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Marian Shek

In the temperate regions of the world, autumn is a time of transition. As the air chills, the leaves turn to gold and fall from the trees. Animals begin to store food, or fatten themselves up, ready for hibernation. In times past, many cultures would store provisions to see them through the lean winter months, so a bountiful autumn harvest was crucial to their preparations.

In Palestine, autumn is the time of the early rain—showers which soften the ground after the dry and arid summer. This prepares the soil so that farmers can plough and sow their fields. If there is no early rain, the ground would be unable to absorb any heavy deluges. Once the seed is planted, the farmer only has to wait patiently for springtime, when the crops will grow. Rather than a darkening time of approaching hardship, autumn is in fact a time of hope and preparation for the future.

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. (Jas 5:7)

The writers of the Bible saw the giving of rain as a sign of God’s faithfulness and providence. In spiritual terms, the autumn showers point to the depth of God’s love and grace in that He has already prepared the ground for the salvation of His elect.

The roots of God’s salvation plan, planted before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4), is seeded throughout the history and prophecies of the Old Testament. Without fail, many of these promises have blossomed and borne fruit in the events of the New Testament and in the end time. The rest will surely come to pass—all we need to do is trust God’s word, and ensure that our faith is built on the foundation laid by Christ.

This is why, as this issue’s theme article “Late Autumn Trees Without Fruit” warns, we should beware of apostates who would spread the disease of heresy, sowing doubt in God’s words and causing disunity throughout God’s vineyard, the church.

Everything laid down in the Old Testament was written for our learning (Rom 15:4). Part one of “The Dwelling Place Where God Has Chosen to Establish His Name” looks at Shiloh, which was the first center of worship for Israel, and sees in it the significance of finding the one church with God’s presence. This, and many other articles in this issue, highlights how Old Testament examples resonate with our lives today, outlining teachings which are so pertinent for God’s chosen people.

Our God is the same today, yesterday and forever (Heb 13:8), and He has clearly prepared a path of salvation and hope for us. With this comforting knowledge, we can all the more cultivate ourselves to bear good fruit for the Lord (“Now Is the Time to Bear Fruit”), and hold fast to His promises when we see winter approaching (“Be Thou My Vision”).