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Plowing in Order to Seed Fruitfulness

by | Apr 5, 2020 | Meditations

Give ear, and hear my voice;
give attention, and hear my speech.
Does he who plows for sowing plow continually?
Does he continually open and harrow his ground?
When he has leveled its surface,
does he not scatter dill, sow cumin,
and put in wheat in rows
and barley in its proper place,
and emmer as the border?
For he is rightly instructed;
his God teaches him.

Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge,
nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin,
but dill is beaten out with a stick,
and cumin with a rod.
Does one crush grain for bread?
No, he does not thresh it forever;
when he drives his cart wheel over it
with his horses, he does not crush it.
This also comes from the LORD of hosts;
he is wonderful in counsel
and excellent in wisdom.

(Isaiah 28:23–29 ESV)

“The ways of God are past understanding, but that does not mean they lack planning, point and purpose. It just means that not only are his ways not our ways, but neither are our thoughts his thoughts. What he chooses for us — and for our family, and friends, for Christians across the world — are a major source of bewilderment! And our old friend ‘Why?’ reappears to be our companion. Isaiah must have found life just the same — otherwise why write the meditation on life’s changes and chances that is preserved in verses 23-29? He shares deep and precious observations with us by putting aside for a moment his gifts as a prophet and becoming a Wise Man. Isaiah 28:23-29 could well be in the book of Proverbs. The farmer, says Isaiah, knows how to prepare the ground (v. 24), where exactly to plant each type of seed (v. 25). He knows also to harvest each crop so as to conserve its precious fruit. If we could give a voice to the elements in this process, would not the ground cry out under the plough, and the cummin when it feels the rod? Would not bread marvel at the harsh treatment which cannot be avoided if it is to be prepared for the master’s enjoyment (v. 28)? So when we ask why am I in this place and circumstance? Why is life so hard? Why these blows, at this moment, with this severity? — think of the farmer. The seed is where he puts it, harvested as he knows how. Fruitfulness is achieved by the treatment which he knows is the only way to bring the crop to harvest. And, beyond all else, Isaiah says, ask where the farmer acquired this knowledge and skill — why, he learned it from the Lord who is to be marveled at for his effective working (vv. 26, 29). We are where we are by his design; the roughnesses of life are the only ways which lead to the harvest he desires.” (Motyer, Alec. Isaiah by the Day, 140.)

Frank Jones

Pastor, Exhorter, Cyclist

Frank Jones is presently pastor at Faith Memorial Baptist Church in Chesterfield, Virginia.