The Lord of the Harvest
Robert Wurtz II
After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. (Luke 10:1-2)
The field and harvest motif is a metaphor for the billions of people in the world who are in need of salvation. It is a great (plentiful and abundant) “harvest” of people being brought into the kingdom through the ministry of the Gospel. Some scholars such as Adam Clarke tell us that it was customary for teachers in the 1st century to be referred to as “reapers” and the students as the “harvest.” As with any harvesting, the process involves labor. You will notice that our Lord gives instruction to those who see the vastness of the Harvest that he would send forth laborers. The picture is not of the Lord of the harvest creating new laborers, but exercising His authority in sending forth the laborers He has already chosen to be in His service.
An Abundant Harvest
I read recently a quote that suggested that credentials are not the key to leadership: concern is. Many are called to the ministry, but have no urgency to prepare themselves to get about the work. the era of “quick fix” and “instant” everything, has robbed multitudes of the patience and fortitude they need to truly get prepared.
If one were to listen to the mainstream media one would likely conclude that sinners are always hostile towards God and hasten to reject the Gospel message. Although this may be true for many, it is not the case for everyone. I suggest that there are many people who desire to believe, but there are few who desire to labor. Ministry is work. Ministry requires that we set aside our own will to perform God’s will. This is where the problem lies. God has not called just a handful of people to work in the fields, He has called all of His people to the work in some way. Everyone has a part to play.
Drive Them Out!
Our English translation doesn’t rightly capture the urgency of the situation when it translates the Greek word ekballo as “send forth.” The word literally means to eject, drive out, cast forth, etc. It comes from a root that means “to throw.” It is the same word used to describe how Jesus was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness and in numerous places to describe casting out devils or casting a person into hell. I don’t think it an imposition on the text to say that we are to pray that the Lord would order the laborers out into the fields as would a manager or an owner order his workers to do a job. This is not a passive and optional request, but a direct order. Souls are in danger. Even earthly harvests must be performed in a reasonable time or they whole thing can be lost.
We are all called to minster before the Lord. The New Testament applies to all Christians — not just the ministers. What says the scripture:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15).
In the Old Testament only certain people could do certain things. The priests had the service of the Lord. In the New Testament the regenerate are a kingdom of priests who wait upon the Lord. We can all wait upon the Lord with a readiness to go where He wants us to go and say what He wants us to say (as the old hymn goes). Whatever the Lord lays on our heart to do we can and we mustdo. Not all are called to be preachers or teachers, but all are called to service. Everyone can share the Gospel or give their testimony. In fact, one of the greatest “sermons” ever preached was not delivered by a well polished preacher, but by a hard working deacon (Acts 6).
Full of Grace and Power
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. (Acts 6:8-10)
Here is a man waiting on tables and doing miracles. He set his heart to do whatever God called him to do, and before he knew what happened, he had the full attention of the Devil. Obviously, Stephen was speaking truth to the people and God was confirming it with signs and wonders. He didn’t have a platform or a microphone. He must have been just casually sharing what he understood to be true. He was not a theologian, scribe or pharisee as best as we know. He was a common man full of the Spirit and faith. He was willing to be used of God. In fact, I believe he walked so close to God that ministry was natural to him. It was part of the overflow of his relationship with God.
License Not Needed
Some people mistakenly believe that you have to have “credentials” to minister. This is not the case. We need to be prepared with the fullness of the truth of the New Covenant, but credentials are not necessary. They are an innovation of men. Licensing is useful for the purpose of establishing a persons’ qualifications before governments and strangers. Stephen had no license, neither did Jesus, Peter, Luke, James, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Paul or all the rest. That is not to say that “credentials” are not helpful, because in some cases they are. Nevertheless, in the vast number of opportunities to share the Gospel or minister in some capacity — a license is not needed, even for the people that possess them. Thesefore, “non-licensed” cannot be used as an excuse to inactivity.
If we are born of God and full of the Holy Spirit, God can use us no matter who we are. He has our “spot” picked out. We must draw near to Him as did Stephen and the Apostles and simply be a child of God. Stand before the Lord. Be available to Him. The Christian life doesn’t have to be a choreographed performance. We are not entertainers! We must focus on being a Christian who loves God and worships God.
I have sometimes said, “If we will spend time in prayer and in the word of God — ministry will find us!” The enemy puts those who are full of the Holy Ghost and faith at the top of his hit list. We need to hear the voice of God sending forth His people. I’m reminded of the great question in Isaiah, “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?” (Isaiah 6:1ff) With more people on earth than has ever been there is no shortage of ministry work. May we step forward without hesitation as we hear and answer the Lord with a heart-felt, “Here am I Lord, send me!”