Imagine if a farmer didn't have to purchase or prepare his seed, didn't have to do much work in seeding, enjoyed much rest in the interim, and then was assured of an overwhelmingly bountiful harvest. Truly, he was promised that, mostly independent of his own activities, it would, year after year, be a bumper crop. Wouldn't we consider him blessed beyond all men? Every other farmer would watch his life and wish it was theirs.
I've been struck lately by the consistency with which "the harvest" is spoken of throughout the scriptures, most especially by Jesus Himself in the commission of His ministry. Consider some of these thoughts from throughout the Word:
“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the Lord your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there. And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, ‘I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.’ Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God..." Deuteronomy 26
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil..." Isaiah 9
"For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed, when I restore the fortunes of my people." Hosea 6
"And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, '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.'" Matthew 9
"And [Jesus] said, 'The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.'" Mark 4
"But he said to them, 'I have food to eat that you do not know about.' So the disciples said to one another, 'Has anyone brought him something to eat?' Jesus said to them, 'My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 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. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, "One sows and another reaps." I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.'" John 4
"He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God." 2 Corinthians 9
Out of the harvest of His righteousness, borne by Him from within us, we are enabled to enter the fields that are already white for a daily harvest. We haven't labored for what He offers us. We do not understand the heavenly processes that make His harvest happen. Yet as we recognize how plentiful is the harvest all around us, and wade out into its readiness, we are joining Jesus - "the Lion of Judah" - as He "restores the fortunes of His people." We ourselves once walked in darkness but have now seen a great light! We rejoice now with the joy of the Harvest!
Today, let us be the "first-fruits of the Harvest" who are bringing Jesus the first-fruits of the harvest to which He's called us. May we come with brimming basketfuls of praise, adulation, joy, hope, worship and, most importantly, the hearts of the lost. For we declare today to the Lord our God that we have come into the Promised Land that the Lord Jesus bought with His blood. We set our labors down before His altar; all this harvest-work is His. We are simply the branches; He is the Vine.