I was in my kitchen, making a citrus-aide, when the Lord spoke to me.
“What will you do with your harvest?”
I promptly dropped the lime from the citrus press and into the already squeezed juice of several lemons and limes when God said that. I had already received a word from the Lord earlier that day that related to something He had told me many years ago. I was still mulling over the realization that it was time for the first thing God said today when He dropped that word to me. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, at first, but I came to realize God actually asked me an interesting question…one worth pondering.
We treat harvest today as if it is the end of the line. I blame this on improper prosperity teaching, but it actually reveals to us something more problematic about our lack of understanding on Biblical symbology. No longer living in an agricultural society,we use terms like “seasons,” “seed time,””harvest,” and, yes, “sowing” and “reaping” quite improperly. We try to adapt them to a mindset that we don’t rightly understand, which causes us to misunderstand the Word of God and what God is trying to teach us. “Harvest” was a season in ancient understanding. It did not have the connotation we attach to it today, that of the “good life” that is labor-free. It was a time by which the crops were ready to collect, process, and gather – “harvest” – from the work of the preceding seasons, seed time and cultivation. Harvest time indicated a change in seasonal work. The farmers would go from watering, watching,and maintaining their crops to collecting them all for the next phase of whatever it was they did. The crops didn’t harvest themselves; the farmers had to get out there, gather, and, well,do the work. After that, the crops were used for either other products (such as wine or grain) or were processed for sale. Before they even got to the sale stage, crops were set aside for tithes,offerings, and taxes.
After harvest, the plants would go to seed, meaning the plants would die and in that process, seeds from the plants would remain, were gathered, and then would be saved for planting season next spring. This is proof that in each season – yes, even harvest – there is the promise of the next season, waiting to be revealed.
Today we think harvest means never having to work, walking in a state of endless rest from our labors, and never having to labor for things again. It’s obvious that when people were hearing God’s words about times and seasons in the Bible, they knew an awful lot that we don’t when we try to pick it up and read it today. Today we think harvest means rest. In Bible times, they knew harvest meant work.
So yeah…After harvest…then what?
“The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved.” – Jeremiah 8:20 (CJB)
I think we need to be careful about taking “harvest” out of context. In fact, we need to be careful about taking any season out of context. “Harvest” is not the end of work and I think Jeremiah addresses the question God asked me quite nicely. After harvest, what comes next? What is the product of the harvest? What are you going to do with it? It is perfectly possible, reasonable, and happening all the time that the harvest comes and goes, the seasons change…and nobody is saved, nor changed, nor healed, nor delivered, nor anything…from your “harvest.”
We talk a lot about fruit and about bearing fruit in the Kingdom, but have we ever thought about why? Yes, we understand fruit to be the result of work or of a product, but what is it about fruit that is so relevant? There are so many different uses for fruits and fruit products that are more than just pretty to look at (case en pointe:wax fruit might be decorative, but it serves no purpose). A piece of fruit can be beautiful to look at,but if you don’t do anything with it, it will eventually rot away and waste. Harvested fruit doesn’t stay in its original state long! Here are some different uses for fruit:
Pits: Used in many liqueurs for flavoring (such as apricot pits in amaretto)
Leftover peels: Compost
No matter what you are doing with harvested fruit, its natural state changes. If you eat it fresh, you remove peels or skin and discard seeds. If you use it in cooking or baking, it is cutup and often mashed or crushed for whatever purpose it serves. If it is juiced or fermented, the fruit is pressed to the point where its liquids and extracts come forth. Even the pits and peels have their own purpose in flavor extracts and composts! Fruit is more than just a product of a harvest; it is also a rich,flowing resource from which extended work and harvest comes forth. From the harvest comes a whole new season of work, to bring the crops to their most purposeful product.
Harvest time is exciting, there is no doubt, but God still has a work for us to do after we’ve received whatever it is He is giving to us. No harvest comes without a purpose, and that purpose is to enhance or do something else. Thus, even in harvest – you are going to be pressed, minced, chopped, boiled, baked, cooked, stewed, poached, or used to do something else. What is done with the fruit is just as important – if not more so – than the fruit itself. Fruit does not just point to the tree, it also points to everything that the fruit will become.
Your harvest points to everything you are supposed to become in Jesus!
“Then someone from the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But Jesus said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator between you two?” Then he said to them, “Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” He then told them a parable: “The land of a certain rich man produced an abundant crop, so he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to myself, “You have plenty of goods stored up for many years; relax, eat,drink, celebrate!”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded back from you, but who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ So it is with the one who stores up riches for himself, but is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:13-21, NET)
Harvest by itself doesn’t mean much. It is the product that comes from harvest that is relevant. Any one of us can generate things unto ourselves, but just generating things is not going to benefit or bring much from that harvest. Having stuff doesn’t mean you are in God’s will, it means you have stuff. You can be the most prosperous person in the world and still not saved. Bringing forth a product from your harvest…bringing forth God’s promise…that means you are in God’s will.
Yeah…the harvest is just the beginning.
(c) 2014 Lee Ann B. Marino. All rights reserved.