PENTECOST 9: The Christian lives as wheat among weeds as he waits for the harvest. In the Prayer of the Day we ask for the spirit to live like wheat—to think and to do what is right—even while we live in this sinful world. Living with an eye on the coming harvest gives us encouragement, comfort, and hope.
FIRST LESSON: JOEL 3:12-16 The book of Joel foretells the coming of the Day of the Lord. Here in chapter 3, Joel pictures the judgment of the nations as a day of harvest. The day is coming when the sickle will swing and the harvest will begin. Can you imagine the terror that will strike the unbelieving heart when the sun is darkened and the moon and stars fail to shine? Can you imagine the fear when he hears the roaring and thundering of the LORD? Yes, we live as wheat among weeds, but the harvest is coming. When it does, there will be no need for God’s people to fear. He is their refuge and stronghold.
Joel 3:12–16 (NIV) 12 “Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side. 13 Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow— so great is their wickedness!” 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. 15 The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. 16 The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.
Joel 3:12–16 (NIV)
12 “Let the nations be roused;
The sons of Noah: Japheth: Gen 10:2-5; Ham: 10:6-20; Shem(the Semites): 10:21-31; Genesis 10:32 (NIV) 32These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations.
let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side.
Jehoshaphat, a king of Judah, son of Asa. The name is used of 5 other different people and here. We are uncertain where or if this is a real valley. The name means – The LORD judges!
Perhaps a meaningful and symbolic place for believers and unbelievers. Psalm 125:2 (NIV) 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.
13 Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow— so great is their wickedness!”
Grain harvest. Grape harvest. The LORD determines when the harvest is ripe.
Leviticus 18:24-28 (NIV) 24 “‘Do not defile yourselves in any of these ways, because this is how the nations that I am going to drive out before you became defiled. 25 Even the land was defiled; so I punished it for its sin, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. 26 But you must keep my decrees and my laws. The native-born and the foreigners residing among you must not do any of these detestable things, 27 for all these things were done by the people who lived in the land before you, and the land became defiled. 28 And if you defile the land, it will vomit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you. …the LAND like an ill person getting sicker and sicker will finally vomit…
Genesis 15:16 (NIV) 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
Matthew 23:29–33 (NIV) 29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Go ahead, then, and complete what your ancestors started! [Fill up then, the measure of your fathers!] 33 “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
In other words, all.
15 The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. …the whole creation groans… Romans 8:19 (NIV) 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.
16 The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem;
Zion is the mount on which the temple was built…in the city of Jerusalem.
Why does He roar and thunder?
Deuteronomy 32:35–43 (NIV) 35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” 36 The Lord will vindicate his people and relent concerning his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free. 37 He will say: “Now where are their gods, the rock they took refuge in, 38the gods who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offerings? Let them rise up to help you! Let them give you shelter! 39 “See now that I myself am he! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand. 40 I lift my hand to heaven and solemnly swear: As surely as I live forever, 41 when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment, I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. 42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood, while my sword devours flesh: the blood of the slain and the captives, the heads of the enemy leaders.” 43 Rejoice, you nations, with his people,, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people.
Where have you already seen the judgment of this Day? Zion and Jerusalem…where His own people who look to the LORD in faith know they can always meet Him in peace and be safe. This is where you and I live in the Holy Christian Church where we are always and eternally safe…no matter what God’s enemies may think they do to us.
the earth and the heavens will tremble…along with the whole of creation…
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.
The Valley of Jehoshaphat for believers and children of God their heavenly father – a meaningful and symbolic place for believers and unbelievers. Psalm 125:2 (NIV) 2 As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore.
PSALM 65, Page 89
The earth is full of the goodness of God…you crown the year with your bounty…your carts overflow with abundance…
LESSON: ROMANS 8:26, 27 Prayer is a gift from God for all believers who are living as wheat among weeds. Surrounded by wickedness, the power and comfort of prayer is a great privilege indeed. Yet it’s a privilege that we so often leave unused or underutilized. Thank God for the gift of the Spirit! The One who called, enlightened, and sanctified us is still at work to overcome our weaknesses. When we don’t know what to pray for, we can know that the Spirit is praying for us.
Romans 8:26–27 (NIV) 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
VERSE OF THE DAY: Alleluia. My Word will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Alleluia.
THE GOSPEL: MATTHEW 13:24-30, 36-43 God intended to have a weed-free field of wheat. From the beginning, however, the enemy thwarted his intentions with temptation and sin. How many Christians have seen the evil all around them and pondered the servants’ question, “Didn’t you sow good seed?” How many churchmen have tried to separate the wheat and weeds in the kingdom with rules or monasteries, with inquisitions or Pharisaical laws? Anyone who tries only succeeds in ruining wheat along with the weeds. They uproot the faith of the weak who fall into sin; they trample the faith of the strong by feeding their pride. The Lord most certainly has a plan to separate the wheat and weeds—just not yet. He has servants standing by to do the work—they’re just not us. Instead, God urges his people to live with their eye on the coming harvest. God does not want us to try and separate wheat from weeds before then. Christ tells us to live as wheat among the weeds of this world and wait expectantly for the harvest when the angels will sort it all out: weeds to fire, and wheat to shine as the righteous sons of God in the kingdom of their Father.
Matthew 13:24–30, 36-43 (NIV) 24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. 27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ 28 “ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29“ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man.
38 The field is the world,
…all the nations…
and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom.
…we are relieved to know…
The weeds are the people of the evil one,
…we know and they will know they are unwanted and useless to the Lord
39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
John 8:44 (NIV) 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
The harvest is the end of the age,
…when the Lord determines that the harvest is fully ‘ripe’
and the harvesters are angels.
40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.
There will be a Last Day which will be the End of the Age for this world that God created.
41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom
Matthew 24:31 (NIV) 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
The Kingdom of Christ is here, present…you and I are the Kingdom…you were joined to Him in your baptism…the testimony of the Spirit continually reassures you…BUT the weeds that are among us will only be among us temporarily…
everything that causes sin and all who do evil.
Believers, children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, are not among these people…
42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Proverbs 4:18 (NIV) 18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
Daniel 12:3 (NIV) 3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
Whoever has ears, let them hear.
Matthew 23:37 (NIV) 37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.