Do not be afraid, you wild animals,
for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green.
The trees are bearing their fruit;
the fig tree and the vine yield their riches.
Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God,
for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful.
He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before.
The threshing floors will be filled with grain;
the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm— my great army that I sent among you. (NIV)
We may sometimes wonder if there is any hope of a new beginning, a turning of the corner, and end to the darkness. Circumstances may shout in our ear that we may as well give up. Write life off as a sad and sick joke. Things are bad and likely to get worse.
This is not the message of the Bible. Things can indeed get dark and gloomy, life can turn against us. God may seem far away and so dismissed. Biblical realism will have us confront such an experience, but it will not let us leave it at that.
This text is like many others which speak of a new beginning. The right rains will fall at the right time; there will be food enough for all; those wasted and dry locust ravaged years will pass. It all seems a bit too idealistic. And here we need to grasp the fact that we live in a time when the rule of God has broken in on the world but is not yet completed or fulfilled. We have a taste of heaven…but only a taste.
So these words will only truly come to pass in the new heavens and new earth. They are a promise projected into that future. However, they cannot be simply pushed forward to that perfect future. Given the fact we have a taste of heaven, we can see in these words a promise that despair and darkness are not the last word even in this present age. God is able to do a new thing here and now. We may be in a dark tunnel, but we may also recognise the light in it and look for signs of any new beginnings, no matter how small.