Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January 21 The weather and Calvin

January 21
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10,11
“Wash me and I will be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7

Calvin speaks of the weather being under God’s providential and special control. He was speaking against the idea that God begins things but does not sustain them (similar to what deists believe).
[This view would mean] that no place is left for God’s fatherly favor, nor for his judgments. If they say that God is beneficent enough to mankind because he sheds upon heaven and earth an ordinary power, by which they are supplied with food this is too weak and profane a fiction. As if the fruitfulness of one year were not a singular blessing of God, and scarcity and famine were not his curse and vengeance. But because it would take too long to collect all the reasons, let the authority of God himself suffice. In the Law and in the Prophets he often declares that as often as he waters the earth with dews and rain [Lev. 26:3-4; Dt. 11:13,14; 28:12] he testifies of his favor; but when the heaven is hardened like iron at his command [Lev. 26:19] the grainfields consumed by a blight and other harmful things [Dt. 28:22]. As often as the fields are struck with hail and storms [cf. Isa. 28:2; Hag. 2:18] these are a sign of his certain and special vengeance. If we accept these things, it is certain that not one drop of rain falls without God’s sure command. (Inst. I.16.5).

Today, in South Carolina, it snowed! It is so rare here that we are purposefully unprepared. There are no snow plows (it is not economically feasible to buy them for the rare snows), few salt trucks, only an imported but rare snow shovel. One inch of snow shuts the schools down and sends the children rejoicing- out to play. In South Carolina we sing songs of “Frosty the Snowman” and “Jingle Bells” but some kids don’t see sleds and enough to make a snowman until they are in elementary school. Yet it does snow a bit about once a year. I remember watching my friend from Cameroon see the snow for the first time as a fifty year old. He was mesmerized! South Carolina is the same latitude as Israel. We see some snow, but not much. Yet we can go to the mountains and see it fairly regularly. Snow covers the ground making all the rough places smooth, covering over so much. God washes us, covers us, and makes us pure. Some parts of Washington experienced some snow during the inauguration too.
We live in such a secular culture that many act as if God does not have anything to do with the weather. I have actually heard the weather forecaster being blamed for lack of sunshine or for too much or little rain. Perhaps it is easy because we can now better describe how things happen to have the illusion that we cause things to happen.
When the British burned the White House, all of the country was definitely upset. The American army there was in tatters. But then something happened that forced the British to leave Washington and even put out the flames at the White House- a hurricane. Universally, Americans gave thanks to God for his providential care and protection. It demoralized the British and allowed the American army to regroup and repel them. If the same thing happened today, I wonder how we might perceive it. As a new government begins, it is still important to remember who is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

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