Downloadable Book

Divine Reflections in Times and SeasonsThis blog contains sample chapters from my book Divine Reflections in Times and Seasons. If you have enjoyed these, you may like to read the whole book and its companion volumes.

A  free PDF version of this book can be downloaded from my website or can be purchased from Amazon and other outlets.

Feel welcome to download and enjoy the book — and leave a review on Amazon if you are so inclined. Thanks in advance.

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Paradise – Old and New

Paradise gloryWritten in a metaphorical style, the first three chapters of the book of Genesis describe an ideal setting and conditions for earth’s first humans. They were placed in a paradise, named the Garden of Eden with the tree of life, a symbol of immortality, freely available. However, after the first couple chose to go contrary to God’s instructions, they brought upon themselves and their descendants the penalty of death. Their disobedience to the Creator resulted in curses on humankind and the whole creation.[1]

At the end of the Bible, the book of Revelation describes paradise restored. The tree of life is again freely available, and curses, pain, suffering and death are gone forever. A river of the water of life, lined with trees of life in multiple varieties, flows through the Holy City. The perpetual glorious light of God makes the sun, moon and lamps unnecessary. There are no more nights and no more seasons. However, harvests never cease as the trees provide different life-giving fruit every month. While the sun, moon and seasons have their beauty and even inspire awe, something better could yet be in store for humanity and the whole universe. Like the best wine brought forth toward the end of the wedding feast in Cana, God may have kept the best for last.[2] 

[1] Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17; 3:14-19; Romans 8:19-23

[2] Revelation 21:1-8, 23-27; 22:1-5; John 2:9-10

From: Divine Reflections in Times and Seasons by Eva Peck

Posted in All in a Year, Seasonless Paradise | Tagged ,

Seasonal Celebrations in Ancient Israel

Harvest at SunsetA large part of the Old Testament is a story of Israel, the descendants of the patriarch Jacob, later renamed Israel. The nation’s worship is tied to the annual seasons and can be instructive even to us living in the 21st century.

Under their covenant with God, ancient Israelites were required to observe three Holy Day seasons – falling in spring/early summer and in the autumn. These seasons corresponded to two harvests – an early small harvest (firstfruits), and a later large har-vest. Two rainy seasons occurred that helped to bring the harvests to fruition.[1]

Biblically speaking, harvests are symbolic of con-versions, ministering to the saved, and bringing peo-ple into God’s kingdom. Timely rain is one of God’s blessings and a vital agent in producing a good har-vest. In the Scriptures, rain may be analogous to God’s teachings and the Holy Spirit, the means of conversion and salvation.[2]

The first festival period, in the spring, was the Passover followed by seven Days of Unleavened Bread. On the Sunday during this festival time, a sheaf of the first fruits of the harvest was presented to God. This ceremony typified and looked forward to Jesus Christ, who later became the first of the first- fruits. He was the first to be resurrected, glorified, and accepted by the Father on the Sunday after his crucifixion.[3]

Seven weeks after the firstfruits offering came the Feast of Weeks – referred to in the New Testament as Pentecost – during which two leavened bread loaves were offered to God. On the first New Testament Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended, writing God’s law on fleshly hearts (in contrast to tables of stone as occurred on Mount Sinai). On that day, 3000 were converted in a dramatic way – the first members, or firstfruits, of the church founded on the apostles and the prophets with Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone.[4]

The last major festival in ancient Israel was the Feast of Tabernacles, celebrated after the ingathering of the main autumn harvest. Based on the harvest typology, together with other indications in Scripture, it can be postulated that there is yet a large future harvest of the saved.[5]

[1] Deuteronomy 16:16; Exodus 23:14-16; Joel 2:23-24

[2] Matthew 9:35-38; 13:37-43; Luke 10:1-2; John 4:34-38; Revelation 14:15; Leviticus 26:4; Isaiah 44:3-5; 55:10-11

