Sunday October 18 2020

FALLOW GROUND

Introduction

Last day we considered the concept of “Mystery Harvests,” 1  in that the Lord has prepared for each of us harvests or blessings that are sure to come to fruition at some future time. We contrasted what should be our mind-set as Christians as opposed to that of the world system. We saw that the world celebrates ‘harvests’ once they have arrived, whereas we are encouraged to exercise our faith and celebrate harvests – blessings – that have yet to occur. We termed these as ‘mystery harvests.’ These harvests are mysterious in that they are yet unseen, except through the eyes of faith. We place our faith in Him, who has promised, and not in the things we see, except through our ‘eyes-of-faith.’  We are to celebrate before the blessings; not to wait to see our blessings in order to rejoice. We are to rejoice before, which will result in our seeing our blessings. We should not wait for the gift to come before we give thanks. We give thanks and then the gift will come. We are not to wait until our circumstances are right before we celebrate. We are encouraged to celebrate anyway and then our conditions will become right. We are not to wait for the victory to be won in order to become victorious. We walk victoriously and the result is victory. Celebrate the harvest you don’t have . . . and you will have  harvests to celebrate.2 There is an additional adjunct to our discussions of harvests. This is the Law of Fallow Ground.

The Law of Fallow Ground

As any good farmer will tell us it is absolutely necessary to allow fields a break from planting to ensure their continued fruitfulness. Let’s consider some Biblical instructions.

Exodus 23:10-11:

“And six years you will sow the land, and gather the fruit of it: but the seventh year you will let it rest and lie still; that the poor of your people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field will eat. In like manner you will deal with your vineyards and olive orchards.”

These verses give the reason for fallowness. Not only does it allow for the regeneration of the land itself – replenishing of nitrogen – but it is also to allow for the poor to benefit as well as the ‘beasts of the field – the worms, the rodents, and the creeping ones.  The ‘year’ that follows a fallowness is far-and-away the best harvest. This Law of Fallow Ground is absolutely essential to us. God has instructed us to abide by His establishment of His law in many critical areas of our lives. This is not some add-on restriction of God to impede our ‘joie-de-vie.’ The Law of Fallow Ground is an offshoot of the foundational Law of Sowing and Reaping. Without going to-far-afield, (no pun intended), God is quite serious about our violating the Law of Fallow Ground. The very reason Israel suffered the Babylonian exile was due to their refusal to recognize this law. I have mentioned this before but it is worth a revisit.

God established the Law of Fallow Ground (Lev. 25:4-5.) However, from the time Israel came into the land until God’s pronouncement of judgment upon them for violating this law was 490 years. For all these years Israel refused to allow the land to lay fallow, so In God’s economy the land was OWED 490/7 = 70 years of fallowness! The result was that God removed them from the land for these owed 70 years.

 (See 2Chron. 36:21; Jer. 25:11; Dan. 9:2.)

Now the point I wish to address this week is that it is not just good to allow a ‘land’ to lay fallow, but it is essential that the land be worked again. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.”

So, once a ‘land’ has laid fallow there is a time under heaven and a season for planting once again.

