How we understand the seasons in the Bible is dependent on our relationship with God, the One who created and sustains them. There is opportunity for us to see and understand something of the character of God in the beauty of the changing seasons, and in their order and rhythm. The natural seasons mark the passing of time, but more than that, they can speak to us of the constancy and provision of God.
Seasons in the Bible
God created, and sustains, the seasons
At the beginning, on the fourth day of Creation, God set the sun and the moon in place to govern the orderly cycle of life. Simply put the earth orbits the sun, but because its axis is tilted different parts of the planet get the sun’s direct rays at different times of the year – and so we have seasons.
“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vaults of the sky to give light on the earth.’ And it was so.Genesis 1:14-15
The natural seasons are a reminder of the awe and majesty of God as our Creator. We also have a promise from God that the seasons are a sign of the earth continuing and enduring. They can and should bring assurance of God’s faithfulness, to those who love Him, as we see time relentlessly unfurling.
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”Genesis 8:22
Creation reveals the character of God
God’s glory is displayed for all to see in the awesome power and beauty of His creation. The character of God is visible through the ongoing cycle of the natural seasons, how it all fits and holds together. For those of us who love the Lord, the display of the seasons stirs praise and worship in our hearts.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”Romans 1:20
Four Seasons in the Bible
The four natural seasons described in the Bible, relate to the agricultural seasons of Israel at that time. Most of the rainfall there is between October and March. It begins with the autumn rains in October/November which lead into winter. Then the lighter spring rains come in April/May and mark the end of winter and the beginning of summer, the dry season. In Biblical times, most of the crops would have been harvested between April and June. Then the cycle of ploughing and sowing would begin again, between October and December, when the autumn rains had softened the ground.
Today, with modern agricultural and irrigation methods, food production is not so dependent on the seasons – and we are not so in tune with the natural cycle of creation. But, are we missing out? If we don’t see and understand the character of God through the natural order, how will we understand the spiritual seasons of our lives?
What are the spiritual seasons?
Spiritual seasons are an analogy reflecting on the characteristics of the natural season in our lives and our relationship with the Lord.
Springtime – Spiritual New Growth
“See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”Song of Songs 2:11-12
Springtime is a celebration, a time of bird song! We leave the cold and darkness of winter behind and embrace the increased warmth and light, with anticipation of new life and growth. Spiritually this is the season of release and fresh opportunities, with a feeling of freedom and liberty. A time to step out into the potential and possibilities before us and to trust in God for something new.
Summer – Spiritual Bounty or Drought?
Summer begins with nurturing and establishing the right conditions to encourage and sustain growth. In the long days and the warmth of the sun, it is the time to see the fruit appearing, and the opportunity to harvest. Spiritually summer can be the time of persistent effort but with the reward of seeing results for the labour. It is often thought of as the time of fullness and plenty, the time of receiving abundant blessing.
But, Biblically, there is also another reflection on summer, as in the ‘heat of affliction’, a time of drought and difficulty, where there does not appear to be any respite or relief.
“For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”Psalm 32:4
There are times when we can experience a dry season in our relationship with the Lord, when God seems remote and distant, and we are battling with problems and difficulties. We may feel overwhelmed, that life is a struggle, and our strength is giving way. Our focus can become our practical problems, and we feel worried and anxious all of the time.
I have been in that season where the spiritual battle was in my refusal to give my problems and cares to God. I didn’t see it straight away, as anxiety is insidious, it creeps up and takes hold of you! But, God is more than able to deal with whatever seems insurmountable to us! When we submit, and let go of our anxieties, and choose in that hard place to trust in God, there comes a shift and a change. As we lift our eyes to God, there comes a fresh perspective, a glimmer of hope for the autumn rains! A time of refreshing will come – the change may not be instant or overnight, but God is faithful.
“I am a child who finally knows enough to know that I don’t know much and that it is perfectly possible to trust in things I don’t fully understand…..I’d rather have a little faith in a great, big unshakeable God than a great big unshakeable faith in a little god unworthy of the title.”
how to pray – a simple guide for normal people. Pete Greig
Autumn – Spiritual Patience and A Fresh Start
“Be patient, then, brothers and sisters’ until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains.”James 5:7
Autumn, in the Bible, is signalled by rain showers which break the summer drought and start to soften the ground ready for ploughing and sowing again. Spiritual autumn is a time to reflect on our partnership with the Lord, and our dependency on Him. The balance between what we are prompted to do and what only God can do. It is the time for a fresh start – to receive refreshing and then to step out again. Maybe to move into a new area, a place you have never been before? To break up the dry and hard ground, which has now been softened and is ready to receive. A time to do what God is prompting us to do and then to wait patiently on Him.
“Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unploughed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.”Hosea 10:12
Winter – Spiritual Resilience
“As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”Isaiah 55:10-11
We need the winter! The weather, particularly in Biblical times, restricted travel. People needed to plan their journeys, either to be home during winter or to ‘winter over’ in another safe place. Spiritual winter is a time to deepen our roots and to withstand any opposition or storms with resilience. It may be rough outside but we have peace and security within. A time of invisible growth and for planning with hope for the future – spring will come again. But, for now, we are developing gratitude for the shelter and protection that we have, and are thankful for the time to renew our strength.
What does the Bible say about seasons in your life?
There are different stages of our lives that come naturally with our development and progression. As we move through life there are defining moments, school, college, and career, are the most common. Then our unique choices, marriage and parenthood, being one, although there are many other options and routes that we may take. All the different stages of our lives have an impact in shaping and moulding us into who we are. Scripture recognises, however, that there are different times or seasons of our life that can come at any stage.
But they are not random, God has set our times and boundaries in place, not just for nations, but for us as individuals. We are where we are right now for a reason, and sometimes that can be hard to perceive or understand. Ultimately, we come to a place of trust, that God works all things together for our good – and that maybe for our eternal well-being. From the position of acceptance and trust, in the arms of the Father, it is possible to embrace every season of life!
Our perspective on this season of our life will be dependent on our perspective of God.Tweet
Sometimes we need to step outside of our normal box, and look up and out to the limitless horizon, to the vast open space of God’s grace. God called Abram out of his tent, to remove the boundaries and restrictions to his vision, so that God could reveal the vastness of His promise to him. Time after all is a gift from God and in every season there are possibilities to expand our vision and further grow and develop our relationship with Him.
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