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Sowing seed, sowing the word, that’s the theme and connection between Isaiah 55 and the parables. Yet as we continue the passage from Isaiah, there’s a corollary clarification: “It (My word) shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
Isaiah says the word accomplishes what the Lord intended, not what we think it should. Compare that to Jesus’ explanation that not all ground on which the seed falls is good (some out of the way, some stony and some thorny). The spiritual power of the seed sown (the word) is manifest in good ground.
I believe that shows us the purpose of the word is to convict us to make a decision, that we determine if we are good ground by our heart attitude. As Moses wrote of the Lord in Deuteronomy 30:19, “. . . I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life . . .” That is echoed by Joshua in his writings in 24:15, “ . . . choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve . . .”
Take note, Messiah didn’t instruct to sow only in good ground (like we could determine those who are good ground anyway), but essentially to scatter the seed. I personally believe sowing the word is more than just quoting Scripture, but living and explaining it. The Holy Spirit uses His Word, our words and our lifestyle in ways we can’t imagine.
Yeshua calls us to evangelism in the sower/seed parables. Isaiah helps us understand the fullness of that assignment.
Messiah used the parable to encourage and explain evangelism. He said in Mark 4:14, “The sower sows the word.” As was often the case, He was using what the Lord had already advanced in Scripture. Of course He did, He was the Word that became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
Look at the connection to what God had the Prophet Isaiah write in 55:10 & 11, “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;”
His word shall be like seed to the sower, as in . . . the sower sows the word. And when the word falls on good soil, it produces, by the metaphor, salvation.
Going back to Mark 4, in the next several verses Jesus continues the evangelism/seed/word theme in a few other parables.
In verse 21 He asks, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand?” The implication is to let our light shine, our evangelistic light based on the Word.
In verses 26-29, Yeshua helps us understand how the spiritual significance of spreading the word bears fruit. He says when a farmer plants seed, it grows, he doesn’t know how, but the crops are brought forth and are ready for the harvest.
It’s like sowing the word into the lives of unbelievers. Although we don’t know how, it has the ability to bring salvation to sprout.
Someone had told me there was an unsaved Jewish man in the Messianic Jewish congregation where I was about to minister. But as I delivered the message, I noticed the man in question was really receiving the Word; he was intently involved.
Actually, this was the second time I had seen this man at this congregation, and I remembered he was very involved in the message I previously delivered. So I wasn't sure he was in fact a man without faith in Yeshua.
As it turned out, the Lord had already guided me to preach from Isaiah 55, which is a very salvation oriented chapter. I don't usually bring messages with such a strong emphasis on salvation, especially to Messianic Congregations. But this Saturday morning I did.
At the conclusion of the message, as I offered an invitation to salvation, I thought I saw this man raise his hand. But after the entire congregation prayed the prayer of salvation, he didn't respond as a new believer.
As I finished chanting the Aaronic blessing in Hebrew, the Lord urged me to go over to this man. I didn't even get a chance to say much. He threw his arms around me and hugged me like I was his long lost father. His body was trembling. When he finally looked at me he was kind of stammering as he said, "I don't know what to say . . . you spoke straight into my heart."
I quickly asked if that was the first time he had prayed to accept Messiah. He was choking back the tears as he whispered "Yes."
Hallelujah! It turns out he had only attended this congregation three times, twice when I was the visiting minister. He didn't know anything about me or my background. All he knew is I was the one doing the talking. He didn't understand it was the Holy Spirit who was speaking to his heart.
What God did of course was meet this man where he was. Although we sometimes forget, God is always looking to show us more of Himself. The problem is we often aren't really interested because we have our own agenda.
In a nutshell, that is the primary reason there are still so many unsaved people in the world today. The agenda of the flesh versus God's spiritual agenda.
Earlier this year I sat amidst more than a thousand believers at a Messianic Jewish conference. A few things hadn't gone right that day and quite frankly I was feeling sorry for myself. Add to that a tinge of ministerial jealousy as I wished I could be one of the "more notable" speakers at this large and influential conference, and you can see I was getting myself into trouble. Surely this is not the prescribed way to draw near to God.
But as I sat there not at all enjoying the wonderful worship music coming from Paul Wilbur (a gifted Messianic Jewish minister of music), I noticed my randomly chosen seat had placed me next to a Jewish man I had prayed with to receive the Lord, and directly behind a Jewish woman I had prayed with who told me her life was changed by that prayer. Then I realized my incredible foolishness and God's wonderful wisdom and grace. He had a better agenda.
Suddenly Paul Wilbur's music seemed anointed and I rejoiced in song . . . loudly.
Let's face it, we all shut out God from time to time because of our own agenda. And our own agenda is always wrong.
In Joshua 1:9, the Lord spoke, "Be strong and of good courage, do not be dismayed nor be afraid, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
We act just like we did before we accepted Jesus. Instead of letting His Spirit speak to our hearts, we listen to other voices. Then we become afraid or dismayed, and we forget he is with us always. In that state we are unable to be strong or have courage.
At the same time we'll look at our unsaved loved ones and wonder why they can't see the truth. It's the same thing. They have their own agenda and they are not listening to the voice of the Lord.
It’s one of the most often taught New Testament lessons - the parable of the sower. Yet as Yeshua presented the parable, and as He explained it to His disciples, He was referencing the Tanakh, Isaiah Chapter 55 in particular.
Isaiah and the Parable of the Sower
Then there’s the story of the mustard seed in verses 30-32. Jesus heralds that seed as tiny,
yet it produces a plant with large branches. Again, linking it to the spiritual power of the word, the size of the seed sown is not as important as that it is sown at all.
Article from November, 1997; republished here because it exemplifies the power of The Word sown.
|Parable of the Sower