[All Scripture quotations are taken from the N.I.V.]




There comes a time when people decide to tidy things up in their garden after the winter to prepare for the season ahead: and as every gardener knows, this work is necessary for the garden to produce its best fruit, vegetables and flowers.  In other words, it is necessary to cultivate the ground well if you want the plants to grow and to produce their best’.


A gardener may plan and lay out a good garden with the best of preparations and plants but it has to be looked after if it is to produce its best.  Leave it untended, even for a short period of time, and the weeds will soon begin to take over.


A good gardener can go into a long-neglected garden and re-create it again.  The gardener’s name is JESUS.  This present EARTH which He created is His garden.


Michael Whitely of Inspirational Media America, (instrumental in setting up the Northern Ireland Community Co- operation Initiative [NICCI] ) had a plan - a concept for a peace fountain – which was placed in a town garden.  See it illustrated throughout.


It was proposed that a permanent symbol celebrating the new beginning for communities through Northern Ireland following the Belfast Agreement should be created’ and Coleraine Borough Council agreed to provide a site for the Peace fountain in their Borough.


Some time later the heavy machinery arrived, the site was cleared, and the majority of the local population began to wonder what was happening. ‘Have you seen what they have done to the old rose garden?  Such a shame; all those beautiful roses rooted up!  And they took away the little wooden seat and shelter!  The whole site has been cleared!’


Then a ‘pile-driver’ arrived and began pounding large concrete and steel posts into the ground an in the centre of the site. ‘What is this area going to be used for?  What are they going to build here?’  Something very special is to be erected on this spot; something to remind the local people that war, religious hatred, strife and bitterness was futile, and not found anywhere in God’s plans for the future.


The local press provided more information:-


“A unique piece of sculpture, The Phoenix Peace Fountain, with its symbolic promise of a ‘new beginning,’ was en route from the United States of America.


This fountain, part of which consists of melted down firearms from the U S A, is designed on the ‘Causeway Stone’ theme.  It incorporates all the elements that were formerly believed to compose the physical universe and is designed in the shape of the causeway stones with a phoenix bird on top.  The twenty-six granite like pillars give the appearance of the Giant’s Causeway and represent the 26 Council areas in Northern Ireland - the height of each pillar reflecting the present population of each area.


The phoenix bird represents Northern Ireland rising from the ashes of past violence and resurrecting itself for a promising new future.  The bird sits atop the pillars in its nest of melted guns, spreading its wings over the 26 columns in protective gesture.  Special night-time lighting gives the effects of flames surrounding the nest.


The base of the fountain is six-sided to represent the six counties of the Province with each side etched with a landscape reflective of that area.  Six stars on each of the county seals represent the six American states that aided in the creation of the monument.  These include Ohio, Connecticut, Washington D.C., New York, Vermont and Texas.*


[“Six messages are written on the top of each wall of the base; two of these are as follows: (1) ‘From the Pillars of Strength Comes a Fountain of Peace.’  (2) ‘With the promise of New Beginnings, Comes the Endings of Old Conflicts.’]


A number of law enforcement agencies in the States supplied melted down firearms that had been court ordered for destruction and these were used for moulds that can be seen on the fountain floor or mixed with steel to make the pillars.


The Fountain was officially unveiled on Thursday 4 July, 2002. - American Independence Day.  In attendance were people working in cross community projects, representatives of all 26 Council areas as well as members of the Assembly.


The special day of celebration ended with a spectacular fireworks display over the River Bann.


On Saturday evening (two days after the official opening of the site) we decided to go and see this remarkable flood-lit monument, but we were unable to see the ‘fountain floor’ : we learned later (from the park attendant) that vandals had added washing powder to the water.






1. Now the Most High has a plan, and there ‘comes a time’ when He will decide to ‘tidy up things’ in His garden for: -


"The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to he revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it , in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time" [Rom. 8: 20-22] "Be not afraid, O land ; be glad and rejoice. . . "Be not afraid, O wild animals, for the open pastures are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit ; the fig-tree and the vine yield their riches." [Joel 2: 21, 22.]


2. And the Most High has decreed that One will come soon to supervise and attend His garden: He will make sure that it will produce its best: -


"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn.  They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.  And He will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other" [ Matt. 24: 30, 31.]


3. Nor will His great and glorious garden be left unattended, for He will see to it [personally], that the weeds do not take over:-


"Every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire." ... "His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire." [Luke 3: 9, 17.]  "’You wicked and lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?  Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.  ‘Take the talent from him and give it to one who has ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.  Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’" [Matt. 25: 26-30.]


4. Much more Power than ‘heavy machinery’ can supply, will be required to clear His site for:-


"Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low ; the rough places shall become level, the rugged places a plain." [Isa. 40: 4.]  "On THAT DAY his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south." [Zech. 14: 4.]


5. And at the centre - (i.e., in Jerusalem) - of this great and glorious site, there are divine plans drawn up for the building of a great House - a dwelling place for our God and Saviour:-


"Then you will know that I, the lord your God, dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her." [Joel. 3: 17.] "I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountain of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. . . I will make a covenant of peace with them ; it will be an everlasting covenant." [Ezek. 37: 21-23.] "I will put my sanctuary among them for ever. My dwelling place will be with them ; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the Lord make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them for ever." [ Ezek. 23: 26-28.]


