The Sower and the Harvest

"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him" (Psalm 126:6).

The Sowing

The key to all Old Testament Scripture was indicated by the Lord Jesus when He ministered to His disciples "things concerning Himself," out of Moses, the Psalms, and the Prophets. He is the fulfiller of all Scripture, and so of the passage before us. That this is the case here is evident, for He said, "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man" (Matt. 13:37), and "The seed is the word of God" (Luke 8:11).

He came into the world to cast into the soil the incorruptible seed, the word of God which endureth for ever, for in these last days God hath spoken to us in Him. He came to make God known to men, to declare the Father in whose bosom He dwelt as the only begotten Son; and in doing this He was the great Sower of the seed.

There was nothing in His blessed life inconsistent with His mission, for He was Himself everything that He said; but in the world in which He sowed everything was contrary both to His mission and Himself, and as a consequence His life was one of sorrow and stress and tears. In olden days the prophets of God wept because the people would not hearken unto their words, but in Jesus every sorrow found its centre; there was no grief like unto His.

It should be an affecting contemplation to us that He who was the Framer of the universe, the Owner of the cattle upon a thousand hills, should find His resting place, as a babe, in a manger; and that the first action of the great ones of the earth towards Him should compel Him to become a fugitive from the land that He loved. The chill winds of poverty assailed Him on His advent into this world, and the storms of hatred beat about Him until His work was finished here.

But, undeterred by the contradiction of sinners: against Himself, and unmoved by the subtle wiles and unceasing malignity of Satan, He did the will of God. To Him was given the tongue of the instructed (Isa. 1:4, N.Tr.); morning by morning He was awakened by Jehovah to be taught in the words which day by day He spoke — words in season were they all — the precious seed, not one grain of which shall perish, for the word of God liveth and abideth for ever.

In all His words and works He sowed the seed, but it was at the cross of Calvary that God's nature and character were disclosed in all the fullness of their glory, it was there as nowhere else that He appeared as the Sower sowing the seed, and it was there that He sounded the very depths of sorrow.

When the farmer goes forth into the fields with the seed basket, he goes forth with a purpose; he is not out for pleasure or recreation, but he sows in hope of the harvest time — for this he labours and toils when the skies are dull and the cold winds blow. So when the Son of God came into this world He had a great and high purpose in coming, He sowed the seed in view of the harvest, for the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross, despising the shame. He was in the world to undo the works of the devil, to dispel the darkness that the Edenic lie had cast as a pall over Adam's race. He was here to manifest and prove beyond question the love of God to men, to commend that love to them, and to beseech them to be reconciled to the God whose heart yearned with an infinite yearning for the lost. He was here to cast this truth as to God, as the good seed, into the barren soil of the heart of man, that a full and glorious harvest should result for the joy of the heart of God.

He came into the world to do this, no matter what the cost to Himself, and He knew well ere ever He came what that cost would be. He knew that tears would be His meat by day and by night, that He would be despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. He knew that to sow the seed involved a path of suffering uncheered by earthly smiles, a path of gall and reproach which should end in a malefactor's cross.

He also knew that it involved that mysterious cry that burst from His broken heart, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"

What soul in the universe shall discover the intensity of His suffering as He passed into the darkness of the depths from whence that cry came? But in those unsounded depths, while waves of sorrow rolled upon Him, in His own person, the holy, yet forsaken Sin-bearer, there was displayed the unalloyed holiness of God's nature, the inflexible character of His righteousness and the infinite greatness of His love.

And shall this sowing be in vain? Nay, for every sorrow He shall have an answering joy, out of that suffering and death shall spring such a harvest as will satisfy His soul forever. He shall come again rejoicing, bringing His sheaves with Him.

The Harvest

In the thrice-told parable of the Sower it is plainly stated that there are to be, in the day of harvest, three distinct results from the seed sown: one-hundred-fold, sixty-fold, and thirty-fold; and whilst this may be seen even today in the varying-degrees of fruitfulness found amongst those who receive the good seed, yet we may also trace in it a very distinct analogy to the three different circles in which the Lord will see of the travail of His soul.

The HUNDRED-FOLD will be realized in the Church

In this connection it is interesting to see that in Luke's Gospel the full one-hundred-fold yield alone is contemplated (8:14-15). The Gospel of Luke was written to a Gentile, and by the man who was chosen of the Holy Ghost to write the Acts; it presents the grace of God, not to the Jew only, but toward all mankind; and the truth as delivered to Paul as the Apostle to the Gentiles and minister of the church follows in beautiful moral order upon this gospel. These facts confirm the thought that the hundred-fold of the parable in Luke will be brought forth in the church, gathered out to God during this present period from Pentecost to the rapture of the church at the coming of the Lord.

The Holy Ghost dwells within believers to give full effect to the revelation of God made on earth by His beloved Son, and that which is produced and maintained by the Persons of the Godhead cannot fail, and fruit will be brought forth to perfection one-hundred-fold.

In the church God will have glory by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end; in it will be known the manifold wisdom of God, and through it He will display the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness towards us in Christ Jesus.

What a glorious day that will be when the church is completed! Then will the Lord "present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but . . . holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27). It will be a glorious day for all who have trusted Him, for then they will leave their sorrows behind and have nothing but fullness of joy before them for ever; they will see Him, whom having not seen they love; they will rest from their labours in the joy of His presence, and find their hearts' full delight without a hindrance in His eternal and changeless love.

