Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
Signs of Changing Weather
On days like today when wine-red and rust-colored leaves wink and flutter down shafts of late October light my thoughts turn to the transitioning of the seasons discerned by changes in the weather, and the emergence of prophetic seasons, known by other signs.
The drama, beauty–and what portends hope–in the rotation of summer, fall, winter, and spring (at least in my climate region) stir my imagination and my muse.
For a literal review, I open up to my dog-eared copy of Ted Kooser’s poem, “How to Foretell a Change in the Weather.” I feel a kinship to the man, though I’ve never met him, and to his poetry, because both hail from, and of, the U.S. Midwest, as do I.
Poetry with a Midwestern flavor reveals the steadfast continuity and contradictions of life among those who salt that slice of the earth with a hardy work ethic seasoned with a dash of humor here, a skosh of loneliness there, and, every once in a while, a pinch of longing for a bit of a hop, a skip, and a jump to some wilder side.
But not for long, eh?
Work to be done.
Here, then, are some of Kooser’s observations on how to predict a change in the weather and/or how to know the season is about to turn–and there are many opinions available (which is also very Midwestern).
You will know that the weather is changing
when your sheep leave the pasture
too slowly and your dogs lie about
and look tired…
(when) hens will chant…
(when) the peacocks squall loudly
from the tops of the trees…
when swallows fly low
skimming the earth…
and wild fowl
dip and wash…
And so on.
For those with eyes to see, ears to hear–and noses to smell–there are many ways to prepare, then, for the next bit of beauty and drama–and to get out the snow shovel, plow, or rake, depending.
Signs of Pending Prophecy
I’ve heard various Bible scholars say that anywhere from one-quarter to one-third of the Bible is devoted to prophecy, much of it dramatic as well, and often involving literal weather, too (you know the kind: “of biblical proportions”).
In the pages of the sixty-six book anthology we can read about much prophecy that has already been fulfilled, that which is yet to be, and that which is pending–maybe even closer than we think.
“J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy lists 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament, for a total of 1,817. These encompass 8,352 verses” (source), of which, at least according to another prophecy summary, about 90% have been fulfilled.
So God’s seasons of another kind are cycling through, too, and apparently, in the scope of time measured in centuries, sooner than later. Some think there are but ten or so centuries left until final prophecies concerning the new heaven and new earth come to pass.
Just as we can predict the weather outdoors, we can also discern how to predict the general times of prophecy (but only God knows exact days and hours) by observing the alignment of key events with the “moedim“: “appointed times, appointed festivals [Jewish feasts], and appointed meeting places.” See below (*) for a summary of feasts and prophecies already aligned (4) and those yet to come (3).
Curiously, however, fewer and fewer churches seem to be covering this topic.
(Perhaps this is one of the elements of “end times prophecies” referred to as the “great falling away,” where many will abandon classic Christian teaching?)
Like the hope seeded in the falling leaves, melting snows, blooming flora, and cooling temperatures, there is hope seeded in prophecy, too, even the prophecy that prompts more anxiety than anticipation.
Indeed, as a prelude to the worst of it, the so-called “Great Tribulation,” we hear from the Weatherman of weathermen, “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28, KJV).
On the Importance of Observing
Paying attention to the signs of both seasonal changes and moedim is essential in the cycle of what transpires both on and “beyond” earth, whether shovel, plow, harvester, or rake need to be checked to make sure each is in good condition before clearing snow, preparing fields for planting, gathering crops, or getting rid of all those pretty colored leaves, or checking one’s spiritual condition before the other kind of season begins.
And as it concerns preparing for the spiritual season, like they say in the Midwest, “No time like the present, eh?”**
To help discover what remaining prophesies to attend to, here is a list of prophetic books, both Old and New Testaments, that provide a good “heads up,” and here’s a list of commentaries to go with. (I favor Matthew Henry for his poetic flare, depth and sensitivity to detail, but there are many others.)
*Researcher Claire Gumbs has designed a graphic, available here, illustrating:
- What has happened, so far, according to the appointed times, including the seven feasts, their prophetic meanings, and when/where/how they are observed and have been fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
- What moedim have yet to be fulfilled, their meanings, and how they also refer to Jesus’ fulfillment–at some future point.
**The first step is salvation. Here is a good explanation and instructions. After that, stay in the Word of God, fellowship with other believers, pray daily, and keep your head up and your eyes of discernment open. And stop by again. I’m called to encourage people, and that means you, too :).
Image of fall leaves from Wikimedia Commons