[3] Leviticus 23:4-11; John 20:1-17; 1 Corinthians 15:20-23; Acts 26:23; Colossians 1:18

[4] Leviticus 23:15-17; Acts 2:1-41; 2 Corinthians 3:3-18; Ephesians 2:19-22

[5] John 6:44, 65; Romans 8:22-23, 28-30; Revelation 20:1-6; 12-15; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Romans 11:25-32

From: Divine Reflections in Times and Seasons by Eva Peck

Posted in All in a Year, Seasonal Celebration in OT Israel | Tagged

Winter

Thornlands-22Jun12 018Late autumn and early winter portray old age and death. As with the unstoppable process of dead leaves falling from trees, so in human life family members and friends inevitably pass away. Aging can be a difficult time of loss, sorrow, health problems, and the awareness of one’s own approaching death. However, both nature and God’s Word give hope that this is not the end. Spring always follows winter – there is always a more encouraging time to look forward to.

In nature, some animals survive the winter in hibernation. This can be paralleled with the biblical metaphor of sleep used to refer to human death.[1] The Scriptures then point to a time of resurrection and new life. As the spring with its warm sun starts a new cycle of life, so Jesus Christ, the “Sun of righteousness”, will return to bring new life to those who have died.[2]

[1] Matthew 9:23-25; John 11:11-15; Acts 7:60; 13:36; 1 Corinthians 11:30; 15:20

[2] Malachi 4:2; Daniel 12:2-3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17

 

 

From: Divine Reflections in Times and Seasons by Eva Peck

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Autumn

Seasons-Changing SeasonsAutumn is associated with welcome cooling from the summer heat and a season when in dry areas the earth receives rain. In temperate regions, it is the time of year that is visually past its best. Signs of aging are everywhere. The beauty of new life has disappeared, and adorable young animals have grown up and lost their special cuteness. Nonetheless, this season has its own beauty – such as in the changing colours of deciduous trees ranging from yellow to orange to red to brown. The autumn is also time to harvest ripe, delicious fruit and express gratitude with rejoicing over God’s goodness.

The autumn of human life is likewise a time past one’s physical best. The reproductive capacity ceases, strength and energy diminish, and wrinkles and gray hair become unmistakable evidence of getting older. To compensate however, “a harvest” of children and grandchildren may be a blessing from God. Fur-thermore, the fruit of the Holy Spirit is often more evident than before – love, peace, joy, patience, goodness – accompanied by godly wisdom gained through the years of walking with God.[1]

[1] Psalm 127:3-5; 128:3-6; Proverbs 2:6; 16:31; 17:6; Galatians 5:22-25; James 1:5

From: Divine Reflections in Times and Seasons by Eva Peck

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Summer

8-Thornlands-11Nov09 106Summer is typically a pleasant time – a season with bright sunshine and warm temperatures. With its long days, early sunrises, late sunsets, and extra energy, it is also a productive time. Nevertheless, continuous hot and humid or very hot and dry days can be enervating and tiring. In some areas, summer can also be a time of violent weather, such as hurricanes, typhoons, excessive rains and flooding. In summer time, crops ripen and become ready for harvest. Trees are forming fruit – attractive to behold and eagerly anticipated for its flavourful nutrition. Young animals are growing up and being taught survival skills.

In human life, summer can picture early adulthood to middle age – a time of marriage, child bearing, bringing up children, and engaging in a productive career. Spiritually, it can be seen as a season for maturing – enjoying the new life in the Spirit, but also being disciplined and purified through tests and trials. Difficulties can include marriage problems, the challenging teenage years of growing children, unexpected illness, job loss, and financial losses.

From: Divine Reflections in Times and Seasons by Eva Peck

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Spring

Thornlands-19Nov10 036aSpring is a time of new beginnings – indeed a time of rebirth or resurrection in nature. What seemed dead suddenly shows signs of life. With the sun’s warming rays, growth and a flurry of activities resume after the cold deadness of winter. Shoots and buds appear, soon turning into leaves and flowers. Animals produce offspring and start nurturing the young. With its newness of life, this may be the loveliest time of the year.

