The Harvest and The Love Revolution - Nathan Shaw
Recently I keep hearing a prophetic declaration in the Spirit. "It's harvest time!" "It's harvest time!" The declaration has the intensity and urgency of a trumpet announcing something very important. As I hear this declaration I simultaneously see an angel blowing a trumpet. Jesus said that the harvest is the end of the age (Matthew 13:39). He was referring to a supernatural harvest of souls that would be added to God's kingdom. God announces His plans ahead of time so that we can be prepared, ready and alert.
In ancient Israel trumpets were used to declare and announce important events as well as changes of season (Numbers 10:1-10). Knowing and cooperating with each season was crucial to having a successful harvest. Jesus warned the Pharisees and Sadducees. They were devout, but they were not able to discern spiritual seasons (Matthew 16:2-3, Luke 12:54-56). We live in strategic times. It is increasingly important that we discern and know spiritual times and seasons.
Simple Parable - Cosmic End Time Drama
Jesus told a parable about a farmer who sowed good seed into a field (Matthew 13:24-30). An enemy came along later and sowed tares into the same field. The parable answers an important question: What should be done about the tares in the field? The answer is simple: Wait until the harvest is ripe. Wheat and tares look very similar. The difference only becomes obvious when they are fully mature. When that time comes the angels will separate the two.
Aside from this lesson Jesus used this simple parable to illustrate the cosmic drama that will continue until the end of the age. The disciples asked Jesus to explain the parable to them because they intuitively knew there was something significant hidden in its meaning. Jesus highlighted seven key aspects to this drama.
1. The Son of Man (the sower of good seed).
2. The world (the field).
3. The sons of the kingdom (the good seed).
4. The sons of the wicked one (the tares).
5. The devil (the enemy who sowed the tares).
6. The end of the age (the harvest).
7. The angels (the reapers).
This cosmic drama is heating up. As we move toward the end of the age it is crucial that we understand these seven aspects and how they interrelate. Like Jesus' disciples it is wise for us to seek understanding of this parable.
As we advance into these times we can expect an increase in angelic activity on the earth. In fact Revelation 14:6-7 describes an angel boldly declaring the gospel to every nation on earth. But realise that angels are not God's primary witnesses on the earth. Angels are sent to serve us, the sons and daughters of covenant (Hebrews 1:14). It is humans - not angels - who are mandated to walk in dominion on the earth (Genesis 1:26-28). It is humans - not angels - who are empowered to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). We have been commissioned and empowered to declare the gospel, but we work together with the angelic realm to see it proclaimed in its full glory (Matthew 24:14, Acts 1:8, Acts 2:17-21).
Preparation And Reaping
There are three main phases to harvest – Preparation, Reaping and Celebration. Without preparation a harvest will amount to very little. The season of preparation involves much work including preparing the field and planting and nurturing the seed. Everything must be done in the right sequence. It would be extremely hard work to plough the ground before the first rains have softened it. Also the seeds need to be planted at the right time and the grain reaped at the right stage of maturity.
During this season of preparation there is often little or no result. Regardless, this season can be filled with great joy if we are sensitive to discern God's voice and cooperate with the grace that is in the Spirit realm. If we don't learn to enjoy God in this season of apparently little fruit, the pressure of reaping will overwhelm us.
The season of preparation is also a time when we learn to see things by faith with spiritual eyes. It is important that we learn to see with spiritual eyes before the intensity of reaping. Reaping is intense because much work has to be done in a short period of time. It is important that we learn to serve in full submission to God's empowering presence before the intensity of reaping. The work of harvest is about God working in us rather than us working for God. The harvest is God's work not ours. We join His work.
The evangelical mindset that dominates much of today's church has resulted in much performance driven evangelism. This means we end up doing the work of harvest for God rather than with God. (I don't say this to be critical of the evangelical mindset which has made many positive contributions to the body of Christ).
We need to understand something about diligence and hard work. When we are submitted to God's empowering presence hard work is enjoyable. When we do things in our own strength hard work is exhausting. Work and rest are both important principles taught in God's word. However there is a work of grace that enables us to work and rest simultaneously.
Harvest Is To Be Enjoyed
After the harvest was reaped the nation of Israel celebrated and enjoyed the provision. It is important that we celebrate and enjoy the harvest. Harvest is not just work to be done. Many of the feasts that God ordained for ancient Israel were celebrations associated with harvest. The feast of firstfruits was celebrated when the first produce matured. The feast of ingathering was celebrated after all the produce had been harvested. The message is clear: Harvest is about celebration from beginning to end.
Harvest is to be enjoyed before, during and after the reaping. Even in the midst of the busyness of the work it is important to take time aside to enjoy God and celebrate His blessing. If we don't learn to celebrate we will become driven by a religious spirit rather than empowered by the Holy Spirit.
In the days ahead there will be intense seasons of reaping. Thousands will be coming to Jesus daily. There will be much work to be done. During this time we must be sensitive to God's prompting. There will be times when He calls us aside to rest. Jesus sought out time alone with His Father even when the demands of ministry were enormous. Likewise the Apostles acknowledged that although there was much work to be done they had to give priority to the word and prayer (Acts 6:4).
We need to continually drink of His presence and be refreshed in our spirits while we are working, but we also need to take time aside just to be with Him when He prompts us to do so. The work of harvest, as exhilarating as it can be, must never become more important than relationship with God. As David said in Psalm 4:6, "You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine" NLT.
Alignment With The Heart Of The Father
In the natural Israel prepared for her harvests by ploughing the ground and planting the seed. But how do we prepare for a spiritual harvest in our generation? The most important preparation is to align our hearts with the heart of the Father. Jesus supernatural ministry brought about a phenomenal season of revival in the nation of Israel. The pressures and demands on Jesus were huge. However, at the bottom of it all was the simplicity of His relationship with the Father. Every single day of Jesus' life came back to one simple thing: Beholding His Father and doing only what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19). Jesus was energised as He worked. His sustenance came from doing the will of His Father (John 4:34). That is the power of relationship with the Father.
The most important prayer we must learn to pray is "Our Father" (Matthew 6:9, Luke 11:2). This prayer is not a formula. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray like this He was describing a lifestyle. It is a lifestyle of trust, dependency and childlikeness. God is big. We are small. We don't have to carry the harvest. We are workers in God's harvest field. The harvest is the work of the Father. It is an overflow of the largeness of His extravagant love for every person, every city and every nation on the earth. Those who align themselves with the Father's heart will be the greatest workers in this end time harvest.
The Love Revolution
Jesus declared, "The harvest is the end of the age." For those who have listening ears the prophetic decree is loud and strong, "It's harvest time!" God is preparing us for an unparalleled season of harvest. God has saved the best for the last (John 2:10). This harvest will look radically different than many people have imagined. More than just meetings and altar calls it will be a love revolution. As Paul has said, "Three things remain: Faith, hope and love, but the greatest of these is love" (1 Corinthians 13:13 NIV). Above everything else let us understand the true nature of this love.
This love comes from first being loved.
This love comes from the joy and simplicity of relationship with the Father.
This love will become our greatest joy.
This love is better than life itself!
As David declared in Psalm 63:3, "Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You."
The same one we call Father is also the Lord of the harvest (Matthew 9:38, Luke 10:2). As we come to Him, who He is will define what this season of harvest looks like. We must lay aside our preconceived ideas and simply come to Him. Our preparation is to allow the Father's love to conquer every millimetre of our hearts and lives. He promised to immerse us in His river of fiery love (Matthew 3:11, Luke 3:16). Once this love has conquered in us it will conquer through us. It's time to join the revolution.
© 2014 Nathan Shaw.
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