I think, sometimes, we take for granted how marvellous and invigorating the seasons are. We all feel better as the days lengthen and dark nights shorten. There are parts of the world where the seasons vary little and the length of days is fairly consistent: the warmth is lovely, but after a while, the temperate climate becomes more attractive. Saturday is the first day of Spring; a wonderful season full of promise.
In Isaiah 55 we read:
“For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
It comes in a section of the prophecy where God speaks of the return of the people of Israel from exile in Babylon, to their own land again. A land which had enjoyed a Sabbath rest and was fruitful; ready for the people of God to once again occupy the land and enjoy its abundance. One of the great messages of Isaiah’s prophecy is God’s faithfulness.
In a world of perpetual change, there is order. Order, which reflects the character of the creator. There is order which is regimented, strict, unwavering, grey and soul-destroying. And there is order that excites, inspires, surprises, invigorates, lifts the soul to want to praise and glorify the creator.
Compare the tall, long, grey housing complexes of Eastern Europe before liberation. Long rows of featureless walls dotted with small square windows; block after block, row after row. Now think of fields lined with trees, thousands of trees all in rows and lines yet alive. Vibrant, reacting to the light and wind: “and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”
There are many references in scripture to the creation praising God and glorifying his holy name. It is as though the very plants sing his praise with a voice we cannot hear. Everything we see is damaged, cursed by Adam’s sin; yet still it is beautiful. What must it have been like when God looked upon his finished creation and saw that “it was very good?”
We are living in difficult and frightening times. The world has been shaken and humanities vulnerability exposed. We may be able to send men to the moon and robots to Mars, search the deepest parts of the oceans but a virus from a market in China can bring everything to a halt in a matter of weeks.
Those who trust in their own abilities and strengths thinking there is no God have a hopeless future. Those who trust in the Faithfull One will know peace; whatever this world throws at them.
Some words from Psalm 4:
Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the Lord.
There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O Lord!”
You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.
And what, for the Christian, is a right sacrifice? When David sinned with Bathsheba, he was confronted by Nathan the prophet and in penitence, he poured out his heart in contrition to God. Psalm 51. In it he sings:
You do not want sacrifices,
or I would offer them; you are not pleased with burnt offerings.
My sacrifice is a humble spirit, O God;
you will not reject a humble and repentant heart.