Bible Study – October 2020

God is a Farmer (Part 1)

Open with a short prayer.

William Shakespeare once wrote: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances. And one [person] in [their] time plays many parts.” Metaphors, such as this, are more than literary devices: they carry meaning and reveal truth, they help us to understand and know. Metaphors are usually written: Thing A is Thing B. Certain characteristics of Thing B are mapped to Thing A. This helps us to understand and know Thing A through our experience with Thing B. For example: All the world (A) is a stage (B). Can you think of some common metaphors? Here’s a few I came up with: “Life is a journey.” “He is a night owl.” “You are my sunshine.” “Time is money.”

The Bible uses metaphors extensively. Some metaphors are obvious, such as “Jesus is the good shepherd” (John 10:11). The picture of a good shepherd (B) helps us to understand and know Jesus (A). Other Biblical metaphors can be harder to see, buried treasure waiting to be dug up and discovered! For example: “God is a farmer”. Certain characteristics of a farmer (B) help us understand and know God (A). During October and November, we will explore the Biblical metaphor “God is a farmer”.

Think about a time you worked in a veggie patch, farm, or garden. What did you like or dislike? If you are with a group, take turns briefly sharing your experiences.

Read Genesis 2:4–8 slowly.

Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. Genesis 2:8 (NIV)

From the opening pages of Scripture, God is depicted as a farmer. After forming man, the first thing God does is plant a garden. A ‘garden’ is a plot of ground, often protected by a wall or hedge, that is irrigated and cultivated to grow vegetables or fruit trees. Modern readers hear the word ‘garden’ and think flowers and ornamental trees, but the ancient Jewish people probably pictured something closer to a veggie patch, small orchard, or field in a farm. After planting his garden/field, God then plants the man in the garden, like a farmer carefully planting a seedling.

Brainstorm and write down what you know about a farmer/gardener (e.g. a farmer … needs patience; a farmer … works according to the seasons etc.). If you are with a group, you may like to use a whiteboard or large sheet of paper. For each item, discuss how this relates (or does not relate) to God.

God the farmer provides for your growth. Just as a farmer provides water and fertiliser for their plants, God provides everything you need to grow and mature in faith. The Holy Spirit is often pictured as “living water” that is “poured out” onto dry soil (if you have time, you might like to read Isaiah 32:15–17; John 7:37–39; Acts 2:14–17,32,33; and Titus 3:5,6). Likewise, the prophet Isaiah writes that the Word of God is “rain” from heaven (Isaiah 55:10–11). God’s Word is water that makes humans bud and flourish, yielding seed and grain (i.e. faith active in good works).

Read Isaiah 55:10,11 slowly.

As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (NIV)

In what ways is God’s Word rain from heaven? How do you receive this rain? If you are with a group, discuss together. (Hint: talk about the liturgy and church life, but also think outside specific church activities). How does God’s Word produce “seed and grain” (i.e. good works) through your life?

God the farmer uses farmhands. God is not just any farm worker, he is the owner of the land (see Deuteronomy 10:14 and Psalm 24:1,2). As a farmer who is also a wealthy landowner, God employs farmhands to work his land. St Paul says: I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 1 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV). St Paul was a farmhand who planted the seed of faith in the church of Corinth. Apollos then continued the work, tending and watering the growing seedlings.

Consider some of the people who planted and watered you, helping to encourage your faith to grow (e.g. family members, friends, authors, mentors, pastors). If you are with a group, break into pairs and briefly talk about three “farmhands” who have planted or watered faith in your life.

God the farmer employs you as his farmhand. You too are one of God’s workers! He wants to work through you to tend and water plants in his field.

Is there someone, particularly a young person, whom God is calling you to water? Picture one person in your mind right now. Write down their name. Now write down three concrete ways you might encourage them to grow in their faith this coming month. If you are in a group, perhaps share this with a partner.

End with prayer:

  • Thank God for creating you and planting you in the world
  • Ask God to rain down his Word upon you each day, and to plant his truth deep within you
  • Thank God for the farmhands he has used to grow your faith
  • Ask God to help you work as his farmhand, and water the faith of someone this month.

Hymn/song suggestions:

Almighty God, Thy Word is cast LHS 267
We plough the fields and scatter LHS 563/TIS 130
For the fruits of his creation LHS 814/TIS 168
My Word AT 39

About the Author

Pastor Dan Mueller

Dan Mueller is a husband, father, and pastor currently serving the Walla Walla Parish in rural NSW. He was a city-slicker, but, having been planted in a rural parish after graduating from ALC, he is now learning lots about farming and country life! Before being called to public ministry, Dan was a computer engineer and research scientist. His work and studies took him all over the world, including the USA, Asia, and Europe. Together with his wife Jenny, Dan lived and worked in the Netherlands for four years. Dan and Jenny now have three children –and a puppy!

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