Harvest or Famine?

    We Canadians have already celebrated Thanksgiving and the Americans will be celebrating theirs soon. The crops around the country are being harvested and the soil is being prepared for the next and the cycle continues year after year. We live in a country of plenty. Any day of the week we can go to the grocery store and we will find food on the shelves. It really is an amazing thing. The milk and cheese are there; the bread the meat are all there. You put it into your cart and swipe for points and off you go until the milk runs out again which is sooner than later. For most of us it really is hard to imagine famine. Famine is described as “A severe shortage of food, but not the "I forgot to go to the grocery store and there's nothing to eat in the house" type of shortage. A famine is usually caused by crop failure or disaster, resulting in violent hunger and starvation and death. It can also mean any shortage or insufficiency.” This is not something we are accustomed to. The Canadian Obesity Network said, “One in four adult Canadians and one in 10 children have clinical obesity, meaning six million Canadians living with obesity may require immediate support in managing and controlling their weight. As a leading cause of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and cancer, the condition impacts those who have obesity, their families, employers, neighbours, health practitioners and governments.” This is basically a plague. I have first hand knowledge in this subject.
                Now this really is not a talk about obesity but think about this for a moment. I grew up were we went to church all the time. We almost became gluttons for the word of God but it stopped there. People wanted to be fed. They said, Feed me! Feed me! feed me but where has that led us. So again it is safe to say something is missing. Because in spite of all that nourishment it appears we have been fed the wrong diet, the wrong message and people are getting sick from it and dying. Sure it is nice to eat fast food a few times but make it your regular diet, lets just say you will become irregular real quick. You cannot live a healthy life that way. So this is where it gets complicated as we live in a land that looks like a land of milk and honey. We basically have everything we need. There is no war and we have the horn of plenty. On the surface everything appears to be feast-like but that is the deception we all face. It is not what it appears to be. At the same time we appear to be feasting, we are living in a severe spiritual famine, so severe that people are dying from it and missing eternity in heaven because of it. The bread of life was exchanged for delicacies that satisfied only for a little. People attending church no longer wanted the bread of life, they wanted a dinner and show and refuse to grow. Don’t talk to me about my life or my sin in my life. Please confirm my lukewarm life. Don't talk to me about what the bible really says. Just sooth my soul and make me feel good about my wicked life. Wrong.
                This steady diet of other gospels, false doctrines, terrible theology, false prophets, wolves in sheep’s clothing, unbelief and the lack of solid biblical teaching has left us in a severe famine. Yes our country looks like feast but look closely and you will see the church is in dire straights meaning it is in a bad situation that is difficult to fix” or desolate. Actually the only way to fix it is repentance. Ruth 1:1 “In the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land.” On the previous page in Judges 21:25  In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.” Now combine that with Amos 8:11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” As you can see this is an accurate description of what is happening in the church today. Everyone does as they see fit and there is a famine of hearing the word of God. People just are not listening. Not only are they not listening, they do not know the voice of the one they are supposed to be listening to. The promise of the Promised Land is foreign to them. They do not even want to be part of it nor do they feel it is available to all who believe. Again delusion is the result of unbelief.  Deuteronomy 11:8 Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, and so that you may live long in the land the Lord swore to your ancestors to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. 11 But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. 12 It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.” Because most do not want to obey and observe the Lord’s commands, they do not want to live there nor do they believe it is possible so most will live out their days in famine and captivity. God warned us to obey. 16 Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. 17 Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you.” Remember disobedience always leads to defeat and famine is always close at hand. Think about when Israel was surrounded and they were under siege. There are some terrible accounts of this. I will let you read 2 Kings 6,7. Not only does this account show us the severity of famine it also shows God’s redemption to those in a state of famine. We also saw that redemption in the story of Ruth.
                The problem is we have very few people questioning our condition but lots of people questioning those who are questioning our condition. Jeremiah 5:24 “They do not say to themselves, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives autumn and spring rains in season, who assures us of the regular weeks of harvest.” The church has been sold a lie, which basically says the church started in power and then fizzled out. We just have to get by until we die. Jeremiah 8:6 “I have listened attentively, but they do not say what is right. None of them repent of their wickedness, saying, “What have I done?” Each pursues their own course like a horse charging into battle. 7 Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the Lord.13 “‘I will take away their harvest, declares the Lord. There will be no grapes on the vine. There will be no figs on the tree, and their leaves will wither. What I have given them will be taken from them.” The church has been struck but the church refuses to listen. Jeremiah 5:3 “Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent. 17 They will devour your harvests and food, devour your sons and daughters; they will devour your flocks and herds, devour your vines and fig trees. With the sword they will destroy     the fortified cities in which you trust.” Jeremiah 12:13 They will sow wheat but reap thorns; they will wear themselves out but gain nothing. They will bear the shame of their harvest because of the Lord’s fierce anger.” 2 Kings 22:13 “Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”
                The kingdom of God looks so much different than this. It is supposed to be a land of milk and honey. It was not intended to still be the land of he home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites andJebusites. It is not a land of siege ramps, captivity and desolation. Micah 3:4 Then they will cry out to the Lord, but he will not answer them. At that time he will hide his face from them because of the evil they have done. Isaiah 1:14  Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening.”  Haggai 1:6 “You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
                The gospel of Jesus Christ is supposed to be about the harvest but as Joel 1:10The fields are ruined, the ground is dried up; the grain is destroyed, the new wine is dried up, the olive oil fails.11 Despair, you farmers, wail, you vine growers; grieve for the wheat and the barley, because the harvest of the field is destroyed. 12 The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree— all the trees of the field—are dried up. Surely the people’s joy is withered away. 13 Put on sackcloth, you priests, and mourn; wail, you who minister before the altar. Come, spend the night in sackcloth, you who minister before my God; for the grain offerings and drink offerings are withheld from the house of your God. 14 Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land. 16 Has not the food been cut off before our very eyes— joy and gladness from the house of our God? 17 The seeds are shrivelled beneath the clods.The storehouses are in ruins, the granaries have been broken down, for the grain has dried up. 18 How the cattle moan!  The herds mill about because they have no pasture; even the flocks of sheep are suffering. 19 To you, Lord, I call, for fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness  and flames have burned up all the trees of the field. 20 Even the wild animals pant for you; the streams of water have dried up and fire has devoured the pastures in the wilderness.”
