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Red Sky at Morning
Star , Male, from England
I went down the rabbit hole, dug around in the dark till I came out on the other side of the hill, just in time to see a Matthew 16 sunrise! Sep 4, 2017
- Red Sky at Morning was last seen:
- Sep 23, 2017 at 5:38 PM
Where to start? Perhaps on a morning when I woke up unusually early and went downstairs so I didn't wake anyone else. Drawing the curtains and looking out I was rewarded with a magnificent flame red sky at the precise moment it caught the clouds from below and set them on fire. If I hadn't been awake I would have missed it....
Coming from a farming background I grew up hearing the the old adage 'Red sky at morning, shepherds warning' from weather beaten older relatives - but warning of exactly what I was never sure. On top of that, the pronouncement was always delivered by someone who appeared to take grim satisfaction in seeing their gloomy prediction fulfilled, just so they could say, as the water ran down the window that afternoon 'I told you so'!
It turned out that the phrase was not invented by old farmers but has a more ancient origin. In the book of Matthew, chapter 16 Jesus is talking with the Pharisees who knew the Torah and the writings of the prophets better than anyone.
'Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven. He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will befoul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” And He left them and departed.'
I re-read this passage again after I had got up that morning and honestly didn't know what to make of it. After six months of 'letting it rest' I am beginning to understand the something of the spirit of what was meant.
The Pharisees were the intelligentsia of their time, the best thinkers and debaters. The prophets had fallen silent with the book of Malachi and hundreds of years had passed. Greek and Roman culture had developed about them and traditions and 'higher learning' had grown up. Camps of thought had become firmly entrenched, with Pharisees and Sadducees locked in debate, somehow the words in their scriptures had become so complicated.
Into this world, Jesus entered.
As a believer growing up in the church these Pharisees were the 'bad guys' in my imagination. If the events of the Bible had played out against the back cloth of the Wild West, they would have worn black hats! As I grew up I started to see things differently. Paul was a Pharisee, as was Nicodemus and so was Gamaliel. Perhaps there was something deeper.
Each week millions of devout Christians gather in church and read the words 'Christ has died' Christ is risen, Christ will come again' but how many think that is really true?
Certainly many do but for others, two thousand years of The Church, the denominations, the crusades, hobby horse opinions, empty religious observance and the failures of some of those held up as leaders have all done their work and quenched their fire. The culture of unbelief from the secular world has pressed in. Somehow, the last part of the churchgoers weekly declaration of faith has become a distant hope, rather less than winning the lottery.
Up till quite recently I felt that way too. I felt stuck. I felt cold.
I believed but my faith was without action and I could easily blend in in the secular culture I found myself in. Having become a Christian at the age of seven, listening to a now deleted album called 'Paid on the Nail' I understood the gospel even before I know how to do long division properly! I prayed a prayer and in a childlike way I met Jesus, my saviour. As I grew up I saw the good and the bad of the Church. I saw love, kindness and zeal. I also saw pride and smug contentment. I saw many show mercy, humility and empathy but others were full of legalism and self-righteousness. I met too many others who loved tradition more than truth. I saw genuine miraculous healing of friends and family quietly take place at the back of poorly attended meetings and also watched wealthy, showy Christian 'superstars' try to produce the same results as though they had understood a formula.
How much time do you spend looking up at the sky? I don't very much. In the same way, in my journey of faith, through disappointments with others and myself, I had gradually stopped looking up to the Lord and started to look sideways at my fellow creatures. My childhood zeal had been quietly choked out and my life slowly became full of plans, ambitions, latest computer games, holidays, music, fitness, the good things I enjoyed and the anticipation of the kind of future I thought I was entitled to.
The book of Revelation talks about a group of believers like that...
The Lukewarm Church
14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans[a] write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.'
During a time of testing in my own life, the Lord took away from me the things I had built my happiness on and I found myself face to face with the truth of my own spiritual condition. I was 'wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked'. It was an ugly sight! In this state, I knew I had nowhere to go but to my knees and repent.
Another verse came to me at this time -
The Race of Faith
12 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
This started me on a return journey. On the way 'back' I have seen many things in a different light. Thinking about the lukewarm Laodocean church, the idea came to me that a fish doesn't know that it's wet. That's how it is when you're a fish! It's how it's always been. In the same way I had been asleep and oblivious to the influences and culture around me and had taken them in like a sponge for the most part without questioning.