In physical life, spring reflects birth and youth. It is a time of rapid growth – the change from a tiny bud to a leaf or flower, for example, seems phenomenal and takes place almost overnight. Likewise, a new-born baby grows, develops, and learns faster in its first year than at any other time in life.

Similarly in the spiritual life, spring pictures a new birth and life – the change that takes place in conversion. New Testament texts show that before con-version, non-believers are “dead in sins” and separated from God. With the new birth they receive new life and are now empowered to live for God.[1] A thus transformed individual who has been “born of the Spirit” excitedly learns about God, hungers for the divine way of life, and obeys God no matter what the cost. The Scriptures caution against losing this excitement, growth, and “first love”. [2]

The winter to spring transition can be seen as the change to take place in the resurrection – a glorious metamorphosis from death to eternal life, from cor-ruption to incorruption, from mortality to immortality. As trees shed their dry leaves, appear dead for a time, and then return to life in the spring, so too the human body ages and dies, but will yet come back to life in a resurrection as a spirit being.[3] Or, as some see it, at death, we leave behind the physical body and continue life in a spirit body which is free of the earthly encumbrances.

Spring is also a time when nature clothes itself with greenery. Lush meadows replace seemingly dead winter grass, and deciduous trees become attired with new bright green foliage. Clothes in the Bible symbolize virtue, while rags or nakedness portray unrighteousness.[4] As God clothes the grass, flowers and trees without any effort of their own, so he attires his people in righteousness – by grace, since salvation cannot be earned by human effort.[5]

Late spring (and early summer) is a period of maturing and bearing fruit. The small early harvest at this time of year depicts a young person growing into adulthood and beginning to contribute to the lives of others. In biblical metaphor, the virtuous are compared to fruitful trees, whereas the unrighteous are likened to fruitless, dead, or uprooted trees. The people of ancient Israel were to be a fruitful vineyard for God, but history shows they failed. Similarly, the people of God today are called to produce good fruit through Jesus Christ, the vine that they are a part of. Spiritual fruit such as love, peace, kindness and self-control is evidence of the Holy Spirit working in a person’s life.[6]

[1] John 3:3-8; 1 Peter 1:23; Ephesians 2:1, 4-7, 11-13; 4:20-21; Romans 6:1-14; 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

[2] Acts 2:44-47; 4:32-37; Matthew 24:12-13; Galatians 6:9-10; Philippians 2:12-13; Hebrews 12:3-4; Revelation 2:4-5

[3] 1 Corinthians 15:35-54

[4] Job 29:14; Isaiah 64:6; Zechariah 3:3-5; Revelation 3:4-5, 17-18; 6:9-11; 16:15; 19:8-9, 14

[5] Matthew 6:28-30; 22:9-11; Luke 24:49; Romans 13:14; Ephesians 2:8-10

[6] Psalm 1:1-6; 52:8; 92:12; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jude 1:10-12; Matthew 7:15-20; John 15:1-8; Galatians 5:22-25

From: Divine Reflections in Times and Seasons by Eva Peck

Posted in All in a Year, Spring | Tagged ,

Seasons of the Year

Seasons of yearA year is roughly the time it takes the earth to circle the sun on an elliptical (though nearly circular) path. This annual orbit, taking about 365 days, creates different seasons and weather patterns around the world. In equatorial areas, warm seasons only vary in the amount of rainfall. In the polar regions, daylight ranges from 24 hours a day to no daylight. The temperate zones of the earth have four seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter. These annual seasons can picture both human life on earth and God’s eternal plan for humanity as portrayed in the Holy Scriptures.

