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THE LAND MOURNS

There is a connection between the moral state of the nation and the condition of the land.



Hear the word of the Lord, You children of Israel,

For the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land:

There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.

By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery,

They break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed. 

Therefore the land will mourn; and everyone who dwells there will waste away,

With the beasts of the field, and the birds of the air;

Even the fish of the sea will be taken away.


(Hosea 4:1-3)




Those who work the soil or observe nature cannot fail to have noticed that this year has been unusual. Continued winter rain led to waterlogging, causing crop losses on a scale unseen in generations. Soil biology and structure are suffering the consequences, leaving farmers and growers struggling to find a way to get seeds growing in cold and unresponsive ground, while blackgrass and other weeds have taken over many a wheat field.


Meanwhile nature too is out of kilter. Populations of songbirds have declined, while the numbers of corvids (ie crows, jackdaws, magpies, rooks, jays) have increased exponentially. Other species considered to be pests have also prospered; rats are rampant, even becoming immune to poison; slugs have overtaken plants as the soil temperature remained low while air temperature rose; even ticks are thriving in the strange conditions.


Many people have recently commented to me that things are 'just not right' in the countryside. What is going on? Is it climate change? Is it human activity? What can be done? But, more importantly, what is God saying? The following is a personal prophetic view as I try to line up what I perceive with what the Bible says.



Reaping the whirlwind


There has been a disruption in nature. A disruption can be defined as a disturbance which interrupts, and the natural order of things has been disturbed and interrupted. Hosea (above) connected the lack of the knowledge of God, and the resulting sinfulness, with the sorry state of the land: 'therefore the land mourns'. The connection between the moral state of the nation and the condition of the land is not limited to ancient Israel. I believe that what we are seeing now is a direct result of God's displeasure, and that the Lord allows imbalance in His created order as a warning to us. All of Hosea's warnings to Israel, quoted above, are surely applicable to present-day Britain and, since God does not change, similar effects can be expected. As Hosea states later, “they sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” (Hosea 8:7).



Rest


Indeed, given the dire state of corruption and syncretism in our nation, it is the level of continued providence that is surprising - a testimony to the grace and patience of God and the resilience of His creation.


A key word from the Lord for these days is 'rest', both for people and for the land. We are, paradoxically, to work and strive to enter God's rest (Hebrews 4:11). In the book of Judges after each cycle of complacency leading to apostasy, then judgement, prompting repentance and restoration, followed by a period when 'the land had rest' (Judges 3:11,30; 5:31), until the people got comfortable again and forgot God's directions. There are two Hebrew words for rest; the first is 'nuach', from which Noah got his name. It means to settle down, in Noah's case to stop floating around and remain in one place. But in the phrase in Judges’ 'the land had rest', rest is 'shaqat', meaning freedom from disturbance, disruption or harassment. We are getting a glimpse of ‘un-rest’ in the environment, in society, in the church and in politics (but that is another whole story). This is not the end, but it is certainly a warning.



Climate change?


There is a popular view that climate change has been caused by human industrial and agricultural activity, and that therefore we can fix it. That view is humanist arrogance. Even Christians have been led by so-called science into this godless opinion. Science reveals the wonders, the complexity and the relationships of the life that God made. The Bible tells us that God created all things and that He maintains and sustains His creation. In the book of Revelation, we see how one day God will do terrible things to the climate and the environment He formed because He is in control. If the climate is changing, if nature has been disrupted, it is because we have offended the Creator, the only One who is able to give the land rest. We are 'without excuse' (Romans 1:18-25). Of course, it is good to minimise pollution and reduce our carbon footprint, but it is only Jesus who can save the planet.



If my people


If you have read this far you will know that the good news always comes at the end. Let me couple two scriptures together:


“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.'

(2 Chronicles 7:13-14)


“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

(Romans 8:19-23)


Our destiny is linked to God's creation. If we put our faith, hope and trust in Jesus we will one day have new bodies, like His, in a new and glorious creation. What we will be in the future influences our present. So even now we can humble ourselves, seeking the Lord in repentance, find forgiveness and see blessing and healing over the land.




John Plumb


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