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The Moon, a Medieval Poem, and Jeremiah

During these long winter evenings in Scotland I enjoy going out in the dark and stretching my legs a little. Recently we had a beautifully bright, full moon on a clear night. As I looked up in wonder, I remembered some of the first Latin words I ever learnt in school, a good many moons ago: ‘O Fortuna / velut luna / statu variabilis’. It is the first part of the medieval poem ‘O Fortuna’, which in turn is part of the ‘Carmina Burana’, later set to music by Carl Orff. The poem is an Ode to ‘Fortune’ and, not surprisingly, it’s rather dark and depressing in content. Roughly translated it reads something like, ‘Fortune, like the moon, ever-changing in state’. The author bemoans the fact that his lot in life is unpredictable and that his fate is unreliable, and he compares this to the ever-changing appearance of the moon.

How different things are for those who know their Maker! Though our lives certainly do go through ups and downs, we are never just victims of blind fate or of unfeeling forces of fortune. Instead, we rest secure in the loving and capable hands of a faithful and unchanging God.

More than 2500 years ago Jeremiah too saw the same moon, but instead of bemoaning his fate, the Holy Spirit led him to understand the profound steadiness of God’s covenant faithfulness.

‘Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD of hosts is his name: “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever”’ (Jeremiah 31: 35-36).

“Yes”, Jeremiah might have said if he were to have had the chance to read ‘O Fortuna’. “It’s true that the moon’s appearance keeps changing. But the fact remains that it’s always there, since God put it there and keeps it there, for as long as He wants. Likewise, no matter what might happen, we will be His people until the end of time”.

God’s covenant faithfulness to Israel is incredible. It does not take long to figure out that Israel’s behaviour towards Him has been appalling and does not in any way merit His benevolence towards them. Yet God remains faithful to His people. He cannot and will not change. He will not let go of those He has chosen. This is fantastic news for all of those who belong to Him. We may let Him down at times, but He will never change His mind toward us!

Israel’s Messiah arrived, as promised, at the time set by our Father in heaven. As we are in the season of celebrating this wonderful promise, we can rest in knowing that He will also fulfil that other promise, that He will come again, in the time set by the Father, so we will be with Him, forever. Life as we know it may be eve- changing, but God’s plans and purposes will forever stay the same.

Prayer: Father, thank You that I am not a victim of fortune, but that You plan all things well. Amen.


 

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Scripture

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.
Deuteronomy 7:9, ESV

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Today's Writer

Peter Brokaar is Director of Ellel Ministries Scotland and has been there together with his wife Liz since 2005. They have 3 kids, all born in Scotland! In his free time he likes reading, cooking, running and surfing. Being at Ellel Scotland has given him the privilege of getting to know God deeper and sharing that joy with many others.

Peter Brokaar


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