Kay Cude is a Texas Poet. Used with permission.
Kay Cude is a Texas Poet. Used with permission.
Our Bible Reading Plan for today is Isaiah 12-17. The cycle in the Prophets is one of promise of judgment, judgment, repentance, and restoration. Repeat. The judgment parts are rough. In the passage from chapter 13, in the KJV we read,
Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. (Isaiah 13:6)
The promised judgment was coming soon, and it did. This chapter also looks ahead to the final judgment of Babylon in the Day of the LORD as seen in Revelation 18:2. Isaiah 12 was a comforting passage, a song of praise. Then we get to the promise of destruction against that most unholy of cities: Babylon. I read once someone termed the Bible as a tale of Two Cities: Babylon and Jerusalem. They weren’t far off.
Of course, what the cities represent is what it’s all about. Unholiness of Babylon, the world and its systems, and the holiness of Jerusalem, where God has set His name and soon will dwell personally.
Having come to the Lord later in life, I vividly remember being inside the unholy world system and wondering why I felt uncertainty, restlessness, and fear at different times. The specter of death with the unknown beyond will definitely do that to you.
In the KJV the word ‘howl’ made me think of Allen Ginsberg’s famous poem called Howl. Its imagery burns into one’s mind with a sulfur strike white hotness emblazoned like a photo negative. It’s an angry poem, raging against the darkness and essentially crying out “Why is it like this? Why?” The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 2:1, Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? and Howl (as are so many poems) is just the pagan version of that scripture.
Ginsberg said some of the imagery in the poem came from a bad peyote trip he’d taken where he saw the apartment building he was staying in morphed into the face of a child-eating demon he later called Moloch.
In the Bible, there really is a child-eating demon-god named Moloch to whom the people sacrificed their children.
Romans 1:18 says that the unrighteous suppress the truth. They are aware of the truth, and despite pressing it down away from consciousness, at some level they connect with it. They detect its convicting tendrils creeping upward from the polluted recesses of their heart, only to be smashed down in howling rage. We see that in Ginsberg’s Howl, and we see it in Yeats’ poem The Second Coming, where Yeats used religious imagery to make his point.
Yeats hadn’t taken a peyote button, but he was heavily involved in occult practices such as calling up demons and channeling and seances and the like. He sought visions, and he got them. So, similar to Ginsberg, the imagery in Yeats’ vision tapped the well of dark truth suppressed deep within his soul. Not comprehending it, the pagans rage. Yeats’ soul seethed and stormed, you can feel that his poem is a bellow into the gaping maw of black eternity, only to be silently swallowed by a dark and depraved infinite, and in the end, pitiful howl making no more noise than an owl’s winged whisper.
In the Isaiah passage today, the LORD promises destruction upon Babylon. Their near future and their far future contain the coming of the LORD in wrath for their unrighteous deeds. He is telling them in advance, ‘Howl, for your destruction is sure!’ This is the end which the pagans rail against. It is the end that all the unrighteous suppress in wickedness, but still lay coiled nasty to spring up and swallow souls whole. Howl, you Babylonians. Wail, you pagans, because justice, knife sharp and cleanly pure, will separate you from this earth with a flick.
Comparing the language and imagery used in various pagan poems.
Poetry by Kay Cude. Used with permission. Artist’s statement below.
I keep returning to our (me!!) needing to “remember” God’s promises and provision. GOD THE I AM is the only fortress in Whom we find a righteous protector, defender and provider. He is the only place of eternal refuge from the world’s continuing tragedies and chaos. He is the stronghold Who is and Who will provide peace, wisdom, understanding, instruction and endurance.
Kay Cude is a Texas poet. Used with permission. Artist’s statement below. Click to enlarge.
For too many years I had little concept of what “walking in the Light of Christ” actually meant, even less what it involved! And for those countless years, even though I attended Sunday school and church, I somehow missed the “truth” about that walk! It was made real to me when I finally realized that my flesh was in control of “my” journey. “My way” had led me into years of Biblical ignorance and error and opened the door to deception. What a shock it was when I realized where I was spiritually…
We must each reach that defining point in our lives when we really desire to understand, believe and act upon these TRUTHS:
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you– unless indeed you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5)
…”If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;” (John 8:31)
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
“THY WORD IS A LAMP UNTO MY FEET, AND A LIGHT UNTO MY PATH.” (Psalm 119:105)
One of the oldest surviving poems in written form is the Middle English poem Wynter awakeneth all my care. It is thought the poem was written in about 1340, before even Chaucer wrote.
|Click to enlarge|
As A Clerk of Oxford wrote on their blog,
A translation is inadequate, though; a lot of the power of the poem is in the rhymes, and the untranslatable negatives, especially ‘Nou hit is, and nou hit nys, / Also hit ner nere, ywys’. There are some clever touches, such as the phrase waxeth bare: ‘waxen’ can just mean ‘to become’, but it usually means specifically to ‘grow’ (like the moon, which waxes and wanes; do we use the word in any other context now?). But when leaves fall, waxing bare, it’s the exact opposite of growth; it’s death and depletion.
