In Isaiah 28 God says that He teaches the farmer how to farm. Therefore, Christians should be the ones with the answers, and the best methods on how to farm. However, today many Christian farmers do not have the answers and are not using the best methods because they are not going to God to learn how to farm but rather have gone to non-Christians. The secular corporate business world and the state universities have dismissed God from the farming picture. While the methods of the secular mindset are appearing to work as farm production has steadily increased, in reality they are not as successful as they appear because farm profits have not even been keeping up with inflation. Many farm families have off farm jobs to make enough money to farm. That kind of farming is not profitable nor is it sustainable. It is not successful.
God teaches the farmer how to farm
Isaiah 28:23 Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech. 24 Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground? 25 When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rye in their place? 26 For his God doth instruct him to discretion, [and] doth teach him. 27 For the fitches are not threshed with a threshing instrument, neither is a cartwheel turned about upon the cummin; but the fitches are beaten out with a staff, and the cummin with a rod. 28 Bread [corn] is bruised; because he will not ever be threshing it, nor break [it with] the wheel of his cart, nor bruise it [with] his horsemen. 29 This also cometh forth from the LORD of hosts, [which] is wonderful in counsel, [and] excellent in working.
Insights on verse 23:
- One of the most important things we can learn is to hear God speak to us.
- One of the best places to hear God speak is when we are outside.
- John the Baptist’s father, a priest, took him to the wilderness to be educated rather than to the seminary of the Pharisees.
- David as a shepherd boy learned to hear God speak to him while he was tending sheep.
- Moses first heard God speak to him at the burning bush. His success as a leader was totally dependent upon hearing what God said. His one failure was when he did not follow God’s specific instruction.
- George Washington Carver’s success was totally dependent upon hearing God speak to him.
- If we are going to keep our life from being wasted, we need to learn to hear God speak.
Insights on verse 26:
- Discretion – a verdict, formal decree, divine law
- Instruct – to chastise with blows or words
- We need discretion to sort through information and to know what information to follow.
- We need discretion to see cause and effect sequences, to see long term consequences and benefits.
- We need discretion to judge truth from error and to judge between what is good and what is best.
- Discretion is needed to know when to stop. There is no end to perfection. There is a point where the next level of perfection or quality requires more time and expense than it is worth. A perfectionist needs to learn when something is good enough. This is something God can teach us.
- God teaches the farmer how to farm!
- Have you asked God on a regular basis to teach you? Do it! You will be amazed at what you will learn.
Having read these verses I was challenged to go to the Bible to learn from God how to farm. I asked God to teach me what to do with our farm and what to grow on it. It has been very exciting seeing what God is teaching us and how He is leading us on the farm.
It is exciting, looking at the Bible and seeing a bigger picture, seeing farming from God’s perspective, from God’s high tower. God has an enormous wealth of information for us on farming. The Bible is literally a gold mine that is inexhaustible in gold. What we have found is just a scratching at the surface of what God has for us farmers to learn in His Word and from Him. The insights that we have listed are neither complete nor exhaustive. Even a lifetime of study by many Christian farmers will not exhaust the hidden gold nuggets of instruction that God has for the farmer in His Word. Each time you study the Bible ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding and new insights.
I have been encouraged by George Washington Carver and his testimony of how he over and over again went to the Creator and asked Him to teach him what the peanut was for. One of the most important things that George Washington Carver learned was to hear God speak to him and to teach him how to make products from the peanut. As a result, Carver was able to help the farmers of the south in ways that no other person has been able to single-handedly do. God has that kind of resources available to each one of us, to teach us how to farm better and to help others to farm better.
In the first part of the 1900’s the boll weevil brought economic ruin to the south. The soil had been depleted after years of growing only cotton. George Washington Carver, a black scientist, looked for a crop to replace cotton as a cash crop that farmers in the south could grow so that they could survive financially. He tried a number of crops. The peanut he described as a “no-account.” It was too hard to bring to peanut-manhood and as a food it was more satisfactory for hogs than humans.
