1. After these things the LORD appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
2. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
3. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
4. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.
5. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
6. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.
7. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.
8. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
9. And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
10. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say,
11. Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you.
12. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.
13. Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.
14. But it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the judgment, than for you.
15. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted to heaven, shalt be thrust down to hell.
16. He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.
17. And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.
18. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.
19. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
20. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
21. In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.
22. All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
23. And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:
24. For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.
I want to talk to you tonight about the very heart of this passage. It is the Lord’s burden and vision about the great harvest. We have seen Jesus turning his face toward Jerusalem, setting His heart and His whole being toward carrying out the perfect will of God, as we talked about last time, in that process of moving toward Jerusalem to the great climactic experience of His own life to bring about redemption, His death on the cross and then the resurrection and ascension. As He moves in that direction He hurriedly begins to make certain plans for the work of God to be carried on through His disciples. He is about ready to give them on-the-job training. I think Jesus goes down in Scripture and in history as perhaps the greatest equipper of men and women of anybody who ever lived. After all, it is not enough for us to live and for us to minister, but for us to help to train and to equip someone else to carry on and see the vision that we have and carry on the ministry we have. This is, I think, one of the greatest challenges and greatest opportunities we will ever have in this world. Jesus is the supreme model giving these disciples training for around three and a half years and other disciples, like the seventy that He is sending out, special on-the-job training, loving them, calling them, praying for them, and giving them training. This is what you do as an equipper of people to work for God.
As we look at His vision and burden of seeing the world as a great harvest field, He tells the disciples that the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. While it might seem strange that Jesus had to say this again and again to His disciples: the harvest is ripe, the harvest is ready, the harvest is plenteous, several times he said this – twice before this event. He said it as recorded in John’s gospel in chapter 4 when He was looking at a city and a people who were despised and hated by most Jewish people. He said, “Don’t say that harvest is way off so many months, but I want you to look on the fields right now that are ripe and white unto harvest.” And again He calls for this prayer that God would send forth laborers into His harvest. That leaped out at me today as I was reviewing notes and this work, because I had never quite noticed it exactly before where He calls it “His harvest,” not ours. This is something that God has brought into existence and He calls people to go out and reap and it is His harvest. God wants laborers to enter into His harvest to reap what He wants brought in. He said it again in St. Matthew, chapter 9 when He saw the multitudes scattered and distressed and tormented as sheep without a shepherd, and He said “The harvest is great.” He repeats it here in Luke, chapter 10. That says to me that God so loved this world, all of it, not just certain parts and He sees peoples of all kindreds and nations and tongues as the harvest.
One of the problems that the Lord had with His own disciples and that He has always had with the church down through the ages Is getting us to become willing to see and understand all the harvest. I remember as a child growing up in Mississippi all the to-do with preaching and crying and raising mission offerings to reach the black man of Africa. It was a little bit confusing because nobody ever said a thing about the black people in Mississippi, and I wondered. It takes a long time, even for Christians, to understand God’s great harvest. So as we look at this passage, the Lord for that particular occasion and time, gave some special strategies for reaching the harvest. I think those strategies would still apply to us today to a very great extent.
The first one is that He did not want us to delay entering into the harvest. Do not delay the harvest at all. He says to them first of all that there are two things I want you to do: number one, pray. Now if you can get people praying about the harvest, praying about missionary work, praying about evangelism, praying about strengthening disciples, then something great and wonderful and good comes out of that. When people begin to pray, visions become clearer. Inspiration becomes stronger. Divine leading is more perfect and more direct and the power of God begins to work in a more powerful way in the lives of people who pray, and especially who are reporting for duty to do God’s work. So, He said, “I want you to pray. I want you to pray about the harvest, and especially that the Lord would send forth laborers because the harvest is plenteous, but the laborers are few.” I think that is true in every generation. We are always thrilled at the School of Theology when people come and find their calling and their place and their gifts and they come out with a clear direction. I talked to a young man today who is a member of this church who has a clear burden and direction as to what God wants him to do in just a few months as he completes his work at the School of Theology. It is a wonderful thing to know God’s will and to know where you fit in and to answer His call and you feel in perfect harmony with what He has called you to do, because He has prepared your heart and you have responded. That’s the greatest experience of all time.
