Phyllis Beveridge Nissila
From Parts 1, 2, and 3
In July, we wait,
water, weed, and watch
through the hot, hazy days
in the drama of growth slowed
between seed and harvest,
in the greening.
thirsty roots gather strength,
wait on the Lord of the harvest
Who in due time,
in the fullness of it,
brings the fruit.
Seeded deep in the wait is also
what the thirsty soul knows
in the heat and the haze,
the watering, weeding, and watching:
The Lord is good unto them that wait for him,
to the soul that seeketh him. (Lamentations 3:25, KJV)
In the first parts of this series, I offered a metaphor, above, comparing the season of waiting for the harvest to spiritual “waiting” after prayers have been planted, as it were.
In Part 2, I elaborated on the need for “watering” both literal crops and spiritual growth.
In Part 3 I elaborated on “weeding” by re-posting a feature from 2015 on what literal and figurative weeds I was wrangling in the growing season of that year, not unlike how it is in all seasons for all planters, growers, weeders, and believers when enemy varieties threaten to choke off good crops during vulnerable times of growth.
In this, Part 4, it’s about the “Harvest,” both literal and spiritual, individual and collective–and about how prophecy also follows a “growing season” pattern and why we need to tend to it in the churches, particularly in this stage of the “season”.
Bringing in the Literal “Sheaves” (bundles of harvested grain)
I live in wheat and hay (and vegetable and fruit and sheep and goat and cow…) country. Just now, the lawn is speckled with wind-blown bits of the hay readied for baling (cut and laying on the ground in the fields).
Our country-road traffic is sometimes slow-going as the tall, wide hay balers crawl (it seems) to first, this field, then that one, to get ‘er done. Later on, the flatbed trucks haul the rectangular, some circular, bales to huge storage barns.
Meanwhile, the pickers are in other fields harvesting, at just the right time, the other produce for the stores and farmers’ markets.
Another literal growing season, according to its pattern, is nearly accomplished.
Bringing in the (Spiritual) Sheaves (you, me, and all other believers; then, now, and yet to come).
Just as farmers tend their crops according to the needs of each season and the pattern of growth embedded in each seed, so, to, there is a spiritual pattern, both in each person who has received Christ as Lord and Savior and in the Body of Christ as a whole.
The harvest is personal, from when we receive the seed of salvation. St. Peter put it thus:
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which lives and abides forever. (I Peter 1:22-23, NKJV)
It requires watching out for false doctrines and false christs. Jesus put it thus:
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1, NIV)
(From false prophets come false doctrines.)
And spiritual growth requires the “watering” of the Word of God both in the text and in the flesh, Jesus. He said this about that metaphor:
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37-38, ESV)
And here is some encouragement:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9, NIV)
The harvest is collective–and prophetic:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted… (Ecclesiastes 3:1-3, ESV)
Those who “watch” this harvest, do so with an eye to the pattern of prophecy, whether it is the “completion” of that which Christ has been accomplishing in us individually, as noted above, or the completion of God’s prophecies for all of His creation. The prophet Isaiah put it this way:
As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (55:10-13, NIV).
Of course there are innumerable teachings, preachings, exegeses, outlines, etc., on prophecies related to both the Church and the world at large. The prophecies, which complement each other in both Old and New Testaments, are generally listed by authors.
In the Old Testament there are books by five so-called “major” prophets and twelve “minor” prophets. In the New Testament, there is only one prophetic book: Revelation . In light of this treasure trove of God’s patterns, predictions, and promises through His anointed prophets (who do not, by the way, invent new “words” from God that stray away from any of the others, as some “new era prophets” might peddle), it would seem we would hear more about prophecy in the churches.
In fact, there is so much prophecy in the biblical anthology, some scholars estimate over 26%, it is actually shocking that more and more churches and denominations are not teaching it anymore.*
It is also a grand disservice to believers, let alone the world at large.
For if what many Bible scholars say, i.e., we are in the so-called “end times,” then both individual believers and the church at large need to be aware of the spiritual–and temporal–harvest that is drawing close, the plowing, planting, and tending having been accomplished, the gathering-in time, nigh.
And we need to “be about our Father’s business” with even more fervor, tending each our own assigned field of opportunity, as we are individually led, at home, work, and wherever else we are, with what gifts we are given by the Holy Spirit.
(Aside: many churches have also ceased talking about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, although we continue to hear about the fruit of the Spirit.)
For, as Jesus said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few,” but He adds this encouragement: “Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
But whether or not the churches (some of whom, as prophesied, have strayed off the field into the weeds of apostasy) ever return to the teachings, warnings, and encouragements of over one-fourth of the Bible that is prophetic, we can still rely upon the Holy Spirit for assistance. Jesus put it this way:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26, ESV)
May I encourage you today to stay in the Word of God, pray for helpers in the fields, and carry on in your own corner of the harvest–as only you can.
*Here is an interesting observation on why this is the case: “Five Reasons Pastors Don’t Teach Bible Prophecy,” by Tom Hughes.
**The reader might also be interested in my series on Jesus’ comparison of the end stages of pregnancy as related to end times (and prophesied in Isaiah 26:16-18), from a mother’s point of view, featured here.
***The verse linked is a reference to the many Scriptures related to what some call the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. For more information on this somewhat controversial “event” consider this commentary of many that can be accessed online and elsewhere. NOTE: the author’s view is that this Baptism is always some kind of “drenching,” powerful event. I disagree. Respectfully. I know many believers who, as it were, realize quiet, yet new and profound changes in their walk with Christ, after praying a simple prayer for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. See what you think.
Image of flatbed truck with hay bales from Wiki Media Commons