Updated: May 14, 2022
(Release The Plow-men and Plow-women)
This post is a bit longer than usual, but I pray it will be a blessing to you.
Copyright ©2022 Tamara Winslow All rights reserved No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner.
Jer. 4:3 For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. 4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. (KJV)
I grew up on a small family farm in northwestern Iowa. My father raised pigs, some chickens, field corn, soybeans and three children, of which I’m the oldest. It was an ideal place to grow up, surrounded by plenty of grassy, treed spaces for play, and populated by at least 20 very prolific cats, some of which ruled the hayloft of the large, red farm barn. The loft surreptitiously coaxed three bored children, who snuck into its baled-straw play-land, high above the livestock wallowing below. The farm fostered an atmosphere where a solid work ethic was stressed and where we had to trust God to provide rain for the crops and protection for the fields from unpredictable hail, floods, winds and drought. Springtime was always my favorite season partially because it was a time of wonderful transition when our hearts waltzed out of the dreariness caused by winter and hope smiled through both the warm showers and golden sunshine because the green of the earth was about to joyfully reappear.
Dad would spend long hours working in the fields, prepping the land and plowing, followed by cultivating and discing the black dirt sections making them ready for the corn and soybeans he’d eventually sow. Typically, the weather wasn’t always cooperative as it could still be quite chilly, when the field work began. Blustery winds, probably leftover from the remnants of the winter blizzards, annoyed the landscape, chased by soaking spring rains sometimes producing knee deep mud, making it impossible for the tractors and farm implements to address the soggy ground. Additionally, the cold winter had freeze dried the top soil and stubble, from the previous year’s harvest, that resembled a molted porcupine displaying the new emergence of fur and fresh quills. But, for me, the preparation my father did in that time was a wonder. Thus, before any seed could be sown, he’d do a lot of hard work to make the land ready.
Plowing was no easy task since a lot of conditions had to be deliberated before the big green John Deere tractor rolled down the farm driveway pulling the plow or other implements onto the awaking acres. Plus, following the last harvest, and after fall plowing (if there had been time to do so), the plow, the disc/ cultivators and tractors were customarily greased, so to preserve them through the winter season. You see, several concerns were always preemptively addressed in the first part of the spring because if they weren’t tackled, great loss of both time and money would inevitably occur. Interestingly, plowing isn’t typically done in our times as it was in decades past. Time has become a premium and other implements are as a rule used for the sake of readying the ground more quickly. It’s up for debate whether these practices and implements are good or bad, though some farmers say, “Nothing really replaces a plow”. Thus, the sequence of preparation before the plowing began is extremely important. Regrettably these activities are unheard of in non-agrarian societies, and their spiritual symbolism is sadly not taken into account in Church circles. Nonetheless, the season of the “plowers” is very possibly upon us.
Throughout history, there is, and has always been a tactical approach for fruitful farming. I bore witness to this routine as my Dad expertly strategized as to what to do before plowing, especially as spring approached. He was always thinking his plans through, as sometimes the conditions of the field, the weather, and the state of his equipment were variable and he’d have to plot what were the best sequential steps before the plowing began. At times, we children, and Mom would get involved. Most of the time we weren’t needed, but before any plowing was initiated something unusual had to occur.
You see, I watched in puzzlement, when my father would go out to the fields, in the very early, still-chilly, springtime, long before the ground was broken and planted. I couldn't figure out why he spent so much time there. He'd come home for dinner, usually plastered in dust, and looking very tired. What I didn't realize before, but understand now, was that he surveyed the fields locating, lifting and carrying all the stones and boulders he could handle, moving them to an isolated spot in the field. You see, every winter the frost line in the field would push unseen, buried stones, upward toward the surface. He'd have to first locate them, and then remove them, if possible. Some of these rocks were the size of a car. In such cases, he’d leave those in place, being logged in his sharp memory so that when he maneuvered near to the boulder, the equipment wouldn’t suffer. If he didn't do so before the plowing began, the rocks might damage his implements, especially the blades of the plow or cultivator, all costly to repair. Even during harvest, while "reaping" the corn or soybeans, the “combine” could break down if the reaping bar hit one of the rocks. Thus, he'd lose time and money. So, the stones had to be spotted and removed. This principle is true whether it's the stones of a field, or the stones in your heart. Rocky hindrances pressurize us. They can make us cave in to distress because when our heart is full of stones, we have no strength of will to resist what’s assailing us.
