Our passage contains an urgent command from our Lord: therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. It is pressing because souls are at risk, and time is running out. It is commanded because many who are called into the work are not answering the call. Imagine having a secular job and there is a massive task to be performed. When you arrive on site you see the work that needs to be done; and yet, there are very few laborers to perform it. What would you do? That’s right; you would get on the phone to the management and insist on getting more workers.
The Harvest is a metaphor for the vast amount of people who are ready to hear the Gospel, and “be reaped into the Kingdom.” This great (plentiful and abundant) harvest is brought into the Kingdom through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As with any harvesting, the process involves labor and dedication. You will notice that our Lord gives instruction to those who were witnessing the vastness of the harvest firsthand. As if He were asking them, “Do you see all of these people? There are so many of them, but so few of us.” This is the basis upon which we are to pray that the Lord of the Harvest (The Father) would send forth His laborers into His harvest. The idea is not that the Lord of the harvest would create new laborers, but exercise His authority in sending forth the laborers He has already raised up to be in His service. He has been working on these workers since birth — preparing them for His work. All of his or her life experiences will serve as training for the particular field that He calls them to. Unfortunately, many feel the call, but have no urgency to get about the work. This is where our prayers come in.
It is sometimes believed that their are few who desire to repent and believe in our times, but this is clearly not the case. The harvest is always ripe, and there are many who would believe, but there are few who desire to labor in preaching. Ministering the Gospel is work, but more than work. It is a dangerous proposition when done properly. The Lord will say later, “I send you as sheep among wolves.” (Luke 10:3) Read that slowly. Sheep among wolves? That sounds dangerous; even a bloodbath. Nevertheless, ministry in the Lord’s Harvest requires that we set aside ourselves to perform God’s will.
Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest. (Luke 10:2)
(1 Peter 3:15)
When the Lord Jesus spoke of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 1, He said “and you shall be witnesses unto Me.” Many times over the centuries God has poured out His Holy Spirit. He has done this, for one reason, as one minister put it, to reset the moral default settings in society. However, God also intends that His outpouring have the effect of thrusting His laborers into the Harvest Field. In my relatively short life I have seen many outpourings of the Spirit. After a while, I began to notice something; if the people did not get about the Harvest, the move of God would die down to nothing. In time, I came up with a theology about it that demonstrates God’s desire to make His people “witnesses” by pouring His Spirit upon them. Is this not what He has always done to prepare a person for His service?
Nevertheless, many receive the Spirit or a touch of God and do nothing with it that is meaningful. It is just another “spiritual experience” for them. Sometimes I think folks would do almost anything but go out in the fields to work. In fact, we do a lot of things that we think are spiritual; but the truth is, God is interested in getting His Harvest in. His focus is on building the Kingdom of God. Heaven rejoices as we reap down the fields. If we continue to major on the minors, we dishonor God and put His Harvest at risk. In this evil generation, we suffer from serious priority issues. Jesus died so that people can be born again. Think about it. What is the book of Acts about? Did they spend all of their energy on conferences, meetings, and concerts? No. The book of Acts is about men and women who went into His Harvest, filled with the Holy Spirit, and did their part. This is the Holy Spirit’s primary goal. Everything else is secondary.