There were no firecrackers, no fanfare, parade, or national holiday to celebrate the event! But on September 21st the summer of 2008 ended. For some it was a summer of indescribable misery and loss of possessions to hurricane Ike. For others, it brought fame or fortune. Yes, the summer of '08 will be remembered in different ways.
One might be somewhat surprised to find a number of references to the seasons within the pages of the Bible. In the very first reference to summer and winter in the same verse God promised mankind, "While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease" (Genesis 8:22). The Psalmist reminds us that it is God Who "hast made summer and winter" (Psalm 74:17), not some evolutionary cycle or random-chance process. Perhaps the saddest reference to one of the four seasons is found in Jeremiah 8:20: "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved." Think with me for a moment on these words of the prophet.
Judah had plummeted to the depths of depravity. A concise summary of her rebellion against God is recorded in 2 Chronicles 36:14-16: "Moreover all the chiefs of the priests, and the people, trespassed very greatly after all the abominations of the nations; and they polluted the house of Jehovah which he had hallowed in Jerusalem. And Jehovah, the God of their fathers, sent to them by his messengers, rising up early and sending, because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling-place: but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and scoffed at his prophets, until the wrath of Jehovah arose against his people, till there was no remedy." Nebuchadnezzar was knocking at the door; the summer of opportunity had passed, and Judah was not saved.
Having read Jeremiah's words at least once a year for the past 35 years or so, I am reminded that the words from that prophet of old have far reaching application; and "these things happened unto them by way of example; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come" (1 Corinthians 10:11).
First, God's law of sowing and reaping extends far beyond the mere planting of crops. Just as there is a physical law of sowing and reaping, so also there is a spiritual law which clearly states, "God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth unto his own flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth unto the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap eternal life" (Galatians 6:7-8). Judah sowed to the wind, now it was time to reap the whirlwind! Our world has bought into the lie that we, too, can sow our wild oats and never reap a harvest. Dear friend, be assured that what you sow you will reap!
Second, it is inevitable that the summer of opportunity will eventually end. To Judah, the summer had ended. God's patience had run out! His long-suffering had run its course, and the doors of opportunity were eventually and irrevocably closed. Like ancient Judah, we have been provided a summer in which to heed and submit to heaven's call.
But some seem to think that the summer of opportunity will never end, and they keep putting off until tomorrow what should be done today. As Felix, upon hearing of "righteousness, self control, and the judgment to come," negligent souls today think they will have a "more convenient time" in which to obey (Acts 24:25).
Third, once the summer of opportunity has ended, spiritually speaking, there will never be another season of God's grace and suffering. Summers come and go, the sun rises and sets 365 days each year. With such steady repetition we tend to become complacent, thinking we have plenty of time. But mistakes of the past should become teachers for the future. The summer of God's patience and long-suffering will come only once. It will eventually give way to the fall of judgment and the winter of despair and misery for the vast majority of mankind.
Missing the passing of yet another summer may not be all that significant. But wasting God's summer of opportunity will be tragic! How sad that a lost world will cry in vain, "The summer is ended, and we are not saved."
Gary L. Hutchens