We all have ‘fallow ground’ in our lives! Ground that has laid fallow, perhaps for years. God has demonstrated His Law of Fallow Ground through His example of Israel for us. Israel was removed from the land for 70 years only to return again and replant that which was fallow. For 2000 years Israel again was removed from the land and it completely fell into fallowness until they returned once more to regenerate a land that was dead. God may require land to rest and lay fallow for a season but He never leaves it that way. The same is true for us. There are seasons of rest and refreshing, but these only serve to revitalize us to bloom once more. Jesus is identified as a Sower of seed, as a Good Gardener, and as the Lord of the Harvest. He is interested in and invested in fallow ground. What is the fallow ground in your life? What has been lying dormant for many-a-season? As we drive or walk about this wonderful country of ours, if we happen upon a farmer’s field that has long remained untilled, we view it as such a waste.  We may wonder if the farmer has been ill and cannot tend to his land. Or, perhaps the land has been sold to make way for condos. Either way, we seem to know that something is quite unnatural about neglected land. What is true for land is also true for people. Our spiritual eyes can see the neglected skills in others; we can see the unfulfilled gifting. These areas in a person’s life are termed “fallow grounds.” They represent areas within one’s self into which the Sower is yet to be permitted to enter. The Holy Spirit has allowed certain aspects of our walk with Him to lie undisturbed, fallow, for a season, until He has prepared us for the task of replanting. These are our times of rest, of ‘catching our breath,’ before we move deeper into His care. These are seasons of prayer and preparation before venturing into ‘deeper water’ with Him. In the parable of the Sower from Matthew 13, we learn that the Sower, Jesus, spreads the ‘seeds of His word’ into the lives of many. The people’s lives are compared to various types of soil – fallow soil! Did you catch that? All four soils are fallow ground. Hard packed soil, stony soil, soil overgrown with weeds and PREPARED good soil. This parable also confirms for us that after a season of laying fallow, a great harvest – the greatest harvest – results. Picture, if you will, an area of your life that is yet fallow. Perhaps its unforgiveness. Perhaps it’s a neglected prayer life, a lack of a systematic Bible study. Perhaps it’s a set-aside college degree. Perhaps fear has kept you from reaching for new heights, a new challenging career, acceptance of a new level of authority. Your fallow ground may be that germ of an idea that God has planted deep in the good soil of your heart to reach out to the unlovable, the under-privileged, the less fortunate.

So, what does God suggest we do with our fallow ground? Listen to Hosea 10:12:

          “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy;                                  break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the                                         LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness upon you.”

Coming out of a season of fallow ground, the ground must first be prepared to receive the greatest of harvests. We are instructed in the above verse to “Break up our fallow ground.” First and foremost this verse tells us that each and every one of us has fallow ground. There are areas of our lives that we have allowed to lay fallow and unattended. Perhaps there are areas of hard-packed dry ground, areas of an unyielding spirit. Perhaps stony hearts that have yet to soften to grace or repentance. Perhaps areas overwhelmed by the cares of this world. So, I am encouraging each of us this morning to identify and deal with our fallow ground. The good soil of the Matthew parable was good because it had been prepared to receive the planting. How do we break up our fallow ground? How do we prepare our fallow ground to receive His will for us?

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness.” What is Scripture saying? We turn over our fallow ground, areas of our lives previously off-limits to the Lord, and allow Him to step over the fence and stand upon our unproductive fields, in order to sow seeds of righteousness there. Remember, righteous harvests are only those germinated by and matured through the Holy Spirit. This is never the work of the flesh, always of the Spirit. God takes our fallow ground and germinates something outstanding! We first sow to ourselves in this way so that we can then sow to others. This is what “Reaping in mercy” entails. Our harvests of righteousness are there to benefit both ourselves and others with the fruits of mercy and grace. Jonathan Cahn puts it this way.

“What is fallow ground? It’s the ground that hasn’t been touched, worked, or cultivated. And what is the fallow ground in God? It’s the ground that hasn’t been touched by God. It’s every life, every heart, and every soul, that hasn’t allowed God to touch it, that hasn’t allowed God’s life to enter in. It is, therefore, crucial that you sow the Word and love of God to the fallow, to the lost, the unsaved, the unknowing, to the farthest and most ungodly – to the fallow ground. And if they receive, they will bear much fruit.” 3

And for those of us who know God, the Law of Fallow Ground also applies. Again, Jonathan Cahn says it this way.

“Even in the lives of those who know and love God, there is fallow ground. It’s the part of your life that has not been touched by God’s love or changed by His Word. Whatever part of your life has not been touched, has not been sown or reaped . . .that is your fallow ground. Whatever area of your life remains unchanged, unredeemed, ungodly, and dark, whether of actions, thoughts, habits, emotions or ways – that is your fallow ground. And the Law of the Fallow Ground says that it is that very thing, that very soil, that very area you haven’t allowed God to touch and change – that will bear the most fruit. It is that part you must plow, and sow, and water. For it is that ground that is waiting to bear a harvest.” 4  

God is invested in healing the broken. And why is this? Because when you love something, love someone, you don’t abandon it. God is not in the business of abandoning what He has created. He takes what has become broken and puts it back together again, piece by piece, until it is better than new. God redeems, He restores, and He continually plants in fallow ground.

