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the Messiah and nature

"...those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy (Psalm 65:8 ESV) 

In retirement I have a bit more time to observe nature, identify bird songs, and photograph trees and flowers. I'm even finding mushrooms to be fascinating, but I am not experimenting with their edibility! Each day I realize something of the goodness and beauty of the world that God created, even though now it is marred by sin and death. 

READING PSALM 65. This psalm can be divided into three sections. First, we should praise God, for he has atoned for sin and reconciled us to himself forever (vv 1-4). Secondly, the global work of God's righteousness will bring about redemption for the nations, resulting in great joy (vv 5-8). Thirdly, this will culminate with blessings upon all creation, again, resulting in joyful praise (vv 9-13), "...they shout and sing together for joy" (65:13). There is a movement in this psalm from the redemption of the individual to the saving of nations, and then on to a new blessed creation. 

THE MESSIAH AND NATURE. We see this in Isaiah, as well. The Messiah, the "Branch" will come (Isa 11:1-5) and his work will restore nature, making it a "peaceable kingdom" (11:6-9). The atoning work of Messiah (Isa 53) will be followed by a new creation (Isa 65). The Apostle Paul says that all of creation groans and longs to be set free when the children of God are revealed in glory (Rom 8:18-25). It's no wonder then that the first century observers of Jesus were amazed, not just by his healing miracles, but also by his nature miracles. The Messiah would be the One to restore the created order. 

WAVES AND WHEAT. The statement, "...who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples..." (v. 7) is glimpsed in Jesus' calming of the sea (Matt 8:24-27). "Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. And the men marveled, saying, 'What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?'" Also, the crowds who ate of the multiplied loaves and fishes at hand of Jesus, may well have reflected upon this: "...the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy" (Ps 65:13). 

A NEW WORLD COMING. The Apostle Peter wrote, "...according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pet 3:13). Notice that not only will new heavens come, but also a new earth. Mankind's righteous dominion over a glorious and perfect world will come about at last (Gen 1:26; 2:8, 15). Though our primary calling right now is to proclaim Christ to the nations, it is good to take time to observe and enjoy the beauty of his created world, for it gives us a glimpse of what is to come.  

Credits. Image above is the "Peaceable Kingdom", oil painting on canvas, by Edward Hicks (c. 1826--1830). Hicks was a Quaker preacher who painted over sixty versions on the theme of God's kingdom, based on Isaiah chapters 11 and 65. 


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