Over the past several years, there have been a number of prophetic words given concerning an upcoming spiritual revival, one that promises to usher in the Third Great Awakening in America and produce a world-wide, billion-soul harvest for the Kingdom of God. Not surprisingly, the immediate responses from those on the receiving end of these words have been universal and enthusiastic exclamations of Hallelujah, Praise the Lord, and Amen—in other words, “It’s about time—bring it on!” And yet, as much as we may long to see this take place, as people living in twenty-first century urbanized America, we have no idea what such a harvest might look like or involve.
For most of us, harvest is a term used only by those in the agricultural industry and, as far as we’re concerned, so long as we can continue to find a ready supply of goods on our supermarket shelves when we need or want them, we would probably never give it a moment’s thought. Because of this, when reading our Bibles, we may have too quickly glossed over its many references to farming, dismissing it as a significant activity from a bygone era which has no relevance to the way we live today.
Harvest is Built into the System
But in relegating it to the history books, we would be missing the fact that when God created the earth, He designed it to function as a global agricultural enterprise, with every living thing in it created and commanded to be fruitful and to produce a harvest after its own kind. This not only applies to the earth’s vegetation, its fish and fowl, and its living creatures—whose ongoing fruitfulness is vital to the sustainment of all life on the planet—but doubly so to its human inhabitants, who have been made in the image and likeness of God.
Because of this, and unlike the things existing only in the natural world, these beings have been created and commanded to reproduce themselves in both the material and the spiritual realms, for the purpose of providing God with an ever-increasing harvest of spiritual Sons and Daughters. In fact, the agricultural cycle is such an integral part of life and of God’s redemptive plan that He has used it to order all of human history, employing Time to mark out its seasons.
One would only have to look at the Hebrew calendar to see that this is true. There, in the annual plan given by God to the Jews, the year was laid out in accordance with each season’s agricultural tasks, and with certain days or times designated as Feasts or Festivals. These special events not only marked the transition from one season and its type of work to another, but also the days that were set aside exclusively for the worship of God. Beyond that, each was also intended to provide a picture of some aspect of God’s redemptive and prophetic plans.
From the following illustration, we can see that when the Israelites celebrated the beginning of harvest during their Spring Feasts, they were being challenged to look forward in faith to the future crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church. Then, during the Fall Feasts at the end of growing season, they were being taught to take stock and repent before the final harvest, when Christ comes back to the earth and sets up His Millennial Kingdom. From God’s perspective, this agricultural calendar—with its laws of Sowing and Reaping—was not something that applied only to the Jews, it was and is the pattern He has laid out for all of time and human history.
Harvest is All About Sowing and Reaping
It should be apparent by now that life itself—both then and now—is just one long cycle of Sowing and Reaping, the purpose of which is to produce more life and/or fruit for the glory of God. In the natural, a seed is sown, fertilized, watered and supplied with light; it takes root and after some time, it grows to maturity and produces the grain which will either nourish some other living thing, or provide the seeds needed to reproduce itself. Once it reaches this stage of maturity, it is time for a harvest—and for the grain to finally realize the purpose for which it was created.
As we learned in our last post, While They Were Sleeping, Jesus used the parables in Matthew 13 to teach His Disciples that life in the spiritual realm functions according to these very same laws of Sowing and Reaping—only there…
Jesus is the Farmer/the Sower of the Seed;
The Word of God is the Good Seed;
Men’s hearts are the Soil;
The People of God are the Wheat produced from the Good Seed;
The Wicked are the Tares or Weeds produced from Evil Seeds sown by the Enemy;
Satan is the Enemy who tries (1) to steal the Seed before it can take root,
and then (2) to choke the Wheat once it does;
The Harvest is the Day of Reaping; and,
The Angels of God are the Harvesters.
There are Bigger Harvests
The harvest referred to here is the big global event, called the Great White Throne Judgment, which will take place at the end of our present age when the wicked will be called upon to settle accounts with God. They will have to explain to the One who planted them in this life, watered them with gifts, talents, and opportunities to come to faith, just what they did with all of those blessings, what they squandered them on and why—and, like the wicked servant in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), try to explain why they have no interest to give to the Master in return for His investment in them…
Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’
But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents.
‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
As in this case, there will be no acceptable excuses, and those standing before the Lord on that day will meet the same sad end as this wicked servant. The Apostle John describes this sobering scene in Revelation 20:12, when God’s meticulous ledgers are opened, and every individual’s life is inspected for its fruit…
And I saw the dead, both great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened; and another book was opened, the Book of Life; and the dead were judged from what was written in the books, according to what they had done.
