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Spiritual Meaning of Harvest

Harvest has been considered a spiritually significant time of year since ancient times. It’s also been celebrated in secular contexts such as Thanksgiving. What are the spiritual meanings of harvest and what do they signify? This article takes a look at the spiritual meaning of harvest, symbols of harvest, the history of harvest festivals and how the symbolism of harvest developed. It’ll also take a look at how the symbolism of harvest is used in popular culture today.

Everyone loves the fall season and I have the best harvest quotes to celebrate this time of year. Harvest time is like a second birthday; it’s when we reap all that we’ve sown during the growing season. Embracing the spiritual meaning of harvest will help us appreciate more what goes into growing our crops and taking care of our land. Harvest quotes remind us to be present in the moment with gratitude for all that’s at hand in both nature and life.

The spiritual meaning of harvest is the end of one cycle and the beginning of another. It marks the time when you have to let go of what no longer serves you so that you can make room for what does.

It’s about taking stock of your life and making sure that all of your actions are aligned with your values and goals. Harvest is a time to reflect on what has happened over the past year, and it’s also a time to celebrate all that you have accomplished.

Harvesting is also about releasing any anger or resentment that may be holding you back from feeling peace in your life. It’s about forgiving yourself for past mistakes and allowing yourself to move on from those mistakes so that they don’t continue to weigh down on your mind or heart anymore than they already do.

The spiritual meaning of harvest is a time of rest and renewal, and it’s also a time to share your bounty with others.

Harvest is a celebration of the end of the growing season and the beginning of winter. It’s about giving thanks for what you have received and preparing for the next cycle. In many cultures, harvest is celebrated by offering thanksgiving prayers, sharing food, and exchanging gifts with friends and family.

Harvest celebrations often include feasts where everyone shares their own harvest bounty so that everyone gets to enjoy what they’ve worked so hard to grow or create.

The spiritual meaning of harvest is often associated with gratitude—giving thanks for all the blessings you have received throughout your life. It’s also associated with generosity—being willing to share those blessings with others who are less fortunate than you are. Harvest is about being thankful for what you have received in life as well as being generous enough to share your bounty with others who may not have had as much luck in life as you have had yourself!

spiritual meaning of harvest

Throughout the Bible, the harvest carries spiritual significance. It is used in parables (Luke 8:4–8) and as a metaphor for spiritual growth and health (2 Corinthians 9:10; James 3:18). The harvest has always been a beautiful and important part of life on earth, the time when the year’s work bears fruit and the people are fed. It is symbolic of bounty, health and abundance. Israel celebrated the time of the harvest with a feast, appropriately called the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16).

Jesus spoke of a spiritual harvest waiting to be reaped. As Jesus traveled, “he saw the crowds, [and] he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest’” (Matthew 9:36–38). Here, Jesus referred to the many souls needing to be brought to repentance and faith as a harvest waiting to be realized.

Jesus used the same metaphor of a spiritual harvest in Samaria. After talking to the woman at the well, Jesus told His disciples, “Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). In the days following this statement, many of the Samaritans became believers in Christ (verse 41). Jesus saw the spiritual harvest of souls awaiting in that village.

A spiritual harvest is the result of God’s work in the heart of man. It is clear from the parable of the seed and the sower that some people’s hearts are good soil; when the Word of God is sown there, the person accepts it and continues to mature (Luke 8:9–15). There is nothing we can do to change the soil—that is God’s job (Ezekiel 36:26). However, we can be faithful to sow the seed, help the plants to grow, or reap the harvest. The process of spiritual growth and maturity, from the heart’s regeneration to the recognition of faith, is often a long journey. In fact, the Bible indicates that the sower, the tender, and the reaper are likely to be different people at different times (John 4:35–38; 1 Corinthians 3:6–9).

