Sunday March 7 2021

THE MASTER IS CALLING

As I was sitting at my desk this past week contemplating what to write, a phrase just popped into my head – ‘the Master is calling.’ I thought, ‘that sounds like an old hymn title.’ If it was, I certainly was not familiar with it, so I searched. I found this old hymn that has passed into the public domain written by E. T. Rinehart. It is titled,  ‘Haste, brother, haste, for the Master is calling.’  The first stanza states:

‘Haste, brother, haste! for the Master is calling,

Wait not till nightshades around thee are falling;

Go while the sun in his beauty is shining;

Go to the vineyard and cease your repining.’ The chorus follows.

‘Haste, brother, haste! arise from thy slumber,

The toilers are few, be thou one of their number.’

I am certain we have all heard or read of appeals to ‘get busy in the harvest fields.’ And this hymn is no different and seems to carry an urgency as it cries for haste.  Other stanzas speak of “the moments are fleeting,’ and the Coda ends with the phrase, ‘The toilers are few, be thou one of their number.’ The hymn is ripe [pun intended] with Biblical images of the harvest.

The Bible has much to say about harvests in general, and about The Harvest at the end of the age. Everything we place upon our tables is the result of someone labouring and toiling in harvest fields! And think of the joy we all experience as we gather as family about a bountiful table. Even the most humble and austere meal brings joy to the hungry – all this the result of someone’s toil and labour. When my stomach growls, there is food in the fridge. I can awake, restless, in the deep of night and trek to the kitchen for a quick snake, and return, happily, to sleep again. This is not the case in most countries – because either the harvest is spent or the labourers are few. There are lessons in all of this for us. The Bible constantly uses the metaphor of harvest to picture the Great Harvest coming with the day of the LORD. I wish to focus upon two realities this day: the Great harvest, and the labourers called to bring it in.

Listen to these two accounts of the Lord calling labourers.

“Far into the wilderness there was an old shepherd tending his flock by a mountain and a desert bush. He had no idea he would become the deliverer of an entire nation. And, there were the fishermen casting their nets into the waters, having no idea they would one day become some of the most famous people who ever walked the earth – the disciples. There’s a pattern here. Moses in his former life, was a shepherd who led his flock through the desert. God would then use him to shepherd a nation and lead the flock of Israel through that same wilderness. The disciples, in their former lives, were fishermen. God would use them to become messengers of Messiah – fishers of men. Their former lives corresponded with their redeemed lives. So God takes the former life and redeems it to use for His purposes. But, the mystery is deeper. God created and purposed them from the beginning to become what they would become. So it wasn’t that Moses became the shepherd of Israel because he was a shepherd of sheep. It was that Moses became a shepherd of sheep because he was to become the shepherd of Israel. And it wasn’t that the disciples became fishers of men because they were fishermen. Rather, they become fishermen because they were to one day become fishers of men. So it is for all of God’s children. And so it is for you. When you look back at your life, you will find hidden within it this mystery. You’ll find a Moses in the wilderness, a fisherman in a boat. Your life was a mystery waiting to be redeemed; a mystery in which was embedded the seeds of His purposes to be used for His glory. It wasn’t that He happened to discover your life and then decided to use it for His purposes. It was that you were what you were because God had purposed from the beginning what you would one day become. Your life was a shadow of that which it was made to become. So commit every part of your life, all that you have and all that you are, to the will and purposes of God. And your life will become that of a fisherman become an apostle, a shepherd become a deliverer, all that it was created and called and formed to become, all it was waiting to become from the beginning.”1

So, the Master called Moses as He did the disciples. Paul has much to say about our being called. In reference to himself he reminds the reader that he himself was called from before he was even in the womb.

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God . . .” Romans 1:1 and 1 Corinthians 1:1.

“But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace . . .” Galatians 1:15.

“Who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began . . .” 2 Timothy 1:9.