As for the righteous, they will have already been separated and carried away to heaven by Christ, where their fruit will also undergo an inspection by the Lord of the Harvest. But instead of theirs being an inspection for punishment, it will be one to the determine the rewards that are due them for their faithful service. The Apostle Paul gives us some insight into this in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15…
Now if anyone builds on this foundation [Jesus Christ] with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
There are Smaller Harvests
This final global harvest isn’t the only one that we need to concern ourselves with, however; for just as it is in the natural world, there will be some smaller, more immediate harvests during our lifetimes that we need to be prepared for. These can take place at the individual, family, community, or national levels but, given what we now know about Sowing and Reaping, we can be sure that they will all begin in the same way—with some thought, word, or action being sown as a seed which, in the end, will bring forth a crop of either Wheat or Weeds. Scripture provides us with numerous examples of this, with these being just a few…
Jacob—the consummate con man who cheated his brother out of his birthright and conned his father into giving him his brother’s blessing—was later conned by his father-in-law, a far superior crook, into marrying the wrong daughter and then working for him for twenty years for little to no wages. Years later, Jacob was conned by his sons into thinking that their brother and his favorite son had been killed when, in fact, they had sold him into slavery.
David—the man after God’s own heart—committed adultery with the wife of one of his most faithful soldiers, then had him killed to cover up their affair. Afterward, “the sword never left his household”—leading to one son raping his sister and another son killing him in retaliation. Later, while leading a rebellion against his father and with David fleeing for his life, this son had sex with David’s wives/concubines on the rooftop for all to see. Eventually he was killed by David’s nephew, as was another son following David’s death.
Israel—the nation that God had chosen for His very own—after turning her back on God for centuries and chasing after and worshipping the idols of other nations, Israel was carried away as slaves to a nation that worshipped more idols than she had ever known. The temple in which she had taken so much pride was destroyed, as was the “land of milk and honey” that God had given her. When she was finally released from captivity, she was so sick of idols that she never pursued them again.
Examples such as these should cause us to pause and reflect upon the following truths before undertaking any more indiscriminate seed-sowing…
- While one seed will produce just one plant, that one plant will produce a lot of fruit—meaning that we will always reap more than we sow;
- The seed we sow will not spring up into a plant overnight, but it will take time, sometimes a lot of time to grow to maturity—meaning that while our harvest will not be immediate, it will be sure and will come at the appropriate time; and,
- Whatever seed we sow will bear the image of the original—meaning that the fruit produced by any seed we sow will be of the same kind and nature as its “parent,” with that kind and nature being passed on to all future generations of that seed.
These should be considered carefully, especially in light of God’s promises that…
…nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. Luke 8:17
God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Galatians 6:7-8.
Harvest Impacts Both the Wheat and the Weeds
In the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares/Weeds, we were told that at the time of the harvest, the Weeds would be collected first, tied into bundles, and then burned; and afterward, that the Wheat would be gathered into the Lord’s barn—which sounds like a really good plan (at least for the Wheat)! What we aren’t told, though, is that while the Weeds are on their way to the furnace and before the Wheat can make it into the barn, the Wheat will have to undergo a process of preparation that will not be at all pleasant.
So, before we make the mistake of thinking that the Weeds will be the only ones having a hard time at harvest, let’s look at the Biblical Harvesting Process to see what the Wheat will have to endure in order to get it “barn-ready” …
Clearly, both the Wheat and the Weeds will be going through some tremendous shakings, but it will be for different reasons and for different ends. For the Weeds, their shaking will expose them for what they really are—poisonous agents planted by the Adversary whose purpose is the destruction of both the current crop of Wheat and any future crops it may produce. And for the Wheat, its shaking will refine and purify it by stripping away its hard outer shell until only the precious kernel of grain remains. After the Weeds have been bundled and burned, and the Wheat has been cut, bound, threshed, winnowed, and sifted, it will then be stored and be ready to be sown again when the next season rolls around.
Harvest is Not the End, It is Only the Beginning
This, then, brings us to the real purpose of harvest—which is to not only bring in a bountiful crop, but also to clear the field and make it ready for a brand-new season of planting. While life for the Weeds will definitely be over by the end of harvest, such will not be the case for the Wheat. It will come through the shaking, refined, purified, and ready to serve in a much greater capacity in the new season.
Even so, this lesson should serve as a reminder to all of us that the harvest we have been looking forward to for so long will not come without a violent shaking first—one that will not leave anyone or anything untouched or unaltered. In fact, we find ourselves in the midst of that shaking now. But don’t let that trouble you, because it is all part of God’s harvesting process and it is definitely accomplishing its purpose. The deeply rooted and poisonous Weeds of the enemy are being revealed and unearthed, the Wheat is slowly being brought out of its decades-long, enemy-induced stupor, and the field of the world is already being plowed under by the Reaper Angels in preparation for the next season’s sowing.
In light of this, we would be wise to take stock of our lives and our relationships with the Lord and others, making sure that there are no areas of sin, unbelief, or unforgiveness that might intensify our personal shaking or possibly delay our advancement from this season into the next.
For those who may be unsure of where you stand with the Lord, let me refer you to The Workout Room page on this website. There you will find four posts, offering answers to the following questions about Salvation…
As for those of you who are confident in your relationship with the Lord and of your place in God’s Kingdom, let me leave you with this admonition from Hebrews 12:28-29…
* Information on harvesting process taken from excerpts from Manners and Customs of Bible Lands
By Fred H. Wight, found online at Manners & Customs: Growing and harvesting grain | AHRC (ancient-hebrew.org)