The end of the summer ushers in the beginning of fall, a time marked by crops and their harvest. For the Hebrew people, as for those in any agricultural district today, the harvest was a most important season. The three principal feasts of the Jews corresponded to the three harvest seasons (Ex 23:16; 34:21,22); (1) the feast of the Passover in April at the time of the barley harvest; (2) the feast of Pentecost (7 weeks later) at the wheat harvest; and (3) the feast of Tabernacles at the end of the year (October) during the fruit harvest. Many concise laws were instituted regarding the harvest. Gleaning was forbidden (Lev 19:9; Deut 24:19). The first-fruits were required to be presented to Yahweh (Lev 23:10).
In the New Testament, Jesus relates the harvest to the multitudes that He taught, and healed, and ministered to. He was moved with compassion for them, equating them to sheep without a shepherd. In Matthew 9:37-38 He said to his disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
In John 4:35 He says, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”
Jesus also spoke of the harvest in a different way as He shared the parable of the wheat and the tares. He told the crowd gathered around Him that in the parable, while the man who sowed good seed into his field was sleeping, the enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and left. Then, when the servants told the owner about the wheat and tares growing together, and whether they should gather them up, the owner said, “No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Finally, in Revelation 14:14-15 John tells us, “And I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, ‘Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.’”
Lord Jesus, harvest our hearts for Your work in the fields of a lost world.