Many would agree, “God works in mysterious ways”. If we could however understand how God operates, and how He does things we will understand His will for our lives. Like getting to know a person, what do they value? How do they approach things? I believe the ways of God is revealed in the works of God, and His greatest work is Creation. It is fair that we should not judge a person on what they say, or first impressions. Judge a man’s work, his or her legacy.
Job was struggling to understand the ways of God and gets directed: “Listen to this, O Job; Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God.” His attention is moved to creation, it’s wonder, greatness and complexity to the point where he acknowledge: “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You.” (Job 42:5)
God often models spiritual truth in creation, which is why David the psalmist describes the whole earth reflecting his glory. (Psalm 72:19). God gave Solomon great wisdom and it is recorded that he taught about animals and birds, reptiles and fish (1 Kings 4:33) and wrote about them in his proverbs to illustrate character strengths and weaknesses.
In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. (James 1:21 – Message)
God meant man to live in a garden; sin has sent him to the slums –
Thus it is no surprise that Jesus taught most from lessons learned from nature. Let us hence refocus our attention, and familiarise ourselves with lessons learned from nature.
- SEEDS & ENCLOSURES
The Bible begins in a garden, ends in a garden city, and the in-between is full of stories of God’s encounter with humans in vineyards, orchards, gardens, mountains, fields, and forests. Take out the gardens (Eden, Gethsemane) and the mounts (Sinai, Hermon, Ararat, Nebo, Carmel, Olives, Zion), and you’ve cut the heart out of the Scriptures.
The word KHEN (חן) – usually translated “grace” or “favour” – means “continuous outer wall, or continuous barrier” – pretty much the word for a tent shell or covering. And more so in Ancient nomadic terms, the continuous wall formed by the greater camp made up of individual tents, that collectively symbolized protection, family, belonging. “Thus says Yahweh, The people who were left of the sword found KHEN in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.” – (Jeremiah 31:2)
When God made man, He strategically placed an enclosed garden. H1588. גַּן gan: A common noun meaning garden, enclosure. It is used to indicate the Garden of Eden (pleasure) where the first human pair was placed (Gen. 2:8-10, 15, 16; 3:1-3, 8, 10, 23, 24; Ezek. 36:35; Joel 2:3).
EDEN: A masculine noun referring to a luxury, a pleasure, a delight. Used in the plural, it means luxury, luxurious things (2 Sam. 1:24); figuratively, of the many splendid things and enjoyments God gives (Ps. 36:8). It depicts the many enjoyments and pleasurable delights Israel had enjoyed previously (Jer. 51:34). A feminine noun indicating sexual delight, ecstasy. It refers to the enjoyment of intimate love with one’s spouse which in context implies the ability to become pregnant (Gen. 18:12). In order to create pleasure and beauty, one need to remix elements and resources, enclose and subdue it. Like baking a cake, planting a field, framing art, composing a song, writing a book.
- YOU CAN CHANGE THE SPOTS, BUT NOT A MAN’s NATURE
For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush. (Luk 6:44) This is why Jesus told Nicodemus, you have to born again. (Joh 3:2-5) DNA determines the outcome. We cannot have all these projects to try to make man better, without regeneration. Dr Ado Krige, the legend and father of many successful rehab centers in SA, call his centers regeneration centers. The first miracle of Jesus where He regenerated the best wine out of water in a second, points to this. This is the core of the gospel! Him making us new creations. (2 Cor 5:17) The founding DNA of an organization determines the culture and success if that organization. Partnerships and strategic alliances only work if the values-DNA is inherently similar.
- THE PEOPLE YOU SPEND MOST TIME WITH DETERMINES YOU
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Mat 6:27-28) It is said, that you are the average of the five people you’re spending most time with. Bill Johnson says: find your church, finds your destiny. The lily flourishes, because it is in the right habitat. It will not grow in a desert. So each one of us, are made for a relational habitat, where we can grow.