George Washington Carver described his work:
“I get up every morning, winter and summer at four. First I go into the woods and gather specimens, and listen to what God had to say to me. After I have had my morning talk with God, I go to my laboratory and begin to carry out His wishes for the day, and if I fail it’s my failure, and if I succeed then God’s will has been done.
“Years ago, I when into my laboratory and said, ‘Dear Creator, please tell me what the universe was made for.’
“Said the Creator, ‘You want to know too much for such a little mind as yours. Ask for something your size.’
“Then I asked, ‘Dear Creator, tell me what man was made for.’ Again the great Creator replied, ‘Little one, you are still asking too much. Bring down the extent of your request.’
“‘Tell me then, Creator, what the peanut was made for.’
“Then the great Creator taught me how to take the peanut apart and put it together again. And out of this came all these products which the Creator taught me to make.”
George Washington Carver in his lifetime discovered:
- 32 different kinds of milk from the peanut
- 300 different products from the peanut
- 300 products from clay
- Over 100 products from the sweet potato.
A few years before his death, Dr. Carver explained the secret of his success: “It is not we little men who do the work, but it is our blessed Creator working through us… Other people can have this power, if they only believe. The secret lies” — touching his Bible — “right here, in the promises of God. They are real, but so few people believe them to be real.”
“He said, “I always sleep over a problem. I go to sleep with it on my mind, and the next morning I see the method and the new perspective which usually clears it up. I did not do it. God has only used me to reveal some of His wonderful providences.”
(From the book George Washington Carver: God’s Ebony Scientist by Basil Miller, Zondervan Publishing House; 1963.)
More importantly, I believe that as people see that God has answers and better methods for farming, as they see that the Bible is a living book and applies to us today, it will draw them to place their faith and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We must not be silent in telling others the source of our wisdom and successful methods of farming that God gives to us. People need to see that God is real and that we need Him in life as well as in death.
Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his [own] image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which [is] upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which [is] the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein [there is] life, [I have given] every green herb for meat: and it was so. 31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, [it was] very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
- The first job God gave to man was farming.
- There is a lot more potential for food production than what we now realize. According to verse 29, there are a lot of plants and trees producing food than what we now are using. We need more George Washington Carvers to discover how these plants and trees can be used for food.
- Are there plants that we have overlooked for animal feed?
- Are there ways we can utilize weeds that grow in abundance for a good use?
- Are all plants that we call weeds part of the curse or with some of them is God using their abundance to get our attention to use them?
- There are also medical uses of plants for people and animals.
2Kings 25:12 “But the captain of the guard left of the poor of the land [to be] vinedressers and husbandmen.”
- Around the world, it is often the poor who are farmers.
- The poor do not have the education, or the other resources necessary to produce maximum production from the land.
- While money is often viewed as the solution to this problem, in Proverbs, God says that wisdom is more important than money. Wisdom can provide the creativity for witty inventions to do things cheaper and more efficiently. Easy money through debt often suppresses creativity in finding a cheaper more efficient way.
Genesis 3:23 “Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken”.
- The first occupation was farming.
- Farming is an occupation that is commissioned by God. It is essential for life. Therefore, it is important that as farmers we view our job as a very essential and important job. We must not merely have a focus on making money and increasing production, but rather have a focus on producing quality crops and food that will provide the nourishment for life and health that others need.
- The word “till” means “to work, serve, labor”. All farming requires labor and often lots of it.
- It is interesting that God mentions the ground from which man was taken.
- It is important that we keep in the front our minds as farmers that we still come from the ground today. Everything we eat ultimately comes from the ground. Therefore our bodies become whatever quality the quality of the soil is. If it is poor soil, our bodies will not be as strong and healthy as if the soil is very fertile and full of nutrients. Often the focus of being healthy is placed on eating right. But the real focus for health must be placed on building up the soil and making it very fertile. Rich, fertile soil is not only important for increased production; it is necessary for increased health. Eating lots of fresh fruits and vegetables that are commercially grown in impoverished soils is not near as healthy for us as eating fresh fruits and vegetables that are grown in rich fertile soil.
