Psalm 67:5-7 “May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God our God will bless us. God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.”
Do you like farming, or gardening? If you do, you look forward to a harvest. You expect a harvest. It is why you started this whole process in the first place. But the harvest is the one part of the process we don’t directly control. We can choose good seed. We can plant at the proper time. We can water and weed and fertilize. But after that we wait. Like Jesus said in the parable, “A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain–first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
Jesus wasn’t interested in farming so much, and neither is this psalm. Our harvest is a harvest of souls. We can plant the message of God’s grace in people’s minds and hearts. We can pray for God’s grace to give them faith. After that it is up to God to give the harvest.
Though we don’t control the harvest, that doesn’t mean we don’t expect one. Notice how this part of the prayer reads: “Then the land will yield its harvest.” More souls saved, a bigger family of faith, more and more children of the heavenly Father is God’s will for our mission work, not just ours. When the Lord himself teaches us to pray for something, we expect him to give us what we ask.
Those souls, those people, those family members in faith are the reward for our work. They are the content of the promise that “God, our God, will bless us.” My sins were forgiven, and heaven became my own, over a half a century ago when God claimed me as a child by faith through baptism. That was a settled issue long before I ever thought to tell anyone else about the Jesus who has done so much for me.
But since that time through the preaching of God’s grace the Lord has given a harvest. He has grown the family of faith around me. I am sure that my houses haven’t loved me, especially the way they have treated me. My last home spit sewage all around under the crawl space and made me crawl on my hands and knees underneath to clean it up.
My cars don’t love me, either. When I get old, and weak, and move into a nursing home someday, my cars won’t care about me enough to come and see me. They won’t call me and see how I am doing. They will just sit in the driveway and ignore me, or worse yet, abandon me to drive someone else around town.
But the people, the people who have become my brothers and sisters by faith, show their love for me every day by supporting my ministry, and working alongside me in God’s mission. They are my friends in the ups and downs of everyday life. Someday they, and other members of the family I have never met, may care enough about me to come and see me when I am sick, or old and weak. And all of us are going to share an eternal home with Jesus where we will love each other perfectly without end.
The people are God’s harvest. They are God’s blessing to me. They are an answer to our prayers.