Today’s Reading: Genesis 7-9
Today’s Reflection: Genesis 8:22
“While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”
After the waters of the worldwide flood had receded, Noah, God’s one faithful servant on the earth, built an altar and made sacrifices to the Lord (Genesis 8:20). As God promised to never again destroy the earth with a flood (Genesis 8:21) He also made the promise in verse 22, that the seasons and cycles of the earth would always continue.
This was a significant promise to an agrarian culture that depended on the seasons and weather patterns—sun, rain, harvest—in order to ensure a sufficiently plentiful food supply. This was also a significant promise because of the practical and visible impact of seasonal changes. In the summer months the days become longer and warmer with more sunlight hours but in the winter the days become shorter and colder with fewer hours of sunlight. To a culture dependant on the sun for light, heat and life, the shortening days of winter were a potential sign of impending disaster—which is why God had given His people this promise in the first place.
For those who did not know or failed to understand this promise, superstition crept in. Pagan religions arose out of the false belief that the shortening days meant there was a sun god who was displeased and would take his light away from mankind unless appeased. To avoid death and destruction, these pagan believers provided lights and gifts to welcome the sun god’s return and made sacrifices, including human ones, to show their devotion. The lights, signs like evergreen trees meant to symbolize eternal life, and gifts placed beneath those trees became common decorations used during this time of the winter solistice to celebrate many pagan deities and continue to be fixtures of what has come to be known as Christmas.
These practices emerged out of fear, a fear we have no cause for if we trust the promises God has made to us. He has made it clear that the seasons that make it possible to sustain human, plant and animal life will “not cease”. The life of the Kingdom Jesus lived and died to give us access to invites us to have complete trust in all of the promises of God, including this one, and to walk in the light of God’s truth.
Jeremiah 10:2-3a) – 2) Thus says the LORD: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, 3a) for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. 4) They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move.”