by J. Randal Matheny, editor
During the last week, our summer temperatures have soared. I grew up in rural Arkansas among the cotton and soybean fields. In those days, nobody had air conditioning, and we seemed to get through the humid summers with no major problems. Seems to me, though, that the tropical heat is, well, hotter.
The tropical heat saps your strength and plays with your mind. People have been known to go to a mall or other commercial establishment just for the air conditioning. I’ve never done such a thing, of course.
In Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard, those who had “borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat” complained that they didn’t earn more than the latecomers who put in an hour’s worth of light labor (Matthew 20:12 NET). Jesus’ point: “So the last will be first, and the first last” (v. 16). The Lord can call whomever he wants, whenever he wishes. The Jews would discover that the Lord would fling open the door to the Gentiles. The gospel is for all.
Scorching heat also reminds us of spiritual obtuseness. Jesus chided the Jews, again, for not reading the times and recognizing him as the Messiah. “And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and there is” (Luke 12:55). They were good weather forecasters (better than today?), but couldn’t recognize God’s working among them.
James says also that heat reminds us it will soon be our time to go. “For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits” (James 1:11 ESV). So when I’m sweating it out in my office or out on the street, that’s a point I need to remember. We won’t last much longer in this sauna.
And then a relieving note from Revelation where John describes the martyrs who washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb, part of it a quote from Isaiah.
For this reason they are before the throne of God, and they serve him day and night in his temple, and the one seated on the throne will shelter them. They will never go hungry or be thirsty again, and the sun will not beat down on them, nor any burning heat, because the Lamb in the middle of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Revelation 7:15-17 NET
They say the Middle East is a hot land. That description must have sounded wonderful to a people castigated by the intense heat. It sounds wonderful to me just now.
So as I sit and sweat out the summer inside the Tropic of Capricorn, the heat gives me plenty to ponder. Rather, the Word provides the fodder that keeps the bothered mind on its Master.