RISING FROM THE ASHES OF PAST VIOLENCE
[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
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:-
unique piece of sculpture, The Phoenix Peace Fountain, with its
symbolic promise of a ‘new beginning,’ was en route from the
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
phoenix bird represents
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
[“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.
AN AWESOME PARALLEL.
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
5. And at
the centre - (i.e., in
"Then you will know that I, the lord your
God, dwell in
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.’]
"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
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
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
8*. On that "DAY" there will also be a ‘special celebration’ for all His servants whom He will ‘consider ‘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
"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.]
"A FOUNTAIN WILL FLOW OUT OF THE LORD’S HOUSE AND WILL WATER THE VALLEY OF THE ACACIAS." [Joel 3: 18.]