“Are there any among the false gods of the nations that can bring rain? Or can the heavens give showers? Are you not He, O Lord our God? We set our hope on you, for you do all these things.” (Jeremiah 14:22)During the holiday of Sukkot last month, Jews worldwide began praying for rain to fall in the land of Israel. It would seem that the prayers were heard, for winter rains have begun in force, with precipitation approaching record levels in some areas of the country. The rainfall has culminated in major flooding in the city of Ashkelon.
Ashkelon, on the southern coast of Israel, was hit with intense flooding on Monday morning, as 20 millimeters of rain drenched the city. Houses were damaged and emergency services were required to rescue people stranded in cars stuck in the deep water that flooded the streets. The rising floodwaters threatened Brazilai Hospital, causing a partial shutdown and the cancellation of any non-essential services that could be postponed until after the emergency has passed. The most shocking development came when a huge sinkhole opened up in Ben Yehuda Street, swallowing a part of the sidewalk and road. The major thoroughfare was closed until further notice.
Israel is not the only country experiencing extreme weather, though it has had more than its share in the last few months. After inexplicable sandstorms, the country was hit before the New Year by unusually powerful rain and hail storms that some described as apocalyptic.
In a year in which many believe the war in Syria and other current events could presage Messianic times, it seems to some that the weather may have joined the trend. The current storm in Israel was essentially described by the prophet Zephaniah:
“For Gaza will be abandoned and Ashkelon a desolation; Ashdod will be driven out at noon and Ekron will be uprooted. Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast . . . ” (Zephaniah 2:4)A similar prophecy was made in the Book of Zechariah:
“Ashkelon will see it and fear, Gaza will writhe in agony” (Zechariah 9:5)
“And God was seen above them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning. And the Lord God will blow the Shofar, and go forth in the stormwinds of Yemen” (Zechariah 9:14)In fact, two hurricanes of historical proportions hit Yemen in recent weeks, marking the first time in recorded history that the country has ever seen a tropical storm. Two weeks ago, a category three storm named Chapala slammed Yemen with 85 mph winds, flooding the country with several years’ worth of rain and proving to be the most damaging natural disaster ever to hit the war-torn country. On November 3, one week later, Hurricane Megh hit Yemen.
by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz