Near our home is an odd rock outcropping from which sprouts an old, dead Ponderosa Pine tree trunk. The trunk has been weathering away for many years, and the Lord only knows how many years ago that old tree first sprouted. There were most likely many tough years that challenged the tree’s survival, as this is country prone to drought and harsh weather. To make matters worse, our soil is very shallow and the tree essentially set root in solid sandstone! Oftentimes I’ve wondered about the things that sentinel has witnessed over the years, from the days when Indians hunted buffalo here on the bluffs, and while Texas steers grazed through these highlands of the Musselshell River Valley, and eventually the arrival of fences, tractors, roads and homes. Oh, the things that sentinel must have seen!
I photographed that old tree yesterday, knowing only the outline of the story that would accompany it; a story of the past, leading to the present, offering hope for the future. The more I studied that photo, it seemed to beg for a poem. Unfortunately, I am not a poet by any stretch of the imagination. A quick search engine query brought me to a poem on another blog, CHRISTian poetry. Deborah Ann Belka’s poem, ‘Oh, the things I’ve seen,’ was the perfect complement to the image, as is the Scripture she tied to the poem, from Isaiah 40:8 – “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”
This wonderful and slightly enhanced scene was captured near Pecos NM a couple weeks ago. Over the course of 4 days at this place, I think I saw a rainbow each day and double-rainbows at least two times. It is odd that something so common fascinates me every time I see one. Today’s culture has attributed a variety of meanings to rainbows, but I hold to its significance as a symbol of a promise made a long, long time ago.
After the flood (the one that made Noah famous), God acknowledged what He wrought in His judgement of sin that had grown rampant through creation. Only a handful of people were spared from this judgement, and God made a covenant with Noah that He would never again judge via a global flood:
“This is the sign of the covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.” Genesis 9:12-15.
So that rainbow is God’s reminder to us of that promise. At a glance, this sounds very comforting, but don’t get too comfortable. God did not promise that He wouldn’t judge sin in the world again, He only stated that worldwide flood wouldn’t be the tool of judgement. In fact, He has promised that sin will be judged, but next time the tool will be fire! Isn’t it interesting that two quite opposite forces are the tools He chooses to use?
But take heart, there is a way to survive the next judgement! Ken Ham, the CEO of Answers In Genesis, explains this very well:
When the secular world hears the account of Noah’s global Flood, they often accuse God of being an ogre for bringing this terrible judgment on people. However, the God of the Bible is a God of infinite mercy and grace.
God told Noah to build an Ark to save representative land animal kinds and Noah’s family. However, this Ark was much larger than needed for just these animals and this family. Just as Noah and his family had to go through the door to be saved, so others could have gone through that door to be saved. In fact, after the Ark was loaded, it stood for seven more days before God Himself shut the door—seven more days of grace. And I have no doubt that Noah preached from the doorway, imploring people to come in and be saved. Noah’s Ark is actually a picture of salvation in Christ, as He is the door through which we need to go to be saved for eternity (John 10:9).
All need to be reminded that we sinned in Adam—we committed high treason against the God of creation. God is holy and pure—completely without sin. A holy God has to judge sin, but in His judgment, He also shows infinite mercy. When God judged sin with death in Genesis 3:19, He also promised a Savior (Genesis 3:15). God Himself, in the person of the second member of the Trinity, the Lord Jesus Christ, stepped into history, fully human and fully God, to be a man so He could pay the penalty for our sin. Through the shedding of His blood, He offers the free gift of salvation to all who will believe.
On a recent road trip through southern Utah, I pulled into the Kolob Canyon section of Zion National Park to stretch my legs and get a bit of fresh air. This part of the park is conveniently located just off Interstate 15, and is a great preview of the remainder of this great place. The red rock formations are incredible and majestic. Every time I visit this spot the landscape tends to take on a different appearance, mostly due to the lighting and type of sky that serves as a backdrop. On this day the early morning mist still hung low, as the sun tried to pierce through the clouds. The high rocks seemed even more daunting that usual with this setting, and some Scriptural references to God as a High Tower immediately came to mind. I felt that the 2 Samuel passages were appropriate for the image.
As the shadows were swallowing up the last rays of this evening’s sun, a muley buck trotted across our place with a mission in mind. The rut is in full swing here, and he only has a limited number of days to find receptive does. Avoiding the hunter’s aim is paramount to his success and survival.
So what is the “joyful sound?” I believe it refers to the gospel message of salvation, which is indeed a message of joy, peace and comfort to those who believe in Jesus Christ. Walking in the light of His countenance requires obedience to Biblical principles and the commands of Christ. This sets the stage for Him to allow us to yield fruit (see my previous post) through what we do, say and participate in…as a result of our faith and salvation, not as a condition thereof!
We have had a couple hatches of Mountain Bluebirds this summer, and the new crop has been learning to forage on their own this week. I try to keep a ground-level pan of water filled for drinking and bathing, and the youngsters readily use it. They tend to be pretty skittish, but this evening they seemed to want a bath more than they wanted to distance themselves from me and my camera! One would think that a bird as beautiful as the Mountain Bluebird would have an incredible song and vocals, but that isn’t really the case. It is not that their song is bad, it just isn’t very musical. Typically they are most vocal in the morning, but on a cool evening they will break out in song…as it were.
Sing unto him a new song: play skilfully with a loud noise. Psalm 33:3
From J. Vernon MeGee’s Thru the Bible: We are to sing a new song unto the Lord. What is that new song? Several psalms speak of a new song that will be sung in the future. I think when the time comes to sing that new song there will be new singers also. I am going to have a new body, and I think I will be able to sing. I hope the Lord will let me sing in heaven. Revelation 5:9 says, “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.” The psalmist exhorts us to sing a song of praise to God because He is our Creator, but the new song we will sing in heaven will be because the Lord Jesus Christ is our Redeemer. In Revelation 14:3 we read, “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.” A new song will be sung in the future.