As the previous post illustrates, one’s individual world or the world at large can undergo a major transformation in a year – as if from winter to spring and summer or in reverse. Some lives may transition from one extreme to the other like the polar regions. Other individuals’ lives seem to be more on an even keel – similar to the tropical regions. However, just as weather is not fully predictable and seasons come and go, our life situations too are impermanent and can turn in unexpected directions. But there is always hope that even after a long, dark winter, eventually the sun will return – sometimes in the nick of time.

This essay focuses on the four seasons in temperate regions showing how each season can typify a stage in life and besides its challenges can also have much beauty.

(to be continued)

From: Divine Reflections in Times and Seasons by Eva Peck

Posted in All in a Year, Annual seasons | Tagged

All in a Year

Park in a foreign countryWhat a year it has been for our family and friends!

This time last year, we came back from Europe hoping to settle in the new home we had just purchased. But job search in Australia proved difficult and it became obvious that we had to go and teach overseas – this time in Asia. Through a set of amazing circumstances, teaching positions opened up for both of us in Choenan, South Korea. We had barely known the name of the capital, let alone where Choenan was. Now we are here – in a very foreign culture, unable to read signs on shops, and surrounded by people speaking an incomprehensible language, yet kind and eager to help in their broken English.

In the same year our friends had twins after ten years of trying and all but losing hope of conceiving. Another friend’s teenage daughter was tragically killed in a car accident – and emotionally her mother died with her. Our niece Evelyn got married and went to live in Latvia. Our nephew Carl and his partner had a baby boy to the delight of the new grandparents. Aunt Sylvia lost her husband to cancer after only five months since he was diagnosed with the disease. Uncle Jim and Aunt Ali divorced. Uncle Paul had a stroke and now his wife needs to care for him. Aunt Frances found out she had Parkinson’s disease. And Uncle John lost his wife in a devastating flash flood.

The world at large has also had a turbulent year. Financial turmoil, earthquakes in several areas, destructive fires in other regions, an oil spill devastating a pristine shoreline and its ecosystem, floods, draughts, civil wars, and more. Multiple thousands died in natural or man-made disasters, armed conflicts, or famines.

A year can bring major changes – both good and bad – into our lives. Situations can change from being single to getting married, from married life to divorce or widowhood, from being a couple to becoming a family, from health to terminal illness or disability. We may find ourselves in a new area, new job, or a new unexpected situation that we couldn’t have planned, foreseen or prepared for.

(to be continued)

From: Divine Reflections in Times and Seasons by Eva Peck

Posted in All in a Year | Tagged

Moon Phases in Biblical Israel

New moonThe calendar months of ancient Israel, referred to in the Old Testament, were based on the moon phases, as well as tied to the seasons and harvests of the year. The continued correspondence with the seasons was achieved by adding a thirteenth month seven times in 19 years, which made the Hebrew calendar luni-solar. (Some of the world’s calendars, such as the Islamic one, are based purely on the moon phases and hence are not tied to the seasons.) Each month started with a new moon and was marked by special worship. The first day of the first month, corresponding to March-April or spring in the northern hemisphere, was for Israel the beginning of the sacred year.[1]

In the first month (Hebrew Abib) and seventh month (Hebrew Tishri), special festivals occurred either on the new moon or the full moon. The Feast of Trumpets (Jewish Rosh Hashanah) was kept on the first day of the seventh month – a new moon. The Passover and the First Day of Unleavened Bread were kept on the fourteenth and fifteenth day of the first month – a full moon. The beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles (Jewish Sukkoth) was on the fifteenth day of the seventh month – also a full moon. Pentecost (referred to as the Feast of Weeks in the Old Testament) and the Day of Atonement (Jewish Yom Kippur) fell between the new moon and full moon.[2] Orthodox Jews are still observing these festivals. The Feast of Trumpets (Jewish Rosh Hashanah) marks the start of the civil year.