Thus, the LORD GOD selected us, by his grace and only by his grace, to be called-out ones from before we were in our mothers’ wombs, yea, back still farther to before the world was! And it was not because we became anything special in and of ourselves, nor because of the ‘work’ we could do in our previous lives – our pre-redeemed lives – as fishermen or shepherds, but because He established a work within us from the very beginning that would be fulfilled within our redeemed lives. It is as if we were, first of all, a puzzle-picture upon a puzzle box before His face, and He has taken the puzzle pieces of our lives and fitted them together so that we would fully match His imagined picture of us and so therefore arrive as the completed picture He first had for us. It’s as the author said above, it’s not that God gathered up the scattered pieces of our haphazard lives and put them together to see what picture would emerge, but rather He started with the finished picture of us and set to arranging our scattered parts in order to arrive at His pre-determined image of us. Our parts have become scattered through sin and disobedience and of course our mixing up at the hands of the devil. Have you ever watched the dealer at a poker table? He starts by opening a brand new deck of cards. It is pristine and in perfect order – much like our picture upon God’s puzzle box. But once the deck of cards is opened it becomes shuffled and if you watch the dealer at the close of a specific hand, he or she scatters the cards on the felt in front of them and sets to mixing them all up, face down, before reshuffling. This is the randomizing of the pieces of our lives by the hands and influence of this world and of the devil. We have become a distorted picture of our true selves. And it is solely by His grace and mercy that He busies Himself with the re-adjusting of our pieces into His intended picture of us. He un-shuffles us, if you like, and puts us back in order to be kings and priests – His called-out ones.

One, who was created to be a fisher of men, takes up training as a fisherman. One who was created to shepherd God’s people takes up training as a shepherd. As for myself, one called to be “a miner of the word’ – a teacher of the word – found training as a teacher in life. Our secular careers, I would argue, is one aspect of God’s hands putting our pieces together to come out with our predetermined picture – His un-shuffling so that the “cards” are in the right and proper order.

I am fascinated with the words of Jesus given in John 9:4.

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when no one can work.”

Jesus, the perfect picture of the Father, (Colossians 1:15), has come to do His work. We are called to do the same – to do the Father’s work. The world system along with the devil and his servants attempted to distort the “picture of Jesus,” just as they have distorted our pictures. Jesus was cruelly treated to such an extent that he was hardly recognizable. Down through the centuries the attack upon His image continues. His words and works are ridiculed and blasphemed. Yet, His resurrection reset the picture for all eternity! His true image – His original image – shines brighter than 10 000 stars! Nothing the world nor the demons of hell could ever do could ever dim His brightness. And so too will it be for us. We will shine with the brightness intended by the Father from the very beginning.

At present, however, we see ourselves as in a glass darkly, 1 Corinthians 13:12, and so we have this distorted picture of who we actually are. Before His glorification, Jesus laboured as a shadow of His true self, and so must we. He worked the work of the Father, and so should we. As with the old hymn mentioned earlier, there is an urgency in the words of Jesus in this verse from John. The implied urgency is that we must work “while it is day: the night comes, when no one can work.” And where are we to work? Where is our labour field? Moses had his as did Paul but where is our labour field? What is the picture God has of us from the very beginning?

Listen to our Lord’s words again.

“. . . The harvest truly is plentiful but the labourers are few; pray therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.” Matthew  9:37-38.

Our place of labour is to be in the harvest field. Until recently, where modern combines harvest under huge lights, harvesting was a daytime activity. It was impossible for years to harvest in the darkness. The John 9:4 verse compares the activity of physical harvesting with that of spiritual harvesting. Harvesting is a metaphor for the ‘harvesting of souls.’ And the urgency is that right now we have a brief opportunity to evangelize the lost. We labour now, in this time, as in the day in that there is still a measure of freedom of speech that allows us to teach what the Bible says. Night time is fast approaching when the darkness of this present age will prevent us from ‘telling-it-like-it-is.’ Political correctness has reached such bizarre extremes that it is becoming impossible to say anything that doesn’t suit the mantra of the day. Grammar governments and policy police will soon pull a shroud of darkness over our land to snuff out any light of the gospel. But right now, the harvest is truly plentiful! In fact, the harvest – those hearts ready to receive salvation – is far greater in number than are the labourers. We are urged to pray to the Father – the Lord of the harvest – to raise up and send forth more workers. The Matthew Scripture reminded us that it is in fact His harvest. We are to labour in His harvest fields. And because these are His fields – the Father’s – then the planting must be good! Everything that passes from the hands of the Father is pronounced good.

Now, another thought. Jeremiah 5:24 says,

“Neither say they in their heart, let us now fear the LORD our God, who gives rain, both the former and the latter, in his season: he reserves unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.”

One of the saddest verses I have ever read in Scripture involves the passing of the season of harvest.

Jeremiah 8:20 reads, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”  Let us get to work in His harvest field!

In the physical there are two harvests in Israel corresponding with two rains, former and latter. In the spiritual the metaphor tells of two harvests corresponding with the rain of the Holy Spirit both former – at Pentecost, and latter in our present day and age. You see it is the Husbandman – identified as the Father in John 15:1, who is tending the fields. As husbandman He has planted the fields with good crops, and is caring for His plantings by watering.