                This is pretty bleak description of the church I know but the remnant of believers has great hope. Habakkuk 1:16 I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” Habakkuk saw the power of the Lord. Joel 2:1 tells us “Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming.11 The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?” Then there is the call to repentance. 12 “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” 13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. 14 Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God.18 Then the Lord was jealous for his land and took pity on his people. 19 The Lord replied to them: “I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations.” 21 Do not be afraid, land of Judah; be glad and rejoice. Surely the Lord has done great things! 22 Do not be afraid, you wild animals, for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches. 23 Be glad, people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God, for he has given you the autumn rains because he is faithful. He sends you abundant showers, both autumn and spring rains, as before. 24 The threshing floors will be filled with grain; the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.”
                The beauty here is that the prophecy we read in Joel 2 was fulfilled with Jesus. Peter preached. Acts 1:15  “These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
                 The same message is for us today; save yourself from this corrupt generation. We do not live in the land of milk and honey even though it is available to all who believe. Because of great unbelief we are in severe famine. We have the same hope described in the promises of Leviticus 26:3  “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit.Your threshing will continue until grape harvest and the grape harvest will continue until planting, and you will eat all the food you want and live in safety in your land.”“‘I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. 10 You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new.” The sounds more like the power that is available to all who believe and our enemies will be defeated. Leviticus 26:7 “You will pursue your enemies, and they will fall by the sword before you. 8 Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.” You may think how is this possible. The answer is simple. God will keep his promise. Earlier we read about Gideon. The enemy had trampled the harvest because Israel did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.” The prophet told them they had not listened and obeyed. Then amazingly God chose the weakest and the least to defeat the enemy. He will do the same today and the wonders will return. The land is ours for the taking but we must acknowledge that we have been defeated and taken captive. Most refuse to listen because they only see with mans eyes not spiritual eyes. The bible has been so distorted they refuse correction and continue to charge in their own direction following their own ways.
                Yesterday morning after Laurie finished work we took a drive to see the sun coming up. It was beautiful. Tonight there will be a super - duper moon “closest to earth since 1948 and not that close again until November 25, 2034” according to NASA.  I believe Jesus would say, Luke 1:56 “Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” This beautiful part of creation reminds us that God will keep His promise to David. There will be priests who will preach the word of God no matter what. God said 1 Samuel 2:35 “I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always.” The kingdom of God is not about living an impoverished life under siege. John 10:10 “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Our lives are not supposed to be filled with famine. The gospel of Jesus Christ is about the harvest. Revelations 19:9 “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”
                I love how they crossed over into the Promised Land during harvest time. Joshua 3:15 “Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest.” They had already seen what the harvest would look like. Numbers 13:27 “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.” They choice to disobey because they did not believe God’s word. We must choose to believe as the promise of harvest still applies as does the promise of taking the land, the very land that God told Abraham he would have. We are told that no man will stand against us and everywhere we step will be ours. This is obviously not true in captivity so we must repent. Jesus said Luke 10:2 “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” Do we believe that we have authority given to us by Jesus to heal the sick cast out demons? Could it be the workers are few because few are looking for the narrow gate? Few want to turn from their wicked ways and few are willing to lay down their lives before Jesus. Everyone will be accountable for not listening to the word of God and obeying. Saul died 1 Chronicles 10:13 “because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the word of the Lord.” How many are going to miss both the present available Promised Land and the eternal Promised Land, all because they were too stubborn to believe. Judges 2:19 “But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.” This was a nation 10 who grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.”
               Even though we are in captivity for our unbelief, the day is coming where God will bring his vengeance on the nations attacking us, spiritual that is. Jeremiah 51:33 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Daughter Babylon is like a threshing floor at the time it is trampled; the time to harvest her will soon come.”  “Virgin daughter Zion despises and mocks you. Daughter Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee. 23 Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed?  Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel! 24 By your messengers you have ridiculed the Lord.” Revelation 19:1 “After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, 2 for true and just are his judgments. He has condemned the great prostitute who corrupted the earth by her adulteries. He has avenged on her the blood of his servants.” Revelation 14:8 “‘Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great” Isaiah 9:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. 3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as warriors rejoice when dividing the plunder. 4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. 5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. 6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called  Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace  there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
                The prophet Isaiah responded to Senacharibs threats and mocking with a picture of the harvest. As we continue to wait upon the Lord, hold fast to His promises knowing that those who seek him will find him. Yes you will be mocked and even persecuted but “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 37:30 “This will be the sign for you, Hezekiah: “This year you will eat what grows by itself, and the second year what springs from that. But in the third year sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit. 31 Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. 32 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.” We are not to be the church of the famine but of the harvest. Don’t be fooled by what your eyes can see. Don’t listen to the mocking. Hold on to what the word of God is saying. The remnant will rise up again in the power of the Holy Spirit. We will be clothed with power once again