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Tuesday, July 28, 2009
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"Lessons From Gleaning"
"When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest" (Leviticus 19:9).
We received a delightful blessing yesterday. A friend called and invited us to glean from the sweet corn field they recently harvested. The hot July sun was pretty intense as Brooksyne and Nancy walked through the tall rows of harvested corn. They picked and shucked the few ears that remained to see if the quality of the corn was worthy of processing. Many were quite small, some too old to pick and some ears were already enjoyed by other outdoor critters (uninvited gleaners). Yet they collected over 16 dozen ears. We had fresh corn on the cob in the late afternoon and dinner as well. Then Brooksyne prepared many batches for the freezer. We'll be enjoying fresh tasting sweet bodacious corn now and throughout the winter months.
The process of freezing includes washing the corn first, then blanching. This is done by boiling the corn for several minutes in hot water and then dropping them into icy water. Blanching stops the enzyme action that causes things to age and lose flavor and also helps maintain vitamin content. She then cut the corn kernels off the cob and scooped them into freezer bags. Ester and I did some additional gleaning by munching on any remaining kernels she missed at the end of the cobs!
The concept of gleaning is foreign to many today. The large majority of people are so far removed from our agricultural roots yet each of us daily depend on the labors of hard working farmers. Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmer's fields after they have been commercially harvested.
Today's Scriptural command concerning gleaning is found in the Law of Moses. It was intended so that the poor and alien would have a means of support. The practice of gleaning is found numerous times in the Old Testament, perhaps most famously in the book of Ruth. "Let me go to the fields and pick up the leftover grain" (Ruth 2:2). In fact when Boaz took special notice of Ruth he made extra effort to see that her gleanings would be abundant (Ruth 2:15,16).
The Practice: The farmer was to purposefully leave some of the harvest along the edges of the field as well as the gleanings, that is, the harvest missed the first time through. The field was then open to the poor and alien so they could collect the remaining grain.
The Principle: The diligent farmer was recognized as entitled to the fruit of the harvest he had financed and labored hard to produce. A key Scriptural concept is "the laborer is worthy of his hire." The poor and the alien had a means of support but had to exercise personal responsibility and diligence in going through the field to collect these remnants from the harvest. It wasn't just a hand-out.
The New Testament concept that applies universally: "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life" (1 Timothy 6:17-19).
Today let us follow the Biblical counsel to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share from God's abundant harvest in our lives.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we thank You for the way You bless Your people. You richly provide for our needs and supply us with hope that is not diminished by the circumstances of this world. We want to share from our spiritual and material abundance so that we lay up treasure for ourselves in the eternal life that is promised to all believers. Make us aware of opportunities to enrich others with the blessings we receive from You. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Matthew Henry's commentary note concerning today's passage:
1) We must not be covetous and griping, and greedy of every thing we can lay any claim to; nor insist upon our right in things small and trivial.
2. That we must be well pleased to see the poor supplied and refreshed with the fruit of our labours. We must not think every thing lost that goes beside ourselves, nor any thing wasted that goes to the poor.
3. That times of joy, such as harvest-time is, are proper times for charity; that, when we rejoice, the poor may rejoice with us, and when our hearts are blessing God their loins may bless us.
We now often use the term "gleanings" in a non-literal sense and this brings to mind a classic book by A.W. Pink titled, "Gleanings In Genesis" (online version). How I enjoy this man's thoughtful writings.
The famous Gleaner combine was named after the Biblical gleaning text.Thank God for farmers! Today as I was completing the message I got a call from a dairy farmer friend. He was very concerned about policies coming out of DC and wanted some phone numbers and to vent a bit. He was annoyed at being called a "producer" and asserted that he was a farmer!
More blessings from the country!
Yesterday afternoon our old order Mennonite neighbor stopped by with a fresh picking of green beans!
Farmers work very hard and require a broad expanse of knowledge. Even during slower times a forty hour week would be practically unimaginable on most farms and during planting and harvest seasons they may very well work double that and more.
Today when you pray over your meal consider thanking God for the farmers that had a major role in growing what you eat!
The above photo is for illustration only. Actually most farmers I know rarely wear over-alls, let alone hold a pitch fork. However the photo reminds me of my mother's cousin Shirly (I don't know how he ever got that name!) He was a lifelong farmer in southern Missouri and always wore overalls, likely Big Smith overalls which were made in nearby Carthage, Missouri.
Brooksyne's dad also farmed part-time and often wore overalls as seen here sharing a lollipop with Ester.
Note from Brooksyne: I can no longer remember the person who was praying over our meal before we partook, but I remember him specifically praying for the farmers and other workers who labored to grow and harvest the produce so that we could enjoy the benefits. Since that time we frequently pray a blessing on the workers who provide the food we eat. When Stephen served as a chaplain for a large produce company it was very interesting to walk through the factory where a long line of food inspectors stood and carefully checked each vegetable and fruit. Some were tossed due to poor quality while others were approved and stacked into the transport boxes that would then be loaded onto the trucks. Then the produce was delivered to the various grocery stores and other produce locations. It is easy to forget the expense and painstaking process it takes to get food grown from a tiny seed to full maturity to your table.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)
"Bringing In The Sheaves" (country mountain instrumental) This is an old song I recall from childhood that I haven't heard sung in churches probably my entire adult life. It's probably not in many modern hymnals. A great joy is traveling with our Amish friends and hearing the children singing it repeatedly!
"Great Is Thy Faithfulness" Video Selah
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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