I grew up on a small family farm in SouthWest Minnesota. One of the things which I thought was common for everyone to do for many of my early years was to drive through every John Deere machinery lot you passed by and to drive slowly enough to inspect the crops in the fields and compare how your crops were doing to those you were driving by. While I don’t drive through many John Deere dealerships anymore, I do still find myself comparing the crops as I drive.
On Monday we will officially be entering the fall season, or I as it always has been in my family, the harvest season. As I drive, I notice the bean fields turning from a deep green, to a golden yellow, to a muted brown as they ready themselves for the harvest. The corn, standing way taller than most people realize from their cars, also begins to turn to a golden color and the ears produced during the summer begin to droop. It’s getting closer and closer each day to “go time” for the harvest and I know, without even asking, that my dad is starting to get anxious to get into the field and see what the yield is for the year. This is the season where he finds out if all of his preparation and hard work has been worth the effort.
The American MidWest has a long history of being a largely agriculture-based economy. And yet, in our increasingly technology saturated world, even those of us who live here are more and more removed from our agricultural roots. As it becomes necessary to maximize efficiency for farmers to be able to make a profit to feed and support their families, small family operations are fading away and being absorbed into larger and larger operations. I’m not here to say if that reality is good or bad, right or wrong, but there is an interesting side effect when it comes to understanding God and Scripture.
When the Scriptures were written, the entire population depended on the field for food. They did not have the various methods of preservation we have available today so if the local fields did not produce a good harvest, they knew they were going to have some days of hunger ahead of them until the next harvest. Too much rain, or not enough rain, wasn’t a random inconvenience as it is for many of us today, it was cause for significant worry and concern.
Because of this dependence on each year’s harvest and resulting familiarity with farming the general popular had, it made sense for examples from the agricultural sector to be used in teaching and illustrating truths about faith and God and how God works in the world. It was something everyone saw and understood. It was relate-able to everyone.
In today’s world, illustrations which focused on tasks such as accessing online content, or making a phone call, or even going to school would be our equivalent. These are things which the vast majority of people have a part of their daily life and their formative years. For more and more people, being part of the cycle of planting, growing, and harvesting crops is a field trip to the Apple Orchard, Pumpkin Patch, or Corn Maze. Or it is the friend who lives on an acreage and loves to garden. And so, the Scriptures which speak of the farming cycle seem a bit more foreign to us with each passing generation.
Over the next four weeks, we will be honoring the harvest season which is about to begin and looking at four different passages of Scripture which talk about harvest in some way. We hope you’ll join us and, along the way, gain a deeper appreciation not only for the wisdom of the Scriptures we look at but for the process of harvest the crops which have been growing just outside of our cities all summer long and those who have worked and tended the fields.