For those who’ve never witnessed it, plowing cuts much deeper into the winterized ground than cultivating or discing. Plows, cultivators and discs are different pieces of farm equipment with unique purposes. Plowing specifically extricates weeds, thorny bushes and problematic hard spots, deeply turning over the soil into large hunks of shiny black dirt. Thorns, thistles, sunflowers, and more, can potentially pose serious problems during harvest, not to mention how much damage their hardened thick stalks can cause for the harvesters. Thus, plowing slices the earth beginning the process of cultivation. In most circumstances, the massive wedges need to be additionally fragmented into smaller chunks with a disc, a chisel, or a cultivator, so that planting is easy. The process is also metaphorically akin to the practices of preaching, prayer, praise, repentance and other spiritual activities that break up the fallow ground of the human heart. In fact, when considering the desired spiritual condition of revival, or as I prefer to describe it, a spiritual movement of the Lord, the things that need to happen before a move of God are actually more crucial than the state of revival. We need the gifted people, and the natural things and circumstances designed to break up our unused, fallow ground more than we ever know. Regrettably, we aren’t aware of this.
Dear one, here in the United States, along with much of the northern hemisphere, we’re entering the season of spring. Lately, I’ve been impressed by God’s Spirit, that the time for spiritual plowing could, and should, soon occur. The question is: how could this manifest?
1. A PLOW OPENS UP THE FUTURE POSSIBILITIES
Plowing is essential in pressing through to faith and receiving the dynamics and accomplishments of the new birth, or the works of redemption. It deals with stubbornness, stiff necked attitudes, pride, idolatry, and coldness of heart. We, therefore need to examine the subject of the circumcision of the heart, as it is commonly connected to plowing.
Deut. 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff necked.
Deut. 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. (KJV)
Jer. 4:3 For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. 4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings. (KJV)
Rom. 2:28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29 But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. (KJV)
Throughout both the Old and New Testament, we’re urged to circumcise our hearts. Notably, this circumcision is directly related to breaking up, or plowing our fallow, dormant ground. (Jer. 4:3-5) In simple words, we must do spiritual surgery on our own hearts. But, in a like manner God also circumcises our hearts. We plow, and He also plows!
Dear one, there is a desire in God’s Spirit for willingness on our part to choose to follow Him. He wants us to be motivated by our love for Him, to have a heart that wants to do what He says. This OT verse (Jer. 4:3-5) warned of serious consequences if we’re unwilling to do the spiritual surgery we need. Moreover, once you’re born again, your heart has been circumcised. So what would we have to plow, if not our hearts? Plowing may need to occur in your life if you’ve neglected the fields God has called you to work: your past ministries, your attitudes involving your relationships, or your hardened heart and dulled relationship with God. For example, if you’re backslidden, you may need to break up the fallow ground of your heart, and you may even need Him to assist you in doing it. This can be very tough as pride, stubbornness, arrogance, loving the world and it’s ways, more than Jesus, can make you resist a pliable heart in Christ.
Colossians 2:10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: 11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: (KJV)
2. The Human Will, Convictions, and Desire are crucial to those who plow. Your will, in unity with the Lord’s, increases strength, energy and force. Your priorities, therefore, must be clear. You can’t look backward and be fit for His Kingdom. You won’t plow straight furrows and your depth will be inconsistent.
Luke 9:62 But Jesus said to him, No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.(KJV)
3. Teamwork, Especially A team of workers!
1 Kings 19:19 So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. 20 And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee? 21 And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him. (KJV)
Some plowers are potential prophets. They’re not the first in line. But they work well in a team and are finishers. Elisha was that. He understood loyalty, honor, blessing his parents, and then committed to follow Elijah. But, why were their twelve yokes of oxen plowing? The plows of ancient times generally only had one plow share, and thus plowing took a long, long time to break the ground of an entire field. Twelve yokes meant that the plowmen would accomplish a lot more work than a single plow farmer could. What’s more, once Elisha made the commitment, having set his hand to the plow, and not looking back, he revealed he was fit for Kingdom service. He slaughtered his oxen, sacrificing them to the Lord, cooked their meat, shared it with the people and then left to follow Elijah. This was a man of tremendous character.
