The rhythms of nature play out their familiar but often overlooked tune, “While the earth remains, seed-time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease” Genesis Chapter 8 verse 22). By this promise we can be sure the sun will rise tomorrow, not because of the balance of probabilities but because we have a faithful God who is true to his word.
Our friends the House Martins arrived a couple of days ago and promptly started nest-building. The crumbling remains of last year’s nest were removed and fresh mud applied to the nest site. The Martin’s were out-flown by a couple of swallows who arrived in the yard before them. Until quite recently we called them all swallows – they fly so fast we couldn’t tell the difference. But now having recognised the distinctive markings we find it hard to understand how we could have thought they were all the same.
Along with the birds come the weeds and thorns, those emblems of the curse that make life on earth difficult and gardening such a chore (Genesis Chapter 3 verse 17/19). St Paul recognised the full extent of Adam’s sin and sees the curse as subjecting the creation to futility (Romans Chapter 8 verses 18/21).
But there are more distinctive markings in the Bible concerning God’s curse. It was made visible when a murderer was first executed then hung on a tree until sundown in demonstration of God’s disapproval of the criminal’s sin (Deuteronomy Chapter 21 verses 22/23). In the same way the whole of God’s law pronounced God’s curse on anyone who broke any part of it (Chapter 27 verse 26).
Come now to Calvary and look with fresh eyes at our suffering Saviour. The law had become a curse for those who rely on it to save them, because none could keep it – that is except Christ. By his death he redeemed us from its curse becoming himself a curse in our place (Galatians Chapter 3 verse 13).
And finally he took Adam’s curse on the ground with its emblem of thorns placed on his head so that when the number of the redeemed is complete the new creation will become a reality (Romans Chapter 8 verse 23).
The next time we look at a crucifix we will see Christ through new eyes. His sufferings which formerly made us feel sad now are full of meaning. We now see how God can freely pardon all who admit to their guilt, turn from it and put their trust in Jesus.
Distinguishing between Swallows and Martins opens up the avian world a bit more.
Distinguishing between a dead Christ and a Saviour who has cleared the way to God opens up the possibility of personally recognising Him as my Redeemer and Lord.