Praise the Lord! Spring has finally arrived!
The latest snow is gone, the nighttime freeze warnings appear to be over, and the soil temperature is slowly rising. We are more than midway through our potato planting, and everyone’s general disposition has improved.
Wagon loads of cut seed potatoes are safely in the ground. More room is available in our potato seed cutting barn for the last shipment of seed potatoes to be received, cut and readied for planting. All that needless worry, conjecture, worst-case analysis review ... O ye of little faith!
As the ground warms up, daffodils and crocuses are in bloom. In the woods, the skunk cabbage has been reborn. In our fields, some of the barley and rye cover crops, planted late last year, seem to be literally bursting out of the cold ground. Soon, the potato shoots will be poking their heads out of the earth, ready for a new season of growth and harvest.
Sprouts of Truth
These seemingly mundane events, while often ignored, are used by the Lord to help us remember biblical truth.
It is no accident or coincidence that the redemption of Israel at Passover, and Jesus’ atoning death as the Lamb of God at Easter, occur during the spring.
This season is full of rebirth, a reawakening and a sense that God is doing something new again. No matter how many winters we experience here in the Mid-Atlantic, the anticipation of spring, watching it unfold in so many ways, never gets old.
In the same way, God had been preparing Israel to encounter “spring” after many centuries of “winter.”
In the centuries after their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, Israel had experienced a long winter of divided loyalties, disobedience, exiles and prophecy drought. However, as we know, God’s timing is not our timing, and his ways are not our ways. In Isaiah 11 hundreds of years before the birth in Bethlehem, we are told that, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, and the spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord.”
Later in Isaiah 53, the prophetic voice continues, “Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him, like a young plant, and like root out of dry ground.”
Yes, Israel had experienced a time of spiritual dryness, yet a root had emerged out of this barren, dry, ground.
Later in Isaiah, we encounter one of my favorite passages, Isaiah 61. It is the Scripture that Jesus uses in his home synagogue in Nazareth to announce that he is Messiah. After Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, he begins his ministry in Galilee. Word spreads quickly of his miraculous healing power.
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it is written, The spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
Salvation for All
Ever wonder why all the eyes of the synagogue were fixed on Jesus after he read this passage? We forget that in Jesus’ day it was not uncommon for people to have memorized the Bible. Jesus didn’t read all of Isaiah 61; he didn’t have to. His audience mentally finished it for him as their eyes were fixed upon him.
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness ... For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.”
Jesus, the tender shoot, the root of Jesse, was about to bring salvation, righteousness and praise, not just to long-suffering Israel, but to all the nations.
In the everyday wonders of spring, God reminds us that, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Praise the Lord for his love, mercy and faithfulness.
This blog was originally posted at Lancaster Farming.