4. Don’t yoke oxen and asses together when you plow. They pull the implement differently, and due to their size and personality differences, they're unequally yoked. When plowing spiritually, and working with others, you need to be certain you’re all on the same page and of the same mindset together, or later, there will be conflict.
Deut. 22:10 Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.
5. Metaphorically Judah shall Plow- Praise shall plow
Hosea 10:11 And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods. 12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. (KJV)
I’ve led, studied extensively, written numerous books and taught about Praise and Worship from a Biblical basis for over 40 years. So, when I looked at the roots of praise, I had to examine the words and names that were based out of the concept of praise. The name for the tribe of Judah can be translated as praise, and many of the expressions of praise, especially the lifting of hands and throwing out ones arms in praise to God are keys to plowing. Hosea the prophet prophesied that Judah shall plow. This statement is critical to the preparation of the fallow ground for planting seed and a move of God. Interesting, plowing leaves large chunks of dirt along the furrows and those wedges are to be broken up by further breaking of the clods by Jacob. Jacob was a wrestler, and this one trait related to him infers that once plowing has been done, there is a wrestling that will and must occur to ready the soil for easier sowing of the seed. Nonetheless- in most cases, praise starts the process for actual plowing.
6. There is a season for plowing. Missing that season is catastrophic and prevents harvest, but it’s not always a season of convenience or ease. This must be discerned. There are also seasons for rest that occur every seventh year. Take note of these patterns lest the land be overworked and the dirt become depleted by overuse.
Exodus 23:10 And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: 11 But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy olive yard. (KJV)
7. THE STONY GROUND- A HEART WITHOUT DEPTH, OR WITHOUT CONVICTION
Dealing with the Rocky Ground as discussed in the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:5, 16)
Mark 4:5 Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. (KJV)
Mark 4:16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they are offended. (KJV)
Rocky ground is usually shallow and representative of a set of conditions that make it virtually impossible to plow unhindered. So, if the Word is sown, it can’t root deeply or grow to maturity. Jesus privately explained these verses to His disciples.
Stony ground is allegorical of folks who lack firm conviction. They’re passive in their will, and emotionally driven, reacting to whatever they hear or see. Sadly, they have no intention, or internal wherewithal to further, and nurture the seeds they've been given. Notably, they can't hold on to the truth for an extended time. The biblical symbol of stones is often symbolic of offenses. A hardened heart, full of bitterness and un-forgiveness, impedes the progress of the Word-seeds. So, when preparing to plow the ground of your heart, take some time to investigate whether there are stones of offense present and preventing lasting victory.
Stony ground also denotes superficiality, or people who lack depth in themselves. They may in fact appear is if they're spiritual, acting as if they're sincere. But it's all a farce. They are the epitome of religiosity, in contrast to, being spiritually minded and only endure for a limited time. It isn't that they aren't excited about what they've heard. In fact, Jesus said they welcomed, gladly receiving the Word. Nonetheless, they can’t produce the lasting sort of fruit that Jesus said is an outcome of a close walk with God because they have no depth. There is another thing, however, that these rock-strewn conditions do to prevent genuine liberty.
I've noticed this swelling crisis increasingly in the past 10 years, especially when I've spoken in seminars, churches, and conferences around the world. I've watched listeners, many of whom were students, become very excited about the truths God revealed to them. Nevertheless, those messages didn't penetrate deeply enough, and they couldn't retain what was spoken. All the excitement meant nothing. In fact, once the teaching was over, I watched in dismay as the hearers forgot the truths, they'd been excited about, almost as if they'd never heard. Sometimes, in their thrill, they exhibited strong emotion, with weeping and shaking. But their absence of inward conviction prevented them from further progress. For that reason, I've wondered if it's any good to preach, if the folks who are listening, don't have the capacity to walk out what they've heard. You see, when people don't understand something, and then, when they don't see the results they hoped for, even though it’s due to their own personal lack of conviction, they can become offended with God, the minister of the Word, and sometimes, even the Word itself. Jesus warned us about this possibility, though it’s seldom recognized for what it is. So, why can't they maintain the truths they've heard?
