The poetic language of the Psalms and of the Prophets, and the illustrations of Jesus, resonate with rich meaning that guides us through many different circumstances in our lives and our civilizations—many different types of “smoke” and “wildfire”.
Recently, an ad popped up on my iPhone.
It said, “Prepare for wildfire smoke.” Such a command is relevant for those of us living here in San Jose. With Climate Change, we can easily have to contend with smoke from wildfires for several months each year.
I hate such pop-ups. I quickly deleted the ad without reading its text.
But then, I got thinking.
—What should we do when God tells us, “Prepare for ‘smoke’ from ‘wildfires’ in your life?”
—What should we do to protect ourselves and our civilizations from the “smoke” from “wildfires”?
—What should we do to put out “wildfires” in our lives and in our civilizations so they stop causing “smoke”?
—What should we do to prevent “wildfires” in our lives and in our civilizations so there is never any “smoke” in the first place?
Let’s start with the first question.
—From what kinds of “smoke” do we and our civilizations need to be protected?
—What kinds of “wildfires” impact ourselves and our civilizations?
—How do we protect ourselves and our civilizations from such “smoke” and “wildfires”?
Each of these questions is worthy of an entire book. How can I make my answer manageable?
I’m going to resort to the poetry of the Psalms and of the Prophets, and to the illustrations taught us by Jesus.
The poetic language of the Psalms and of the Prophets, and the illustrations of Jesus, resonate with rich meaning that guides us through many different circumstances in our lives and our civilizations—many different types of “smoke” and “wildfires”.
For example, the Twenty-Third Psalm has given people and civilizations comfort at innumerable times and in innumerable ways for three thousand years!
Sometimes, the “smoke” is economic hardship.
The poetry of the Twenty-Third Psalm comforts us by teaching that the LORD is our shepherd; we shall not lack anything! (Psalm 23:1).
Jesus made the same point by assuring us that he is our Good Shepherd (John 10:10-11) and by teaching us this famous illustration:
“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:28-29 KJV).
Sometimes, the “wildfires” are illness, death, mass shootings, terrorism, and war.
The poetry of the Twenty-Third Psalm comforts us by teaching:
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: for though art with me;
thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:
my cup runneth over. (Psalm 23:4-5 KJV).
Jesus made the same points by assuring us that—no matter how difficult life becomes—all of us who are weary and heavy-laden should come to him because he is gentle and humble in heart. And so, he will give us rest and we will find rest for our souls. (Matthew 11:28-30).
Jesus made the same points by assuring us that—no matter how many enemies we face—he will prepare a table for us that overflows with abundance because whoever comes to Jesus will never hunger and whoever believes in Jesus will never thirst. (John 10:10; John 6:35; Matthew 5:6).
Jesus made the same points by teaching us this famous illustration:
“[E]veryone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25).
Sometimes the “wildfires” and “smoke” seem more powerful than the goodness, love and mercy of the LORD.
Nevertheless, the poetry of the Twenty-Third Psalm comforts us by assuring us that the goodness, love and mercy of the LORD are more powerful than any “wildfires” and “smoke”.
The poetry of the Twenty-Third Psalm comforts us by assuring us we will dwell in the house of the LORD—a house that no wildfire can damage or destroy because it overflows with the goodness, love and mercy of the LORD.
Jesus made the same point by teaching us:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”
“My Father’s house has many rooms . . .. I am going there to prepare a place for you . . . I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:1-3,27).
And so, the Twenty-Third Psalm and Jesus agree!
We can live in peace without fear or troubled hearts. Regardless of how fiercely “wildfires” and “smoke” besiege our lives and our civilizations.
For more of my thoughts about the Twenty-Third Psalm, please read my blog “Hesed Blesses Forever—David”.
For more of my thoughts about how Jesus embodies and fulfills the ideals of the Law of Moses and of the Prophets, please read my blogs “Jesus Embodies Hesed—The Vision of Isaiah”, “Jesus Embodies Hesed—Fulfilling the Law of Moses and the Prophets”, “Jesus Embodies Hesed—Sowing the Ideals of the Law of Moses and the Prophets”, and “Jesus Embodies Hesed—Saving Lost Sheep, Lost Coins, and Lost Sons”.