I PAINTED THIS Oil one Fall after taking a walk near Summit Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Struck by the brilliant colors, this is my attempt to capture the essence of that experience.

Last week I mentioned Fall is our favorite season.  That’s true for many reasons. Fall is the ‘Harbinger’ of things to come—Winter. I’m aware of the ‘downside’ to that icy cold season.  But today I am thinking of its coziness and special celebrations like Christmas.  Fall is the ‘Harbinger’ of both the ‘coziest’ and ‘coldest’ season for us in this northern hemisphere. Nevertheless, we recognize Fall as a positive ‘Harbinger’!


A Definition

I ENJOY DISCOVERING the story behind words. ‘Harbinger’ (though we haven’t used it as much since the 12th century) is alive and well. Today we define it as ‘a person or thing that announces or signals the approach of another’. It’s often substituted by words like herald, omen, precursor and portend.

The Backstory

‘HARBINGER’ COMES from Old French and Old German words that meant “to provide shelter or lodging”.  When medieval travelers needed lodging for the night, they went looking for a ‘Harbinger’. By the late 1300s, ‘Harbinger’ was also being used for a person sent ahead of a main party to seek lodgings, often for royalty or a campaigning army, but that old sense has largely been left in the past. Both of those historical senses are true to the Anglo-French parent of ‘Harbinger’, the word herberge, meaning “lodgings.” The most common “forerunner” concept, has been with us since the mid-1500s.

Biblical ‘Harbingers’

FROM GENESIS CHAPTER ONE’S account of creation on into the New Testament, we see God’s ‘Harbingers’. [T]he Spirit of God was hovering over the waters and became a ‘Harbinger’ of there was light.  That light then became the ‘Harbinger’ of all succeeding days of creation. 

On at least two occasions Jesus referenced examples where Jews culturally acknowledged ‘Harbinger’.  [Jesus said] “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance [‘Harbinger’] of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs [‘Harbinger’] of the times.  Matthew 16:2, 3.  Again in Matthew 2:32, 33 Jesus said, Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know [‘Harbinger’]that summer is near.

‘Harbinger’ of all ‘Harbingers’

IT SEEMS TO ME God gave followers of Jesus the ‘Harbinger’ of all ‘Harbingers’ when Jesus summarized God’s laws: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:38-39.

To follow that command becomes the ‘Harbinger’ of God’s blessing to and through our life for his will to be done for his glory in his creation.  I first began to understand this from the Psalms more than a half century ago.

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:1-3

‘Google’ or ‘YouTube’

TO SEARCH ‘HARBINGER’ in Google or YouTube produces many results including things like: the name of a restaurant, music group, brand of clothing, and a furniture store.  On that list is Rabbi/Pastor Johnathan Cahn’s book The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery that Holds the Secret of America’s Future. Using Isaiah 9 he outlines 9 ‘Harbingers’ God provided Israel to encourage repentance before judgment would be felt because of their rejection of God.

Be Reminded…

SO WHEN WE WALK through the colorful Fall leaves this October, be reminded that God oversees all things, including the seasons, and he provides this, sometimes brilliant, ‘Harbinger’ of that which is next—Winter.  For romantics it’s: the cozy warmth of a fireplace, the celebration of Christmas, peacefulness of a new fallen snow and even Hallmark Christmas movies! I’m aware that in our northern hemisphere this is also the darkest and coldest season. But, most of all, it is a ‘Harbinger’ of God’s love and blessing for all of us, especially you as a follower of Jesus, in all things, at all times and places!

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28

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