After a long winter in these northern climes the evidences of spring are once again to be seen.
The farmer is out upon his field getting the soil ready for the seed he purposes to plant. He has a goal in mind, and that goal is not the planting of his seed but the gathering in of his harvest.
We have the continual “bread question.” For although we do not live by bread alone and sin when we try to do so, we do live by bread. We need it anew each day. And we are taught to pray for it in the Lord’s Prayer. That prayer implies that we will be industrious and does not express the’ desire that we be given something without toil.
In Paradise we had a wonderful life of plenty and peace. Even then we had the “bread question” but not as a problem. We needed bread in that state of righteousness. And the supply was there every day in abundance. It required no sweat of the brow. Hours of backbreaking toil to ready the soil were not necessary. It was there for our taking. We had the garden to keep, but we ate our food without sweat and even reached out and ate of the tree of life. Now that is so different. And it is really no wonder that the unbelieving Jews wanted to make Jesus their king, when He satisfied their bread question by multiplying the loaves. Such a king every man would welcome. What a lot of time we would have for pleasure! How easy we could take it, if we had a king who multiplied a little bread, a little meat and always supplied us with what we needed of these material things for our natural life! Truly the man who seems to be able to do this will be welcomed as the antichrist. No wonder Jesus rebuked these Jews and refused to be their king. He is the Christ and would not serve in the role of anti-Christ. We live by every word that proceeds from God’s mouth; and He would not be king in any other way than that way of obedience to God and the words that proceed from His mouth.
And although very few of us are actually busy with the production of our food, we all depend upon it. The farmer is far more concerned with rain and heat than the office worker. The farmer lives closer to the work of God’s providence whereby He supplies us with food. But we all need it. And therefore we all depend upon that hand of God to supply it. Read Psalm 145:15, 16, “The eyes of all wait upon Thee; and Thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest Thy hand, and satisfieth the desire of every living thing.” The meaning is plain: It all comes out of the hand of God. Only as He is pleased to open it do we receive our food. Out of that hand comes the sun and the rain. Out of His hand the power whereby that seed germinates must come. Out of that hand comes even the strength of the farmer to plant that seed and to harvest the crop. This we so seldom consider when we are so far removed from that soil and the actual production of food stuffs. The farmer is no different himself. He usually forgets God until God sends that which threatens his crops. And the unregenerated farmer ascribes it all to fate and circumstance.
Yet the Word of God comes to us and tells us that God has promised in the days of Noah that “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” Genesis 8:22. The promise is not to the individual that he will always have a harvest. The promise is not that God will do this for the world’s sake. No, He gives this promise to the Church; and for the Church’s sake these things shall continue until God’s counsel is realized and His Church is brought up into glory.
How impatient we become!
If that seedtime does not come soon enough for us and it looks as though we shall have only a small harvest, we are ready to question God’s goodness and faithfulness. But He did not promise us the day and the hour that this seedtime would come. He did not promise the exact region of the land in which these things would take place; nor did He promise that there would be a harvest for all who planted their seed. Who decides when the frost shall leave the ground? And who has the right to decide when the warm winds from the south shall bring the Spring rains that prepare the soil to receive the seed? Seedtime and harvest shall come. But they will come when and where it pleases. God to bring them.
It has never failed, and it will not fail till the day of Christ. The Church must live and bring forth the elect covenant seed. The world must be sustained and develop in sin until the measure of iniquity is full. Christ must come; but the antichrist must also arise and bring man on the road of sin until it becomes abundantly evident that Adam and Eve committed a root sin that produces a tree full of evil. God must be glorified. His holiness must shine forth. And man apart from God must be seen in all the horror of his wickedness, that the Church also may everlastingly know that she was saved by grace. Let the Church commit her way unto God. Let her live by the words which proceed from His mouth. Let her seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness; and then God will add to her all that which she stands in need of to enter with body and soul into that kingdom in the day of Christ.