Firstly, we must bear in mind that the battle isn't aimed at us as individuals. The conflict erupts because the life-giving, transforming Word of God has come on the scene, and Satan hates it. Our adversary will do anything he can to prevent the Word from taking root. But think on this. Satan won't stand in front of you and announce he's there to cancel out God's Word. Instead, he hides behind things that will bear down on your already fragile will, crush your hope, and then make you wonder if God is against you. Then, and specifically then, you'll have to take a stand. But in too many instances, because the stony ground is fraught with offense, as"afterward, when affliction or persecution arises, because of the word's sake", you'll find yourself immediately offended.
Affliction and persecution are both formidable adversaries. For one, affliction, is sometimes an obscure word, because it’s meaning is unclear to the modern believer. Nevertheless, the Greek word translated as affliction carries the following definitions. You see, affliction essentially means pressure, both literally and figuratively. It may manifest as anguish, feeling burdened, persecuted, having trouble and tribulation. But the basic idea behind affliction is being pressed together. It's the embodiment of oppression, distress and straits. Thus, Satan almost always targets believers who are superficial and passive. He goes after the life-changing Word they've heard, and shows no mercy. Folks without depth of heart have a real challenge on their hands because they don't necessarily have strength to fight. They, therefore, can’t produce fruit, of any enduring nature, and the only way they'll do so, is if they first clear away the destructive stones in their hearts.
Persecution always comes to the godly soul who’s heard and endeavored to believe God's Word. (2 Tim. 3:12) This isn't to say that when there is persecution, because of what you believe, that it won't hurt. Paul admitted it made him weak. But the seeds of the revelation of God's Word went deep into Paul’s heart because he possessed conviction and was, thus, able to stand strong. We can develop conviction. We can even acquire that type of healthy will. But the stones of passivity and offense must be identified and removed before there can be any genuine change of heart. (2 Cor. 11:23-29)
Stony ground prevents you from generating permanent fruit. Furthermore, Paul stated that even after having gone through horrible oppressions, God delivered him out of them all. What a testimony!
7. Removing the Cares of this World, The Deceitfulness of Riches, the Lusts of Other things and the spirit of Anti-Christ- Belial or “worthlessness”.
THORNS, UNFRUITFUL GROUND AND DISTRACTED HEARTS
Mark 4:7 And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. (KJV)
Mark 4:18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. (KJV)
Plowing carves out the roots of thorny potential. In the parable of the sower, Jesus compared thorns to the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts of other things. He said that these thorny conditions, hidden in the heart of the hearer, choke God’s Word foiling fruitfulness. Thorns are thus distractions, biblically symbolizing a variety of ungodly rivals or problems known to ruin spiritual life. The first one that Jesus referred to was the cares of this world.
Luke 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. (KJV)
A 17th century English rendering of the phrase the "cares of the world" can also be translated as the concerns of this world. The ancient Greek word, taken to mean, "cares", is also described as anxieties that are a distraction. That being said, there is a meaning to the word “care” as in when someone out of love says “take care” referring, to that you “take care of yourself- or be watchful of yourself. It can also mean to take “love” to yourself. Your interpretation for that word determines how you’ll receive it. If you’re negatively/ carnally minded you will become offended by someone saying that. But, the twisting of this word has caused great suffering needlessly for many people.
While visiting a well-known Bible school in the US, about 43 years ago, I became aware of, and even got caught in the middle of some of the students of that school who began to scold their classmates over the use of the word “care” applying only it’s negative definition. They castigated each other to the point that the college’s staff had to confront the narrow minded interpretation of the word, and put a stop to the damaging legalism. So when we consider this idea, let’s be clear about what types of cares we’re addressing.