So, where do we begin?

How about at Psalm 139:23-24

“Search me, Oh God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This is where the “break up your fallow ground” begins.  We offer to Him the permission to see to our fallow grounds.

Once the Holy Spirit shows us something it is time to put in the plow.

Eph. 4:22-23

That you put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man which is corrupt according to deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”  Along with

Col. 3:8-9

“But now you put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds;”

Once the Holy Spirit brings things to your remembrance we are instructed to put them off. These involve areas of communications we have with others. If these are still part of our everyday language, they represent our fallow ground. Dig the plow in and let Jesus turn the soil. These things need to be weeded out!

With a putting off, so too there must be a putting on.

Gal. 3:27

“For as many of you have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ.”

This means we have been clothed in the righteousness of Christ. We need to reckon this as so and understand that it is the Holy Spirit through Christ Jesus that performs the daily putting-on for us!

Eph. 4:24

“And that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

By our putting-on of the new man in Christ we have His righteousness acting through us AND we experience TRUE HOLINESS, not some flesh centered, rule abiding, holier than thou attitude.

Eph. 6:11

“Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

Notice it is the whole armour. We don’t stand out in our field of fallow ground dressed in work overalls! We stand in amour guarding our inheritance.

Col.3:10

“We have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created him.”

Once we allow Christ to dig into our fallow ground we become renewed with revelation knowledge as to why we have behaved so inappropriately in certain circumstances for so long. We can see what needs to be put off and what needs to be put on. (See verses 12 and 14 as to other aspects of putting on.)

One final instruction is found in Luke 9:62

“But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Fit, here, means “well placed, or useful.”

So then, once you start ‘breaking up your fallow ground’ don’t stop. Keep the plow buried in the soil and move on. Not only don’t stop but don’t look back. What’s to look back to? There’s nothing of worth back there. Don’t be like the Israelis who looked back longingly for the onions and cucumbers of Egypt. You have put off all that. All that is behind are dead-man’s bones. Take a risk! Step onto your fallow ground. Plunge in the plow. Break up the hard clumps of mud! Prepare your soil for a new planting. There is a harvest awaiting. A harvest far beyond what you could ask or dream. A mystery harvest, prepared for you. And because this awaiting harvest comes after a season of fallowness, it will be the greatest of harvests.

Here then is The Law of Fallow Ground. There must be seasons of rest but we are not intended to remain there. The Lord promises to return to our fallowness and call us to productivity again. And the harvest following a season of fallowness will be the best, the most bountiful, the most fulfilling of all. Arise, break up your fallow ground. Amen.

PASTORAL PRAYER   PRAY THIS PRAYER OUT LOUD

Lord of the harvest I come to you, offering myself to Your service. I thank you Lord for the seasons of rest in my life where I heard you whisper, “Be still and know that I am God.” But now Lord I sense a moving. I feel the wind of Your Spirit rustling the grasses. And even as your Spirit “brooded” over the deep so too now I acknowledge His brooding over my fallow fields, my fallow grounds. Lord I invite you into each of these areas of my life. Test the soil of my neglected grounds, let the dry earth run between your fingers. Sense the potential you have placed within me. I give you leave to turn the earth, to break up the clumps, to call forth new life. Lord, set the plow before me, wrap the reigns about my shoulders and place my hands firmly to the handles. Cause me to repent of all my hurtful words, to turn the earth and release forgiveness. Let the blades run deep, as deep as your two-edged sword that pierces soul and spirit. Every unkind word dig out; every selfish desire release. Bring every dark and unworthy deed to the surface and vanquish each to the foot of your cross. No matter how long it may take, how many hours of toiling, let me persevere until every un-Christ-like item is rooted out. Don’t give up on me, but labour long into my night watches until I am truly free of all that stands between me and your likeness. Turn the soil, turn the soil until my fallow ground is fully prepared to receive your new word for me. Let me shake off the dust of the old man and press on toward the prize of the high calling of You, Lord. May I be counted worthy to lift my eyes and look unto the fields that are white unto harvest. 5 Amen.

1-4 Jonathan Cahn Book of Mysteries day 94

5  John 4:35  

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