Autumn spreads her panoply of glorious colours across the land. A pageant of tones assails the eye, from gilded yellows though fiery amber to the richness of gorgeous reds. Spring’s fair blossom flowers find fulfilment in abundant fruitfulness, ripe windfalls a harvest abundance awaiting collection.
And yet, behind all its beauties, Autumn marks inevitable progress towards winter. The haziness of long summer days regretfully recedes into the memory. Soon, abundant colour will give way to bare branches and the countryside will begin to take on a skeletal appearance. Leaves that garnished the landscape with their beauty will litter the ground. As I write, the news is full of the warnings of storms expected to sweep across the country, which will only hasten the process. And that, of course, is why our transatlantic cousins know this time of year as the Fall.
There are lessons for us in this too. In many ways the seasons parallel the cycle of life. The youthful vigour of Spring matures into Summer. The ripe fruits of Autumn give way to winter. The cold bleakness of this time sends some animals into hibernation, a sleep typifying death. While Spring seems a long way from Winter, therefore, we all know that’s where it will end. And so it is with our lives.
The first man, Adam, disobeyed God. Referring to this, Romans 5:17 states “by one man's offence death reigned by one”. Here his disobedience is referred to as an offence. Dictionary definitions give the sense of the original word as “a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness” (Thayer), and in Romans 11:11 the same word is translated fall. Adam’s sin, his fall from the standard of perfection God required, brought death into the world. Naturally we all inherit death, and our own sins keep us there. Just as the leaves fall, and winter follows, so we know life comes to an end.
Yet our Creator has offered a way out. The verse continues, ”For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). Adam’s disobedience brought death. Christ’s obedience brings life.
God says “I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15). God desires that He might bring us to Himself, to lift us up. Thus, as Peter says, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6). If we submit to His ways, He will bring us to life. Sin led to a falling away from Him, and death. Obedience brings exaltation to life with Him.
Spring follows Winter. Animals long sleeping awake, looking forward to the promise of new life. So it will be in the day the Lord Jesus returns. “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). May we be with the Lord in that wonderful day.