Listen to John 15:1 as Jesus is speaking.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.” Husbandman is the Greek word ‘georges’ which means ‘tiller of soil’ or ‘vinedresser.’ And what is the Father doing to the vine? What is involved with His vine-dressing?

John 15 continues and explains in verse 2. It says,

“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bring forth more fruit.” So, the Father is tilling the soil of His harvest plantings – those that are becoming ready – ripening – for harvesting – and also, He is pruning His labourers who are part of the vine of Christ – who are being readied to harvest His field! Wow! Two jobs that occupy the Father – He tends His field, His plantings, making the tender shoots ready to be harvested – and He tends to the vine making future harvesters more fit to bear fruit.

So, when we apply the Son’s urgings to pray to the Father for labourers, we are actually calling for the Father, the Husbandman, to prune the vine to make labourers more fit to bring in more fruit! Praise God and/or Ouch!

The root word from which husbandman is derived carries the meaning of ‘one who is occupied.’ In John 5:17 we read,

“But Jesus answered them, my Father is at work up to now and I work.”

The Father is toiling, working His harvest field, preparing the soil so that these yet-to-believe-individuals will gain nourishment and will have ‘ears to hear’ when the Spirit moves over them. He also dresses the vine so that we branches are better suited to be vessels of His Holy Spirit to bring the good news to His harvest field. And the work of Jesus? It is outlined in John 6 – He is the bread of life come down from heaven so that whosoever, can have eternal life. The Son is at work and so too is the Father, now we need to join them in their work as laborers fit for such service.

We have seen that each one of us was pictured in God’s fertile imagination for what He purposed us to become. That the world has distorted that picture. But, as we continue to trust and believe that God has an un-surpassing love for us and if we maintain the courage and faith to remain in His hands, and allow The Potter to re-form us into His vision for us, we can become all we hope to become. And it is my confidence in Him that as we venture out onto the harvest field we will find our life’s calling. For it has already been established. Be we either shepherd, or fisherman, teacher or accountant, social worker or police officer, fire fighter or first responder or any other career; be we a prayer warrior, a song leader, a singer or a dancer; a writer or a reader, God has already finished your puzzle. He has it displayed since before time proudly upon His table. And we can take that picture of ourselves out into His harvest field with confidence that the pieces are coming together even as we witness to the lost with our lives. The old hymn says that we should haste, for the Master is calling; nightshades are falling; we are to go into the vineyard for the toilers are few.

Back at the bottom of page five we quoted Jer. 5:24. I discussed the first part but the verse concludes as follows, “He reserves unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.” Harvest season does not last for long. But He, the Lord of the harvest, has appointed and reserved for us the weeks of the harvest. He has set apart a time of supernatural harvesting. He has appointed the harvest for us and us for the harvest. As the harvest matures, cared for by Him, we too are being matured and cared for by Him. And the two will come together! The time draws near, and the time seems short, yet all things in His good timing. And though the days become dark we do not walk in the dark but in the light. (1 John 1:7)

John 4:35 as we near our conclusion, “Say not ye, there are yet four months then comes the harvest? Behold I say unto you, ‘Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already unto harvest.”

 Let me conclude with 1 Corinthians 13:12. I mentioned the first part earlier.

“For now we see through a glass darkly; but then, face to face: now I know in part; but then I shall know even as also I am known.”

We do not at present have a clear picture of ourselves. But then – on that day – His day – we will be face to face. Face to face with Him and with our real selves. And then we will know [ourselves] as God knows us, as God has pictured us from everlasting to everlasting!

1  Jonathan Cahn Book of Mysteries day 278

Let us pray. Father God we honour and bless your name. We pause in awe to think that You have a glorious picture of each of us, and that You are proud of what You have made. We determine this day to re-commit ourselves into your Potter’s hands, to mould us so that we become the vessels fit for your Holy Spirit that You envisioned from before there was any part of us. We trust in your workmanship as you re-fit the scattered pieces of our fallen lives to match your image of us. We happily determine this day to join You in your harvest field; to humble ourselves to your pruning, for we believe we will be the better for it. We thank You that You are at work preparing us for the harvest and reserving and appointing the harvest for us.  May the two become one under your care. Grant us hearts of compassion toward your plantings, toward those who are being readied to receive your salvation. May we encourage each other, our fellow laborers, as we toil together. Redeem our lives, every piece of our lives, and put all things together for good within each of us. We pray for our families and friends during these darkening days and ask that You keep us walking in the light. May the Son of Righteousness arise upon us, and grant us lingering light to see the harvest come to fruition, filling your barns with great bounty. In Jesus name amen

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