Luke's gospel illustrates how dangerous cares, or anxieties, can be because they affect your self-awareness and your discernment of the times. Are you paying attention to what's going on in your heart? The beloved physician wrote with unusual clarity, as he exposed how cares burden the heart and cause one to be off-guard in the moments and the “now”. Once again, a New Testament writer implies that the coming day- of the Lord- was imminent. Even though it hasn't happened yet, his admonitions are still relevant, and perhaps even more so than they were. Is there, therefore, a remedy for this spiky entanglement?
1 Pet. 5:7 Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all]on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. (AMP)
The cares, or anxious distractions of this world ruins fruitfulness. Still, this doesn’t have to be. Contextually, 1 Peter 5:5-7, Paul reveals that God gives grace to the humble, and humility seems to be exemplified by the practice of intentionally casting all your cares, per that definition, on Jesus.
The Amplified Bible Classic Edition renders these passages slightly different, stating that you must cast the whole of your cares, once and for all upon Him. This sounds like it’s an all-or-nothing effort. The problem I have with this, even though I believe it’s true to the translation, is that most people forget that they've cast their cares on Jesus. Then, after a while, they pick them up again. The practice of casting your cares on the Lord, is illustrated in the ancient languages as “throwing” all your cares upon Him. Humility enables you to do this. The moment we forget that He is Lord, is the instant that our cares overtake us. You see, God resists the proud, and any blessing we receive from the Spirit of God demands that we lay aside our pride and embrace an attitude of humility. Perhaps there is more of a process to walking this out than we realize. But if we're going to plow out the thorns overrunning the fields of our hearts, we must eradicate the cares that choke out the word. You can rest assured that He is watching out for you because He loves you and wants you to be liberated!
Thorny ground is also a metaphor for a specific group in the crowd that Jesus addressed. The folks he taught were especially at risk to the temptations of worldly pleasures and riches. As revealed in some of the earliest writings, thorns were included in God's curse on the earth as punishment for sin (Genesis 3:18.) But biblically, thorns embody a lot of things. For one, the world's riches, as in, not just money, or the things it buys, but the entirety of what the world attractively offers in fame, power, glamor, social esteem, etc., are all regarded as fleshly distractions that obscure a believer's attentions. These prickly enticements strangle the Word making it unprofitable. Hence, the worldly indulgences you desire, may eventually cause you great damage, if you don't weed them out of your heart. Plowing is profitable in this practice. So, consider the things thorns can represent.
2 Sam. 23:6 But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands: 7 But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place. (KJV)
a. Thorns are likened to false prophets (Matt. 7:15-16) and they’re allegorical for grief; rebellion, scornful looks, and the attitudes, and words of people, who resisted the prophets (Eze. 2:6-7).
b. Thorns are linked to boundary-less souls influenced by Belial, an evil spirit, and equal to the anti-Christ (2 Sam. 23:6-7). What’s more, David’s psalm, in 2 Samuel 23, depicts folks who bow to a spirit named Belial, as similar to thorns, needing to be incinerated. Thus, spiritual fire destroys them!
c. Thorns are also connected to what's been named “Paul’s thorn in the flesh”, a subject that’s gotten much attention, though not always approached from an accurate summation of biblical research.
Dear one, Paul experienced compelling spiritual revelations, difficult to articulate, and not easily understood by both past and contemporary Christians. Many scholars reckon that Paul was recounting his personal experience of a vision, when he alluded to being caught away to Heaven. Saints who undergo this sort of spiritual ecstasy, are, more often than not, besieged by both demonic foes and intense internal pressures. They also may be prone to a host of difficulties. Arrogant attitudes, combined with a sense of spiritual superiority, typically lurk near the door of spiritual rapture. Such antagonists seek entrance that will grant them access into an overwhelmed believer’s life. It seems that Paul wrestled with self-aggrandizement, but gradually threw his dependence on God's grace through humility, as he dealt with the “thorn in the flesh.” This thorn was contextually branded “a messenger of Satan”. Scholars disagree as to what this thorn was. Some believe it was an evil spirit aggravating Paul, with literal and, or figurative recurring attacks. Others put forward that he was suffering with a painful, debilitating, physical ailment. All hypotheses are inconclusive. But if you examine the verses that speak about thorns, they’ll provide you with a more thorough explanation for what Paul may have been fighting. You see, the Greek word, “skolops”, meaning “thorn”, is used only once in the New Testament. We’ve learned that thorns signify a number of spiritual, emotional and social irritations, familiar to the ancients, and also a result of the divine curse on the ground affecting humanity’s agricultural labors (Gen. 3:18). But, when dealing with the thorns mentioned biblically, thorns always hindered all kinds of fruitfulness! In Paul’s case, thorns were never associated with an actual, physical disorder. Instead, his talk about thorns, referred to spiritual and emotional disturbances, most of which couldn’t be detected by the human eye. This apostle sought deliverance from his annoyance three times, and in line with what's been written, was undoubtedly referring to a battle going on in his flesh and mind.
