Robert Houk Hitchcock
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Sow Your Seed

   The opening chapters of Genesis reveal the nature of life as God made, formed, and created it.  A foundation of how life is to be sustained, reproduced and continued is begun to be made known.

   The laws of nature and of life are set forth in Genesis and these laws continue throughout all of God's Word. In understanding these basic truths, we can come to a greater understanding of how to live more than abundantly as God wants His children to live.

Genesis 1:11-12
   And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding [seeding] seed, and the fruit tree yielding [asah= making] fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
   And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

   God commanded the earth to bring forth grass, the herb, and the tree.   The herb was to "seed" seed, and the fruit tree was to "make" fruit.  That was a primary function of the herb and the tree.

   The nature of life is to reproduce itself.  More seed has to be produced in order for life to continue. God didn't command the earth to keep bringing forth more grass, herb, or trees, but rather for the plant itself to bring forth seed after its own kind so it could reproduce. Perhaps it seems very obvious, but the purpose of the seed is to reproduce what God originally commanded the earth to bring forth. This law, as God set it up, was good.

Genesis 1:29-31
   And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat [food].
   And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat [food]: and it was so.
   And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.   And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

   Here in the later part of Genesis chapter 1, we note that the herb and the tree were to be for man's meat (that word means "food.") They were to sustain the animal life, too. This cycle of regeneration is what has sustained man from the beginning. Without this cycle in operation, man could not survive.  After the flood, God made available certain animals that man could eat, too, but these animals also depend on the life cycle of the herb and the tree in order to survive, too. All life is tied to the earth and the ability of the herb and the tree to reproduce.

Psalm 107:37
   And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of

   As all farmers know, the fields must be planted with seed first and then it will yield the fruits of increase. A single seed may be planted, but a mature plant is what grows and brings forth an hundred or a thousand fold of what was planted.  The purpose of sowing is to bring increase.

I Corinthians 3:6
   I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

   This context is about planting God's Word and the truth is still the same.  Man plants, and man waters, but the increase is brought about by God. Why should that be any surprise?  The herb yielded seed and the tree made fruit.  That is the way God designed it, that is its nature. It can do no other.  God is the only One responsible for increase.

Mark 4:26-29
   And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;
   And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.
   For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the
ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
   But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.

   Science is an interesting field of study.  Men have invented things that enable them to look deep into the nature of life. They can analyze DNA.  They can separate genes and chromosomes. They know all about cell contents and functions of each part. It continues to show the great planning and detail that God set into motion with "herb yielding seed" and "tree yielding fruit."  However, they still don't know HOW the stuff grows! Apparently that growth process is in the nature of the seed as God designed it. Man can make more favorable conditions for the seed to grow, but he sure can't MAKE it grow!  That's God's job because "God gives the increase." The end result of this casting seed and the earth bringing forth fruit is the harvest and man's blessing.

Genesis 47:23-25
   Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.
   And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, [1] for seed of the field, and [2] for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.
   And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants.

   This record is about Joseph and his walking with God in Egypt.  After the seven years of plenty and the seven years of famine, Joseph went about to re-establish the growth of crops in Egypt. First of all, he had to give them seed to plant. They had had a famine, so nothing grew, so there were no seeds to start with! You can't grow something without a seed!

   After the seed yielded its increase, the people were instructed as to what to do with that increase.  First, they had to give 20% to Pharaoh.  That really wasn't a bad deal considering that if Joseph had not given them seed they could NEVER EAT again!  Of the remainder, they were first to save out seed for their field.  If they didn't save out seed for the next year, they would have had nothing to plant. After they saved out the seed, then the rest was for their food. These laws of God and nature do not change, indeed cannot change.   Seed has to be saved in order for the next planting and harvesting cycle to occur.

Leviticus 25:1-12, 19-22
   And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,
   Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD.
   Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy
vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof;
   But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.
   That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.
   And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy
servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger
that sojourneth with thee,
   And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat.
   And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years.
   Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.
   And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.
   A jubile shall that fiftieth year be unto you: ye shall not sow, neither
reap that which groweth of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of thy vine undressed.
   For it is the jubile; it shall be holy unto you: ye shall eat the increase thereof out of the field.
   And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.
   And if ye shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase:
   Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.
   And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.

   When Israel was to come into the promised land, they were to follow God's command of how to sow and reap. They were to sow and reap for six years, but the seventh year they were to allow the fields to lie fallow.  They were not to sow. They were not even to reap of the "volunteers," the plants that grew from seed that had fallen during the previous harvest. It was to be a rest to the land. Many good farmers today practice this today. They allow the field to rest and to replenish what's been taken from the soil. 

   This practice was to occur for seven cycles, that is seven times the seven years, or forty-nine years. The fiftieth year was a special year of rest, too.  It was the jubile. Now all of this sounded good to everybody, except they did have to ask the question, "How are we going to eat?!" (V20).  Now that's a good question since they all understood very well these laws of nature that we've been discussing.  If we don't plant, how can we eat?  If we don't plant seed, how can you give the increase?

God answered them quite simply: 

Leviticus 25:21-22
   Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years.
   And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth
year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store

   Every sixth year, God would give them a super-bountiful harvest, enough to last for three years!  That would be enough to cover the sabbath year, and the jubile year when it was time for it,  and the next year until the harvest came in. God bountifully blessed their sowing in the sixth year so that in the following years when they were obeying God, He could take care of them.  That's tremendous.