Just like the physical growth of a field, the spiritual growth of people is a natural, organic process, overseen by God Himself. If we don’t see anyone getting saved, it can be discouraging, but we need to remember that sowing is just as important as reaping. Some of us are sowers and may never see the result of our labor. That is why our focus should be on pleasing the One who sent us into the field rather than on controlling the rate of growth or the amount we reap.

God’s laborers in the spiritual harvest of souls are promised great reward for their faith and perseverance (James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; 2 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 11). This applies to all aspects of our spiritual lives, including witnessing and seeing people saved and growing in the Lord, which is the spiritual harvest we all long to see. Sometimes we don’t see it. Nonetheless, believers are exhorted with these words: “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9) and “A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:18) and “Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them” (Psalm 126:6).

Jesus told us to pray to the Lord of the harvest for more laborers (Matthew 9:38). We should pray about all aspects of the spiritual harvest process, including the preparation of the soil. We can ask God to change people’s hearts. “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24–25). God will use us in His fields, each according to our gifts and the need of the moment, as we trust Him.

Jesus refers to God as "the Lord of the harvest." How do you reflect God's bounty in your everyday life and put God in his place this harvest season?

Lately I’ve been enjoying the transition of the seasons. My family and I live in a small town in the foothills of Maine and absolutely love the transition to autumn. In our part of the country, sticky summer nights give way to a satisfying cool breeze, and the forests that surround us give up their summer green in exchange for breathtaking colors that the eye can hardly take in. Combine this with the smell of pumpkin spice in the air, apple picking at a local orchard, and the celebrations of harvest at the many local fairs, and you’ve got yourself a season to be enjoyed.

In all of this transition of the seasons, celebration of harvest, and preparing for a season of familial celebrations that will soon be on us, I’ve been meditating on the theme of harvest in Scripture. From the time I’ve spent in the Scriptures and pondering this issue, the one thing I’ve walked away with this harvest season is the simple truth that God needs to be put in his place.

I realized this one day as I was looking at the words of Jesus in Matthew 9:35-38:

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”

As I read this verse, something jumped out at me that I hadn’t fully appreciated before. This time, it wasn’t the actual context or the content, but a simple title: “Lord of the harvest” — and this is precisely where I saw that God needed to be put in his place when it came to my own life.

You see, the symbolic meaning of harvest in Scripture encompasses two main areas: God’s provision for us and God’s blessing for others. While we celebrate a harvest season just once a year, we experience the spirit of harvest all the time.

Jesus refers to God as "the Lord of the harvest." How do you reflect God's bounty in your everyday life and put God in his place this harvest season?
©2004 World Vision/photo by Jon Warren

Each day that we go to a job and earn a paycheck, we experience harvest. Each time we receive love from our family and those in our lives, we experience harvest. Each time we experience the closeness of God in a way that fills us spiritually, we experience harvest. Any time we are filled, we experience harvest.

Harvest then isn’t something that we experience once a year, but something that we experience on a daily basis.

This is where those words Jesus uses are so important: The harvests we experience on a daily basis don’t actually belong to us — they belong to God, because he is the Lord of the harvest, not us.

Our jobs belong to the Lord of the harvest.

The money we earn belongs to the Lord of the harvest.

Our spouses and children belong to the Lord of the harvest.

It’s all his.

When we put God in his place — his rightful place — we recognize him as the Lord of our harvest. We recognize that he is the one who gave us hands to work, that he is the one who supplies our provisions, that our family is actually his family … that it rightfully belongs to him.

Finally, when we recognize the Lord of the harvest for who he is in our lives, we also embrace the fact that while in part our harvest is something he gives to meet our needs, it’s also something he wants us to use to bless others. All those wonderful things in our lives that we’ll give thanks for next month? Those things exist, in large part, to be a blessing to the world around us.

This harvest season, whether you’re along a hiking trail in Maine or getting in the sun on a California beach, I hope you’ll join me by pausing for a time of reflection and asking, do I need to put God in his place this harvest season?

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