The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.
“Autumn leaves are now falling, red and yellow and brown.
Autumn leaves are now falling, see them tumbling down.”
With young schoolmates in Wisconsin, I used to sing this song about this time of year. The change of seasons cannot be missed in that part of the country. The falling leaves are a sure sign that summer has ended.
Those who cried out the words that Jeremiah here records had also seen the sure signs of the end of summer—and it frightened them.
They weren’t worrying about the coming of freezing temperatures and drifting snow. Their dread centered on the judgment of the Lord God.
They had thought they did not need him. They had grown confident in their own ability to face what life would throw at them. Besides, they had strong allies. But now destruction was galloping toward them on horseback. Vicious enemies had overrun their cities.
Now those people call out: “Why are we sitting here? Gather together! Let us flee to the fortified cities and perish there! For the LORD our God has doomed us to perish.” (Jeremiah 8:14).
More than one person and more than one nation have decided that the Holy One in heaven can be relegated to the sidelines. His warnings go unheeded. His invitations go unanswered. He is ignored.
It will not be left that way. Those people are facing dooming judgment.
Punishment inflicted by a fierce enemy has often been the response that the Lord chooses. Destruction, decimation, and death surge over those who reject him.
So it was with ancient Israel. It was painful to watch. We read the cry from the lips of Jeremiah, “Oh, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people” (Jeremiah 9:1).
But what good does that do? Tears for the fallen come too late. Hope applies only to the living. Thank God, some did survive in Israel. It is they who lament, “The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.” The cry of desperation begs for an answer. They have learned one lesson. They are helpless and hopeless without the Lord God.
Another lesson must be taught to them. The God of Israel is the hope of the hopeless. He will not reject those who call upon him for help.
All mankind needs to learn these lessons. The entire human race is facing the swift march of time. An entire lifetime may seem to pass as quickly as a child’s summer vacation. Tragic are those who look back at the end of the summer of their life and must lament, “and we are not saved.”
Jeremiah learned the lessons. He calls out: “Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise” (Jeremiah 17:14).
It is a lesson we all need to learn—before our summer ends.
It is a lesson to be learned—before the world’s summer ends.
It’s a lesson our Lord calls us to teach to others.
Those cries for help, those words of lament and fear as the reality of life and death and God sinks in—those words are called out even today. We have heard them. They come from corners of the world foreign to us, maybe even dangerous to us, but they are meant for us.
Sometimes we are surprised at where those cries for spiritual help come from. We have fought battles against some of the countries where these people live. We remember the attack on Pearl Harbor. We remember the fall of Saigon. We mark the graves of Americans who have died at the hands of those people. We remember the chants of “Death to America!”
But we also cannot forget the words of our Savior. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19,20).
We can’t do this? It’s too expensive? It’s too dangerous? “There is nothing I can do?”
He said, “Surely I am with you!” Isn’t that enough? Didn’t he die for those who are still living without him? Hasn’t he commanded us to spread that news of salvation?
Through the words of those asking for the gospel, we hear the Savior calling us to action. I hear the Savior calling! Today, we hear the Savior calling!
Holy, Triune God, the swift passing of the seasons testifies that our days are numbered, and our time is short. We have no time to look for another Savior because there is only one. You have shown him to us. His name is Jesus. In his name, we call to you for the healing of spirit and rescue of life for us and everyone. Empower us to bring that message to others. We hear the Savior calling. Amen.
Points to ponder:
- The swift passing of time reminds us of the shortness of time allotted to us. Doesn’t it?
- The search for answers to life and death opens the door for mission work. Doesn’t it?
- In Jesus, we have the answers to the questions that plague others. Don’t we?
Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.