Anchored on the Rock
There are places in God's creation that I have visited that speak clearly of Him. "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--His eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made..." (Romans 1:20) Some of these places seem to speak more clearly and loudly of Him than others. Mount Washington in Sargent's Purchase, New Hampshire, is such a place. As part of the Presidential Range in the White Mountains, it stands taller than all the peaks around it (6,288') and is the highest mountain in the Northeastern United States. The Native American tribes called Mount Washington Agiocochook which means "the place of the Great Spirit" or "the place of the Concealed One." How appropriate!
Recently it was my privilege to travel to the summit of Mount Washington with my daughter, Holly, and her family. One has an option of ascending either by hiking or riding by car or the cog railway. The trip takes about 30 minutes by car and was our method of getting to the top. I was struck by the change in the plant life as the elevation got higher. Scientists call the different elevations zones. Plant life is impacted by the changes in climate, wind and the amount of hard rock in the ground. The environment effects the way everything green grows.
Below 2,000' there is a forest of deciduous trees, including maple, birch and beech, combined with shrubs, ferns and wildflowers. From about 2,500 to 4,000', the growing season is shorter because of the colder temperatures, and other species of plants like balsam fire and red spruce dominate. At about 4,000' the trees are almost entirely balsam fir. As the elevation increases in this zone, the firs are stunted in their growth by the cold and high winds. There is a zone between 4,500 and 5,400' that is called the Krummholz (Crooked Wood) zone. Balsam fir and black spruce are dwarfed due to the harsh growing conditions. The evergreen trees are "sculpted" by the extreme winds and ice that give them a gnarled look. In places, the wind and cold is so severe that the firs form mats of evergreen needles close to the ground.
The alpine zone is filled with sedges, grasses and rush sprinkled with ferns and mosses, liverworts and lichens. Alpine perennial flowers put on a beautiful display in the spring. Very little grows at the summit of Mount Washington. The landscape is filled with rock. Occasionally one might see an alpine ground cover tucked at the base of a rock. Plants must be hardy to survive and what little green there is grows only a few inches tall in the shelter of the rocks.
From the bottom to the top, plant life is integrated with the rocks of Mount Washington. At the bottom, roots of full grown birch, beech and maple trees surround the rocks and anchor to them. What a picture for us of our Savior! He is the Rock upon which we are planted. "He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand." (Psalm 40:2) "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure..." (Hebrews 6:19) At the higher elevations on the Mountain, struggling plants take refuge in the shelter of the rocks. "My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold my refuge and my Savior…” (2 Samuel 22:3) God certainly spoke to me through nature on Mount Washington. He uses nature to show us heavenly principles that apply to our lives. He truly is our Rock, our shelter and our fortress. "The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God, my Savior." (2 Samuel 22:47)
The Sign of the Eclipse
Rarely does one see a total solar eclipse. The last time there was one that crossed the entire continental United States was 99 years ago. Tomorrow the sun, moon and earth will be uniquely positioned for such a phenomena to occur. Darkness will cover a 67 mile swath in the heartland of our country beginning at 10:15 am PDT in Government Point, Oregon and ending at 2:46 pm EDT in Charleston, South Carolina. This eclipse coincides with the new moon at the beginning of the month of Elul on the Hebrew calendar. The people of Israel will be celebrating Elul at sundown on August 21. This is the month to draw closer to God. It is said that, "The King is in the field." In addition, the four Hebrew letters in Elul make an acronym from Song of Solomon 6:3. "I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine."
Another point of significance is that August 21 is the first day of the Jewish season called Teshuvah. This word means "to return to the presence of the Lord." It is a 40-day period that leads up to the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). God-fearing Jews come before God daily in a spirit of repentance and humility. In essence, they realign their lives with God's plans and purposes. Two Scriptures are typically read during this time period. Ezekiel 33 discusses the appointment of a watchman to warn the people of coming judgment. Verse 7 says, "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me." The other Scripture read is Psalm 27. This Psalm is an invitation to intimacy. Verse 4 explains, "One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple." Verse 7 is a cry to the Lord. "Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me."
Several prophetic voices from our day are saying that this eclipse is a warning from God that danger is coming to our country unless we repent for our ungodly behavior. Anne Graham Lotz is among them and points out that Jewish rabbi’s view solar eclipses as warnings from God to Gentile nations. She felt compelled to warn the people of the United States that this event is meant as a call for us to rend our hearts and return to God in a spirit of humility. She quotes Joel 2:31. "The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord." She also quotes Joel 2:13 and 14 as verses of hope. "Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and He relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and have pity and leave behind a blessing..."
