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二○一九年十月五日/十月六日                                                                                   Click here for English version

在荒旱的年日裡結果子

周曉暉牧師

我們並沒有因為跟從耶穌,而天天活在「青草地、溪水旁」,有時也會身處「幽谷」般的時局和環境裡。

耶利米書十七章 5-8 節,以兩種植物來比喻落在困境中的兩類人:第一類,是心偏離上主,只倚靠個人力量的。他們好像沙漠中的灌木,當「福樂來到,他也必看不見,卻要住在曠野乾旱之地、無人居住的鹹地」(6 節,新譯本)。第二類,是心倚靠上主,仍以上主為可信的。他們好像一棵栽在水邊的樹,這樹的根伸進河裡,當「炎熱來到,並不害怕,樹葉仍然繁茂」,即使在荒旱之年,他們都「不掛慮,並且不斷結果子」(8 節)。

驟眼看來,沙漠中的灌木和河邊的樹,像是生活在兩種環境裡。但經文卻是指在同一曠野環境裡生長的兩種植物,大家是一起面對酷熱又嚴苛的環境。

耶利米書在危急存亡的時代背景下,揭示了忠於上主的人和其他人一樣,面對著同一的嚴苛環境,經歷有如「幽谷」般的時局。正因為時勢險惡,許多人慌忙地找尋可見的保障,更難相信「看不見」的上主。他們猶如灌木一樣,一旦乾風吹至,很快就枯乾。

但上主宣告,凡倚靠祂的人,過去所領受的恩典,足以在荒年使用,好像那「樹根伸進河裡」的樹,終必得到福樂。據說,這種樹就是聖經常提及的皂莢樹,其木材抗火力特別好,因而被用來作會幕器具的材料。

皂莢樹雖生長於旱地,但仍持續成長,不斷往乾涸的河床扎根,並靜待偶發的暴雨降下。一旦雨水匯聚成激流,河床再度注滿水,伸展甚廣的樹根就能儲存大量水分,留待荒旱的年日使用。反之,灌木卻偏離河床,當暴雨降下,灌木會迅速生長,但乾旱來到就枯乾,不能保持常綠。

此時此地,人人都經歷猶如炎熱乾旱的煎熬。但因為我們過去已領受上主的教導,一直緊緊靠著祂,知道主恩夠用。所以,我們能夠不害怕、不掛慮。

不但如此,皂莢樹更是他人的祝福。其樹蔭寬闊,成為旅人在艷陽下的天然涼亭。其豆莢形的果實會按時結出,使曠野小動物有糧可吃。

正正因為身處這「幽谷」般的時局和環境裡,我們仍要按時結出生命美善的果實,領人認識真正使人得福的上主。下週五和週六晚上,分別有堂慶佈道會「愛超越一切」和「沉抓」(週六晚上這場特別適合年青人參加),請領人赴會。




Pastor's Sharing
Bearing Fruit during the Drought
Rev Arnold Chow

Following Jesus does not entail "green pastures" and "quiet waters" alone. At times, we see hard times and circumstances – our "darkest valley."

Jeremiah 17:5-8 likens two kinds of people in distress to two kinds of plants:

The first are those whose hearts turn away from the Lord and who depend on the strength of man. They are like a bush in the wastelands and “they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives" (v.6).

The second are those who trust in the Lord and whose confidence is in Him. They are like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. “It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (v.8).

The environments for the bush in the wastelands and the tree by the water would seem to be different, but the passage here really refers to two plants in one desert environment. Both face scorching heat and harsh circumstances.

Against the background of major crisis, the Book of Jeremiah says that those who trust in the Lord meet difficult times and circumstances just like other people. They have their "darkest valley." In the crisis, many panic-stricken would seek visible guarantees. They find it hard to trust in the invisible Lord. They are like a bush in the wastelands that withers as soon as the dry wind blows.

But the Lord proclaims that for those who trust in Him, the grace that they have received will take them through the hard times. They will be like the tree that sends out roots by the stream, ending up in blessing and happiness. It has been said that this tree refers to the shittah tree, the acacia wood of which is often mentioned in the Bible. The wood is noted for fire-resistance and is a material for tabernacle items.

The shittah tree grows in dry places. Its roots grow deep into the riverbed that is dried up. The tree keeps growing while awaiting occasional rainstorms. Once the raindrops gather into streams and fill the riverbed, the tree's far-reaching roots will store up a lot of water for the drought. On the other hand, the bush does not grow by the riverbed. When rainstorms come, the bush grows fast but it withers once the drought comes.

Now in this city, everybody has experienced a lot of torment. It is just like a drought. But since we have been taught by the Lord and have all along depended greatly on Him, we know that His grace is sufficient. Thus no fears, no worries.

Moreover, the shittah tree is a blessing to others. It provides extensive shade for travelers. It bears pod-shaped seasonal fruit which feeds small animals in the wilderness.

Even in "the darkest valley," we need to bear good seasonal fruit of life and lead others to God who bestows real blessings. Please take your friends and relatives to the evangelistic meetings, "Love transcends everything" (coming Friday) and "Sink, seize, seek" (coming Saturday), both in the evening, with the Saturday meeting particularly suitable for young people.