“Sarx”, the Greek word, rendered “flesh”, in relationship to his thorn in the flesh, is normally associated with the carnal, fallen, facet of the human being. God's answer was simple! Grace was more than enough and could remedy the apostle's downcast state. Additionally, the word "sufficient", as translated from the Greek verb, “arkeo”, illustrates an attitude, or a quality of grace, that aggressively wards something off as if raising a protecting barrier or boundary. Belial, whose name means "worthlessness", and who Paul identifies in 2 Corinthian 6:15, as another name for "anti-Christ", aggressively pummels human emotions and spirit, if grace is forgotten, and/or spiritual pride exists. That is why the fallow, untended ground of the heart must be seasonally plowed to confront carnal thinking and worldly entanglements.
Dear one, the exodus out of Egypt reports that the wandering Hebrew children failed to expel the idolatrous inhabitants from the Promised Land. They let those enemies remain, and their foes were likened to thorns in the eyes, linked with the spiritual and social conflicts that the Hebrew children suffered. Thorns were also thought to impede spiritual vision and penetrate the sides, representative of the will and emotions. Equally, believers who fail to deal with strife and dissension, persistently keeping ungodly alliances by allowing the enemies to remain, will always experience spiritual and emotional “spikey” aggravation. (Num. 33:55; Josh. 23:13; Judg. 2:3). Slothfulness, perversity and simplicity are also invitations for thorns. Nonetheless, God’s fiery presence, on all fronts, destroys these. Plowing scoops out these thorny hazards.
8. Watch out for Mud, Floods and overly hardened stubbly earth. Plows are heavy and sink in the mucky ground if soggy soil is ignored.
9. It takes time to plow and prepare the ground, but rest is fundamentally necessary. Exodus 34:21 instructed that plowing should be done for six days of the week, while one day must be taken for rest or sabbath. In other words, don’t forget the Sabbath.
A DISTINCT PLIGHT
Have we forgotten why and how to plow? What’s made us think it’s not necessary? Curiously, plowing isn’t practiced as much as it used to be by farmers. But, could it be that we don’t grasp that we aren’t digging deep enough, and therefore, don’t realize the benefits that plowing affords us? Yes, plowing can trigger potential soil erosion. However, the benefits of the depths of its creates may practically outweigh the risks.
Increasingly, there appears to be an absence of the heartfelt attitude of the Fear of the Lord among both Christians and our current world. However, as I was researching the modern practice of plowing throughout the US agricultural regions I happened upon a blog directed to farmers, and written by farmers, that addressed the practice of plowing. It was very enlightening. The comments made by various farmers, most of who possessed academic education as well as agricultural experience revealed quite a wide range of opinion for and against the need to plow. One particular farmer posed quite a narrow idea that plowing wasn’t required any longer since other manners of cultivation- some chemically imposed- made plowing too costly in time and money. His wording seemed to condemn anyone who thought different than he did. A second farmer challenged the first man’s absolute statement with reasonable arguments. His suggestions, however, were immediately repudiated by the first man, who began his rebuttal by taking the name of the Lord “Jesus” in vain. As I read the subsequent comments I was astonished to see that nearly every commentator after that rebuked the first farmer for taking the name of the Lord in vain stating it wasn’t necessary to react to the opinion and correction by the second man with cursing. This blessed me. I realized when the one man dishonored the name of the Lord “Jesus”, as he did, displaying a serious lack of the fear of the Lord, and the other farmers in sequential reaction all rebuked him, it showed that the greater number of farmers feared God, as well as the nature of plowing. Thus, there is hope for breakthrough. You see, there is a swelling wave of interest, mixed with a hopeful hype arising on the global horizon that says we’re on the edge of what is being touted as “revival. ” Regrettably, unless certain attitudes of heart change, and preparations are made for plowing our fallow fields, revival will not truly occur. Zealous, well-intentioned people, many of whom are leaders, are saying we are already in revival because of the meetings and events they’re part of. However, biblically speaking, revival is not, and should never be tagged as an event. It must be the result of a condition of heart that brings about restoration, refreshment, renewing and freshness, as a result of an encounter with Jesus and a deepening intimacy with the Lord. When we say we want revival, but we ignore the preparations of heart, attitude and the conditions occurring around us, we make revival the goal instead of renewed intimacy with Jesus! What’s more, interestingly, the one key factor that Scriptures reveal is required for revival is what I’ve already mentioned- THE FEAR OF THE LORD! That has to be present before anything else lasting can occur.
THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE PRIMARY CONDITION THAT FOSTERS REVIVAL, OR LIFE. IT MUST BE TAUGHT, CAUGHT AND INSPIRES US TO PLOW WITHOUT LOOKING BACK.
Prov 14:27 The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death. (KJV)
What does it mean “a fountain of life?” In short, a “fountain” refers to “the origin of something.” It’s what other things launch from. In a like manner, the English word “life” is rendered, revive, revival, and of course, life in its highest condition. Thus if you regard these definitions it can be justifiably translated as “the Fear of the Lord is the origin of revival!!!” The topic of revival is frequently contested in a variety of Church denominations who narrowly say that revival isn’t mentioned commonly in “word and terms” through the Bible. But such statements typically originate out of linguistic pride. We must remember that the Bible wasn’t originally written in English, or current translations, with their personal and cultural interpretations. The Bible’s original languages of (Hebrew, Chaldean, Sumerian, Aramaic, Greek and more) are at times difficult translate because the larger number of global languages don’t afford suitable wording that do justice to the original language meanings. Hence, in-depth study is required to bring clarity. Thus, a pride of one’s own language and culture can prevent the truths we need and sadly often miss. What’s more revival, if we call it that, has at least 60 synonyms that all relate to the diversity and breadth of what a move of God looks like. We must give room for Him to express Himself in every language on earth.
Is there a Move of God about to emerge in the earth today? Could the agricultural communities of our world be instrumental in hosting such spiritual activities and conditions? I realize this could sound very restricting because when His Spirit moves it often exceeds our mindsets about what’s possible. Still, when I noticed that there was an obvious display of the fear of the Lord among the farmers dialoguing in the blog, even though the participants weren’t numerous, it made me wonder. Although it may sound like a sweeping generalization, it seems that the fear of the Lord and the defense of His name is slighted in the urban and working world, and yet these farmers, all from different parts of the US stood up for His name. That my friend, is notable.
Fearing the Lord includes fearing and respecting His name. The great revivalist, Charles Finney stated in his book “Lecture on Revival” that the spirit of prayer that launches the moves of the Spirit (revival) was frequently hampered by the sophistication of a city’s atmosphere. The love of the world, it’s entertainments, its vanity and as Finney said “the infinite number of things to divert the attention and grieve the Spirit in cities” tends to soften the intensity of the conviction of conscience against sin and worldliness in the churches. Thus, smaller towns and agricultural settings seem to promote deeper moves of God’s Spirit and repentance is often more genuine. What better location for the plow of the Spirit of God and His word to be applied.
Let us break up our fallow ground. Let us allow God to circumcise our hearts through the new birth and by the power of His Spirit and Word to keep in a place of receptivity for the truth of His Spirit. It’s springtime my friends. Let’s get ready for a time of awakening as we recognize this season that’s upon us.
 Lectures on Revivals of Religions, Finney, Charles Grandison (1792-1875) Section 6, pages 62-79; Publisher: Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library; This PDF file is copyrighted by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library. It may be freely copied for non-commercial purposes as long as it is not modified. All other rights are reserved. Written permission is required for commercial use.