"And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!" - 2 Corinthians 3:11
I love the glories of Autumn! The spectacular beauty of a mountain valley resplendent in the fiery reds, glowing yellows, and radiant oranges of Fall foliage captivates my eye and often takes my breath away. And my soul is renewed by a quiet walk through the woods, smelling the rich organic smell of the forest as it carries out the mysteries of its life cycle with a glowing canopy of colors arching over my head. I grew up in New England, and I still think there are no more vivid Fall colors than in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. But the scenery is almost as satisfying in the Smokey Mountains of western North Carolina along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
But the window of opportunity for enjoying the colors of Autumn is so brief. And we all know what it means… winter is coming, when all the trees will be stripped of every leaf and stand bare and stark against an iron sky. The leaves that glow so radiantly for a few weeks in October and early November are preparing for their last moments high off the forest floor before gravity takes them fluttering down to die. It reminds us of the brevity of our own lives, for James says our life is a mist that appears for a moment and then vanishes. And the Psalmist cries out “Show me, O Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life” (Ps. 39:4)!
This leads me to a meditation on 2 Corinthians 3:11. Paul speaks in a logical way, using a “how much more” argument. He is speaking of the fading glory of Moses’ face in the Old Covenant, when he had to cover his face with a veil. He compares it to the eternal glory of the New Covenant, a glory that can never perish, spoil, or fade (1 Pet. 1:4). He says, “If the Old Covenant came with glory, fading though it was, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts for all eternity!” The New Covenant has its culmination in our amazing resurrection bodies, when “the righteous will shine like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).
"God has, in his kindness, left many evidences of his creativity in this present cursed world as foretastes of a perfect world that is yet to come."
So I now employ that same argument concerning the Fall foliage. This present physical world is under a curse because of Adam’s sin. Everything is constantly groaning under that curse, waiting to die, enslaved to decay and corruption. All physical beauty is fading. But it is still spectacular! God has, in his kindness, left many evidences of his creativity in this present cursed world as foretastes of a perfect world that is yet to come. And if the glories of this present world, radiantly on display every Fall, temporary though they may be, are so satisfying to our eyes, how much greater will the glories of the New Heavens and New Earth be! I don’t know if there will be reds and oranges and yellows glowing on trees in the coming eternal world. But I do know that that world will be constantly radiant with the glory of God in Christ. And therefore, I do not grieve at the brevity of the glories of Autumn. I know that they come from the same hand that will craft many glories that will never fade.