So, He said the first thing you do is pray so as not to delay the harvest. Then, you go! You’re just simply to get with it! I have known a few people who are just all talk and very little action, always ready to do something else other than just getting with it. Jesus said just do it! Get in there. You pray and then you get up and go. He said, “I’m sending you like sheep among wolves.” That’s not much of a recommendation when you start sending somebody out to plant new churches or to reach the lost or to carry the gospel message. Another strategy here he says you have to depend on God and you have to depend on people. In this case, He said, “I want you to travel light. I don’t want you to pack big suitcases and have a lot of things to be concerned about. I’m going to send you out two by two, thirty-five teams.” He was going to send them out to every place and every town where He would come later. Isn’t it marvelous to be a kind of fore-runner for Jesus Christ! I’ve had the experience a time or two in my life where I went into a place and preached to people who had not heard preaching and where there was no church and was able to just simply be the first one to sow the seed of the gospel and preparing the way for the work of Christ to come. Of course, He was already at work way before I got there. He had already done some preparation in the hearts of people, but it just seemed like I was a kind of pioneer and that’s a great feeling. He said He wanted them to go every place that He was coming to. It lets you know that if you go where the Lord sends you, sooner or later, He is coming to that place. He is going to confirm your work and your ministry and your message by His presence and His power and His miraculous work. Sometimes we feel like it would be a lot better if we could know that He was going right with us. But sometimes we have to go without that great assurance, but we’ve learned that He has gone before, yes He is indeed with us, and He comes behind and He does this miraculous work, because He chooses to use people to be involved in His harvest and in His work. He doesn’t do it by Himself. He very well could and He has the means, He has the power. He could use angels. But one day in the midst of the Great Tribulation He will use angels to go and preach the gospel all over the world. They will fly through the air having the everlasting gospel. That will be alright because by that time, I think most of His evangelists and witnesses will be gone from this earth. He will need angels then. But now, He depends on people like you and me to get involved with Him and hear His voice and get a vision of the harvest and get into it. He does not want us to delay it, but move right on in and depend on God and depend on people, as well.
Now this part is tedious. This is a real drawback, realizing that you have to depend on the very people to whom you bring the message to help support you and take care of you. That becomes tedious. I think a lot of us would have felt a lot more comfortable in entering the ministry if we already had it made and didn’t have to rely on the hospitality of the people to whom we minister. But you know, I didn’t plan this strategy or this way. This seemed to be the Lord’s way. In fact, that’s the way He lived. He entered into people’s houses and He received beautiful, wonderful hospitality and He developed great friends and He wanted the disciples to understand. He said the laborer is worthy of his hire. Now he was understanding that when you carry the good news to somebody who is in darkness and they are delivered and brought out, then they will have the spirit of generosity to welcome you in hospitality and they will understand somehow in their heart that the laborer is indeed worthy of his hire. You depend on God and you depend on people: God and the people that God works through.
The next great strategy that Jesus is pointing out is maybe the greatest one of all is a minster of deliverance. He said as you go you heal the sick and you cast out devils and you preach. You have a healing preaching. You preach that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. Be sure that when you enter into a home you pronounce a blessing and peace. If the Son of Peace has gone before you, if His peace is there, you say Peace unto this house and it will rest upon it. If not, it shall return to you again. He said you go and bring peace. You go bringing good news. You go bringing the gospel. You go bringing the message. You go preaching and having a deliverance ministry because He will come later. I have given you power and authority over all kinds of things so that you may be able to deliver people from the bondage of sin and evil and sickness.
It lets us know that entering into the harvest in any phase of it is spiritual warfare. There is no getting away from spiritual warfare. But at the same time He has given us the equipment, the authority of His Name, the power of the Holy Spirit and especially the power of the Word of God. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for people who believe it. He said that with this kind of equipment I’m furnishing you with everything you need to harvest. Now that’s a marvelous thing. In my short lifetime, I have seen harvest methods change so drastically. I remember as a small boy, barefoot in the oat field following behind the farmer who had a big oat cradle. It was big with a sling on the back and when you cut a swath, then you reach and gather up that bundle of oats that has been cut – or wheat or whatever – and you drop it on the ground. Somebody comes behind you gathering up the bundles. That was my job. You tie it to stalks of oats or wheat and it gets hauled in. But then I had the privilege of living in North Dakota for a while and watching those great combines cut great wide swaths across huge fields. What a drastic change in harvesting. I was raised in the cotton fields in Mississippi and when I was a boy we picked and dried the cotton and we picked it by hand. A year or so ago, my wife and I were in the Mississippi Delta and the fields looked like great snow banks. There sat this guy up there in a great big cotton picker air conditioned with a stereo going and he didn’t worry about a thing in this world, going down through there gathering the cotton and putting it in big pallets that held twelve bales. A big truck came that somehow had a big conveyor hooked to that and slid it onto the truck and took twelve bales at a time. We used to weigh up 1,500 pounds of cotton and put it in a wagon and I would get to ride with my dad to the gin, one bale at a time. I always loved to do that because he would usually give me ten or fifteen cents and back in those days, ten or fifteen cents worth of candy was a whole sack full! Harvest methods have changed.