From the Library of the University of Rochester, we read,
Al that gren me graveth grene. “All that seed men bury unripe.” … “to put something under the ground, cover with earth; bury; plant.” There is no MED gloss for gren, a much-discussed crux, sometimes emended to grein, “grain, seed” (suggestive of John 12:24–25: “Amen, amen I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falling to the ground die, itself remaineth alone. But if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit”).
Regarding the world’s joy…Spring is certainly a joyous time. Shoots and leaves burst forth. Time-lapse photography on the nature channels show flowers veritably bounding from the soil. Flora’s vivid early spring colors bring smiles to all who see.
Summer simmers into a dreamy and languid time. One’s cares still crowd the thoughts, but they are less potent, their robustness competing with sunny joys and relaxing pursuits.
Fall’s surge of color and riotous leaf swarms in wild wind both delight and vex. Stooping to pick up a brightly colored leaf, craning to see the Vee-shape of birds scuttling south, glancing at rushing clouds and crystal skies, breathing the crisp air…
Sadly, these momentary flares of color and movement are soon doused in the harsh embrownment of the darkling season. Winter. No better description of the ground and sky at late fall exists, in my opinion, than Thomas Hardy’s opening scene of The Return of the Native–
A Saturday afternoon in November was approaching the time of twilight, and the vast tract of unenclosed wild known as Egdon Heath embrowned itself moment by moment. Overhead the hollow stretch of whitish cloud shutting out the sky was as a tent which had the whole heath for its floor.
The heaven being spread with this pallid screen and the earth with the darkest vegetation, their meeting-line at the horizon was clearly marked. In such contrast the heath wore the appearance of an instalment of night which had taken up its place before its astronomical hour was come: darkness had to a great extent arrived hereon, while day stood distinct in the sky.
Winter’s dark death, dearth of color and lack of life…
Nou hit is, and nou hit nys, Also hit ner nere, ywys; (Now it is and not it isn’t, as if it never had been, indeed!). And yet, what a time, the bleak midwinter, to praise the Lord for all life! He has stripped away the distracting color and movement and delights of flora, and shown us His manifest care. In the bleak midwinter, one that awakeneth all my sorrow, He sustains all life, precious but hidden in His hand. “All passes but God’s will”.
How kind of Him to allow this fallow time so as to see new life resurrecting in spring, just as He came to life from the dead. The frigid season is one that entombs itself but then again bursts with life and joy and color soon enough. “It all goes to nought”, for only a season. The grace of this cyclical and everlasting flourishing is bounteous and beauteous. God is in control!
For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16-17).
The supremacy of Christ, spring, summer, fall, and winter, everlasting supremacy and everlasting life. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. (John 1:4)
Jesus, help that this be known,
And shield us from hell,
For I know not whither I’ll go,
Nor how long here dwell.
No matter. The dormant seed entombed in ice, fleeting on scudding wind, or falling unnoticed on harsh road, I am that unripe seed, not knowing how long here I dwell. But secure am I that as wynter comes, even a death, I will spring forth in joy and color and movement from the very grave that seeks to grip me fast, but never can. The springtime of the eternity in Jesus awaits.
Kay Cude poetry, click to enlarge. Used with permission
Kay Cude poetry. Used with permission. Click to enlarge photo
I want to emphasize the reflection of the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah onto the hill and upon Lot’s wife (upon whom the result of disobedience was borne). I want to remind all of us, the redeemed, that our return to our sins we forsook can also cast a reflection upon our witness and lives. My intent is not to judge any of my brothers and sisters in Christ; I remind myself that I too have the “flesh” that battles against me.
A return to Romans 7:15-25 is the answer we love: it is Christ we desire controlling our thoughts, speech and actions. “For I (we) joyfully concur with the Law of God in the inner man.” On that day we “anticipate,” that predetermined day known by God, we’ll join Christ in the air to be with Him forever more. At that moment, we will no longer be clothed with our fleshly nature!! YES!!! Blessings!! Kay
Click to enlarge. Used with permission
I was compelled to do a piece about “unity in Christ” and what Christ means, not what “we” assume He means. [The picture] is Christ the Lamb of God who manifested all that “unity” of the redeemed in God the Father and God the Son!
Photo and poetry below. Used with permission. Click to enlarge.
|Click to enlarge. Published with permission|
I was compelled to say something that spoke encouragement for “the saved to continue on,” even while recognizing and knowing the true character of sin, the taste and its aroma. Our efforts to reach the lost becomes harder each day; the news-media ridicules Christ’s redeemed, and with deceptive words, demands we not speak Gospel Truth. But we must “continue on.” I must keep fresh in my mind that previous centuries of the lost hated Christ, and that this present century of the lost will hate us (even as we the “saved” seek their rescue).