Based on related scriptures, the Feast of Trumpets, a new-moon festival, may be seen as foreshadowing Jesus Christ’s second coming to the earth, the near-ness and fruition of which will be heralded by a literal or figurative trumpet sound.[3] The Messiah’s return will be a dramatic turning point and a new beginning in world history. Scriptures refer to this period as the Day of the Lord or Day of God. It is also portrayed as a day of darkness, clouds and gloominess, war and slaughter, and judgment.[4] In contrast, for the people of God, it is a day of resurrection to eternal life – also a turning point and a new beginning in a glorified and immortal existence.[5]

It has been suggested that Jesus’ birth or first coming – another dramatic event in the history of Israel and humankind – also occurred at the time of the Feast of Trumpets, rather than on the traditionally observed December date. While this cannot be conclusively proven, certain biblical facts give support to the idea. Shepherds were keeping their flocks in the fields – December would have been too cold to do this in Palestine. A bright star appeared to herald Christ’s birth – suggesting a dark night rather than a full-moon night. Christ’s ministry started when he was about thirty and ended after three and a half years – in the middle of the first month, at Passover time.[6]

The full-moon festivals also point to climactic events. Passover and Unleavened Bread bring to remembrance the Exodus – God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt’s Pharaoh and grinding slavery. In its New Testament parallel and fulfilment, Jesus Christ, through his death, has delivered spiritual Israel, the church, from Satan and the power of death which enslaves all of us in fear. He inaugurated the new covenant and opened the way into the kingdom of God through forgiveness and reconciliation. Humans now have the opportunity to become children of God.[7] Jesus has also delivered each person turning to him from the slavery and penalty of sin.[8]

The Feast of Tabernacles, the last festival of the Israelite year, started at the time of the full moon and was a celebration of the main harvest. Some believe that when Jesus Christ returns, he and the immortal saints will rule on earth for a thousand years (or an indeterminate period), teaching humanity the ways of God. The festival could be seen as pointing to this period.[9] Another way of viewing this ancient harvest celebration is as the great harvest (typifying salva-tion) of all humanity. This is in contrast to the small first-fruit harvest commemorated during the spring and early summer festivals of Passover and Pente-cost.[10]

God’s kingdom over the earth is described as a time when the divine way of life will fill the earth, Satan will be forever banished, and all deception will come to an end. Wars, sickness, suffering, crying and death will be things of the past. The new earth, where God dwells with his people, will be full of light. Neither the sun nor the moon will be needed. With God being fully and totally all and in all, the climax of God’s plan of salvation will have been accomplished. But while we wait and look forward to this wonderful consummation, each month the changing moon in the sky can keep renewing our hope.[11]

[1] Numbers 10:10; 28:11-14; 2 Chronicles 8:12-13; Ezekiel 46:3; Amos 8:4-5; Exodus 12:2

[2] Leviticus 23:23-25, 5-8, 34-39; 15-16; 27-32

[3] Isaiah 27:13; Zechariah 9:14; Matthew 24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17; Revelation 8:2-10:7; 11:15-18

[4] Isaiah 13:9-13; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 30:2-3; Zephaniah 1:14-18; Revelation 16:14

[5] Daniel 12:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15:22-23, 50-54; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17; 5:8-10

[6] Matthew 2:1-2, 9; Luke 2:8-20; 3:23; John 18:28-32, 39-40

[7] Exodus 12:6-17, 21; John 1:10-13; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2:14-22; 3:1-6; Hebrews 2:14-15; 8:10-13; 10:16-20

[8] Romans 6:6-7, 11-14, 17-23; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8

[9] Revelation 20:1-6, Zechariah 14:16-21

[10] Exodus 23:16; 34:22; Matthew 9:35-38; 13:36-43; Revelation 14:15-16

[11] Isaiah 2:2-5; 11:6-10; Zechariah 14:5-9; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Revelation 21:1-5; 22:1-6
From: Divine Reflections in Times and Seasons by Eva Peck

Posted in All in a Month, Lunar Phases -- Symbolism | Tagged ,