Therefore, be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. James 5:8-9 NASB
The recipients of this epistle were suffering at the hands of the rich who took advantage of the laborers. This was oppression of the poor; an injustice, not unlike what we see in our daily news. It seems that evil men are having their day, but this is nothing new. Throughout history unrighteousness abounds:
- Leaders who call good evil and evil good. Isaiah 5:20.
- Everyone doing what is right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25
- Oppression of the poor. Amos 2:6-8
- Racism – e.g. Aaron vs the Ethiopian woman (Num 12) Jews vs Samaritans, Jews vs Arabs
- Sexual perversion of every kind, even denying the natural order of creation. Rom.1:18-32
- Wars among nations and tribes. 2 Chron 15:5-6, Matthew 24:6-7
- Lawlessness. Matthew 24:12, 2 Timothy 3
- Mockers who flaunt God saying, “where is the promise of his coming?” 2 Peter 3:3-4
And throughout history, the righteous have called out to God; “How long O God?” How long will the wicked prosper? How long will there be no consequences for the unrighteous? (see Habakkuk). God’s answer to Habakkuk: If it (justice) seems slow, wait for it. It will surely come, it will not delay (Hab.2:3).
James’ answer was similar; Brethren, be patient…wait, until the coming of the Lord, a term for the Rapture, the Great Tribulation, the Millennium, and the Great White Throne Judgement. So, the brethren are to wait patiently, as the farmer waits for the harvest.
What can we observe about the farmer?
- The time for the harvest is set.
Plants have a genetic code that determines the interval between planting and maturity. This was true in ancient times and is especially true with modern agriculture. For example, corn varieties are labeled as 95-day, 103-day, 112-day, etc. to designate the interval from planting to maturity. Locally, vegetable processors, at the time of planting, mark their calendars for the day of harvest yet 3-4 months in the future. The climate may affect this interval somewhat but certainly the producer cannot speed up or slow down the growth process. So, the farmer waits. He is patient (hmm, though not always perfectly).
The time for the coming of the Lord is set. It is “fixed” by the Father’s authority. (Acts 1:7). No powers or authorities can alter the interval. God is not slow. He is never late. His measure of time is different than mankind’s. (see 2Pet.3)
- The harvest is certain.
When the seed of a crop is planted into a prepared soil, the farmer has a high degree of certainty that there will be a harvest, barring natural disasters. For a farmer, there is great joy in seeing their crop being harvested, seeing the “precious produce” of wheat or corn flowing from the combine into trucks, seeing bales of hay on their way to market, seeing shallots flowing into bags, and, yes, even potatoes flowing from the harvester into trucks. This heart -warming experience, is what provides strength for the producer to go for another year, despite the adversities of weather, diseases and market downturns.
For the Lord, there is a harvest to come. The Church will be snatched up (raptured) when the Lord will gather up the “precious produce.” All believers will be instantly at home with the Lord and this event is absolutely certain. As we see in the Colossian passage for this week, believers have this hope (certainty) of glory because of “Christ in us” (Colossians 1:27).
Our hearts as believers should be “strengthened” by the certainty of the coming of the Lord. We can “fret not because of evildoers” and we can “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him,” (Psa.37). The Lord sees the evil, He gets the breaking news alerts and the headlines from all over the world, all the time. There is a judgement to come for the unrighteous that is absolutely certain. Our God is not only watching the events of the world, but He is keeping a ledger of man’s deeds. (Revelation 20:11-15) There will be justice. The righteous judge has the final say!
Dave Gossett, GracePoint Elder and Chairman