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Shemot/Exodus 14:26 "Stretch out your hand over the sea and the waters will return upon Egypt ..."
TheMekhilta comments to this verse that the Egyptians are to receive due and appropriate punishment for their actions against Israel. "For with the same device with which they planned to destroy Israel I am going to punish them" is placed in G-d's mouth. As the Egyptians had decreed that all the male Israelite babies should be drowned in the Nile, so G-d is about to drown all the armies of Egypt - chariots, horsemen and warriors - in the water of the Sea of Reeds. The wisdom books in the Bible are full of pithy sayings that illustrate the principle: "He has dug a pit and hollowed it out, and has fallen into the hole that he made" (Psalm 7:16(15), NASB; "He who digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him" (Proverbs 26:27, NASB; "He who digs a pit may fall into it, and a serpent may bite him who breaks through a wall" (Ecclesiastes 10:8, NASB).
The prophets paint a picture that is more deliberate and less a matter of simple consequence: "According to their deeds, so He will repay" (Isaiah 59:18, NASB); "Because they have burned incense on the mountains and scorned Me on the hills, therefore I will measure their former work into their bosom" (Isaiah 65:7, NASB); even to the point of direct proportionality: "giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds" (Jeremiah 32:19, NASB); "Repay her according to her work; according to all that she has done, so do to her" (Jeremiah 50:29, NASB); "For they sow the wind, and they reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7, NASB).
This all serves to illustrate the principle of sowing and reaping which can be found throughout the Scripture. We are involved in this process whether we like it or not, simply as a part of living and interacting with the people around us, but we are encouraged to be active participants: "Send out your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will get it back" (Ecclesiastes 11:1, NRSV). Yeshua tells the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) where a master leaves his servants various amounts of capital for them to invest and 'work' while he is away; from the master's responses upon his return - congratulating and rewarding the two servants who have doubled his investment - it is clear that their industry, even taking some risks as all trading must entail, is an important part of kingdom life. However, the third servant who returns his capital untouched, without gain or loss, is rebuked for not at least depositing it in the bank so that there might be interest added to the original sum.
The question is how, with what and where do we sow or invest to reap the harvest that G-d requires of us. Writing to the Corinthians, Rav Sha'ul uses the farming metaphor to describe how he and Apollos had shared the gospel with them, how they had taught and encouraged the new believers and started the messianic community there: "I planted the seed, and Apollos watered it, but it was G-d who made it grow" (1 Corinthians 3:6, CJB). He goes on to talk about what had been planted: "we have sown spiritual seed among you" (1 Corinthians 9:11, CJB); they have preached Yeshua crucified and taught the truth of the Kingdom of G-d to these people; they have shared their lives with them, working and living alongside them on a practical level. As the prophet Hosea said: "If you sow righteousness for yourselves, you will reap according to grace. Break up unused ground for yourselves, because it is time to seek Adonai, till He comes and rains down righteousness upon you" (Hosea 10:12, CJB). We are to be active in finding unproductive or fallow areas in our lives and then sowing good seed in them, so that we may harvest a crop of righteous deeds and words for the Kingdom of Heaven; more, we are to invest of ourselves in the lives of others that both we and they may yield a return for G-d.
Further Study: D'varim 15:7-11; Romans 1:8-15
Application: Where are you sowing your time and interests? What sort of return is G-d making on your life? Look around today and see if there are fallow areas in your life or the lives of others that G-d wants to plant with His seeds of righteousness.
© Jonathan Allen, 2007
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