Nature isn't just a backdrop; it actively responds to God's presence. From mountains to seas, creation recognizes and reverberates with the divine, echoing biblical truths.
Psalm 114 — When Mountains Leap — Aneel Aranha
When Israel came out of Egypt,
Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.
The sea looked and fled,
the Jordan turned back;
the mountains leaped like rams,
the hills like lambs.
Why was it, sea, that you fled?
Why, Jordan, did you turn back?
Why, mountains, did you leap like rams,
you hills, like lambs?
Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water.
We often see nature as a backdrop to our lives. However, the biblical perspective is different. It it nature is an active participant in the grand narrative of God. The mountains, seas, and rivers aren't just passive elements; they're part of the story, responding in their own way to the Lord's actions.
This is what the psalmist is trying to portray in this psalm using vivid imagery. The psalmist describes the sea fleeing, the Jordan River reversing its course, and mountains and hills leaping and skipping. It's as if all of creation is responding to the presence and power of God.
Now, why would the sea "flee" or mountains "leap"? These poetic expressions capture the idea that nature acknowledges the sovereignty of God. The very elements of the earth, which seem so vast and powerful to us, become "emotional" in the presence of God.
The apostle Paul echoes similar emotions. He writes, "For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed... We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time" (Romans 8:19, 22).
Just as the psalmist paints a picture of nature responding to God's acts, Paul describes creation as being deeply connected to God's redemptive plan. Jesus said something about stones crying out if the people didn't.
During his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, a large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road, shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" and "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
However, some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" They were displeased with the praises and declarations of Jesus as the Messiah. In response to their request, Jesus said: "I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out" (Luke 19:40).
Jesus was saying that the moment was so significant, and the recognition of his messianic role so crucial, that if human voices were silenced, creation itself would bear witness to his identity and mission.
Let us keep these things in mind the next time we stand by the ocean or hike up a mountain, and think not just about how lovely the scene painted in front of us is, but also about how nature recognizes and reacts to the presence of God. It's a humbling and awe-inspiring thought that adds depth to our appreciation of the world around us.
God bless you.