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Sowing and Reaping

Do unto others [sowing] as you would have them do unto you. [reaping] The “Golden Rule:” in today’s society, a creaky, antiquated old proverb whose time is far spent. The rule nowadays is “Do unto Me: I demand my Rights and I intend to get them, no matter who gets hurt in the process!”

“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, [action] that shall he also reap. [result or consequences.] Gal. 6:7.

It is not an uncommon practice to “extract” a verse from its context, much in the manner as one would visit a dentist to have a tooth extracted! While such a custom may appear successful at times, it is far better to examine those scriptures which encompass the text: if “lifting” a verse, let us take care that we do not lose the sense in which it is presented within the context.

There are many “laws” pertaining to the study of scripture: one that is prevalent is that of “sowing and reaping.” With this thought in mind, let us survey a few verses.

“But if ye bite and devour one another, [sowing] take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” [reaping] Gal. 5:15

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; [sowing] considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” Gal. 6:1. In this case the absence of sowing may lead to an undesirable reaping.

“Ye which are spiritual.” But how are we to ascertain who it is that is spiritual? We may be assured it is not that person who makes it his business to tell everybody just how “holy” he is! No, it is more likely to be that dear saint who goes about caring for others as a part of his or her everyday life; who heart is not set on self or earthly affections, but on the Lord Jesus.

But back to the verse: “ye which are spiritual. . .in the spirit of meekness.” The “spirit of meekness” of course, being found in chapter 5 verses 22 and 23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness. . .”Does the scripture itself not well describe “ye which are spiritual?”

“For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.”

“And let us not be weary in well doing: [sowing] for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

Let us leave the beaten path, (as we are so often prone to do,) and look in on a father-son relationship: we shall follow a portion of recorded Bible history as these Old Testament figures reveal to us the inner workings of “sowing and reaping.”

The father and son of whom we speak are Isaac and Jacob. We recall from Genesis chapter 25 of two twin boys: the eldest, Esau, was extremely hairy; while the younger brother, Jacob, was smooth skinned. Esau was a “cunning hunter” while Jacob, from all appearances, was a “momma’s boy.” “And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.” One day Esau came in from the field, faint from hunger. Jacob was cooking some “red pottage.” Jacob, finding his brother in a vulnerable position, said “sell me thy birthright;” knowing upon the securing of the same that he would seize the position of “first born” and would therefore be entitled to the blessing and inheritance of his father. I am reminded of another, who after 40 days of fasting in the wilderness, was approached by one far more subtle and treacherous than Jacob; who would have “stolen His birthright;” who insisted: you’ve fasted 40 days; you’re weak from hunger: “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” But He did not succumb to the wiles of the tempter as did Esau.

Like father like son? “And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines. .“If Abraham would leave the promised land because of famine and go into Egypt, then Isaac would also leave under famine and go into Philistia. If Abraham, for fear, would deny his wife and under false pretense declare her to be his sister, shall Isaac not do the same? He has had a good teacher: under the law of sowing and reaping has he not followed well in his father’s footsteps?

“And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, my son: and he said unto him, behold, here am I .“ Gen. 27:1. Isaac anticipates death in the near future: he sends Esau into the field to hunt venison: “Make me savoury meat such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.” Rebekah heard it and sent Jacob to bring two “kids of the goats;” she would prepare them after the manner of Esau; Jacob would take it to his father in his brother’s absence pretending to be him. Whereupon, Isaac would pronounce the blessing on him instead of on Esau. Jacob feared discovery; that he would receive a curse rather than blessing for his deception. “And she [Rebekah] put the skins of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck: And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.”

The Deception: he came to Isaac; addressed him; Isaac said, “who art thou, my son?” Again my thoughts turn to another, who coming under the cloak of friendship, places the kiss of betrayal upon the Lord of Glory: “And Jesus said unto him, friend, wherefore art thou come?” Matt. 26:49.

The Lie: “And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn;” The lie continues: “I have done according as thou badest me.” Father, it is I, your obedient son! “How is it that thou hast found it [the venison] so quickly, my son?” The lie continues: “Because the Lord thy God brought it to me.” Now he dares bring God into his deceptive plot! Notice also that he refers, not to my God, but thy God.

The Illusion: “And Isaac said unto Jacob, come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not. And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, the voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he blessed him. And he said, art thou my very son Esau? And he said, I am.

At least three things should be observed about Isaac: first, he felt Jacob. How often are we prone to go by our “feelings;” to allow them to govern us when there is a “voice” telling us to the contrary? Isaac could no longer “see” with his natural eyes, but his ears ought to have “heard” the truth. Instead, he discerned him not.”

