The Real Purpose of Snow
This morning I was reading in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. The passage was in Isaiah 55:6-11 which says, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
There are many things we can learn from this very brief prophetic utterance. First of all, God desires to show his compassion and he sees that we are not thinking or functioning according to his design for our good and for his glory. He doesn’t just ignore the problem or immediately punish. Rather, he calls for everyone to repent and return. The offer is for abundant pardon and an opportunity to live life differently. Sadly, many do not realize their thoughts are far from God’s thoughts. They also don’t realize his amazing power shown by his creative working in the way snow and rain function and provide nourishment for us. When I see snow I don’t immediately think, “there is the water for next year’s crops.” But God has a purpose in everything, even if we cannot immediately see it or fully discern its purposes. God is also saying that just as the snow and rain are certain from heaven, what God has declared is certain.
God’s Words Aren’t Just Words
This struck me as I read this passage: “so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” God says when he sends out his word, it is more than just a broadcast or a news article on the internet. His words always have purpose and accomplish what he intends. For some reason, the idiom “mark my words” popped into my mind as I read this. That caused me to wonder about the origin of this idiom. I knew “mark my words” to mean: “This communication is important.” “Take notes.” “Remember this.” “What I am about to say is certain.” But it is more than just a declaration of truth. It is a declaration of what will be.
Miles Coverdale and “Merck my wordes wel”
According to theidioms.com, this phrase was first used by Miles Coverdale in 1535 in his translation of the book of Isaiah. Coverdale translated Isaiah 28:23 this way: “Pondre and merck my wordes wel.” My ESV translation says, “Give ear, and hear my voice; give attention, and hear my speech.” God is saying, “this is important.” But we need to understand what God’s “speech” is.
Words with Results
God is saying his words of compassion and his words of judgment are not just idle talk. Mark His words and realize that Jesus died as a part of his declaration.
Yesterday’s sermon at our church was a good reminder that we are to live differently if we have come to know God’s compassion and salvation. We were given five words to remember: creation, fall, redemption, return and eternity. Remembering these five words reminds us that God created with his word, he declared death would be the result of ignoring or opposing his words, he provided a way for restoration and redemption through his words, he has promised, in writing his return and he is eternal and has offered everlasting life with his words by this reminder from John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (ESV) Do you know who spoke these words and to whom they were first spoken? Read John’s gospel, chapter three if you don’t know. Hint: It was the Word described in John chapter one.
For the interested reader, here are some more insights into the idiom’s meaning and use after Coverdale’s translation of Isaiah: “After that, it (mark my words) was used to describe an ominous happening. In folklore, it is said that whenever ‘mark my words’ was spoken, something bad almost always happened, so people actually avoided saying it or kept away from anyone who would utter it to them. Later, writers began to use it when addressing their readers to let them know what part of their works to focus on or the part that meant the most to them while writing. Today, it is used to command, admonish or stress the importance of something.” (Source: theidioms.com)
When God says, “mark my words” you should either be driven to holy fear or to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, the entire Bible is about Jesus. At least that is what Jesus said. If he was a good teacher and not a lunatic, then he said some remarkable things. He said he was the fulfillment of every section of the Old Testament scriptures. The words were more than just words.
“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.’” Luke 24:44-47 (ESV)