In 21st century America, the vast majority of people are largely out of touch with the labor-intensive lifestyle of an agrarian culture; a culture that is dependent upon sowing, cultivating, and reaping to survive. As a result of our present mammon-driven, on-demand lifestyle of mass production, the common everyday person is completely removed from the strenuous work of harvesting; and yet it is the work of sowing and reaping that is the common illustration used throughout Scripture to demonstrate God’s plan and purpose for His people during the present age. For instance, Jesus instructs His disciples by stating “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” He also states in John’s gospel, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” In other words, the work of the Church in the present age, is the work of harvesting, the work of sowing seeds by declaring the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and the work of cultivating the crop by making disciples through teaching the authoritative Word of God. The Christian life is marked by fruitful labor. The Lord Jesus declares in Luke 9:62, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Sadly, many professed believers in Christ assume that God simply wants to bless them abundantly with worldly gain. They act as if He wants nothing more than for them to live lives of health, wealth, and prosperity until the day that they die and enter the glory of Heaven where they will remain forever in eternal bliss. This presumptuous belief fails to grasp the weightiness of the Christian life and what God demands of His Church. Our lives are not meant to be comfortable, we are to sacrifice worldly comforts for the advancement of Christ. Jesus declares to His disciples in Matthew 16:24-26:
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?
As God’s people, we are all sent on mission, we are to be harvest workers sowing the seed of the gospel. We are not responsible for whether or not the seed takes root, we simply continue to work while there is work to be done. Jesus states in the parable of the sower:
“A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
When asked to explain this parable Jesus stated:
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.
The sower is the one who declares the Word of God, for the Word of God is the seed that is being sown. Anytime the gospel of Jesus Christ is presented to people it is a seed being sown. Sometimes that seed takes root and produces fruit, and other times, most of the time actually, fruit is not produced. In an agrarian culture, such as first-century Israel, far more seed was scattered than that which took root and produced fruit.
To those whom Christ has called to be His undershepherds He declares:
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes
And to the flock, the apostle Paul states in Galatians 6:6-10
Let the one who is taught the word share all good things with the one who teaches. Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
All of this to say that the present age in which we live is one of constant and consistent harvest work. Genesis 8:22 states, “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” While the earth remains there will be much work for mankind to do, and even greater work for that of the church to commit itself to. We need to understand that the earth will not remain forever, at least not in its present condition. The apostle Peter declares in 2 Peter 3:1-7:
…I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
While there exist many mockers today of which insist that Jesus’ coming is merely a fable, the Word of God declares that such statements would be the norm as the day draws near. However, we know with absolute certainty that Christ is coming back and that one day this earth, which was once flooded and destroyed with water, will likewise be consumed by fire in the coming judgment. So again, going back to understanding the present age as a harvest, we are to due the work of sowing seed, cultivating the crop, and looking forward to the great harvest. Jesus declares in Matthew 13:24-30:
He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”
While we endeavor to diligently do the work that Christ has called us to, we must be aware that there has and will arise weeds amongst the wheat. But let this not distract us from continuing to sow the seed of the gospel, for God will one day remove the weeds and cast them into the fire. Our work is not in pulling the weeds but in seeking to cultivate the wheat. May we continue to praise and glorify God amidst the laborious work of the harvest until the day the King returns for His bride.
Pastor Justin Myers is an avid student of God's Holy Word and received his M.Div. in biblical studies from Liberty University School of Divinity. Pastor Justin considers himself a family man who loves his wife and children dearly. He has been married for over nine years and has four children.