Updated: Jan 10, 2022
Last night, as I was picking up some takeout, the unexpected happened. It was thrilling! It was sudden. It was a little scary…because I did not have the right attire…What am I talking about? Well, maybe you remember a few weeks ago where I talked about the first rains in Israel. They are exciting, but they're short-lived. They come at the end of September or early October. But when the first heavy rains come, there is a buzz all over the nation.
We react to the first massive thunderstorm like most other nations react to snow.
As I was taking my bag of food home for dinner, suddenly, the rain started coming down hard. Everybody in the restaurant was excited. When I left the house, I was not thinking of rain, and I was wearing shorts and a thin shirt. Next thing you know, the temperature had dropped 10 degrees, and water was falling out of the sky. Winter had arrived!
Now that may sound like a bizarre thing to say. What does rain have to do with winter? I remember when I first moved here, we would experience the first rains, and everyone would start talking about winter. It would be 80° outside, but they would be talking winter. I tried to correct them; this is not winter. It's not even cold. It hasn't even snowed.
I could not understand that for them, winter meant rain. It has nothing to do with the temperature. And while I'm used to the four seasons of the East Coast of the United States of America, the Bible's first mention of seasons mentions just two: "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." (Gen. 8:22). In speaking of creation, the Psalmist says this, "It was you who set all the boundaries of the earth; you made both summer and winter." (Psalm 74:17)
Solomon's understanding of winter was much like modern-day is Israelis: "See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone." (Song of Songs 2:11)
One headline today was:
This one in Hebrew from Ynet (see below) says: "A Wintry Weekend: The Rains will Strengthen; The Peak will be on Shabbat." It continues, "We are still in fall, but this weekend (We have two ways of saying weekend; the first is obvious, but the second is: sheshe/shabbat. It means, "Friday/Saturday."), we will feel the atmosphere of real winter." And by winter, they simply mean thunderstorms.
Starting tonight, we will get four days of rain. And there's excitement in the atmosphere!
On Saturday (yesterday, in the middle of the 4 day-rain-athon) I took my mother-in-law and niece home in the south. When I arrived my niece's other grandmother and her daughter just wanted to talk about the rain...
"Did it rain in Tel Aviv? We had floods! More is coming. Did you hear the thunder? Be careful driving home..."
You would think that they had never seen rain. It is just water coming from the sky. But truth be told, after nearly 20 years of living here, I too was pretty excited about the thunderstorms. I sat on my balcony Friday night and Saturday morning to watch the rain, and the view was spectacular!
There is a real concern for flash flooding. As I ventured out last night from the restaurant, I grabbed a dry box and held it over my head. There was water everywhere, and I expected there to be flooding, but there wasn't. People sat outside cafés, under awnings, excited about the sudden downpour. It's something I've never experienced in the United States, or anywhere else I have been in the world.
This is why Yeshua told us to pray that our flight from the invading armies would not take place in the winter. Not because of the cold weather, but because of the sudden thunderstorms and flash floods. This is what David referred to when he was hiding near the Dead Sea.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Ps. 40:2)
In the Dead Sea area, despite the fact that it gets almost no rain, the waters from Jerusalem can come rushing down the mountains to this lowest spot on the earth, with little forewarning. Israelis can be hiking in the Dead Sea region and suddenly a river comes out of nowhere.