Winter is Over and Gone

Winter is Over and Gone

“For, behold, the winter has passed, the rain is over and gone.” Sgs 2:11

Modern Translation: 

“Behold, the coldness of winter’s chill and the frost of a loveless age devoid of My word has passed and the torrential rains that sweep away earthly comforts and test the soul is over and gone. A new day has arrived.”

It is in the hard winter season where food from familiar sources is scarce and warmth from worldly benefits is lacking that the heart is prepared to hear and receive the call of the Beloved. 

The winter period is one that entices, provoking us to relieve ourselves from the harshness of the cold and scarcity. If in the winter seasons we seek refuge in another man’s house and warm ourselves by another man’s fire, the voice of God will soon lose its preciousness for we have found our deliverance in other places.  If we have comforted ourselves apart from God, if we have preserved those things that the autumn rain sought to wash away, His announcement that winter has past and the rains have gone will not rally our hearts to meet Him. We will stand mired with our idols, with our feet and our faith too congested to follow after Him. Yet if we do not allow the harshness of the winter months to entice us to go astray, God will continually supply Himself as bread and warmth for a people rejected.

The word “winter”(cuwth) comes from the word “entice” (cuwth) meaning to “stir up” one’s own appetite to follow their own will. Yet as enticements  draw us farther away from Christ they have a wintry affect upon our faith. The nearer we come to the summer of worldly blessing, the farther we are from the Sun of righteousness.   “If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend, which is as your own soul, entice (cuwth) your secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which you have not known…you shall not consent unto him.”  “If it is the LORD who has stirred (cuwth)  you up against me, may He accept an offering, but if it is men, may they be cursed before the LORD, for they have driven me out this day that I should have no share in the heritage of the LORD, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’”  “And the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited (cuwth)  me against him to destroy him without reason.’” Deuteronomy 13:6,8; 1 Samuel 16:19; Job 2:3.

The winter also represents the epochs of time in which the word of God has been repressed by institutions and when people have chased after other gods to their own shame and disappointment.

As the seasons cycle from spring to spring, so the history of man has cycled through periods of long winters in great oppression and apostasy and short summers of obedience to the Creator.  Even in the earliest of times from Adam to Abraham and Abraham to Moses the winters of institutional oppression and the lawless appetite of the people were as a chilling wind of persecution to those who sought the living God.  From Israel’s captivity by the Egyptians and then again by the Babylonians all the way until the time of their Roman captivity in the days of Christ, the word of God had been often obscured by the voices of men, and the musings that come from their own hearts.

When men turn away from the warmth of God’s fiery law and institute their own commandments their will be darkness upon the land. During the reign of papal power, the word of God was hidden from the common people and those loyal to the scriptures were condemned.  The noonday of the papacy was deemed the Dark Ages for the world.  Yet out of such winter, there were little blossoms of spring that sought to warm the earth through with Reformations. Men like the Waldensians, Wycliffe, Huss and Jerome, Luther, Calvin and Tyndale heard the call of the turtledove in their land signaling that “winter has passed and the rain is over and gone.”

  It was the soft whisper of Christ that awakened their hearts to dispel the darkness of tradition and search the scripture for a “thus saith the Lord”. In their willingness to sacrifice all, even life itself for the sake of Christ, the new dawn arose. Yet after the reformers fell asleep and the fires of persecution cooled, so did the fire of fidelity to Christ burn dim. Therefore, the voice of the turtle dove returned once more to awaken His bride from the slumber of winter in the Second Great Awakening of the mid 1800’s. Though the word of God is today abundant, available in almost every language and household, there still remains darkness in the hearts of those who heads are to heavy from sleep to arise and seek Him. The winter has passed, but for some it still remains.  Yet Christ is calling every sheep who hears His voice to warm themselves by the fire kindled at His word.  He is calling men to arise and awake to the salvation that He has obtained for us.  It is then, as we lay a hold of our deliverance by faith, that the land will be filled with blossoms for He will show forth His beauty to every willing heart. As the blossoms tell of a soon nigh harvest, so His Holy Spirit will traverse the earth causing the eyes of the despondent to look up for their salvation draws nigh. “My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait.” Isaiah 51:5.

Yet in order to prepare hearts to receive Him, Christ sends the rain of the Holy Spirit to go before Him.

The rains both refresh the withering crop and wash away that which is not firmly planted.

In like manner Christ sends the rain to prepare us for Spring. The idols that we have cherished, but cannot be rooted in the earth because they are not planted in the One who alone is eternal are torn down. In various circumstances of life God allows ambitions, hopes, dreams and relationships to dissolve. All those things that absorb our time and affection and keep us from carrying out God’s call He may often remove. The uprooting of rebellion and the eradication of things that were once considered precious to the  Shulamite is at first a great cause of mourning and grief.  Yet when she realizes the oppression that God has removed, her sorrow turns to joy. In this way, these rains of refreshing and uprooting are like the rains of Noah’s flood, which swept away an entire generation only to replant another, which had been rooted in righteousness. “And the rain (geshem) was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” Genesis 7:12.

When the rains are over and gone, it is not for us to seek to repair our destroyed idols and seek our bondage once again. Rather we are to prepare our hearts to meet to Him who draws near. For the rain also refreshes the languishing faith of those who have patiently waited for Him giving them assurance that just a little while longer and then we shall see Him. The rains also grow up the good seeds that we have planted both in our own lives and in lives of others. Although the rains bring a time of testing, it is also an encouragement to our faith as we see the fruits of the Holy Spirit spring up on our lives as well as in the lives of those we have long prayed for and ministered to. “You, O God, did send a plentiful rain (geshem) , whereby you did confirm Your inheritance, when it was weary.” Psalms 68:9.

 

photo credit: 75550032 via photopin (license)

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