Johnny Enlow, spiritual mentor and writer of books on "the seven mountains" of our society suggests that the sun (light) represents God, the moon (reflected light) represents the Church and the earth (object of the light) represents the world. His research shows him that the last time there was such a solar eclipse in the United States was in 1776 when we became a nation. God led him to read Romans 8:20-21. "For the creation was subject to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." He believes that the Church is being called into reformation and renaissance and that the "reset" will take place on August 21. He believes that the 67-mile path of the eclipse speaks of a prophetic destiny for the United States. God's heart for America is displayed through Psalm 67. It declares, "May God be gracious (merciful) to us and bless us and make His face shine upon us. Selah. May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you...Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us...and all the ends of the earth will fear Him."
This is definitely a Kairos time in the history of the United States and the Church. From the beginning of time, God has used signs in the sky to speak to His people. Why not now? Let us pray that the Body of Christ will see the eclipse as a sign from the Lord so that we approach Him with a spirit of repentance and humility that leads us into greater intimacy with Him. As we praise the Lord, a harvest will be realized. It is no coincidence that this eclipse is happening during Elul—meaning harvest—when the King is in our fields. Time will tell the meaning of this eclipse. In the meantime, this is when we should seek Him as He is making Himself available to us. Truly, His deepest desire is to tabernacle with us.
Reminders that autumn is close by are popping up around us. Stores are filled with school supplies and fall decorations. College students are preparing to return to their classes in a week or two. Fields of pumpkin vines are dotted with large orange fruit, ready to be picked. However, one of the surest signs of the change of season may not be so obvious. By the end of August the evening temperatures are dropping, making plant and lawn surfaces cool. As a result, the atmospheric moisture condenses on the surfaces below. We call this dew. The dew returns after a long hot summer to refresh the earth.
Revealing God in Nature
This is the time of the year when farm stands and farmer's markets pop up in many places around the northeast part of the United States. I look forward to stopping by our local farm stand to purchase ripe, red tomatoes or fresh crisp corn just picked from the field. The farmer unknowingly paints a beautiful picture with the produce he has grown and placed on a wagon. Black shiny eggplant, slender green cucumbers and yellow squash, red, green and yellow peppers, and bright red tomatoes sit side by side, contributing to the colorful artistry of the scene.
I wonder: Does the farmer know The Creator, the one who spoke into existence the land upon which he has grown the produce? How can he not acknowledge that it is God alone who put the sun in the sky to shine on the tender shoots that emerge from the ground? He must be aware that he is totally dependent upon God Almighty to water the plants as they grow and produce flowers that transform into vegetables and fruit! Has the farmer ever stood and contemplated the way the yellow/orange trumpet-shaped flower of a melon shrinks and then swells at the base until it becomes a huge ball of juicy fruit? How can he not know Jehovah-Jireh (Lord Will Provide) and Maker of All Things? Jeremiah 10:16 - "...for He is the Maker of All Things, including Israel, the tribe of His inheritance--the Lord Almighty is His name."
I wonder if one of the reasons some people do not believe in God or have grown so far from Him is because they have never seen a seed grow into a plant and produce fruit. Maybe they have never stopped to contemplate the greatness of God in providing for our needs or the intricacies of nature. Perhaps they have never sought the Lord of Creation. Romans 1:20 deals with this issue. "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—His eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." O that humankind would stop and rest (as God ordained) and look at Creation! It speaks of its Creator!
The Lord asked Job some direct questions to give him revelation. We can read them in Chapters 38 through 41. "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?" "Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst from the womb?" "Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?" "What is the way to the abode of light?" "Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain, and a path for the thunderstorm?" "Who fathers the drops of dew?" "Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons?" "Who has wisdom to count the clouds?" "Who provides food for the raven when its young cry out to God and wander about for lack of food?" "Will the wild ox consent to serve you? Can you trust him to bring in your grain and gather it to the threshing floor?"
We are without excuse! Just contemplating the answer to these few questions must bring us to the conclusion that The Creator of the Universe, who is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and The Lord of the Harvest, (Luke 10:2) exists as the miraculous, all powerful Lord of the Universe. He is worthy of all praise and honor!
Joan E. Mathias