Weeding the Garden

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Another Passover season has come and gone. New friends were made; old friends were lost. Fields were planted; crops were harvested. Many were married; many were divorced. Many were born; many died. All things were as they always have been. This year will be as the last. Moreover, those without knowledge shout the familiar refrain, “Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 2:4).

The Church continues to splinter and scatter into groups too many to number. Many grow weary and confused—days pass without hope. Yet, a few are prosperous and content. Wealth is synonymous with God’s blessing and success is measured by the thickness of one’s wallet, not by the strength of one’s character. Evangelists, like snake oil salesmen of old, peddle the Word of God and lure the poor, the lonely, the disenfranchised, and the elderly with promises of riches if they but “sow the seed of faith” (send money). Then God will answer all their prayers. God is now a commodity. It is an extremely lucrative business.

The world is filled with violence, disease, famine, earthquakes, changing weather patterns, hubris, and greed on a scale that rivals ancient Rome. We are witness to the beginning of the Olivet Prophecy, yet many believe Christ is delaying his coming. Is Jesus delaying his return or is God weeding his garden? God said in the last days there would be a great falling away. Some will give in to seducing spirits. Some, speaking lies in hypocrisy, will have their minds seared (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Some will become proud, highminded (2 Timothy 3:1-4).

We go to church each Sabbath. We tithe our ten percent. We keep the holy days. We prophesy in the Lord’s name. We give to the poor. We do many wonderful works. We know what is required and we do only what is necessary. Yet, Jesus may look at us and say, “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:22-23). Each night on bended knee we say our prayers (albeit they may have become repetitious, hasty, and often selfish), asking God for his guidance, his forgiveness, his mercy. Yet the next day, out of the same mouth, we disparagingly say of this person or that person, “How could he say such a thing? How could she do such a thing? These are not the actions of a Christian. They obviously do not have God’s Holy Spirit.” Is it not telling that we all are very good at pointing out the faults of others, but lack the introspection necessary to see our own shortcomings?

Because the Bible is filled with allegory, simile, personification, analogy, metaphor, symbolism, and parable, it is not literal. Many times Jesus taught using parables that often require explanation. Within these parables, Jesus used similes and metaphors that relate to agriculture: vine dressing, grafting, harvesting, and pruning. Even the holy days occur during harvest seasons. In the fifth chapter of Isaiah, God employs a lengthy parable to compare his people to a vineyard. He plants this vineyard, cultivates it, but it bears no fruit. If you are curious what God did as a result, read the parable. Numerous prophesies pertaining to the “last days” suggest that prior to Christ’s return, a weeding of his garden takes place. Many are tried by fire and refined as silver (Zechariah 13:8-9). Many are purified and made white (Daniel 12:10). Again, in Matthew 13:24-30, Christ uses simile within a parable. It is easy to spot a simile. Whenever it says, “is like,” it is a simile, which means similar to something. In this parable of “The Wheat and Tares,” Christ once again uses agricultural terms. In verses 36-43 Christ explains the parable. Christ chooses agricultural terms, as he did in many parables, because the people of that generation could easily relate to them. Certainly, Christ knew subsequent generations would easily grasp their meanings as well.

All of us have looked up into the heavens on a starry night, in awe of the vastness. Indeed, the known observable universe spans 93 billion light years. Traveling at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), it would take us 93 billion years to make the journey. Einstein said nothing is faster than light, but that Spirit within us communicates with his Spirit through prayer at speeds far, far greater. All of us should ask the question of ourselves, “Do I honestly believe the mind behind this creation and the incomprehensible power to sustain it will grant to me personally, the same knowledge and power if I do not make a valiant effort to overcome self and follow simple instructions?”

Outwardly, we may appear to others as good and decent people, but remember, this Creator, this God, who said he would roll the heavens back like a scroll, searches our hearts and the deep recesses of our minds and discerns intent and motive. Overcoming self is a lifelong quest, but this is the essence of Christ’s message. Do you realize pride and self are two faces of the same coin whose sole purpose is to destroy? Do you truly believe in your heart of hearts that the Bible is the inspired Word of this Creator?

Everything is as it has always been. Is it really? Is Christ delaying his coming or is God weeding his garden?

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Image Credits: Joel Montes de Oca