Study 2 JOEL: A CLARION CALL FOR HARVESTERS
STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS
by Francis Dixon
(Key-verse: Joel 3:13)
We shall select from Joel’s prophecy just one theme, and it is a clarion call for harvesters, for men and women who will go out into the world to do the all-important work of reaping. One of the problems in Christian work is that of man-power – not the problem of supply, but the urgent need for workers. Jesus Himself spoke about this in Matthew 9:37, and we also have His word in John 4:35 where the same urgent need is stressed, the need for reapers, harvesters, who will go out into His kingdom. Notice two main points:-
1. THE HARVEST IS RIPE
What do we know about the great spiritual harvest of souls awaiting reaping?
- 1. It is unrecognized except by the eye of faith. Notice again what Jesus said in John 4:35. To see this harvest we not only have to open our eyes but we have to look. There has to be the exercise of faith, that gift of spiritual discernment. The natural man looks upon a great crowd of people and sees – what? Just a great crowd. But the spiritual man, the Christian, looks on the same crowd and with the eye of faith sees precious souls for whom the Saviour shed His blood. He sees golden grain waiting to be gathered for eternity, but he only sees this with the eye of faith. Do we view men and women around us in this way?
- 2. This spiritual harvest is vast. Refer again to the words of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 9:37 and John 4:35, where He says that the harvest is “plentiful”. In Matthew 9:36 it was the sight of the crowds that moved Him with compassion, and in John 4:35 He spoke of “the fields”. How few people are really touched by the gospel in our large cities and towns! How few are getting the opportunity of trusting the Saviour!
- 3. It is a very valuable harvest. Every harvest is valuable, but what can compare with the harvest of souls? Think of the value of one precious soul (Mark 8:36) – and yet there are millions for whom Christ died who are lost (Luke 19:10), perishing (2 Peter 3:9), and facing doom (1 Peter 4:17). How we need to feel the desperate plight of these souls who are without God and without hope (Ephesians 2:12)!
- 4. The harvest is in danger. If it is not reaped soon it will be lost. The need is urgent because the fulfilment of God’s purposes of judgment for the world will soon be brought about. We must not say, ‘There’s plenty of time!’ Do not say, ‘Four months more…’ There is no time to be lost. Souls around us may die if we do not get to them quickly (John 9:4).
- 5. The harvest is ready and waiting to be gathered. The fact that it is ripe indicates this. This is the one thing about which we can be absolutely certain – there are thousands of men and women around us who are just ready to be told the way of salvation, ready to be told the way of satisfaction, ready to be pointed to the Saviour. The harvest is ripe and therefore it is ready to be gathered.
2. SWING THE SICKLE
What is the sickle we must wield if we would be effective harvesters?
- 1. There is the sickle of preaching. Look up 1 Corinthians 1:21. Here the Apostle Paul tells us of one method of reaping, one which God has ordained and honoured and blessed all down the years – the method of preaching the message of salvation. What a powerful sickle this is when it is wielded by a Spirit-filled worker! See Peter wielding this sickle on the Day of Pentecost and gathering in a harvest of three thousand souls (Acts 2:41). Look up Acts 5:42 and notice that every single one of us can take a share in this kind of reaping, because we can all “preach”, that is, tell others about the Lord Jesus.
- 2. There is a sickle of prayer. Try to picture the old-time reapers. What was their posture as they went out with their sickles to reap? Would they stand upright? No! Surely when it came to tying up the sheaves they would need to kneel. God is calling all of us to put in the sickle of prayer, to pray for the salvation of souls (Romans 10:1), and compare Matthew 9:38. There are some people who can only be won by prayer; there is a certain kind of situation that can only be met when God’s people pray (Matthew 17:21) – and the wonderful thing is that prayer is not limited by time or space. The sickle of prayer can be ‘put in’ in Great Britain and a harvest can be gathered in Africa or India – indeed anywhere!
- 3. There is the sickle of persuasion. See what the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:11. This surely refers to the gentle art of personal soul-winning, and the greatest example of this (apart from our Lord Jesus) was the Apostle Paul. Look up three illustrations of Paul wielding the sickle of persuasion: Acts 18:4; Acts 26:28; Acts 28:23.
This, then, is Joel’s clarion call for harvesters, for Christians who have recognized that there are tens of thousands of lost souls waiting to be saved and who are ready to go out to lead them into God’s kingdom. What are you prepared to do about it?