September 14

He Will Not Always Plow

Isaiah 28:23-29 Give ear and hear my voice, listen and hear my speech. Does the plowman keep plowing all day to sow? Does he keep turning his soil and breaking the clods? When he has leveled its surface, does he not sow the black cumin and scatter the cummin, plant the wheat in rows, the barley in the appointed place, and the spelt in its place?

For He instructs him in right judgment, His God teaches him. For the black cummin is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cartwheel rolled over the cummin; but the black cummin is beaten out with a stick, and the cummin with a rod.

Bread flour must be ground; therefore he does not thresh it forever, break it with his cartwheel, or crush it with his horsemen. This also comes from the LORD of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance.

This is a longer section of Scripture with a single powerful idea: God knows exactly what He is doing with the trials and tests He sends our way. It may sometimes seem to us as if our trials are all just the same and unceasing, but God doesn’t “keep plowing all day.” He doesn’t “keep turning his soil and breaking the clods.” Though it sometimes seems as if all He is doing is breaking us (plowing and breaking the clods), He, like the farmer, is only preparing the soil for planting.

Notice the different actions here: plowing, breaking up the clods, leveling the surface, sowing and scattering seed, planting other seeds in rows that have to be created first. Notice the different instruments used for the different seeds (and therefore, the different plantings and different harvest desired): hoeing is implied, but there is also a threshing sledge, a cartwheel, a stick and a rod. The correct instrument is used with the kind of plant the farmer is working with.

Then there is the timing. The farmer doesn’t keep on breaking things up indefinitely—that would clearly be counterproductive after the soil has been prepared to receive the seed. He also doesn’t thresh, break or crush forever. That too would be counterproductive; one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to how the ground and seed must be prepared, cared for, and harvested. It all depends on what’s being planted.

There are two possible problems here. One is that we might think He is just putting us through pain to no good end, as if our God were not working all things together for our good (and His glory). He has purpose, from beginning to end, in all that He does in our lives. He is moving forward, even if we can’t see it. There is fruit at the end, and He has a complete and wise design behind every action taken toward the planting and harvesting of that fruit.

The other problem may be that we see His hand as doing the same thing throughout our lives. Perhaps we first recognized His hand as He broke up the clods of our heart. We might make the mistake of thinking that every subsequent touch of His hand was to do the same thing, when perhaps he was creating rows for planting, or even watering and feeding the plants. God has a purpose and a direction in His planting and harvesting. He will not always plow.

Prayer: Father, help me believe that there is a purpose and direction when I don’t see it. I receive the word of this passage of scripture that there are seasons and reasons behind all You do. Help me to work with You in every stage of the planting You do in me.

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