Summary: Focuses on the true meaning of reaping a harvest
This sermon on “Reaping” is the third part of the sermon on “Sowing.”
Our scripture text was Galatians 6:7, which says “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” This foundational scripture is an immutable law that cannot change. You’ll receive what you sow – whether it’s to your benefit or to your detriment. Once you sow your seeds, you release them and God blesses you because you have sown. Remember what Jesus told the disciples in John 4:38: “I have sent you to reap that for which you have not laboured….”
There are a few points I want you to take away and the definitions of harvest and reaping will help you. These definitions are based on the original Hebrew and Greek.
The word harvest means the “the time of year when grains, etc, are gathered in. It is the period at the end of the growing season when crops were gathered.” Harvest is the time that the “fruits” are ready to be taken up (reaped). Your seeds will produce a harvest in its time. The harvest designates two things – a season and the actual crop. In Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 Solomon says there is a time to plant and a time to up root that which was planted. He’s talking about the harvest season. God stated after the flood in Genesis 8:22 that as long as the earth remains that seedtime (sowing) and harvest (time of reaping) shall not cease.
Harvest, as used figuratively in the OT scripture, often meant devastation, affliction, day of destruction, etc. (Job 5:5; Isaiah 16:9; Jeremiah 51:33). In the NT scripture, Jesus used the term in relating to the harvesting of the souls. Scripture (Exodus 34:22 and Isaiah 9:3) tell us that harvesting was a time of rejoicing.
The harvest represents a point in time – a season – as well as the actual fruits. It does not represent the actual taking of crops. The harvest is what is actually grown from the seeds and harvest time represents the appointed time that the harvest will grow and the time it will need to be cut down (reaped)..
II. Reap (Reaping)
The word reaping means “to harvest grain (crops); to cut grain, to gather a harvest, obtain a reward.” Once the crops were ready to be harvested, the reapers would come in and pull up the grains by the roots and cut them with a “sickle” (an instrument with a short handle and a curved blade). They would drop the grain and others would come behind them and gather them into sheaves, which were taken to the threshing floor and processed. In the spiritual sense, we will reap (gather in) a harvest – not our harvest – as a result of our sowing.
In the natural you reap from the actual seeds you sow; however, in the spiritual you reap because you sow. Proverbs 22:8 says “He who sows iniquity will reap vanity” while Proverbs 11:18 says “But he who sows righteousness gets a true reward.” In the New Testament, the Greek word for reap is used figuratively to denote our enjoying the fruits of our labor (or someone else’s labor).
Several Mosaic Laws pertained to the reapers. A key law is found in Leviticus 19:9-10: “Now when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very corners of your field, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest……you shall leave them for the needy and for the stranger, I am the Lord your God.” When they harvested the fruits had to leave a corner of the land untouched for strangers and the needy. In Matthew 12:1 Jesus and the disciples were walking through a grain field on the Sabbath day and the disciples were hungry and began to pick some grains and eat it. I knew they didn’t own this land and I used to wonder if this was considered stealing. They were allowed to do this because of the Mosaic Law.
Gleaning was necessary to ensure that the poor and the strangers who were traveling would have something to eat. Remember the story of Ruth – she gleaned the fields of Boaz and this led to her marrying him and becoming the great grandmother of David.
How does this apply to our reaping?
III. Spiritual Application
Look back at John 4:35-38. I want to apply the natural to the spiritual and complete the circle by focusing on a few points about the reaping:
• You will reap based on your sowing. God is responsible for your harvest – not you. The Harvest is ready. Spiritual fruit grows and produces constantly. Jesus points this out in vs. 36 when He says “already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.” Remember it was customary for the Jews to rejoice when the harvest came in. Jesus is saying that the sower and the reaper are rejoicing at the same time.