Today, Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow. According to folklore, this means an early spring. What makes this prognostication so surprising (I was surprised, at least) was the timing of it. In the midst of the largest winter storm this country has seen in 60 years, the groundhog predicts an early spring. Ironic is it not? As a majority of our country is gripped by winter’s icy wrath, the promise of reprieve is made. This winter will end. Spring will come and it might even come early.
So what does an over-sized rodent predicting the weather have to do with the Gospel? I would submit to you that it has everything to do with the gospel, as strange as that may sound. When we look at the broad sweep of history, we see that God is telling a story. It is a story of judging and saving, for His glory and our good. It is a story that we would never write ourselves. It is a story that in the midst of it, looks hopeless, as if the story is ending in defeat. It can be as bleak as the coldest and grayest of winter days. And then all the sudden, rays of light will pierce the clouds. Covenants renewed. Temples rebuilt. Lands long promised, fulfilled. Messiah born. Curses reversed. Wrath satisfied. Justice upheld. Grace extended. Mercy overflowing.
The Scriptures are filled with stories of ordinary people, who despite the deep darkness that surrounded them, trusted the promises of God and were eventually vindicated. The Scriptures are also filled with stories of ordinary people, who despite the lavish promises of God, trusted in themselves and were eventually destroyed.
For example, if we look at the story of the exodus, what do we see? After the plagues have ravaged Egypt, the Israelites are allowed to leave. But then Pharaoh changes his mind. He send his army and the Israelites are pinned between the sea and the rage of Pharaoh. It looks hopeless. The storm of Pharaoh looms, but God acts. The Red Sea is split and Israel escapes as God destroys Pharaoh’s army.
Fast forward to the time of Jesus. There was a buzz about him. People were talking. People were excited. A prophet of old has been risen up. But in a 24-hour period, it appeared to be over. Through a series of rigged trials, this powerful prophet had been murdered by his own people on a Roman cross. The icy wrath of God had fallen on the one whom many thought was the Chosen One, the Messiah. It appeared hopeless. But three days later, God acted and raised him from the dead in glory and power. Jesus was vindicated as King of kings and Lord of lords. To him was given the name Yahweh, which is the name above all names, for its is the name of God.