fields white unto harvest

When the plowman overtakes the reaper

At first reading, this verse is hard to comprehend and even a bit confusing. It is like a brain teaser. It compares two different metaphors for fruitfulness, growing grain and growing grapes, while at the same time intermixing references to all four of the agricultural seasons: plowing, planting, reaping and treading/threshing.

Right away it is puzzling to consider the picture of a plowman overtaking a reaper. One tends to think it would be the other way around since the normal sequence of events has the reaper following the plowman.

The second analogy of the grape treader overtaking the planter seems more sequentially reasonable but one cannot help but wonder how that can be and what it could mean? Pause and think about it. And then to add even more confusion, the prophet Amos throws in one last sentence that seems to bypass the agricultural seasons altogether by stating simply that wine is going to flow directly from the hills. Are you confused yet? Good, now let’s look at this promise more carefully.

To begin with it needs to be said that this is one of the most remarkable promises ever given regarding God’s ability to release blessing and abundance. It forecasts an era of fruitfulness that can only be explained as miraculous because it overrides the natural law. If there is one promise to claim in the Bible and pray that it will come to pass in your lifetime this is it.

This amazing promise of fruitfulness has two aspects.

Friendliness is next to Godliness

“Wake up and look around, the fields are already ripe for harvest.” John 4:35

Jesus’ way of lovingly engaging with people, disarming their defense mechanisms and speaking insight-fully into their lives never ceases to amaze me. He exemplifies, like no one else, the ability to reach across every barrier and befriend people no matter what their age, gender, social status, ethnicity or religious persuasion. The fact that he was criticized for being a “friend of publicans (tax collectors) and sinners” testifies to that fact. (Matthew 11:19)

What was Jesus’ secret? How did he engage with people and direct the conversation toward spiritual things?

His encounter with the woman at the well in John 4 provides four wonderful insights into how to befriend people for eternal purposes.

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