Part 2 -- Cultivating the Crop
by Peter J. Wade
The earliest record of anyone sowing a crop is found in Genesis 26:12. The promise of success had been given in Genesis 8:22, which has been already quoted in our study. One of the great principles of Bible study is that you should go back to the first reference of a subject and discover what it has to say, and then allow The Word to build upon it. Let us consider Genesis 26:12 in this light. "Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him." Isaac sowed in the land, and he received. Here is the principle that we are considering. For there to be a receiving there has to first be a sowing, and when you sow the seed in the ground, there is the possibility of a reception. Isaac sowed and he "received... a hundredfold" -- an Oriental expression meaning he received a great increase.
I want you also to carefully observe that when Isaac sowed his seed and later received the increase, The Word reveals God's unchanging attitude to such activity: "... and the Lord blessed him." This blessing did not come as the result of some special offering or act of worship. God's blessing is available to you every time you act upon His Word.
The first record of sowing in the Bible sets forth a principle: you sow the seed and you receive the increase. You will recall Philippians 4:17, "Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account." The fruit that will abound to your account is the receiving, and the truth has now been made clear, that before you receive you must first of all sow. However, there is a further truth to be understood from the actions of a farmer.
The farmer sows the seed in the ground, and he plows it under. Now that the seed is under the ground, he does not go on holiday for five months and then comes back and reap the harvest. No, there is work to be done between the sowing and the reaping. During this time, the period of cultivation, you must weed, you must break up the soil between rows with a cultivator, and in some parts of the country you will have to irrigate. All this takes place between the time of sowing and the actual reaping, and in the operation of the principle of giving and receiving this is perhaps the most vital part for us to understand. This is where Satan so often stops God's people from receiving what they ought to receive, the increase from that which they have sown. I want to study this matter of cultivation with you, so that you can comprehend what The Word has to teach about it.
"The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing" (Proverbs 20:4). The sluggard or lazy person will not plow in the winter when he should prepare the ground; and therefore he will beg at the time of harvest. He lost his increase because he had not cultivated his crop. In fact, he lost all. And the principle is still very true today.
A similar record is found in Proverbs 28:19: "He that tills his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that follows after vain persons shall have poverty enough." If there is a cultivation of the land after the seed is sown, then you will get an adequate, in fact, a more than abundant harvest. If you do not till it, the implication is that you are not going to get the harvest that you desire. Now this is graphically illustrated in spiritual matters, especially in the principle of giving and receiving. Between the time of what we are calling sowing, the time of giving, the time of action, the time of believing, between that time and when the receiving takes place, there is a cultivation that must go on right until the successful harvest.
Now perhaps we can understand the statement in Hebrews 10:35-36: "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which is having a great reward..." You must have confidence in the fact that you have sown the seed and you are carrying out the cultivation, and therefore you are going to receive the reward -- the harvest. "For you have need of endurance, that, doing the will of God, you should receive [into manifestation] the promise." The patient endurance comes in the time after sowing, when you have lost material sight of the seed, and before the time of reaping, when you see the increase in a material or sense-knowledge manifestation. "You have need of endurance that, doing the will of God, you should receive the promise." Isn't that a tremendous statement? It is true materially as well as spiritually. The Word does not promise that the answer will necessarily come as quick as a flash, for there may be a period of time when you need endurance.
I want to share with you a further portion of God's matchless Word, in II Corinthians 9:10: "Now may He Who is supplying seed to the sower and bread for food be supplying and multiply your seed, and be making the fruits of your righteousness grow." In this period of cultivation there is going to be an increase of that which has been sown. You have sown the seed, and have kept actively cultivating it, and God is giving the increase by multiplying your seed.
Another tremendous statement concerning the time of cultivation is given in Galatians 6:9: "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." So in this cultivation period, in addition to the positive actions required, we now have a warning to faint not. This warning is not given about the time of sowing, for that by its nature is a time of positive action. It concerns the period between the sowing and the receiving. There is a condition to reaping -- maintain your cultivation.
The phrase "if we faint not" is most interesting. It has nothing to do with physical fainting; it has to do with a mental state. In some of the modern translations it is translated: "If we don't lose heart", and "If we don't get discouraged and give up". It is in the field of the renewing of the mind, keeping your eye on the goal, running that race with endurance, and just keeping so positive about it that you are expecting any day for the first green blade to shoot up through the ground and the harvest to follow in due course. It is a situation about the attitude of the mind, and the harvest is guaranteed if we faint not. Now this verse also teaches us, by implication, that the reverse is also true. If you do faint, there will not be that great increase, there will not be the great multiplication of the seed, because you have then failed on your side to give the required cultivation. The reaping of the harvest thus depends on the cultivation of the crop.
Part I Part III