The Fields Are White For Harvest
  By Rich Carmicheal

    "And Jesus was going about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ĎThe harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvestí" (Matt. 9:35-38).

    During His public ministry, Jesus was often moved with compassion for the multitudes. Out of that compassion, He healed the sick (Matt. 14:14), fed the hungry (Matt. 15:32), touched the eyes of the blind (Matt. 20:34), touched and cleansed lepers (Mark 1:41), taught the truths of God (Mark 6:34), cast out demons (Mark 9:22), and comforted the grieving (Luke 7:13). And just as He felt compassion then, so is He moved with compassion in our day toward the countless individuals around us and throughout the world who are in such desperate need spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and so forth. He sees the multitudes whose lives are broken and He desires for them to be restored and made whole through Him. He is a Shepherd who is deeply concerned about people who are "distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd," and He wants them to return to the Shepherd of their souls (1 Pet. 2:25).

    Out of His great compassion He issues the call: "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest" (Matt. 9:37-38). So that we might more fully honor the heart of Christ and this call of Christ, consider with me the following truths:

The Harvest

    Notice first of all that Jesus says the harvest is plentiful. Jesus Himself was busy in the harvest field, going through all the cities and villages, teaching and preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing the sick. As He cared for the spiritual and physical needs of the people, they flocked to Him in multitudes. He could clearly see that an abundant harvest was at hand and that additional workers were needed to share the Gospel with the people.

    Notice also that the harvest is the Lordís harvest. Jesus talks about "the Lord of the harvest" sending workers into "His harvest." The Lord cares deeply about people and He wants a bountiful harvest among them. Out of His great love for people, "He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life" (John 3:16). He wants no one to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). He "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4). Just as there is great gladness over the harvest of crops, so is there great joy in heaven when people repent and turn to the Lord (Isa. 9:3; Luke 15:10). The harvest is precious to the Lord.

    The harvest is also ready now. Jesus does not say that the harvest will be plentiful, but that it is plentiful. While ministering in Samaria, He shared the same truth with these words: "Do you not say, ĎThere are yet four months, and then comes the harvestí? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest" (John 4:35).

    Jesus saw what others did not. In the eyes of the disciples Samaria was a region to pass through as quickly as possible, not a place for fruitful ministry. But Jesus saw the potential. He saw the harvest. And so He took time, though wearied from His journey, to cross a cultural line and minister to a Samaritan woman. In His conversation with her, He spoke to her about living water, about her sin, about true worship, and about His identity as the Messiah. His ministry to her in turn led to the salvation of many Samaritans (see John 4:4-42).

    The harvest is indeed plentiful and the fields are white for harvest. We should not underestimate the impact our work for the Lord can make in the lives of others.

The Significance of Prayer

    As in all things, prayer is vital to the Lordís harvest. The Lordís work requires the Lordís resources. Therefore, Jesus calls us to "beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." His workers need His calling, His truth, His love, His Spirit, His power, His wisdom, His guidance, His provision, His endurance and His encouragement.

    Even Christ did not try to do the work of God without spending much time in prayer (Mark 1:35; 6:46; Luke 5:16; 22:41-42). He also devoted Himself to prayer when calling others into the work of God. For example, He spent the whole night in prayer before choosing His twelve disciples (Luke 6:12-13). He also prayed for their protection and sanctification (John 17:15-18). And as He entrusted the leadership of the church to these men, they in turn devoted themselves "to prayer, and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:4). Consider also how the leaders in the church at Antioch spent time in fasting and prayer before sending Barnabas and Saul into the work to which the Lord had called them (Acts 13:1-3).

    The Lordís harvest field needs additional workers, and we have the privilege and responsibility to pray for the Lord to send out workers. We should offer ourselves first of all to the Lord for His work, and then also pray for the Lord to call workers from our families, our churches, our cities and our nations. We can pray with great faith because we know that such prayer is in direct accord with His will.

Workers Are Essential

    Workers are essential to the Lordís harvest because He has chosen to work through people to share His truth and grace. Godís work requires Godís workers. Just as Jesus went throughout the cities and villages, proclaiming the Gospel and caring for the needs of the people; and just as He sent out His disciples to work in the Lordís harvest; and just as believers in the early church reached throughout their world to share Godís message and love; so must we be faithful in our day to be actively involved in the Lordís harvest. We are called to go and make disciples of all the nations (Matt. 28:19-20). Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are to be His witnesses nearby and "even to the remotest part of the earth" (Acts 1:8). As the Apostle Paul writes, "ÖWe are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through usÖ" (2 Cor. 5:20).

    Paul also gives this encouragement: "ĎWhoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.í How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ĎHow beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!í" (Rom. 10:13-15). There are various aspects to the Lordís work Ė going, sending, praying, supporting Ė and all of us have a vital role to play in the Lordís harvest.

    Of course, the work of the Lord can be hard and require much sacrifice. Jesus certainly worked hard in the Lordís harvest field, sacrificing His own riches and comforts, as well as His time and energy. He ultimately sacrificed His very life to bring others to the Lord. Likewise, the Apostle Paul testified, "I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches" (2 Cor. 11:27-28). While we will not have the same level of responsibilities and pressures that Jesus and Paul had, our work for the Lord will carry its share of difficulty.

    At the heart of missions work is sacrifice. "ÖUnless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24). The cost is high, but the rewards are of utmost significance. Just think of what it will mean on the Day of Christís Return to see how the Lord has worked through your life as an instrument of truth and grace to impact the lives of others for all of eternity! No wonder Paul wrote of those under his ministry, "For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy" (1 Thes. 2:19-20). However, as great as this is, the even greater motivation for our work in the Lordís harvest is that it is to His glory when we bear much fruit! (John 15:8). Ė Rich Carmicheal

The Ministry of Herald Of His Coming

    With all of this in mind, the Herald staff encourages you to renew your commitment to pray for more workers for the Lordís harvest and to give yourself more fully to the Lordís work in answer to your prayers. We also ask for your prayers for the work of Herald of His Coming. The Lord has been gracious to call this ministry as a worker in His end-time harvest, and our desire is to be faithful to Him, proclaiming His message until Christ comes again. Please pray with us for the Lordís continued anointing, for His provision of powerful and timely messages, for the opportunities and resources to reach more readers, and for this ministry to bear much fruit to His glory!

    We appreciate all of you who undergird this ministry through your prayers, encouragement and financial support, and we hope to hear from you soon. You are welcome to write to a local office (see page 10) or to the Herald office in the U.S. at:

Herald of His Coming
P.O. Box 279
Seelyville IN 47878 U.S.A.