Genesis 6:19 “And of every living thing of all flesh, two of every [sort] shalt thou bring into the ark, to keep [them] alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20 Of fowls after their kind, and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, two of every [sort] shall come unto thee, to keep [them] alive. 21 And take thou unto thee of all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather [it] to thee; and it shall be for food for thee, and for them. 22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.”
- Noah had the ultimate farming challenge: to build, stock and operate a floating barn that was totally self-contained and was capable of holding two of all animals and birds for one full year.
- Noah had a mega crop storage job. He stored enough feed for all the animals on the ark to feed them for a little over one year. He also had to have food for eight adults for one year. Building the ark was a big task in itself, but providing all the supplies for the voyage was no small task. Noah had to finance the entire building of the ark and the supplies out of his own pocket.
- Noah did all that God told him to do, and he did it the way that God told him to do it.
- God taught Noah how to run a farm on a boat!
- Not only was there need for feed for one year, but they also needed straw or other bedding for the animals. They also had to have a manure handling system to handle all the manure generated in a year’s time of total confinement.
Proverbs 27:23 Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, [and] look well to thy herds. 24 For riches [are] not for ever: and doth the crown [endure] to every generation? 25 The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. 26 The lambs [are] for thy clothing, and the goats [are] the price of the field. 27 And [thou shalt have] goats’ milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and [for] the maintenance for thy maidens.
- Sheep and other animals need to be cared for. We should not just put them out to pasture and forget about them.
- If you don’t take care of your sheep, your riches will go away.
- Sheep and cattle are like a bank account. If they are well cared for they can be readily sold in the time of need for a good price.
- The lambs are for your clothing – the more lambs that we can produce, the more money we have to buy the things that we need.
- The herbs of the mountains have significance.
- The tender grass is the best.
- Today many pastors/shepherds are focusing on feeding their sheep (sermons) but are not evaluating the condition of the flock. A pastor needs to be like a shepherd who is interested in the long-term welfare of his flock. He must not be like a feedlot owner who gets lambs for a short time and then gets rid of them. It is not as important to the feed lot owner the state of his flock. His focus is in large numbers and the proper feed to get the profit he wants for himself. The long-term condition of the flock is not important to him because he is getting replacements on a regular basis. For a true shepherd pastor, It is important to evaluate cause and effect sequences and see if what is being done in the church: Sunday school, youth groups, Bible school, age segregation, separating singles and married, etc.; is producing the results in older young people and adults that is desired. It is important that a pastor is diligent to know the spiritual state of his flock. If he does not make the necessary changes to improve the spiritual condition the church will eventually decline, young people will leave, the love of many will grow cold, and it will be a disgrace to the cause of Christ.
Ezekiel 34:30 Thus shall they know that I the LORD their God [am] with them, and [that] they, [even] the house of Israel, [are] my people, saith the Lord GOD. 31 And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, [are] men, [and] I [am] your God, saith the Lord GOD.
- God likens Himself to be our shepherd and us His sheep.
- The flocks are pastured. Many times the word for feed means to pasture flocks.
- The concept of a shepherd feeding the flock by leading them to pasture is different than the way a feedlot owner feeds his lambs. With the feedlot owner, the sheep are totally dependent upon him to choose, grind, mix, balance the feed ration, and give their only feed to them. A shepherd leads the flock to pasture and lets the sheep feed themselves. He protects them from poisonous plants that they should not eat. The feedlot owner can feed thousands of sheep but the sheep receive little personal attention or care. The shepherd gives the sheep much more personal care and attention. The feedlot owner and the shepherd illustrate two different leadership styles of pastors. The feedlot pastor has a large church with many people. He feeds them with interesting sermons that he has chosen, chewed, mixed, and fed out to them. For many it is the only spiritual food they receive. He has very little personal time with each person. The shepherd pastor shows his people how to read and study the Bible for themselves. His sermons are a significantly smaller portion of their spiritual food. He has a pastor’s heart and personally cares for each person. He is available in sickness and trouble.