I heard someone introduce Brother Bonnke at a meeting and credited him with leading 2,000,000 or more people to the Lord last year! I think God somehow is helping us to understand about His harvest that is ripe and ready and if He could get us mobilized just right, records could be broken that have been set for years of bringing the lost into the Kingdom of God.
Our ministry of deliverance is the primary requirement because these days when you get people delivered from the power of Satan it takes more than just talking to them. It takes the manifestation of the power of God that confirms and backs up the Word of God.
And then here’s a principle that seems a little odd to me. I don’t know exactly how to apply it for our own time. But Jesus said that if you go to a place and your peace doesn’t rest there, He said to leave there. If people reject you and they reject the gospel, then you go outside of that house and into the street and you brush the dust of that city, the dust of that town off of you. Let it be a testimony against them. You don’t have anything in common with those people, not even the dust that you walk on. He said it would rise as a memorial that would bring judgment upon those people. The principle that we talked about in church growth that relates to this is don’t waste your time over unreceptive people who reject the gospel. I don’t know exactly how that plays out in our world today but saying it in a positive way, let me say it like this: if you had an orchard that had peaches that ripened at different times and you had workers to go in and pick peaches, you wouldn’t put the same amount of workers in every section of the peach orchard. You would send the most to the place where they were ripe and ready and you would tell them to pick them. You might send one person over to another place in the orchard just to watch and see when the other section gets ripe and ready to pick. It’s the idea of doing the most you can do for people who are receptive to the gospel. I apply it like this. I know where there are places and where there are people where thousands of dollars are spent to try to reach the same unreceptive people over and over and over and over again. A lot of money is spent trying to have a revival meeting hoping to win just one certain person. When, if that same kind of investment was made in a receptive area, think of the difference in the harvest. I think that’s the kind of thing Jesus was talking about when He said to shake the dust off when people reject and when they don’t receive the message. Just shake the dust, just brush it off of you and go on your way to a place where they will receive you.
Now I know that there’s a flip side to that of people that labor in certain places for years and years and then finally the break comes and God honors that. They have spent their time in planting and cultivating and sowing seed and after a while the harvest forms. I understand that. But I think the principle that I’m trying to get across to us tonight is that people who are receptive in wanting the gospel, they need to hear it now because the harvest is ripe. That’s where the laborers need to be sent. That’s the reason Jesus said “Don’t say there are several months before the harvest. Look at it now. The harvest is ready now.” I’m glad our whole church is involved with things for this whole decade that have to do with looking on the harvest and understanding it and preparing it and getting into it, because it is the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I close with giving just a little report of what happened to these first seventy who were sent out. They came back full of joy rejoicing. They had had great success. They had been received. People had been blessed and delivered and they were rejoicing over the fact that the devils were subject unto them. Jesus responded to them, and it’s difficult for me to understand. He said, instead of complimenting them on what they had done and what they were doing and the fact that they were rejoicing over their success, He said “I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” One thing He was saying was that Satan has fallen. Oh, that’s a truth we need to remember. He was in a fallen state. And He goes on to say “I will give you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy.” He says this is what is normal for the laborers who enter into My harvest because Satan has fallen. We fight a defeated foe. Through God’s grace and power that He bestows upon us, victory is already assured if we go in His Name and His power and His Word and His Spirit. Victory is already assured because Satan is fallen like lightning. He said “Don’t rejoice because the devils are subject to you, but because your names are written in heaven. Your names are written there from whence Satan fell. His name is not there anymore. He has lost his authority and power. You will have authority and power over him through Me. Your names are written in heaven.”
Sometime ago I was in a church that had a country preacher. They got up on Sunday morning and sang that song “When my name is called in glory I’ll be there.” I’m telling you I absolutely rejoiced in that old song. It just thrilled me. The power of God fell and it was one of these kinds of meetings where you got to singing, you didn’t have to tell people to clap their hands or rejoice or anything like that. It was spontaneous and they got to shouting and they were singing and the first thing you know, the power of God was sweeping all over that place. I got one of those blessings thinking about my name being written there. I want to tell you, that’s big stuff – to know your name is written in heaven!
Please stand to your feet and let’s rejoice in His love and praise Him together.
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