The Heavens Dropping Down
When the LORD says, “Drop down, ye heavens, from above” (Isaiah 45:8), and calls upon them to let dew fall, it is as though He spake thus: “Out of Jesus’ fulness, who sits enthroned in majesty and glory, as the covenant Head of His people, full of grace and power, let the dew and rain of His grace drop into the hearts of His people.” So that the spiritual dew and rain are sure to come in the appointed season; seeing there is a covenant fulness in Jesus, out of which they drop into the hearts of His people, because God has already “blessed them with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He hath chosen them in Him before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (see Ephesians 1:3-4). So when in the text the LORD says, “Drop down, ye heavens, from above,” He calls upon them to let fall their dew as figurative of the coming down of the Spirit into their hearts.
But why should the LORD have selected the figure of dew to set forth the coming down of the Spirit into the soul? There must be something in natural dew analogous to the spiritual dew, or the LORD would not have employed such a figure. Let us, then, observe two or three circumstances in which the analogy is evident.
Dew falls down independently of the power and will of the creature. Who can command the dew to drop down? Who can go forth at night, and say, “Dew fall”? It falls just as and when God sends it; on some nights it falls, on others it falls not; each wholly depending on the sovereign will and power of the Creator. So spiritually. Who can command the dew and rain to fall into the hearts of God’s people? Who can go and say, “Dew of the Spirit, fall”? Who can command the grace of God to visit this or that individual? The dew, spiritually, falls just as the God of grace would have it; as the dew naturally falls, just as the God of creation would have it.
But in the falling of the natural dew there is something soft, still, and gentle. We therefore read, “We will light upon him as the dew falleth on the ground” (2nd Samuel 17:12), that is, stealthily and unseen. It does not rush down like the pelting hail, but falls stilly, and often imperceptibly, so that we scarcely know it has fallen, till we go out in the morning, and see every blade of grass tipped with the sparkling dewdrops; by these bright gems we know that dew has fallen during the still hours of the night. So spiritually, the kingdom of God is not in noise, rant, or wild excitement. The LORD was not in the strong wind, nor in the earthquake, nor in the fire, but in the still small voice (see 1st Kings 19:11-12). And thus there may be a great deal of religious fire, but no presence of God felt; fleshly passions worked up into a storm, but no “still small voice” speaking to the conscience; a very earthquake of natural convictions, but no inward “demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1st Corinthians 2:4). But when the spiritual dew falls, it drops gently, softly and stilly into the heart, and it is only known by the sweet and blessed effects it produces.
But again. Dew, naturally, has a softening effect, especially in warm climates, where it falls very copiously. We therefore read, “Thou makest it soft with showers” (Psalm 65:10). It does not tear up the ground as with thunderbolts, but by moistening and softening penetrates into the soil. And thus the dew of God’s grace moistens and softens the heart, humbles, dissolves and fertilises it; not by tearing it up with the thunderbolts of wrath and condemnation, but by dropping gently and stilly into it, so as to melt it into contrition, meekness and godly sorrow before the throne of mercy and grace.
But when the LORD says, “Drop down, ye heavens, from above,” they drop down not only dew, but sometimes showers also; as we find the prophet speaking, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater” (Isaiah 55:10). The rain which the heavens drop down at the word of the LORD has the same effect as the dew, and only differs in being more copious.
Rain is therefore needed more after a dry season. How, after this long season of drought, for instance, under which nature has pined, have a few showers refreshed the soil! How before our eyes has the dry, burnt-up ground, since the late fertilising showers, resumed its livery of green, and the brown hills reclothed themselves in their wonted garb of verdure, and again look fresh and beautiful! And do not the souls of God’s people become withered and dry, when neither dew nor rain fall, until they resemble the barren wilderness and the parched heath? But the heavens drop down rain and dew, and the soul becomes once more revived out of its barrenness and dearth.
“Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness.’’ Two expressions are here made use of, which seem to have a special allusion to dew and rain. The one is applicable to the dew, which drops, and the other, to rain, which pours down. But whether in drops or showers, each lets fall the same blessing – righteousness.
What righteousness, then, is this which the heavens sometimes drop, and sometimes pour down? If we have any righteousness, where is it? It is in the heavens; we have none here.
What read we?
“Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness” (1st Corinthians 1:30).
“In the LORD have I righteousness and strength”; … “In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory” (Isaiah 45:24-25).
This imputed righteousness is called in the Scriptures, “the righteousness of God,” because it is the righteousness of Him who is God; the righteousness of Emmanuel, who is in heaven at the right hand of the Father, and bestows it from heaven upon His needy, naked, shivering, destitute people. The LORD therefore says in the text, “Let the skies pour down righteousness,” that it may come down as in a shower. Thus, when God does manifest it to the soul, it is always through the revelation of the Holy Ghost. We can have no experimental acquaintance with Christ’s righteousness, nor any spiritual enjoyment of it, except as brought down into the heart through the power of God the Spirit. When the skies pour down righteousness, so that a sense of Christ’s righteousness is brought with divine power into the conscience, then, and then only, is it rightly received. But we look to the earth to bring forth fruit after the dew and showers. Look at those portions of the earth where they have no rain nor showers to fertilise the soil. What can they produce? They are a wild waste. The earth cannot produce fruit until the showers and dew come upon it; nor can a man’s heart produce anything spiritually good until “God works in him to will and to do of His own good pleasure” (see Philippians 2:13).