At the beginning: “Doth the plowman plow continually to sow?” Well, the answer of common sense is, No, of course he does not! He would be a madman if he ploughed, and then went on ploughing all through the year; if he did nothing else but plough, or harrow his ploughed ground. Does he do that continually? No; it is a job that has got to be done – the breaking up, the turning over, the exposing to the elements, the harrowing – it is an essential operation, but it is not continued indefinitely. It is something to be done, but it has its time and place, its beginning and its end.
The Lord is speaking to His faithful people who are feeling that they are under the plough; furrows are being cut deep into their souls; they are being turned up and turned over, laid bare, exposed, broken, harrowed. The Lord says, even to faithful people: ‘This is necessary; we are looking ahead to a harvest, to real values; this is an essential aspect of the work. But… take this comfort: this is not going on forever.’ Under the hand of the Lord it is periodic, and it is timed. It comes into the individual life of the child of God; it comes into the life of a company of the Lord’s people; and, as history shows, it comes into the experience of the whole Church. From time to time, down through the centuries, it seems that the action of God once more is cutting deep, overturning, breaking up. It is the hard way toward some fresh harvest. But the word of the Lord is: ‘My dear people, remember this: I am the Man with His hand on the plough: I have this whole thing in hand, it will not go on forever.’ It is something necessary – everybody will agree with it in nature; we agree with it, surely, in grace, but it has its time limit; and when that phase is accomplished, the Lord terminates it, and says: Now, that is done and we can get on with the next thing.
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