HARVEST OR CIVIL WAR?


by Robert Holmes.



To fight or not to fight, that is the question. Or rather, to fight
this enemy or that. There is a battle Christians all need to wage
against the enemy of our souls, the enemy of the church - Satan. But
there are many other skirmishes and insidious battles being fought by
the brethren. These are the skirmishes of church warfare. There are
lines drawn between this movement and that, between this crowd and
that, battles being fought to divide the church. Every great move of
God so far, has ended up first being persecuted by, then persecuting
others in the Body. 

But the Bible teaches us that we should not skirmish and rail against
flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers of the air, who influence
and affect our brethren (Eph 6:12). We are to take up the shield of
faith with the sword of the spirit and join God's warriors fighting a
common enemy (Eph 6:16-17). I have asked myself why we are lead to
divide the church, why we go into battle when we should be building
the kingdom.

Unfortunately it has always been man's intention to rule and reign, to
set up kingdoms and have dominion. The moment we set up a kingdom we
must have a king, and borders. We have points of difference, things to
set us apart from `the others'. The corrupt nature of our hearts
causes us to desire kings to be set over us, men of leadership to rule
and take charge. We then have something to fight for, something to
defend. The church today has many rulers - trained professional men
and women who we have appointed rulers in our congregations. They
gather together from time to time in larger groups and discuss ways to
promote the doctrines and structure of their denomination, cause or
movement.

The fact of the matter is, we live in a church-system today which
promotes self-preservation, an `us and them' approach to Christianity.
Churches take special effort to make themselves `different from the
rest' and thereby create a market edge for their brand or product.
When we focus on attracting people to our cause, we end up focusing on
our differences, how we differ from (and are therefore better than)
others. These become the things that attract people to us.

A PICTURE OF WAR

I had an open vision in early September 1997 that showed me a
startling reality of what is happening right now in the church. A
cinema style video opened up before me as I was praying one evening. I
saw a black and white film, which looked like it was made in the
1940's. It began on a farm. Dozens of men were working in the fields,
preparing instruments for the harvest. Then suddenly, they began to
leave the fields and walk toward a railway line. Trains pulled up with
streams, banners and a band playing. Many of the men climbed aboard to
go off to war.

The scene panned back to the field where many shovels, spades, forks,
scythes and machinery had been left idle on the ground. Before me was
a vast harvest of wheat, with scarcely no one left to work the fields!

The scene changed and I saw women and children learning in various
schools and colleges. There were women learning trades and how to
operate machinery, children at lathes learning woodwork and smaller
children learning at school. So many women and children had been left
behind as their men went off to war. They had to learn how to survive
and remain productive without them.

The vision closed with a picture of a lone man standing in the field.
Behind him lay all the discarded tools of the harvest, before him was
a huge field of wheat. He did not look perplexed or dismayed he simply
prayed God's blessing and began to work.

THE HARVEST

Before the government brought conscription in, Australia was able to
fill the ranks of its infantry with volunteers. So many elected to go
to World War I that they were overwhelmed. As time passed they began
to run out of volunteers and started the ballot election system.
People were simply elected to fight by a random ballot selection
process. We have not had a war to serve in for many decades, and no
need has arisen for volunteers. 

Yet in many places I visit, the church is hearing the drum beats of
war. Under the guise of joining an army, pastors are beating the drum
of a movement for people to join. This is just like the train I saw
with banners and music, which attracted so many away from the task
they were called to - the Harvest! Now many good well meaning people
are talking about joining Joel's army these days. You know the songs
of these meetings, "Fire goes before us, and burns up our enemies," on
so on. 

But I ask you, is God's agenda for us to lay down our tools of harvest
and run off to war? I know for sure a battle is raging, there is not
doubt of that! Indeed the enemy comes to devour our harvest, he comes
like a plague of locusts to eat the crops and steal the seed before it
can germinate. It is true we must fight, and fight hard against the
devil today, but let me ask you - what war are you running off to
fight? Where is our focus? Are we called to run off and join `Joel's
army' or are we to take a stand for our crops, scare the birds away
from the good seed and fight the devouring army who would eat up the
crop?

The truth about Joel's army is revealed in Scripture - it devours all
before it. The fields are ripe for harvest, as green as Eden, but they
become a wasteland of devastation (Joel 2:3) as they consume the land.
It is an army which destroys the crop, and tears down the fruitful
vines (Joel 1:4). I ask you, is this the end time army of God? Or is
there another kind of army we should be joining - the army of women
and children working diligently at the machines of the kingdom,
standing in the fields to bring in the harvest? This is a question of
focus.