- NATURE IS RELATIONAL (INTERRELATED)
Everything in nature is connected and in relation to the other. Recently the Yellowstone National Park saw its ecosystem restored what is called the trophic cascade effect, as wolves were reintroduced. You will find no mono-cultures Forrest in nature.
Although each species has its unique distinct identity and purpose, they always function within a specific ecosystem, of inter-related harmony. Commercial farming is not sustainable, because we purposefully are creating an imbalance in nature, wherein in turn we have to use more and more chemical manipulation to have the same results.
In a real sense, all life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Martin Luther-King
Jesus taught the parable of the wheat & tares, to leave the tares until the end, then it is burned and destroyed. (Mat 13:24-30) One of Christianity greatest mistakes through history, is the notion that by separating oneself from nature, one becomes more holy. This self-imposed holiness does not have the strength to suppress, evil desires. It is the holiness of the one, that changes history! Like Daniel, Nehemiah, Ester & Mordechai. A hand full of salt makes one sick, but salt released in a soup gives it a taste. We are not from the world. Like Jesus, we are aliens, called to live sinless lives in a crooked generation. Jesus unsettled the stringent religious culture of the Jews when He revealed that God’s favour, jubilee restoration was for the gentiles too. (Luke 4:16-30) You cannot write Christian music or start Christian schools, because music and schools cannot be filled with the spirit, and obey the voice of God. The composer and the headmaster are Christian, under Christ. What we create, the way we do business, what we produce causes delight (EDEN-effect) and invites people to a new lifestyle. Daniel could not label what he did in Babylon as a Hebrew, yet by asking permission to obey his dietary rules, his countenance, and overall health surpassed the other captives.
- SPIRITUAL POWER IS NOT IN NUMBERS BUT IN RELATIONAL INFLUENCE
Politicians seek numbers to leverage power and influence. This leads to great folly, as no one person ought to represent a number of people, and simply cannot. People change their minds, constantly. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” (Mat 13:33) The power of the kingdom is in the power of the one. Real influence is being trusted and respected by Kings. “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” (Matt 13:31; Luk 13:18) Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings? (Zech 4:10 The Message) A farmer understands that the quality of the seed determines the harvest. The parable of the sower, also reveals that the outcome of the harvest was determined by the condition of the soil (heart) not the seed, nor the sower. Everything is grounded in healthy relationships – organisations, families, nations, business thrive and survive because of strong relationships.
- STRATEGICALLY POSITIONED THE POWER OF ONE
A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. (Luk 13:6-9) Since the beginning, God strategically would place His send-ones in situations to liberate His people. Moses was strategically placed in a river to be found by the princess of Egypt. Nehemiah, Daniel, Esther, the young slave girl who told Naman of a Prophet in Isreal were individuals who brought about change in human history, through their personal holiness.
- NATURE IS SELF-SUSTAINABLE
The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know-how. (Mar 4:26-29) There are many videos depicting how nature would eventually take over all the constructions of man over time when a man is removed from the earth. Nature does not need our intervention, we were called to cultivate and guard it. (Gen 2:15) When God does something, it is sustainable. Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while. And he said to them: “Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed. And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.” (Acts 5:34-40) It is thus my contention that only that what is birthed, maintained and fulfilled in Christ will be sustainable.
- NATURE IS SEASONAL AND CYCLICAL
There are 7 days in a week, on the 7th month Sukkot was held; on 7th year your debt was released, on the 7 x 7th year cycle it was Jubilee. The time (Kairos) is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the gospel! (Mark 1:15) καιρός kairós; gen. kairoú, masc. noun. Season, opportune time. It is not merely as a succession of minutes, which is chrónos (G5550), but a period of opportunity (though not a necessity).
There is really no Eng. equivalent to the word kairós, the appropriate or opportune time, which when used in the pl. with chrónoi (times), is translated as “seasons,” times at which certain foreordained events take place. Ask the Lord for rain In the time of the latter rain (Zech 10:1) (Spring Rain) Hypocrites! You can discern the face of the sky and of the earth, but how is it you do not discern this time? (Luk 12:56) And a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment, because for every matter there is a time and judgment. (Eccl 8:5-6)