6. And what will all of this activity ‘represent’?  (1) Justice, (2) righteousness, (3) lasting peace, and (4) the glory of God revealed over the whole earth.  For it is written:-


1. “The government will be on His shoulders ... “He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice." [Isa. 9: 6, 7.]  "You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David." [Luke I: 31,32.]


2. "In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear.  Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you." [Isa. 54: 14.]  "So is my word that goes out from my mouth; It will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I send it.  You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.  Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briars the myrtle will grow.  This will be the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed." [Isa. 55: 11-13.] "He [God] commands all people everywhere to repent.  For He has set a DAY when He will judge the world with justice* by the man he has appointed." [Acts 17: 31.] "When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness." [Isa. 26: 9.]


[*See the Greek: - ‘the inhabited earth in righteousness.’]


3. "Surely His salvation is near those who fear Him, that His glory may dwell in our land.  Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.  Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven.  The Lord will indeed give what is good and our land will yield its harvest.  Righteousness goes before him and prepares the way for his steps." [Psa. 85: 9-13.]  "Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests." [Luke 2: 13: 14.] "For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by men.  Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace." [Rom. 14: 17-19.]


4. "Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.  Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day.  Declare His glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples." [Psa. 96: I-3.] "And they were calling to one another; ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty ; the whole earth is full of his glory." [ Isa. 6: 3.] "Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things - [i.e., when God will return to clear His site, and supervise and attend to His garden.] - when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for My sake will receive a hundred times as much’". [ Matt. 19: 28, 29.]  "And I, because of their actions and their imaginations, am about to come and gather all nations and tongues, and they will come and see My glory." [Isa. 66: 18.]


7. Six is man’s number: God’s number is seven: and so we read the following:-


"By the seventh Day God had finished the work he had been doing: so on the Seventh Day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the Seventh Day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done." [Gen. 2: 2, 3.]  "For Seven Days eat bread made without yeast and on the Seventh Day hold a festival to the Lord." [Ex. 13: 6, 9.]  "This observance will be for you like a sign." [Ex. 21: 2.].  "If you buy a Hebrew servant [slave] , he is to serve you for six years.  But, in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything." [Ex. 21: 2.] "For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest crops, but during the Seventh Year let the land lie unploughed and unused." [Ex. 23: 12.]  "Six days do your work, but on the Seventh Day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed." [Ex. 23: 12.] "With the Lord a Day is like a Thousand Years." [2 Pet. 3: 8.]  "The Seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: ‘The kingdom of the world HAS BECOME THE KINGDOM OF OUR LORD AND OF HIS CHRIS." [Rev. 11: 15.]  "If Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about ANOTHER DAY.  There remains, then, a Sabbath-Rest - [i.e., a seventh-day rest.] - for the people of God ... Let us therefore, MAKE EVERY EFFORT TO ENTER INTO THAT REST" [Heb. 4: 8, 9, 11.]


8*. On that "DAY" there will also be a ‘special celebration for all His servants whom He willconsider ‘worthy.’ Throughout Old and New Testaments God’s doctrine of Reward meanders like an ever ending stream of clear water.  It is provided for the refreshment, strength and the encouragement of God’s pilgrims as they journey through this world’s desert towards His garden of rest and enjoyment: -


[* In Bible numerics, the number eight represents ‘a new beginning’; it is also the number which points to Resurrection.]


"I [Jesus] am sending you [Paul] to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." [Acts 26: 17, 18.]  "I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people - not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters.  In that case you would have to leave this world.  But now I am writing you” - [i.e., to ‘the Church of God in Corinrth.’]- “that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler.  With such a man do not even eat.  What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?  Are you not to judge those inside?  God will judge those outside.  Expel the wicked man from among you." [1 Cor. 5: 9-12.] "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God: Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God." [I Cor. 6: 9, 11.]  "Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm.  Let nothing move you.  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain." [ 1 Cor. 15: 58.]  "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while on the body, whether good or bad." [2 Cor. 5: 10.]  "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." [Gal. 1: 5.] "You, my brothers, were called to be free.  But do not use your freedom to indulge your sinful nature ... "I warn you as I did before, that those that live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." [Gal. 5: 13-21.] "I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received." [Eph. 4: 1.] "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of the one body.  In your anger do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foot-hold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.  Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." [Eph. 4: 17-32.]  "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take notice of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.  For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many - [i.e., many regenerate believers - for the context demands that none but genuine Christians are here being addressed.] - live as enemies of the cross of Christ.  Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame.  Their mind is on earthly things." [Phil. 3: 17-19.]  "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light." [Col. 1: 9-12.] "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving." [Col. 3: 23, 24.] "Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed” ... "With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling." [2 Thess 1: 4-7, 11.]


"I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I say the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast of his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This if the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and WILL REIGN WITH HIM FOR A THOUSAND YEARS." [Rev. 20: 4-6.]