THE SAMARITAN WOMAN

Do you remember the time Jesus and His disciples travelled into
Samaria? One can suppose, since the journey to Samaria is hot and
dusty, that the disciples had not eaten very much and were thirsty
when they arrived at the well. As Jesus sat down, the disciples were
probably grumbling about food and water. Jesus knew their frailty and
asked them all to go get food from the nearby town. The disciples
gladly went off and left Jesus sitting at the well in the midday sun.

As we all know, Christ encountered a woman at this well not long
after, told her everything she had ever done and convicted her to
repent of her lifestyle. The woman was so changed, so challenged, so
wonderfully blessed that she ran off to tell her friends! (John
4:28,29). Picture the scene if you can - a sinful Samaritan woman has
just left Jesus when the disciples return. They are astonished to find
Jesus had been talking to a local. On the one hand the disciples are
salivating at the thought of eating, secretly wondering "Why did Jesus
speak with her?" and on the other hand Christ is rejoicing that this
lady had found salvation. The disciples have gladly brought food back,
hoping to get a meal started, and in the background you can hear the
noise of an excited crowd coming to the well to meet Jesus. 

Then a remarkable conversation takes place that reveals the need for
the disciples to completely change their focus. They (like you and I
so often), have their eyes on the wrong target. They are asking Christ
to eat, and he says, "I have food you know nothing about." They are
pursuing the temporal, whilst right in that very place, Christ is
working the eternal. With bags of shopping in hand the disciples are
dismayed that Christ has already fed, and behind them the noise of a
crowd of Samaritans grows louder. They are wondering, "What food is
this, and why was he speaking to this lady?" and He has just begun a
great harvest of souls in that region! We are told that the entire
town came out to see Jesus, and many were saved! (John 4:39).

Herein lies the lesson for us - Christ turns to them and says, "My
food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do
you not say, 'Four months more, then comes the harvest'? But I tell
you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.
The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for
eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together." (John
4:34-36). 

WHERE IS OUR FOCUS?

We are no different from these disciples, the rumble of an exciting
opportunity to go off to war resounds across the land. These days we
run, leaving the weak and the young behind to do the productive work.
We want to glory in the temporal, while Christ is working the eternal.
We are putting down our tools, and taking up guns and weapons. We are
encouraged to run to conferences, meetings, fly to cities to
participate in an army. But friends, are we being encouraged to join a
`Joel's army' which is destined to devour all before it - including
our harvest, instead of reaping the harvest! And there is Christ,
standing alone in the fields crying, "These fields are ripe unto the
harvest, pray for labourers".  

Christ gently calls His disciples to `look up' from the temporal, and
see the fields as he sees them -ripe and ready for bring in! Brethren
where is your focus? Do you want the glory of joining Joel's army or
do you want to labour with Christ in the harvest - one hand on the
scythe, and one on your sword? Do you want to run off to war, or join
him in the fields? Is your focus on asking him for money to pay the
bills, your next meal, or eating the food most men and women know
nothing about - to do the will of the Father?

AN ARMY OF WORKERS

I pray that we would learn to be like Nehemiah, who could work and
fight at the same time. Nehemiah taught the people to work together in
perfect unity, not toward division! He brought them together for the
purpose of building up, not tearing down. He brought them together to
restore Zion, not consume the land! But in doing so, they did have to
fight. They faced constant danger of attack from the enemy outside the
city gates. And so do we. They learned to, "carry their loads in such
a way that each laboured on the work with one hand and with the other
held a weapon and each of the builders had his sword strapped at his
side while he built." (Neh 4:17). Nehemiah worked all day and night to
see the kingdom established. He learned to work the harvest with one
eye on the wheat and one eye on his enemy. He learned to work and
fight at the same time. 

Where are you going Christian? What is consuming your energy right
now? Are you running after the latest blessing, trying to get the most
recent anointing, or are you prepared to get to work in the blazing
hot sun? Are you one to run off and join the train, the band, the
noise, the army gathering or will you stay and fight for the harvest?
Will you join those who devour the land before them or strike at the
plans of Satan to destroy the church? God is preparing a harvest, lift
up your eyes and see the work it ready to be done! Behold the fields
are ripe unto the harvest and the reaper is already collecting his
wages.
-Robert Holmes. Email:- rnkholmes@accsoft.com.au


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'Harvest or Civil War?' copyright (c) Robert Holmes, 1997.
This article can be found on the Internet at:-
http://crash.ihug.co.nz/~revival