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Clear Words

Clear Word – The right task, the right time (Isaiah 28:23-26)

Today’s Reading: Isaiah 27-31

Today’s Reflection: Isaiah 28:23-26

23) Give ear, and hear my voice; give attention, and hear my speech.  24) Does he who plows for sowing plow continually?  Does he continually open and harrow his ground?  25) When he has leveled its surface, does he not scatter dill, sow cumin, and put in wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and emmer as the border?  26) For he is rightly instructed; his God teaches him.

Many of the books of the Bible use examples from farming.  Ancient Israel and its neighboring nations were agricultural societies with economies built on the raising of livestock and the cultivation of crops of fruits, vegetables and grains.  Because so much of life was wrapped up in this world agriculture offered fertile land for analogies (pun intended).  Isaiah 28:23-26 is one of these.  It is subtle, but profound.

Verse 24 asks does one who plows a field to sow (or plant) seeds plow continually.  Obviously not.  Plowing is just the first step to allow the sowing of seeds to take place.  Verse 25 goes on to say not just one type of seed is planted but a variety of herbs and grains.  Verse 26 adds that all of this planting is properly arranged to facilitate cultivation and eventual harvesting of the crops.  This example shows that in order to produce a successful crop, numerous tasks need to be undertaken, in a specific order, at the right times and that great care needs to be taken in sowing the crop initially to ensure it can be reaped successfully.  Because we live in an age of convenience—grocery stores, mini-marts, supercentres—we often fail to appreciate where the food we eat really comes from or the skill it takes to produce it.  The truth is agriculture is an incredibly sophisticated and precise enterprise that requires a great deal of dedication and meticulous timing.

This applies equally to the harvest of the world, God’s incredibly sophisticated and precise plan to save humanity.  God is cultivating people for His kingdom.  He has sown His seeds of truth in order to produce a crop of obedient and loving servants.  At times we wonder why the delay?  In the wilderness Israel wondered why the delay to reaching the Promised Land?  In the days of the kings and prophets some must have wondered, why the delay until the coming of the Messiah?  Today we wonder, why the delay in Christ’s return?  The answer to all of these is the same: in order to produce the most abundant crop, God has arranged the spreading of His seeds of truth with great dedication and has meticulously timed each step in the plan of salvation to maximize size and variety of the crop of people He will reap and take to glory at the end of time.

Verse 26 makes clear this instruction is for us as well.  As reflections of God—children made in His image—we too have a role to play in His work of the cultivating souls for His kingdom.  God will gift and instruct us in the tasks we are to perform.  More importantly, we need to respect those gifted in other ways and instructed to perform other tasks.  All plowing, all sowing, or all arranging won’t get the work done.  Every gifting is valuable, each task is needed, and all must be put to work in the right way at the right time.

Isaiah 28:29 – This also comes from the LORD of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.

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