Rewarded for Reverence
Sometimes metaphors in the Bible are lost on modern generations— especially images that have to do with agriculture and animals (witness the proliferation of “petting zoos”!). But in the biblical world, especially the Old Testament, such images are common and instructive.
Anyone who has spent time on a farm has spent time smiling at young calves at play—especially when they first come bounding out of the barn. On legs that seem semi-locked at the knees, they almost bounce across the fields as they frolic in their new-found freedom. A cool morning, unlimited pasture, nowhere to go and nothing to do but eat, frolic, eat, frolic, eat and frolic some more. Complete freedom mixed with boundless cow-joy is the life of the calf. Watching calves play brings one kind of smile, and reading about them in God’s own words brings another.
Through the prophet Malachi, God said that a day is coming that is a day of judgment—the day of the Lord (Mal. 4:1, 5). More than a 24-hour period (though it will happen at a time and place), the day of the Lord is that final culmination of events in which God judges and rewards humanity. While it is a day to fear for the “arrogant and . . . evildoer” (Mal. 4:1), those who have feared (revered) the Lord will be like calves released from the stall! The “sun of righteousness” (a metaphor for God; Isa. 60:1, 19) will warm the fields of heaven, and the righteous will go out and “leap like calves” in the pure pleasure of boundless bliss and fenceless freedom. Would God have pictured those who fear him as frolickers in heaven if he himself was not happy for us? It is a sign of his great love, and the rewards that he has in store for those who have revered his name, that he speaks in such endearing terms about the happiness our future holds.
If you have never seen a calf come frolicking out of its stall into the fields, find one to watch. The smile you cannot stop is the smile that will never stop when you enjoy the rewards God has for you in heaven.
God’s Promise to You: “It gives me great joy to plan great joy for those who revere my name.”
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