Jeremiah 11:19 But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered.
- Cattle should be killed in a low stress environment without them knowing what is happening. They should not be chased around when trying to kill them. They have found recently that buffalo meat is more tender and tastes best if the buffalo is shot in the field where it is standing, and then processed in a portable slaughter house that is taken to the field.
Psalms 22:12 Many bulls have compassed me: strong [bulls] of Bashan have beset me round.
- Bashan was well known for its excellent pasture. See Mic. 7:14, Jer. 50:19, Ez. 39:18, Amos 4:1.
- Bashan means soft fertile land. It had an extraordinarily rich plain.
- Rich soil with excellent pasture produces strong healthy animals.
- To produce strong healthy animals, we need to build up the soil and make it soft and fertile.
- If we take care of the soil, the animals will take care of us. Building up the soil should be our priority.
Psalms 104:14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;
- God designed cattle to eat grass as a primary feed source.
- God makes grass grow – Man does not make grass.
- Cattle are food for us out of the earth. Therefore the quality and health value of the meat is dependent upon the fertility of the soil.
- God “invented” grass primarily for animal feed, not for lawns.
- Grass is a “green” feed that is harvested by four legged “combines”. It does not require diesel fuel to produce it.
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which [is] in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree [was] good for food, and that it [was] pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make [one] wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they [were] naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 11 And he said, Who told thee that thou [wast] naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
- Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s farming instructions to them of what fruit they could harvest. They reaped the consequences of their disobedience.
- What looks good, and looks like good for food is not always good for us. We need instruction to know what is good and what is not so that we do not have to learn the hard and potentially disastrous way.
Job 12:7 But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee; and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee: 8 Or speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee: and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee.
- We need to spend time observing our animals or poultry and see what they prefer and what they don’t like. It is important to use an animal or bird’s natural instinct to our advantage in handling them and in raising them. It can save us a lot of time and effort.
- It tells us to ask. We need to take the initiative and observe with a goal of learning from the animals, poultry, ground, or fish on our farm. Too often we do things in farming because others are doing it that way or because it has always been done that way. It may not be the best way or the best for our farm or our ground.
- George Washington Carver put this verse into practice. He would go out early in the morning on his walk with the Lord and gather specimens of plants and observe the earth and the plants. He made many useful products from the different clays that he found. (This was not pottery but products from the dirt itself such as a deep rich colorfast blue pigment for paint.)
- There is much for us to discover/learn from the animals and ground on our farm. Becoming better observers will make us better farmers.
Genesis 8:17 Bring forth with thee every living thing that [is] with thee, of all flesh, [both] of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.
- God designed animals to multiply much faster than people.
- Every animal has a significant purpose on the earth. God had a chance to eliminate any “unnecessary” animals and insects in the flood.
- All the bugs and insects also have their place and purpose, even though at times we wonder what it is.
Leviticus 11:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These [are] the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that [are] on the earth. 3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, [and] cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. 4 Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: [as] the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he [is] unclean unto you. 5 And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he [is] unclean unto you. 6 And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he [is] unclean unto you. 7 And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he [is] unclean to you. 8 Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch; they [are] unclean to you.
- Clean and unclean animals referred to what animals the Jewish people could eat and which ones they could not eat. It also referred to which animals could be used for sacrifices and which could not be used.
- There are some meats that are healthy for us to eat and some that are not.
- Meat eating animals were all unclean.
- The clean animals were those who ate grass and were a ruminant. A ruminant chews the cud and has a complex three or four part stomach.
- Recent research is showing that the meat of animals raised and fattened on fresh green grass is healthier for us to eat. There is a lower risk of cancer and heart disease.
Leviticus 17:10 And whatsoever man [there be] of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. 11 For the life of the flesh [is] in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it [is] the blood [that] maketh an atonement for the soul. 12 Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. 13 And whatsoever man [there be] of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, which hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten; he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust. 14 For [it is] the life of all flesh; the blood of it [is] for the life thereof: therefore I said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh [is] the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off. 15 And every soul that eateth that which died [of itself], or that which was torn [with beasts, whether it be] one of your own country, or a stranger, he shall both wash his clothes, and bathe [himself] in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean.