But what will it be to Him to receive His church — His bride? For her He gave up the earthly kingdom for the time, and accepted the rejection and despisings of men. For her He sorrowed and bled and gave Himself up to judgment and death. For her He laboured and has had long patience. It is the day of His patience now, He still waits for the glorious consummation of all His work. Oh! what will it be to Him when the day of waiting is over, and He is able to say to His church, "Arise, My love, My fair one, and come away" (S. of Sol. 1:13)? His own love will find its own satisfaction, then, in having the object of it perfectly suitable to and with Himself, in unchanging reciprocal affection forever. Fellow Christian, this is the grand result for Himself and us, of His time of sorrow and sowing on earth.

There will be another side also to that glory of equal blessedness. The seed which has been sown will bring forth after its own kind; and the Son of God was the "Corn of wheat," He was the Word of God, in Him every spoken word found its living exemplification, He was all that He spoke, and He fell into the ground and died. In the glorious harvest the "much fruit" will appear all like unto that precious Corn of wheat, for "we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is" (1 John 3:2).

But what will it be to the Son of God "to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (Jude 24)? What deep satisfaction to Him to lead us into the Father's house, and to know that His Father's desire to have that house filled with sons, for ever conformed to His image who is the Son, shall he eternally satisfied; and this will be the fruit of His mighty victory over every evil power, the glad hundred-fold harvest of His sowing in tears.

The SIXTY-FOLD will be realized in the blessing of Israel

How great and undying is the Lord's love to Israel! To this all the prophets bear witness. It was to Israel that He said "I have loved thee with an everlasting love" (Jer. 31:3). Of them, with grief of heart He had to complain, "O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away" (Hos. 6:4). "When Israel was a child, then I loved him . . . I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love . . . How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?" (11:1-8).

But what tongue shall tell the sorrows of Emmanuel, in the midst of that people, when they mocked at His tender words, and refused all His gracious entreaties? What words can describe the feelings that filled His soul when He had to cry to the rebellious city, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth her brood under her wings, and ye would not" (Luke 13:34); and can we think without stirrings of heart of that moment when He came near unto that city, and when His cheeks were tear-washed in His sorrow for it, as He exclaimed, "If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are bid from thine eyes!" (Luke 19:42).

He was cut off in the midst of His days; lover and friend were put far from Him; and He, the King, was led, amid universal execration, by the people whom He loved, to the place of public execution. The people did not know that He was wounded for their transgression, and bruised for their iniquities, and that by His stripes they would be healed; nor did Caiaphas, their high priest, understand the meaning of his words: "Ye know nothing at all. Nor consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not," for in so saying he spake "not of himself: but . . . prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation" (John 11:49-51).

For this sowing of sorrow the Lord shall have a great harvest, for "All Israel shall be saved" (Rom. 11:26).

He whom they rejected will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more' (Jer. 31:34). He 'will ransom them from the power of the grave, and redeem them from death.' He will heal their backslidings and love them freely. "Then shall Israel grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, and his renown as Lebanon . . . And Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?"

Then shall the waste places of Jerusalem break forth into joy and sing together, for the people shall be comforted of the Lord. They shall sit under His shadow with great delight and find His fruit sweet to their taste, they shall be led into His banqueting house and His banner over them shall be love.

How great will be His joy in this day of harvest when He shall see of His soul's deep travail on behalf of Israel, and will rejoice over them with joy, and rest in His love, when He will joy over them with singing; yes, even as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall He, Jehovah-Jesus, rejoice over them.

The THIRTY-FOLD will be realized in the blessing of the nations

When the Lord sits upon the throne of David, His dominion shall extend throughout the whole earth for the heathen shall be given Him for His inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for His possession (Ps. 2). All the ends of the earth shall look to Him and be saved, and the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. Then peace and contentment shall take the place of strife and clamour. He will

"Bid the whole creation smile,

And hush its groan."

"His name shall endure for ever: His name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in Him: all nations shall call Him blessed," and the whole earth shall be "filled with His glory" (Ps. 72).

His life on earth was but a short one, and thirty years of it are hidden, for the greater part, from us. Three years and a half seems to have been the limit of the time in which He laboured as the Sent-One of God, sowing the seed, and that brief period ended in a shameful cross, so that it seemed as though He had spent His strength for naught and in vain. But, oh, the glory that those years will yet bring forth; how rich the sheaves that He will gather in the glad harvest home.

(1) His church near to His trusted side, all beauteous in His own glory.

(2) Israel, His earthly brethren, brought close to Him; and the chosen and promised land, in which they dwell, the joy of the whole earth.

(3) All the nations of the earth owning His supremacy and rejoicing in a God, the full revelation of whom means only blessing for them.

Such will be the glorious harvest of His sowing in tears. Such the result of the travail of His soul. Yet such will be only as it were the vestibule to the eternal day, when, in the new heavens and the new earth, God will dwell with men, and He shall be "all in all." Those endless ages that stretch beyond the millennial reign shall also be founded in unchangeable blessedness upon that wondrous visit of the great Sower to this rebellious planet; and that harvest, the first sheaves of which shall be reaped at His coming for His church, will continue for ever and for ever.