An encouragement: Keep a tender conscience

By Elizabeth Prata

I hope this fine late summer week has offered you beautiful glimpses of God's creative intellect and His wonderful power. I posted the other day about a rainbow extending from left to right directly in front of me, and how for the first time I even saw the end of the rainbow pooling in colors right there on the ground. (No pot of gold, sorry ;)

I'm looking forward to the weather easing into fall. Though this summer was quite mild, not brutal like those hot box summers in Georgia of the recent past, I'm still looking forward to pumpkins, fall leaves, and cooler temperatures.

We always enjoy the march of the seasons. "He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down." (Psalm 104:19, KJV).

Wherever we are in the world, reading this blog, we see and understand the times and seasons. In spring, we look for the robin, the crocus, the ladyslipper. In summer we look for puffy clouds, rain showers, cicadas. The orderliness and consistency of the seasons since His ordination of them is a comfort. Yet even in Jeremiah 8:7 it is said of the seasons, meaning HIS season,

"Yes, the stork in the heaven knows her appointed times; and the turtle and the crane and the swallow observe the time of their coming; but my people know not the judgment of the LORD."
In the natural history of Israel, Barnes notes explains, "Jeremiah appeals to the obedience which migratory birds render to the law of their natures. The "stork" arrives about March 21, and after a six weeks' halt departs for the north of Europe. It takes its flight by day, at a vast height in the air ("in the heaven"). The appearance of the "turtle-dove" is one of the pleasant signs of the approach of spring."
As for the part of the Jeremiah verse which speaks to His judgments, Matthew Henry holds sway here:
"Sin is backsliding; it is going back from the way that leads to life, to that which leads to destruction. They would not attend to the warning of conscience. They did not take the first step towards repentance: true repentance begins in serious inquiry as to what we have done, from conviction that we have done amiss. They would not attend to the ways of providence, nor understand the voice of God in them, ver. 7. 
They know not how to improve the seasons of grace, which God affords. They would not attend to the written word. Many enjoy abundance of the means of grace, have Bibles and ministers, but they have them in vain. They will soon be ashamed of their devices. The pretenders to wisdom were the priests and the false prophets. They flattered people in sin, and so flattered them into destruction, silencing their fears and complaints with, All is well. Selfish teachers may promise peace when there is no peace; and thus men encourage each other in committing evil; but in the day of visitation they will have no refuge to flee unto."

How perfect and prescient His Word is! Let us enjoy the seasons of grace that Jesus offers His children.

In Numbers, where God is dispensing instruction to the Priesthood, God said, "I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift." (Numbers 18:7b). It is a gift to serve Him. It is a gift to dedicate one's life to him. It is a gift to be close to Him. It was a gift to the people who needed priests. He also gave the Prophets as a gift and in the New Testament, the gift of prophecy is also a gift. (1 Corinthians 12:10; Romans 12:6).

I feel deeply for Jeremiah the Prophet, who was known as The Weeping Prophet. Jeremiah lived in a time when the People's pride was dragging them backward into sin and away from the LORD. (Jeremiah 13:15-27- "Pride precedes captivity".) He lived when the people's sins had piled up. Jeremiah was the last prophet sent to preach to the Southern Kingdom. The searing effects of their sins had hardened them so much that no one ever listened to Jeremiah. He never had one convert. "Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward." (Jeremiah 7:24). Seasons of sin means seasons of bondage.

We speak of His love these days and His joy, peace in knowing Him. All these things are good to have and feel and be. But where is the grief? Where are our weeping prophets (Christians) today? Do we repent in grief for our sins?

Jeremiah begged them not to succumb to the false gods who lulled them into security and which did not make them feel guilty or convict them of sin. They did not listen, and they were destroyed. It shall be so again.

Meanwhile, keep up the good fight, persevere. Repent of the big things and the little things. Keep a tender conscience. Enjoy the gift of His Spirit and His people, and His church, and His word. Soon enough, our faith will be made sight, and we shall see Him as He is. What a day that will be!