As I write this, September has begun, and we are transitioning from a blistering summer to a breezy fall. The sunflowers are drooping and fading while the mums are about to burst into bloom. It’s a beautiful time of year, a time of harvest.
Harvest for some of us means little more than decorations: pumpkins, dried cornstalks, perhaps a colorful scarecrow with a cute grin. But in Bible days, harvest meant so much more.
Ancient Israel was an agrarian society, and everything in life centered around the harvest. In fact, three of the principal Jewish feasts revolved around the three harvest seasons in Israel. The Feast of Passover occurred in April, during the barley harvest. Seven weeks later, the Feast of Pentecost in June coincided with the wheat harvest. And in the fall, the Feast of Tabernacles came during the fruit harvest. All of the Jewish Feasts were times of intense celebration. A good harvest brought joy, while a poor harvest generally reflected the poor spiritual health of the nation during those times when they drifted away from the One true God. The significance of harvest was immense.
It comes as no surprise, then, that the Bible has quite a few things to say about harvest. Here are 10 Harvest Truths from God’s Word.
Harvest Truth #1: Harvest is part of God’s plan.
Harvest has been part of God’s plan from the very beginning: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease” (Genesis 8:22). Harvest– both physical and spiritual– has always been at the forefront in God’s mind.
Harvest Truth #2: God provides both the seeds and the harvest.
In 2 Corinthians 9:10 we are told, “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.” Did you notice those two words increase and enlarge? Our God is a God of abundance!
Awhile back I wrote another post on what I called “gospel seeds” (http://www.livingthetransformedlife.com/plant-those-gospel-seeds). Whenever we speak of Jesus, think of those words as gospel seeds being sown. God even provides those seeds! Jesus told His disciples, “Do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19-20). So sow those gospel seeds boldly!
Harvest Truth #3: Be careful what you sow.
Not all seeds are equal. Watch what you’re planting, with your words and your actions. Job 4:8 says, “As I have observed, those who plow evil and those who sow trouble reap it.” You don’t want a harvest of evil and trouble! Instead, follow James’ advice: “Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” (James 3:18). One look at the evening news will tell you that there’s already plenty of evil and trouble. What the world needs is God’s people sowing the gospel of peace and reaping a harvest of righteousness!
Harvest Truth #4: You reap what you sow.
Galatians 6:7 is an often-quoted verse which even many unbelievers know: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” This is frequently mentioned as a warning, but there’s also some good news there. You are the one who chooses what to sow. The choice is yours! Choose wisely.
Harvest Truth #5: How you sow affects your harvest.
When someone tells you “Listen up!” you know that what they’re about to say is important. It’s doubtful that phrase existed in Bible days, but that’s basically what Paul means when he says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6). The same thought is reflected in Ephesians 6:7-8 where Paul says, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” You decide what you will do, but remember that not everyone will get the same reward. So what kind of harvest do you desire?
Harvest Truth #6: Be diligent in harvest.
Anyone who has worked on a farm will tell you that harvest isn’t easy. There are no shortcuts– it’s hard work, and if you try to avoid that you’ll be sorry. Proverbs 10:5 says, “He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.” Proverbs 20:4 adds, “Sluggards do not plow in season; so at harvest time they look but find nothing.” The message is pretty obvious: only workers get a bountiful harvest. So be sure you’re in that category!
Harvest Truth #7: Harvest is for everyone.
I’ve always loved the concept of gleaning in the Bible, because it shows how God cares for everyone. In Biblical times, farmers would harvest their fields once. What was left in the field after that was called gleanings, and they did not belong to the farmers: “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 23:22). God made provision during harvest for immigrants and the poor. No one was to be left out! What a beautiful picture of God’s love for all the world.
Harvest Truth #8: Harvest is a celebration.
God specifically mentions this in Exodus 23:16, “Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.” God says celebrate the harvest! He even repeats Himself (I don’t know about you, but when my mom or dad repeated themselves, you’d better be listening!) When it comes to sharing the Good News, what’s your attitude? Harvest isn’t something we have to do– harvest is something we get to do! It’s not an unwelcome task, it’s a joyful privilege. We get to be a part of souls entering eternal life! Now that’s something to celebrate!
Harvest Truth #9: God promises harvest blessings.
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus concludes His story by saying, “Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop– a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown” (Matthew 13:8). The size of the harvest may vary, but it’s always more than the initial investment. And there’s always a harvest! “The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest” (Psalm 85:12). From the beginning God has promised harvest blessings: “For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete” (Deuteronomy 22:15b). Aren’t you glad that God always keeps his promises?
Harvest Truth #10: A final harvest is coming.
This final Harvest Truth applies directly to us. Some Christians believe we are living in the last days. Not everyone agrees with that, but one thing is certain: we’re closer than we were yesterday! Maybe it’s just that I’m a senior citizen now, but I’m sensing an urgency in the air. I think Jesus felt the same way when He told His disciples, “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together” (John 4:35-36).
“They are ripe for harvest…” I’ll admit, sometimes it doesn’t feel like that. But the problem may not be the harvest; it may be our methods. Back in the days of the Jesus People movement, evangelism seemed easier. You could pick up a hitch-hiker anytime and witness to him, and chances were good he’d come to the next meeting with you. Nowadays you seldom see a hitch-hiker, and you don’t dare pick them up if you do. Back then you could go street witnessing or door to door and pass out tracts, and most people would take them. Nowadays you can’t even get people to look you in the eye on the streets, and if you say “hi” they practically go into cardiac arrest.
So the old methods no longer work…but that harvest is still there. It’s ripe. The harvest is there, but they’re not going to reap themselves. Jesus said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Luke 10:2).
So maybe that’s where we need to start. God will show us new methods, but we need to ask. “Ask the Lord of the harvest…”
Ask Him for new ideas, new ways to reach those around you. They may be simple, they may be technological, they may be something you’ve never thought of before.
Ask Him to send out workers…and don’t be surprised if one of those He chooses is you.
If you need a little inspiration, here’s an old hymn that may help. The first verse talks about the natural harvest, and the remaining verses describe the great final harvest. Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imK0j7eBJsc
Didn’t You Know? You’re An Influencer! http://www.livingthetransformedlife.com/didn’t-you-know-you’re-an-influencer
Plant Those Gospel Seeds! http://www.livingthetransformedlife.com/plant-those-gospel-seeds
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