Why do we celebrate Harvest Festival? The Bible mentions Harvest a lot! Lets consider Harvest past, present and future.
Harvest Past – When did Harvest Begin?
Do you know when the first Harvest Festival took place?
“In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock.” (Genesis 4:3-4)
From the very beginning and right through history, people have given back to God some of what he has given them. Harvest Festival began as a way of saying “thank you”.
Because God is our Father
“The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24:1)
At the the end of every service, we say these words “All things come from you O Lord, and of your own do we give you.” Because God is our Father.
Because We are His Stewards
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)
God is our father and we are his stewards. That is why we must look after this earth. It belongs to our father.
Because God Provides our Needs
Jesus promised his friends,
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33)
Three reasons we look back at God’s provision over the year and say ‘thank you’ at harvest. Harvest Past
Harvest Future – When will Harvest End?
What do you dream about? What do you long for? A world free of war? Free of suffering? Free of poverty? No more war, no more pain, no more suffering. No more climate change? I do. One day Jesus is coming back to do it.
“God’s dwelling place is among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
How is that going to happen? Jesus says that he is like a farmer sowing seed in the world. The good news of Jesus is the seed. In Matthew 13, Jesus tells us,
“The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. …The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.” (Matthew 13:37-39)
Jesus says one day there will be a very special harvest supper.
“People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 13:29).
If we love Jesus, we will help others become his friends, so they too can be part of his harvest. In the last chapter of the Bible we have this glorious picture of the future harvest:
“On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:2)
Hard as it may seem, the earth will become a paradise again. How many harvests will there be? Amazingly – 12 a year – every month – and this harvest will not just be fruit and veg. It will lead to healing and reconciliation between nations. So our Harvest Festival each year looks back to the first harvest when our ancestors first learnt to say ‘thank you’.
Our Harvest Festival looks forward to the great Harvest to come when we shall be with Jesus forever. But sadly, the world is not yet as it should be. Half the world is illiterate. Half the world is hungry. More than half the world still has not heard the good news of Jesus. How then can we celebrate today?
Harvest Present – Its opportunity
God tells us to do three things in our Bible reading.
Be Faithful: Set aside a Tenth
“Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.” (Deut. 14:22)
How many fingers have you got? Why do you think God give you ten fingers? To count up to ten. So that it would be easy to divide things by ten. The Bible encourages us to tithe our income, our pocket money – to give a tenth back to God to remind us that everything we have comes from God our Father. God gave us two thumbs and eight fingers to help us learn to give back a 10th of what you have. Give a 10th, save a 10th and learn to live on the rest. What are we to set aside a tenth of our income for? Two reasons:
Be Thankful: Have a Party
“Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your … flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always.” (Deuteronomy 14: 23)
Our Harvest celebration here last night was in obedience to this command. We celebrate Harvest by sharing a meal with one another in God’s presence. A very special party.
Are we to blow it all on ourselves? No! God tells us to be generous toward those in need. Be faithful. Be thankful.
Be Generous: Give to those in Need
There are many ways of giving. Being less greedy and learning to live on less means we have more to share with others. We can all live more simply. Learn to use less electricity, to waste less water, to recycle more, to do more walking and cycling and think about the footprints we are leaving on the earth.
“and the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns may come and eat and be satisfied.” (Deut. 14:28-29)
That is why we give our Harvest produce to the Runneymede Food Bank helping those locally who are hungry. This is the meaning of Harvest: Harvest Past – saying ‘thank you’. Harvest Future – looking forward to being with God forever. Harvest Present – sharing in God’s work now. There is one final reason why the Lord tells us to tithe, to eat a harvest meal and share our harvest with the poor?
“so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” (Deuteronomy 14:29).
Do you see that? By sharing in God’s work, we can also share in God’s blessing. What more motivation do we need? The blessing of God is promised when we take Harvest seriously. The fruits of this earth are to be shared. The Lord wants everyone to share in his harvest now and forever. Lets pray.