[forthright] Heaven's Advice on Farming

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Fri, 01 Jul 2005 17:08:34 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

COLUMN: Heavenly Connections

Heaven's Advice on Farming
by Tim Hall

If you've read the Bible much at all, you've
noticed that there are many images taken from what
we might call the "country" way of life. That was
familiar imagery to most people in Israel. Farming
was the occupation of many. Those who didn't farm
likely lived near those who did.

God used farming terms to give needed advice in
Jeremiah 4:3: "For thus says the Lord to the men
of Judah and Jerusalem: 'Break up your fallow
ground, and do not sow among thorns.'" That's it;
only eleven words in the New King James Version.
But how needed is the advice in our time!

"Fallow ground" is land that has not yet been
tilled. Thus God advised his people to plow up
portions of their land that had been neglected.
His warning against planting among the thorns made
sense, for that would result in additional labor
with fewer results. Farmers today would look at
this simple statement and agree that it continues
to be good advice.

But farming was not God's point. He was addressing
sinful people who had forgotten the covenant they
made with him. To break up one's fallow ground
would mean to give attention to areas of life that
have formerly been ignored – righteousness,
justice, mercy, etc. On the other hand, attempts
to bring forth good out of wicked practices
(thorns) will only result in futility. God was
trying to turn his people's attention to things
that would truly produce good.

Another statement found later in the chapter
throws additional light on the point: "They are
wise to do evil, but to do good they have no
knowledge" (Jeremiah 4:22). Why did they not know
how to do good? Because that part of their lives
had been left untilled. With evil they were more
familiar; they had spent years sowing among the

Do these words apply to my life? As I consider the
plot of life God has allotted me, must I confess
that I've neglected large tracts which could have
produced much good? Has most of my energy been
spent among the thorns?

Let's not forget how Jesus used these figures of
speech: "Now he who received seed among the thorns
is he who hears the word, and the cares of this
world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the
word, and he becomes unfruitful" (Matthew 13:22).

This is God's field we're tending. One day we'll
give an account of how we've used his resources.
It only makes sense that we should heed his advice
on how to produce the fruit he desires from us.

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