Isaiah 9:3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest,
as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.
It is somehow significant that in a Scripture reading list based on terms related to harvest, we get passages directly connected to the Messiah, the Christ. This particular verse is seldom emphasized, but verses two, six, and seven of this chapter could hardly be more famous, particularly at Christmas time. Even so, we seldom think about them apart from Christmas, so it’s good that this came up now. The Japanese here is clear that “the nation” is talking about the people, and not the geographic territory. It is clear from the Bible as a whole that this is talking about the people of God, His kingdom, His family. That is indeed to grow, and harvest is a very good metaphor for that growth. “Dividing the plunder” seems a bit violent and even primitive to us today, but every person won to Christ is won from the devil and his dominion. As Paul wrote, “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14) The devil steals all he can, (John 10:10) and we are indeed to plunder his strongholds. (Matthew 16:18) The joy of harvesting the seed we have planted (Luke 8:11) is so great that even heaven joins in. (Luke 15:7) We let ourselves be distracted by all sorts of temporal pleasures, when God has something far better and greater for us!
I have experienced the joy of birthing people into the family of God, but it has happened seldom enough that I am definitely subject to distractions. One issue is that I can’t force harvest, and I get impatient. I talk to others about God’s time frame being different from ours, but I don’t always remember it well myself! I have indeed “put in the sickle” too soon with some people, and that has never been good. I need to be faithful on a daily basis, trusting God with the outcome of whatever He directs me to do, looking forward to the joy of harvest in His time.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for giving Cathy the strong feeling that we are approaching explosive growth, but that it will be based on unconventional ways of “doing church.” Help me be fully open and sensitive to You to recognize what You are saying and do things on Your schedule. May we indeed fulfill Your plans in Your way, to bring in a huge harvest for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!