Lent: Sowing for a Harvest

Continuing the theme of Lent, I found myself praying about God’s method of supply to us.

Through the entire Scripture, God places a high emphasis on seedtime and harvest. Timing is a central theme in Ecclesiastes – arguably a book which could lead to severe depression if read in the wrong perspective. I had a friend who used to say he’d read Lamentations if he felt he was too happy, and Ecclesiastes if he wanted to be suicidal!

I don’t hold to his viewpoint, but it’s easy taking passages out of context to see why he had this view (which I think was an attempt at humour, but I can’t be certain!)

Timing of events is central in much of the Bible, but timing of provision is a different matter. There is not one episode where an individual came to Jesus in faith where He turned them away or refused to help because the timing wasn’t right. In fact, His first miracle – the wine at the wedding in Cana – He actually says to His mother “[<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>Dear] woman, what is that to you and to Me? [What do we have in common? Leave it to Me.] My time (hour to act) has not yet come.” (John 2:4b Amplified), then proceeds to perform the miracle anyway. This sets a precedent for us in asking God for something. The bridegroom would have been embarrassed – utterly humiliated in fact – if it had become known that there was insufficient wine provided. Jesus apparently cared enough about this man’s reputation – and bear in mind we know nothing about him other than it was his wedding day – that Jesus provides not just a few bottles, but six water jars of between 20 and 30 gallons of the highest quality wine the taster has had. At an average of 25 gallons, that’s 150 gallons of top quality wine. Over 750 standard bottles of wine of today’s size.

Extravagance. Generosity. Selflessness.

Jesus could have announced the miracle. Rowan Atkinson parodied the miracle in one of his sketches by having the servants (who did know what had happened) push him to do another “trick”. Whilst the sketch is amusing, it demonstrates his lack of understanding of why Jesus provided, and more importantly ignores the fact that He then makes no mention of it to the family, the wine taster or anyone else. Presumably John, the Gospel writer, as one of Jesus’s friends, may have been present as a witness, or told about it by Mary. In any event, it makes it clear that the organisers had no clue, but the groom was not humiliated, and Jesus was not self-promoting.

What has this got to do with Harvest?

Jesus teaches about seed. When a seed falls to the ground and dies it produces fruit. A single apple pip can produce tens of thousands of apples if planted in good soil. Grapes, corn, oats, wheat. Any living thing operates on the same principle – including Jesus Himself. Die to self and reap a harvest. Jesus sowed His Life, and reaps ours as His harvest. But the principle is what matters.

If we want an acre of corn, the last thing we should plant is apples. Apple seeds do not produce corn. Neither do barley, pomegranate, oats, pears, oranges or anything else that’s not a corn seed.

What’s the point here?

You get out what you put in.

Our life is the soil Jesus talks about in the parable of the “sower”. Really, it should be referred to as the parable of the Soils, as the seed sown is the same, and the sower doesn’t change, rather it’s the soil that differs. Soft, fertile ground that is free from weeds produces a harvest. Hard ground prevents roots from forming, and the seed is wasted. Shallow soil withers a plant and it (usually) dies or bears no fruit. Soil contaminated with weed seeds will result in the crop being choked.

In each case, the seed is the same. It’s the result that varies. Our lives are no different.

We sow Love, joy, a smile, and we reap what we sowed. The same happens when we sow anger. Anger usually breeds anger.

Sowing and reaping are integral. “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Genesis 8:22) is God’s promise to mankind following the flood. “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 [NKJV])

Jesus says we receive proportionally what we sow – a small sowing results in a small harvest.

It’s also applied to our giving by Jesus and through the Old Testament prophets. The tithe was shown by God to be a seed – His Children are invited to bring the whole offering into His house and He will open up Heaven and shower Blessings onto His children “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” (Malachi 3:10)
In Malachi, God has spoken of His desire to Bless Israel – and by inheritance the Church – through the seed of tithes and offerings, but He also demonstrates that reaping is a Spiritual Law that He has placed in action. He will not violate His own Laws.
This is critical to our understanding of God. The Law of Sin and Death was
replaced through Jesus by the Law of Faith. We are still under God’s Law – except now we have a fuller understanding and availability of it.
Seed is sown in an act of Faith, whether in nature or Spirit. It takes faith to drop something you can use today to feed your family into the ground and bury it. But this simple act of faith is so common that we refer to it as a “law of nature”. What it really is is a manifestation of a Law of God: Faith.
We need to sow in all areas of our lives. The enemy will try to steal our harvest, however. We need to guard our hearts and minds to prevent our Spiritual harvest – including things sown for our material needs – from being stolen. He will try to get us to sow despair, heartbreak, pain and suffering. Often he succeeds, and we sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind.
This is why Paul tells us to submit even our thoughts to God. We manifest what we imagine. Our imaginations are where we first sow the seed for Faith manifestation. It is the soil, and it is fertile. Whatever we plant will grow – positive or negative. So Paul says to think on positive things – not denying the negative, but limiting the hold it has be simply acknowledging it and nothing more or less. We then must use Praise and Worship as weapons to overcome the mental issues by emphasising our memories to remember God’s Goodness, just as David did in the psalms. Just as Paul and his companions did in prison. Praise energises us – it fertilises the soil for our seeds of Faith.
And then eventually we can reap a mighty harvest of whatever we sow, be it finances, health, joy, or any other fruit we seek.
But a harvest takes time, and we need to be patient. We must sow now for the future, not just for today. But God will use miracles to provide in the short term, and Blessings through harvest in the long.
In a future post I’ll look at the difference between reaping a Blessing and receiving a miracle.
For now, Sow to a Harvest to come in season.

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