And the things of God’s kingdom happen in parables.
Seedtime and harvest. We know what that means. This terminology is understood by our children as well as the adult. And though we may be far removed from that soil, though we get all our food out of cans, off the shelf, from the deep-freeze, across the counter and delivered to our door, every man, woman and child with normal intelligence knows what seedtime and harvest are. No child in the thickest populated area of a modern city—though he may not know where his milk comes from—knows what seedtime is and what a harvest is. Truly the things God uses to teach us about His kingdom are every-day occurrences and known to every age and generation.
But do we realize that there is a spiritual seedtime and harvest?
We are so prone to live by bread alone. And we are so prone to think only of seedtime and harvest of our daily bread that nourishes this earthly tent wherein we dwell for a few brief years. We so seldom have or are interested in a spiritual bread question. The bread of life, the spiritual food for our children as well as for ourselves is a forgotten matter. The words that proceed from the mouth of God, and Christ who is that Word of God become flesh, we conveniently ignore.
Yet there is that spiritual bread question ever with the Church. She has every day the problem of feeding the little lambs with the Word of God and of sowing the seed into the well-prepared soil of the regenerated soul.
How important that we take heed to what is sown. A farmer may decide whether he wishes to raise wheat or corn, tomatoes or carrots, soybeans or sugar beets. He has a variety of foodstuffs from which to choose. However he may not have the kind of soil for all these crops or live in a climate where they can be raised successfully. But there is only one seed we may plant when we are speaking of the spiritual seedtime of our children’s souls. We must present to them the unadulterated Word of God. Woe unto us if we sow anything else. Remember Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Plant corn and you will reap corn. Sow the lie and you will reap the fruits of the lie. At seedtime plant in the minds of your children the philosophies of men, and you will reap the evil works of men. Mix the truth with humanism, and your children will bring forth an abundant crop of wickedness with a spiritual appearance. God is not mocked. And you cannot make Him supply you with a harvest of wheat when you plant tares. Much less can you expect that when you send your child to the world for instruction, God will through that instruction feed and strengthen their faith.
And likewise, “He which soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully,” II Corinthians 9:6. Expose your children to the truth occasionally and for a few brief moments; but then expect also that they will bring forth very sparingly the fruits of righteousness. Feed them with watermelon and stuff them with food that has little spiritual nourishment; but be prepared to see them waste away in their spiritual life. God is not mocked. Water down their milk, make it tasty by adding foreign elements that give a nice color and taste but add no food value, but expect that they suffer spiritually.
We live in such a lukewarm, indifferent, superficial age! Sermons must get shorter and shorter. They must be filled with story after story. A sermon must not be an exposition of a text, a full and well-rounded explanation of what GOD says there in His Word. Instead it must be man’s experiences and opinions in the light of a text upon which the sermon can hang as a coat on a hook. Children must not be required to work on their catechism lessons. They must not be required to do any written work that takes more than five or ten minutes to finish. That piano lesson, that basketball practice, that television program are all so much more important!!??
Woe unto us! Seedtime and harvest God gives. But He gives the harvest according to what is sown and according to how much seed is sown. Youth is seedtime. When we get older we still learn. We learn yet on our death bed. But the seed must be sown in youth. And this seedtime and harvest also shall continue as long as the earth remaineth. But the harvest enters into eternity.
Covenant parents! are your children going to have vacation from spiritual things when they have vacation from their secular education during the summer months ? Is seedtime only in the winter? How often do you supply them with earthly bread? How often should you provide for their reception of spiritual bread?
We know so much about playtime, picnic time, vacation time, sport time and the rest. What about seedtime in the spiritual sense of the word? Must every moment and hour and day be spent in sport, fun, recreation? We live in a pleasure mad world. But we are pilgrims and strangers in that pleasure mad world. Or are we not? Are you? Are your children? What a man soweth, that will he reap. You cannot change that.