Regretfully, Isaac was not unlike today’s Christian: when we do not “see” an apparent answer to our questions, we begin to rationalize; we look at the circumstances: from the circumstances we reach a conclusion, based upon an assumption.

Isaac went by his “feelings,” therefore he “discerned not;” the result being, that he believed a lie. Now will he reap what has been sown; he will impute unto Jacob his blessing; the inheritance will be his, and not that of Esau, his first born.

In Genesis chapter 32, Jacob is to meet with Esau. He receives word that his brother is coming with four hundred men. “Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed:” He divided all that he had, perchance if Esau were to smite one company, then the other might escape.

“And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac. . .” He’s in trouble (he thinks.) Yet he still does not acknowledge him as my God!” He “prays amiss,” for Esau’s coming is not to smite him as he supposes.

Before we condemn Jacob, may we take inventory of our own lives. How many times have we greatly feared an outward storm, one as it turns out did not exist: all the while there churned an inward storm of great proportion?

Jacob had sown and his reaping thus far was within his own heart; his conscience bearing witness against him.

We advance now to Genesis chapter 37. Isaac had loved Esau; but he allowed himself to be deceived by Jacob. “Now Israel [Jacob] loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age:” Perhaps the guilt in his heart concerning his hairy brother Esau had something to do with his desire to make his son Joseph a “coat” of many colors.

Esau the elder brother had hated Jacob because of his deception in taking his blessing as was due him as the firstborn of his father, Isaac. Jacob’s younger son Joseph, was likewise hated by his eider brothers; but for no just cause other than they ‘‘envied him.”

“Let not them that are mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over me: neither let them wink with the eye that hate me without a cause. For they speak not peace: but they devise deceitful matters. . .they opened their mouth wide against me. . .” Psalm 35:19-22.

Israel (Jacob) sends Joseph into the field (at Shechum) to check on his brethren whom he had sent to feed his flocks. “And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him, to slay him.” Gen. 37:18.

(Of course this scene depicts the Lord Jesus, being sent by the Father into the wilderness of the world to his “brethren” who hated him and conspired to slay him.)

Joseph, you recall, was sold, betrayed by his brethren for 20 pieces of silver. Jesus also was sold, betrayed by one of His “brethren” for 30 pieces of silver. Other pictures to be seen: in verse 24 Joseph is “cast into an empty pit” (the tomb?) In verse 28 he is “lifted up out of the pit” (resurrection?) In verse 29, Reuben, who would have delivered Joseph from his other brethren “returned unto the pit; and behold, Joseph was not in the pit.” And very early in the morning; the third day. . .the discovery: “ He is not here; He is risen!”

Verse 31: “And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father” How ironic, the parallel of deception! Jacob had killed a “kid of the goats;” he had brought the prepared meat unto his father Isaac. Now ten of his sons prepare to deceive their father Jacob in much the same manner. Well done, Jacob! You have sown, and now do you reap tenfold! You have brought forth ten sons, supplanters, sowers, just like yourself!

Notice how subtle, how cunning are his sons: upon showing their father the coat they said, “This is what we have found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no.”

“And he knew it, and said, It is (italics added by translators) my son’s coat;” Actually, the sense in which it should be taken is this: that Jacob cries out in horror, being immediately thrown into a state of shock at the sight: “My son’s coat!” “An evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces. . .”

Jacob has just looked at the circumstances; from the circumstances has reached a conclusion, based upon an assumption. The truth is, that Joseph is safe and very much alive; that God has ordained a Plan for Joseph’s life and will use him mightily. But Jacob does not know this: “Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.”

Jacob lied to his father Isaac: Isaac went by his feelings and believed the lie. Now, Jacob, now you shall reap what you sowed. Jacob “changed the truth. . .into a lie:” but only for himself. We know the truth about Joseph; his brethren knew; but not Jacob. So for twenty years Jacob mourned the death of a son who was not dead: for twenty years he grieved: for twenty years he reaped what he had sown.

But let us not end on a sad note. Twenty years later there is yet another famine in the land. Jacob sends his sons to Egypt, for he has heard there is corn there. And we know the story: their brother Joseph being in charge, who sends them back heavy laden with much goods; the resulting reunion; their return home.

“And they came up out of Egypt, and came unto the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father, and told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not.” Twenty years before he believed a lie, and now he refuses to believe the truth!

“And when they had told him all the words of Joseph. . .and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive:”

Jacob believed a lie, and that somewhat of his own making, for twenty years. Now he sees the Truth and his spirit is revived: that is, he experiences Revival! He found that which is declared in Hebrews 11:13. He saw the Truth, he was persuaded by it, he embraced it, he confessed it!

May God continue to give us understanding, “on sowing and reaping.”

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