A Harvest Sermon (Psalm 8)
There is a physical harvest. There is a spiritual harvest. Can we expect a spiritual harvest in this generation? Or Must we give up hope and turn our backs to the wall? Ours is a time when nothing can be taken for granted. Many people are entirely dismissive of the whole idea that there is a God to whom we ought to offer our praise and thanksgiving. If ever there was a time for Christians to stand up and be counted as those who belong to Christ, this is it. If Christians remain silent, if Christians are ashamed of their Lord and Saviour, there will be a harvest, but it won’t be a godly harvest. It will be a harvest of unrighteousness. What is happening in our time? – It’s the same thing that’s happened so many times before. It’s the same old story, a story which can be read in the pages of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. There is a great turning away from the truth. People only listen to what they want to hear. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes. Can this situation be turned around? It will not be easy, but we must not be discouraged. Our God is the living God. He is unchanged, unchanging and unchangeable in His love for us. He is mindful of us. We matter to Him. He is the God who forgives sin. He is the God who delights to show mercy. He is the God who longs to reveal His compassion to a generation that needs Him so much, but doesn’t know it. To understand the character of God, we need to go back to Genesis 1. God is our Creator. He created us because He loves us. To understand the state of the world today, we need to go back to Genesis 3. There, the choice is made – my will rather than God’s will, “I did it my way” rather than “Let go and let God have His wonderful way.” This what produces a harvest of unrighteousness. Reversing this trend will not be easy, but we must not lose hope. We must learn to say, with the Psalmist, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy Name in all the earth” (Psalm 8:1, 9). Unless God’s people are deeply committed to praising Him, we cannot even begin to hope for a real spiritual harvest in this generation. Our attitude towards God should be a combination of two qualities which are often set against each other. They are fear and joy. There is to be the fear of the Lord. There is to be the joy of the Lord. We must never forget that God is our Creator, and we are His creatures. We must never forget that He is holy, and we have fallen far short of His holiness. We are “less than God” (Psalm 8:5). We must never forget this. We dare not take things into our own hands and try to “play God.” There needs to be the fear of the Lord. Without this, there will never be a harvest of righteousness.We must never forget that God loves us. He is the God of love, grace and mercy. The Psalmist tells us that this God, the God of love, grace and mercy, “crowns us with glory and honour” (Psalm 8:5). We must learn to rejoice in the Lord our God, the God of our salvation. There will only be a harvest of salvation where God’s people are learning to rejoice in Him and give thanks for His salvation. The Psalmist speaks about nature – the “heavens … the moon and the stars” (Psalm 8:3). He speaks also about dominion – “God has put all things under our feet.” In our generation, understanding of nature has increased enormously. Read scientific books. They are so much more sophisticated than books which were written even one generation ago. Our power to control our world has never been greater. We can do so much more than was even thought possible a generation ago. What has been going on in recent years? Some would say, “Progress, progress, progress, almost unlimited progress.” We must, however, be awkward and ask, “Is this the whole story? Has it been nothing but progress?” The honest answer must be, “Yes. There has been progress, but all is not well.” The world has become a very man-centred place. Many people have forgotten God. He has been left behind. So many have no time for Him. What must we do to stop our society going down the drain? What must we do to stop our society going to the dogs? We must give to God the place of highest honour. The world has its idea of what it means to be wise. The Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7). If we are to use the fruits of our physical harvest, the results of our scientific and technological progress, in a way that leads to a truly spiritual harvest, we must not forget God. We forget God at our peril. We lose sight of God, and we lose sight of all that is really important in life. We lose sight of God, and we lose sight of all that is truly wholesome. Putting God at the centre of our life – personal life, life in the family, life in the Church, life in society – , this is the way to a spiritual harvest which brings glory and praise to God. If, in today’s world, we are to enjoy a spiritual harvest which will be both satisfying to ourselves and glorifying to God, there are two things we must do. We must confess our sins. We must trust Christ for salvation. We look at our human situation – personally, locally, nationally and internationally – , and we say, “Apart from God, our situation is hopeless. Without Him, it will be nothing else but the downward slope.” We look then to the Cross of Christ, and we see that there is hope. If the Cross of Christ teaches us anything, it teaches us this, “No situation is too hopeless for the grace of God. However hopeless our situation may seem, it can be changed by the power and love of God.” There can still be a spiritual harvest, even in our difficult and distressing times, but it will not come unless we put Christ at the centre of our lives.