Drawing Near

A Pastoral Perspective on Biblical, Theological, & Cultural Issues | The Personal Website of James B. Law, Ph.D.

Thursday

20

August 2015

0

COMMENTS

The Harvest is Past, the Summer is Ended, and We Are Not Saved

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From the rhythm of the seasons, the ending of summer is a reminder of our need to be right with God. When August comes, I often am reminded of this statement found in the prophecy of Jeremiah,

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”       ~Jeremiah 8:20

These words were actually spoken by the people in a moment of anguish. It was a proverb expressing that their God-given opportunity to repent was now over. It was a statement of great despair and loss.

Throughout their history, Israel’s greatest enemies were not the Philistines or the Assyrians or the Babylonians. Israel’s greatest enemies were the false prophets who stood in the gates and told the people what they wanted to hear.

However, Jeremiah was not cut from that cloth of duplicity. By contrast, Jeremiah’s preaching was a ‘downer’ for the hard-hearted nation of Judah. When Jeremiah confronted the sins of his people he was persecuted. When he called the nation to repent, he was brought into the cross-hairs of their distain and ridicule.

Jeremiah’s one-tracked message to repent and return to the Lord was grating on the nerves of many. I mean, really, how many times do you need to hear about your sins? How many times do you need to hear that you must repent and turn to the Lord? But faithful prophets don’t custom craft their messages to please the people.

In Jeremiah’s case, he preached for forty years with no response. Based on the numbers, he would never have been invited to be a speaker at an evangelism conference, and yet his fifty-two chapter prophecy is encased in the canon of Scripture as a timeless example of pastoral perseverance.

He was a weeping prophet with a voice box committed to Yahweh and a heart to see the healing of his nation. But that healing would not come. Jeremiah would witness the Babylonian captivity in all of its horror. Reading Lamentations records Israel’s defeat as nothing short of brutal.

And yet, even in the agony of sin’s consequences, Jeremiah would declare,

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’”

                                                                     ~Lamentations 3:22-24

This hope would find its fulfillment in the coming of Jesus Christ, and is alive and powerful even to this moment. Jesus would begin his earthly ministry with the same message Jeremiah preached,

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” ~Mark 1:14-15

There is an urgency in the Scripture that calls us to put aside the mind-numbing distractions that fill our lives, and to be still and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10).  We are admonished to examine ourselves spiritually in light of the Gospel to see if we are in Christ (2 Corinthians 13:5). We are told not to boast about tomorrow because we do not know what a day will bring forth (Proverbs 27:1). Things will not always be as they are. Today is a day of grace and refuge for the weary, and sin’s relief is found in the person of Jesus Christ. His finished work on the cross is God’s glorious message to anyone who will come to Him.

But there will be a time when the opportunity is gone and many will say to their great loss, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” Now is the acceptable time. Today is the day of salvation.

 

 

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