Friday, July 9, 2010

Sowing and Reaping

By studying the Law of Moses, we find that every six years, Jewish farmers were to allow the land to rest for one full year. Likewise, they could do no sowing in their fields on the seventh day or weekly Sabbath.

Ex 23:10-11...And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still;

Lev 25:3-4...Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.

Unfortunately, Judah violated this law for 490 years. Because of this violation, God took the land away from them for exactly 70 years during the Babylonian captivity!

2 Chron 36:21...To fulfil the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept sabbath, to fulfil threescore and ten years.

While this particular obligation of the Law dealt strictly with agriculture, "sowing" under the Old Testament covenant is also used metaphorically as in,

*Sowing righteous works and in due course...reaping a blessing.

*Sowing wicked works and in due course...reaping the curse.

The sowing of works and reaping the blessing or the curse is a principle of the Law (Deuteronomy 28) and not found in the New Covenant. Please read the entire chapter of Deuteronomy 28.

After Christ appeared in the fullness of time the concept of "sowing and reaping" took on a different meaning. In the teachings of Christ, what was "sown" was a message, and what was "reaped" was the result of that message. Likewise, in the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles to the churches, we find numerous examples where a message is sown and the results are reaped. This New Covenant reaping is not the same as in the agricultural life. In farming, you only reap one plant from each seed you sow, but in sowing the message of the Kingdom, as in Matthew 13, you can reap 100, 60, or 30 people who receive that message!

Matt 13:18-19...Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side

Christ concludes this parable by saying:

Matt 13:23...But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Herein is the real 100-fold return: "Preaching the message of the Kingdom and reaping 100 souls who receive that message!"

In 2 Corinthians chapter 9, the "sowing of the message" about the needs of the poor saints at Jerusalem is a good example. The message is sown but money is reaped. By sowing throughout Asia Minor bountifully, they would reap alms more bountifully to give to the poor saints. Conversely, by sowing the message sparingly, they would reap sparingly. Again, it was the message sown.

2 Cor 9:5-13...Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness) Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution unto them, and unto all men;

Be careful to note three things:

1. The message was not the financial needs of the local Church, but the financial needs of the poor saints at Jerusalem.
2. The message could be sown either bountifully or sparingly.
3. The reaping was the money received- not the "money sown".

We shall see that there is no reference to the "sowing of money" in the entire Bible. This reference of sowing the message for the poor saints at Jerusalem was mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 16. Here Paul asks them in advance to start collecting a special offering on the first day of each week. Upon Paul's arrival, this entire collection was sent for the relief of the poor saints at Jerusalem.

1 Cor 16:1-3...Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

Paul's letter to the Galatians is another example of a message being sown. The "sowing and reaping" in Galatians 6 was sowing a message to the flesh or to the Spirit. Sowing to the flesh is teaching human works. Sowing to the Spirit is teaching who Christ is and the work He does within the human soul.

Gal 6:7-8...Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

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