The Soil, The Rain and The Crop
7When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. 8But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it. 9Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. 10For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. 11Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.Heb 6:7-12
God’s Promise & Oath to Abraham
13For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying: 14“I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.” 15Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised. 16Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. 20Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.Hebrews 6:13-20
These are two very interesting examples to use. Clearly the first example is taken from agriculture and the process of working the fields. The second has drawn from the example of Abraham as it has to do with God’s promise and oath taking. But each example appears undeveloped. In other words the writer doesn’t develop in detail the points of comparison he is using and he doesn’t draw out the application. He simply leaves both to the readers or hearers to develop for themselves. But both are well known examples so in a sense he doesn’t have to make the application clear. Surely it is clear enough already. But we 21st Century Gentile believers don’t have the same grasp of the Scriptures the Jewish believers do. The Jewish believers at the time of the writing of the letter would have known exactly what the writer was meaning.
The law of sowing and reaping is in effect in the first example. The author introduces the example focusing on the ground (the soil), the rain and the crop produced. We can deduce the rest of what takes place. The author doesn’t give us anymore information other than what is contained in the first two verses. Is it the field’s fault that it produces thorns and thistles? Of course not! Everyone knows it is up to the farmer to sow seed. The law of sowing and reaping is in focus here. The soil is the same, the rain is the same, the only thing that determines what the yield will be from this field is the work the farmer has done. What seed he has sown in order to expect a crop and to what extent has he tended the crop and kept the weeds to a minimum? Reading this instantly brings back to mind what Jesus said about the parable of the sower, or what I titled the Parable of the Soils. When I dealt with this parable which is found in all three synoptic Gospels [Matthew 13:3-9; Mark 4:3-9; Luke 8:4-8] I was demonstrating how to deal with synoptic gospels by looking for the specific changes each Gospel writer makes to the standard story. These accounts of Jesus’ teaching are called the Parables of Sower but the difference in the account told has all to do with the soil involved. Jesus told the disciples in His explanation that the seed is the Word of God.
In this very short introduction to this example we have two constants: the soil (ground) and the rain. The only variable is the nature of the crop or the yield. Who is responsible from the outcome? Everyone knows it’s the farmer. The yield will depend on both what the farmer sows and how well he tends the crop. So after making his point by drawing attention to the law of sowing and reaping, he switches to his readers in verse nine with the comment: ‘Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you’ and then goes on to comment about their hard work. The inference is their sowing of the seed of the Word of God in and for themselves. He then adds to that their love for God and their caring for other believers. That about sums it up, doesn’t it? It appears that he has taken the analogy from Jesus’ teaching and then left them to consider whether they were tending to the seed of the Word, allowing it to be snatched away or indifferent to it, or allowing weeds, the cares of the world to smother it. I made it clear in the previous Gem that these Jewish believers would have been familiar with Jesus teaching from the ‘Parable of the Sower’.
What more does he need to add? It must surely be clear to them and us that we need to tend to the Word of God planted in each of us. He then focuses on not becoming spiritually dull and indifferent. He has talked about this before and the danger of drifting and being indifferent to the Son. Following that he makes the comment “Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.” This brings to mind God’s promises and their desire to inherit His promises, which leads to the example of Abraham. Applying the example of Abraham to this passage in Hebrews is not as simple as them recalling Jesus teaching from the parables. That is a little complicated and dependant on the passage that their minds will quite naturally recall.
- What is the passage they need to remember?
- You will need to recall that passage too to be able to unravel the writer’s point of the following words he has written in the letter to the Hebrew Christians in Rome. (Hebrews 6:13-20)
- Take time to ponder it now and see what you make of it.
I will unravel it for you in the following Gem.
Sow a thought and reap an act. Sow an act, and reap a habit. Sow a habit, and reap a character. Sow a character and reap a destiny.Spanish Proverb
Don’t stop sowing just because the birds ate a few seeds.Danish Proverb
If you are planning for a year sow rice; if you are planning for a decade plant trees; if you planning for a lifetime educate people.Chinese Proverb
Many spend the first six days of each week sewing wild oats; then we go to church on Sunday and pray for a crop failure.Fred Allen
Do you want a puzzle? If you do, here is a Maori proverb I learned yesterday. See if you can work out what it means. I will explain it in the following Gem. It’s brilliant and makes so much sense. Better yet, you tell me what you think it means in the comments section on this website. Give it a go.
Tie your waka (canoe) to a star and not a glow worm.Maori Proverb