   Most of us do not till the ground, or sow seed, or harvest it. So then, how does this apply to our lives today?  Most of us work in a service field, or an information field, or in law, or in trade, or something that is not even remotely close to planting and harvesting.  How do we apply these laws of increase  of God to our lives? 

II Corinthians 9:1-8
   For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to
write to you:
   For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.
   Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready:
   Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.
   Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.
   But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. [A field can only produce as much as is sown in it]
   Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give;[that is the sowing]  not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful
giver.[that is "how" it is sown]
   And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:[that is the increase]

   The context in this passage is what we've often called "abundant
sharing."  This section deals with giving financially.  Most of us are familiar with the Old Testament laws concerning the tithes of the field.  Most of us are familiar with Abraham and his giving of the tithe to the priest of God.  These Old Testament laws follow exactly what God set forth in Genesis  -sowing and reaping.

   Here in II Corinthians, God used this comparison for giving and receiving because they are the same laws in operation for the believer as they were for the people sowing seed and reaping harvests. Let's look at it a little closer.

   The word sparingly means  "to abstain", "to refrain", "to hold back what is adequate."  Now if a farmer is going out to sow his field, and he refrains, or abstains, or holds back what is adequate, what kind of harvest can he expect?  Let's say he has 100 acres to plant. If he only goes out and plants 1 acre, he certainly cannot expect to reap 100 acres worth of harvest. 

   The word bountifully means "as a blessing", ie. full, abundant.  Now this farmer has 100 acres and he is out planting all 100 of them.  Remember, he kept back seed from the last harvest or he would not have anything to plant!  Obviously, some of the previous harvest has to be held back for seed.  What kind of harvest is he going to expect this year?  He's got 100 acres planted and he is going to get a return.  For sake of comparison, let's say it takes 10 bushels of seed to plant the 100 acres.  Remember that all seed will bring increase (that's its nature.)  This farmer, the one who sowed bountifully, will receive an abundant increase on each acre. He will get his 10 bushels back that he planted, plus 1000's of other bushels. That's the law of God in operation.

  There is a section in Proverbs 11 that this passage in II Corinthians was based upon:

Proverbs 11:18,24,25
   The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward.
   There is that scattereth [soweth], and yet increaseth; and there is that
withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
   The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.

   One who scatters [sows] will see an increase. That's an established truth: seed planted will bring increase.  There is one that "withholdeth more than is meet."  This is the one that soweth "sparingly." If one doesn't plant as much as he should, then it cannot bring increase and that situation will "tendeth to poverty."  The liberal soul, the one who sows bountifully, shall be made fat -he shall reap bountifully.  Back to II Corinthians.

   Now what kind of increase should the bountiful sower expect? We already know what the sparingly sower should expect-the "got any spare change?" kind of results.

II Corinthians 9:7-8
   Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give;[that is the sowing]  not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful
giver. [that is "how" it is sown]
   And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:[that is the increase]

   The bountiful sower, the cheerful giver should expect: God's all grace abounding toward him!  He should expect always having all sufficiency in all things! That quite an increase, wouldn't you say?! You plant your seed bountifully and you can expect all sufficiency in all things. What if
your needs are a little larger one season?  Remember the sixth year of harvest when God gave them three years worth in one year?! This increase is the greatest increase ever recorded in God's Word. The Old Testament believers were not promised all sufficiency in all things always. Jesus Christ has made a greater increase available to believers in this age of Grace!

   However, if we would choose, and it is our choice - every man according as he purposeth in his heart- to sow sparingly, then a sparing or minimal increase is all we can expect.

II Corinthians 9:9-11 
   (As it is written, He hath dispersed [to scatter seed] abroad; he hath
given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
   Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for
your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your
   Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.

   God furnishes us with seed to begin with. We receive an increase, then we need to hold back some of that increase to plant again.  Doesn't that make good sense?  God additionally supplies bread for our food and then multiplies the seed sown! Do you see how these laws of increase work so precisely? The end result is that we are enriched ["to make wealthy"] in everything to all bountifulness and we are so blessed and thankful to God.

Proverbs 3:9-10
   Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
   So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.

   We honor God's blessing and increase to us by planting the firstfruits of our increase with God. We plant bountifully to insure a bountiful harvest.  We are returning to God a part and portion of what He provided us in the first place.  Why would anyone choose to withhold that which is proper for planting?  Sure, we might have a little more at the first harvest, but we will not have a good increase later.  A farmer holds back a percentage of the harvest to plant the next year. The Old Testament law was a minimal percentage of only 10% in order to provide enough seed for an abundant harvest later. You can see their promised result in Malachi: "open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."(3:10) Our harvest is directly proportional to our planting. We reap the increase of what we have sown.  When we faithfully practice this cycle of planting and harvesting, honoring God with the first fruits, then our barns are filled with plenty. In our day and time it is even better than that: it is all sufficiency in all things.

   The laws of God written in the beginning of Genesis are accurate and amazing.  God wishes above all things for us to prosper and be in health, and in following God's wonderful laws of nature, we indeed will be blessed.

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© Copyright September 1998