ‘Rain’ for a selection).
God no longer cares to control the weather – if he did, many thousands of people could have been saved from severe flooding which is a regular feature in many parts of the world. If God was once so ‘hands on’ regarding the rain – what excuse has he got for not assisting now – when helpless humans are so often so afflicted? Are they all too sinful, or is he too busy to bother with them?
Appendix F. Rain.
Referenced from HOAM 96.
God seemed to enjoy controlling the weather, in order to help or hinder, depending on his wont. That is to say, the Hebrews were convinced that God used the weather in this way. If it didn’t rain and their crops failed, they thought it must have been because they had sinned. Such concepts were actually just a continuation of earlier religious beliefs concerning what are now considered pagan gods. In reality, nothing changed – apart from the name of the deity. Gods invariably influenced the weather.
These are a few examples of Hebrew belief that God controlled the rain.
Genesis 7:4. For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.
Exodus 9:18. Behold, to morrow about this time I will cause it to rain a very grievous hail, such as hath not been in Egypt since the foundation thereof even until now.
Exodus 9:23. And Moses stretched forth his rod toward heaven: and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and the fire ran along upon the ground; and the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt.
Exodus 9:33. And Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the Lord: and the thunders and hail ceased, and the rain was not poured upon the earth.
Leviticus 26:4. Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
Deuteronomy 11:14. That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.
Deuteronomy 11:17. And then the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you.
Deuteronomy 28:12. The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.
Deuteronomy 28:24. The Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.
1 Samuel 12:17-18. Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking you a king. So Samuel called unto the Lord; and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.
1 Kings 8:35. When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou afflictest them:
1 Kings 8:36. Then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance.
1 Kings 18:1. And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Lord came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
2 Kings 3:17. For thus saith the Lord, Ye shall not see wind, neither shall ye see rain; yet that valley shall be filled with water, that ye may drink, both ye, and your cattle, and your beasts.
1 Kings 17:1. And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
1 Kings 17:14. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.
2 Chronicles 6:26-27. When the heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee; yet if they pray toward this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin, when thou dost afflict them; Then hear thou from heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, when thou hast taught them the good way, wherein they should walk; and send rain upon thy land, which thou hast given unto thy people for an inheritance.
2 Chronicles 7:13. If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;
Ezra 10:9. Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together unto Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain.
Ezra 10:13. But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand without, neither is this a work of one day or two: for we are many that have transgressed in this thing.
Job 20:23. When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating.
Job 28:26. When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder:
Job 36:27. For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof:
Job 37:6. For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.
Job 38:26. To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man;
Psalms 11:6. Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.
Psalms 68:9. Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary.
Psalms 135:7. He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.
Psalms 147:8. Who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.
Isaiah 5:6. And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
Isaiah 30:23. Then shall he give the rain of thy seed, that thou shalt sow the ground withal; and bread of the increase of the earth, and it shall be fat and plenteous: in that day shall thy cattle feed in large pastures.
Jeremiah 3:3. Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.
Jeremiah 5:24. Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.
Jeremiah 10:13. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.
Jeremiah 14:4. Because the ground is chapt, for there was no rain in the earth, the plowmen were ashamed, they covered their heads.
Jeremiah 51:16. When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth: he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.
Joel 2:23. Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
Amos 4:7. And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered.
Zechariah 10:1. Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.
Zechariah 14:17. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.
Zechariah 14:18. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
The obvious reality? The Hebrew God did not exist or control the weather.
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