- Eating blood is an abomination to God. God will set His face against anyone that eats blood. This was not just a command for the Jewish people, but also for the stranger/non-Jewish person.
- In butchering, God says that blood should be composted – cover it with dirt.
- We are not to eat meat that has not been properly bled out, such as an animal that died on its own or was killed by an animal.
It is important that we do not go to extremes in our thinking on God’s judgment on farms and the land. One extreme is to think that every drought, infestation of bugs, etc. is because God is bringing judgment on a person or group of people because of unconfessed sin and then using that situation to judge and condemn others. Job is one example where what looked like God’s judgment was actually God allowing Job to be tested. God condemned Job’s friends because they accused Job of sinning. The other extreme that most of us find ourselves in is to ignore or discredit the possibility or probability that crop failures or the lack of rainfall, might be God’s judgment for sin.
Genesis 3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed [is] the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat [of] it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou [art], and unto dust shalt thou return.
- Be careful what advice and instructions that you listen to. A beginning farmer, like Adam, can suffer the consequences of wrong advice the rest of his life. We need to get our primary direction for farming from the Word of God. All other advice needs to line up with the Bible and build upon it, not contradict it.
- Weeds, thorns, thistles, and bugs are part of God’s judgment on the earth for sin. We will never be able to totally eliminate them.
- Understanding the source of weeds and bugs is important for us in dealing with them. Universities, secular publications and writers do not commonly recognize that weeds and bugs are the result of God’s judgment for sin. Understanding the cause and effect sequence is an important first step in dealing with a problem. Our first step in dealing with weeds and bugs needs to be repentance for our sins. Then we need to ask God how we should deal with them and for Him to remove or lessen their effect. Since weeds and bugs are a result of God’s judgment, herbicides, insecticides, mechanical and physical controls do not address the source or the cause. Therefore they will be limited in their effectiveness and will be costly.
- Farming will always be hard work because the ground is cursed because of sin. Even those who do not farm reap the consequences of sin, because they also are “enslaved” to a job to provide a living and to buy their food.
- God provided vegetables for us to eat.
- All plants, animals, and people come from the earth. It is an amazing thing that dirt can produce all kinds of plants, trees, fruits, vegetables, and flowers. These plants in turn produce animals and people. Our flesh, muscles, body organs, nerves etc. all come from dirt! There is not one bit of us that will not compost. God designed the ultimate recycling program model. He used dirt and water to create living things. When these have fulfilled their usefulness they convert back to dirt. Today we have a major waste problem because we have not followed God’s example. There is an enormous amount of plastics, glass, and metal that does not compost back to their original state. Therefore they have to be hidden in the ground to create problems for future generations. Imagine what the world would be like if plants, animals, and people would not decompose. The world would have shut down long ago.
- We need to follow God’s example and make things as much as possible out of materials that decompose back to dirt. This is a totally different mindset then that of the “save the earth” environmentalist mindset. Our focus is on following God’s model rather than worshipping and serving the earth and the creature more than God.
Psalms 107:33 He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; 34 A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.
- Well-watered land does not necessarily stay watered.
- God can turn the fruitful land of the wicked into a desert.
- Wickedness is a great destroyer of productive farmland.
- God leads farmers into chemical farming to destroy the long-term productiveness of the land.
- The most successful answer for land that does not produce because of the wickedness of the ancestors, is evangelism.
2Chronicles 7:13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
- God brings judgment by causing a drought or causing bugs to devour the crops.
- The solution is not to spray more chemicals or to buy irrigation equipment. The solution is for us who are called by Jesus’ name to humble ourselves and pray God brings judgment by causing a drought or causing and seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked, compromising ways.
- Christians often quote verse 14. However, it is not usually recognized as being in the context of farming problems and God’s judgment upon farms and gardens.