What kind of soil are you? Jesus told the famous parable of the Sower – which should really have been “The Parable of the Soil”, since that is what made all the difference. The destiny of the four sets of seeds was: (1) No root and no shoot; (2) no root but plenty of shoot; (3) no shoot but plenty of root; and (4) good root and good shoot. Only the fourth combination produced a good harvest!
In other words: (1) are you so spiritually dense that the good news of Jesus just bounces off you, snatched away by Satan (he’s hard at work too, you know!)?
Or (2) is your soil thin and stony, preventing the good news from really taking root, so that after the initial enthusiasm is over, any hardship or persecution will call a full stop! Allowing the gospel to take root is vital – it involves intentionally building a deep relationship with God the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. Roots take time to grow, and their work is usually hidden from view – yet vital. A tree’s branch system is only as good as a root system that mirrors it. The answer is to plough that soil: “Break up your unploughed ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you” (Hosea 10:12). Just as the roots of certain trees will search and seek out any source of water, we need to spend time seeking out our one and only source of spiritual life: Jesus Christ himself (John 15).
(3) Is your life so busy that even a well-rooted gospel does not have room to breathe or to grow? Just like seed falling among thorns, the day-to-day worries and pleasures of life ‘choke out’ the gospel, preventing your life producing eternal fruit. You are well rooted but have too little time and room to produce any ‘fruit’ (i.e. disciples). Many of us find ourselves in that situation. Perhaps now is the time to start clearing our ground: emptying our diaries, changing our jobs, ending certain relationships, and making space for the Lord to really visit our lives with blessing! (Luke 3:4-6)
(4) There are some amongst us who have built that deep relationship with the Lord and who have intentionally cleared the ground for growth. They are beginning to see a true harvest of righteousness. And the agricultural principle of harvest is that a good harvest goes on to produce even greater harvests!
The other parables – no time to explain in full here – give us different views of the nature of God’s Kingdom. It exists in a world where good and evil are mixed together – until the final day! It grows from the smallest of beginnings to become the largest of influences. It is worth every sacrifice possible – and the very making of that sacrifice is a complete joy. It involves the separation and exposing of the difference between good and evil. Once you know the King and understand the Kingdom, you understand everything important in life!
GENESIS 36 and 37
The last person left on earth that Jacob genuinely loved was his son Joseph, and he smothered the young man in needy fatherly affection and favouritism – to the extreme resentment of his other sons. After a couple of precocious dreams which Joseph could not resist broadcasting at the family mealtimes, their patience snapped, and they plotted to be rid of him. At the first opportunity, they went for the jugular and sold him to some merchant slave traders who disappeared in the direction of Egypt. The role of Reuben is somewhat confusing – at times he seems to be present and at other times absent and ‘left out of the loop’. But there is no doubting Jacob’s extreme grief at the apparent death of his favourite son. His other sons’ overwhelming anger and jealousy had made them heartless and deceitful; one wonders where they got these traits from!
So, to sum up the last few chapters, Jacob had seen his daughter raped, his sons become murderers, his beloved wife die, his eldest son disgrace himself, his father die and his favourite son disappear, apparently dead too. And there is more in the next chapter too; you couldn’t make this up, could you! What it is to be a parent! This really must have tested Jacob’s relationship with the Lord – but it seems that the testing only made that relationship stronger.