Sep 15 2013

God’s Promises and Creation

MR-853Jeremiah 31:31-34 is one of the most important passages in the Old Testament.  It is here that God declared that one day He would make “a new covenant” with the Jews.  This new covenant would be superior to the old one because whereas the first one had been given on stone tablets, the new one would be “in their minds” and “on their hearts.”  Furthermore, God said through the new covenant all would be able to know Him—“from the least of them to the greatest”—and that He would “forgive their wickedness” and “remember their sins no more.”

This passage was one of the ones used in this morning’s worship service.  I know the passage well and how Christians feel this prophecy found in the Book of Jeremiah was fulfilled through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  I happened, however, to glance over the passage once again prior to the service and found myself reading on to the verse that followed.  Verse 35 says “This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—the Lord Almighty is his name.”

CA-5083It would seem that God wanted to make sure that everyone knew that the One who was making His people these incredible promises was the very God who was in control of Creation.   Perhaps God anticipated some doubting whether such promises were even possible so He reminded them of  just exactly who He was.  The One who appoints the sun, moon and stars to shine and stirs the sea so that it roars was quite capable of fulfilling any promise He chose to make.  There was no reason for them to doubt Him, no reason at all.

As already noted, as Christians we believe that God did fulfill His promise of a new covenant through Jesus Christ.  We celebrate the fact that we have the privilege of being His children and knowing that our sins are forgiven.  But are there not times when we, too, doubt other promises made by God?  Jesus said before he left the earth that he would always be with us. (Matthew 28:20) Do we always believe that?  He told us that “with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)  Do we really think that’s true?  He also said his Father would give us “whatever you ask in my name” so that our joy might be complete.  (John 16:23-24)  Do we really think that could be true?

OR-Kiwanda-Beach-156I admit that there are times when I have my own doubts about God’s ability to fulfill His promises.  Perhaps when such doubts enter my mind I need to recall that the One who has made these promises “appoints the sun to shine by day,”  “decrees the moon and stars to shine by night,” and “stirs up the sea so that its waves roar.”  It would seem that Creation itself bears witness that God can be trusted to keep His promises.  Each day there are reminders in nature of God’s faithfulness.  Hopefully Creation’s witness will lead us all to strengthen our faith.

–Chuck

(I took the top picture at Mt. Rainier NP, the middle one in California, and the bottom image off the coast of Oregon.)


Mar 21 2012

Valleys

In a few minutes I’ll be heading to California.  Once there I’m hooking up with Rob and we plan to solve all the world’s problems in the next week and also do some photography.  One of the locations where we will be photographing is Death Valley National Park.  I have been there a couple of times before so I’m really looking forward to it.  However, when I’ve told people recently where I’m going they all seem to indicate they have no desire to go there.  Apparently it doesn’t sound like a very inviting place.  But it is!  Perhaps the name itself bothers people but I can assure you that Death Valley is full of life and beauty.

There are lots of references to valleys in the Bible.  No doubt the one that comes to people’s minds first is “the valley of the shadow of death.”  This valley, of course, is mentioned in Psalm 23.  Many people over the years have found comfort in this particular psalm.  At times of death a lot of people turn to it.  They like hearing that “even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (v. 4)  I must admit it is, indeed, comforting to know that God is with us in our times of grief and when we die.  Many biblical scholars have noted, however, that the way this verse has been translated may be misleading.  A better translation may be “the darkest valley” instead of “the valley of the shadow of death.”

If we take this alternative translation it expands the meaning.  The Psalmist’s assurance now goes beyond just times of death and dying to any period in our life when we are struggling, any period which we might characterize by “darkness.”  This is, certainly, the truth.  The Bible offers us numerous assurances that God is with us wherever we go and whatever our circumstances.  Jesus promised his disciples before leaving this world that he would be with them always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

I look forward to being in Death Valley in a few days.  While there, I plan to offer thanks for God’s constant presence in my life.  Wherever you happen to be, I hope you will do the same.

–Chuck

(I took the pictures above on previous trips to Death Valley National Park.)