ORIGINALLY POSTED 01 FEBRUARY, 2005
reproduced from Torah In the Balance, Volume II
The Messianic community today is in a very profound state of growth. Thousands of evangelical Christian Believers all over North America and the world are crying out to the Lord for more understanding and insight concerning the Scriptures, as they know internally that there is more to the Bible than what mainstream Christianity commonly presents. These Believers, praying diligently to our Heavenly Father, are being led into the Messianic movement and are being convicted by the Spirit that they need to live a life of Torah observance like Messiah Yeshua and His early followers. This is creating great change in the lives of these people, as they are growing like never before in their walk of faith, and are actually hearing the voice of the Lord and knowing Him unlike ever before.
This should be the testimony that we hear from many of those entering into the Messianic community, as we should be impacting others positively, and should be here to help and minister to people in their personal lives and walk of faith. When one understands much of our dual purpose as a faith community, in (1) seeing Jewish people brought to faith in Messiah Yeshua and (2) non-Jewish Believers appreciate their Hebraic Roots and faith heritage in Israel, there is significant spiritual power present that is going to be released. Sadly, this is not always the testimony that we hear or see. We do encounter individuals who rather than entering into the Messianic movement because they were convicted by the Word of God and verses of Scripture, were instead sensationalized by a book, an article, or a teaching—and are in our midst to do things other than grow and mature spiritually. The attitudes of such people often do not include critical Biblical concepts such as love, grace, and mercy—but many of them are mean-spirited, hateful, and resentful toward their Christian brothers and sisters who do not understand them, and they do not tend to exhibit a great deal of understanding toward Judaism or mainline Jewish tradition, either.
These negative attitudes will have to be contended with until the Messiah returns. But understanding the fact that the Messianic movement is going to continue to grow, we can learn from the mistakes of others, and we can commit ourselves to doing the right thing: helping people grow the right way. Yeshua’s parable of the sower has some very important lessons that we as the Messianic community need to learn, both about how what we are all about is received, and even more importantly, how it is presented to other people.
The Parable of the Sower: What We Already Know
Yeshua’s parable of the sower is one of the most familiar stories to any student of the Bible, as it is frequently taught in Sunday schools and in remedial teachings on the New Testament. It appears in all three of the Synoptic Gospels in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8. Generally speaking, these parts of Scripture are used to talk about the sowers, those being preachers of the gospel, sowing the seed or good news of salvation in Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus), to the world. The seed is cast onto various types of soil, and either the seed takes root and sprouts, or it does not. Basically, this is to represent how the gospel message is received in various ways by various types of people. The shortest of these accounts appears in Luke 8:4-8:
“When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to Him, He spoke by way of a parable: ‘The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.’ As He said these things, He would call out, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear.’”
Yeshua describes the types of ground onto which the seeds are cast, saying that: (1) some is cast beside the road, (2) some is trodden down by the feet of others, causing the birds to eat it, (3) some falls on rocky ground and wastes away, and then (4) some falls on good soil and yields a great produce. Yeshua then describes what this means to His Disciples, who are perplexed:
“His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. And He said, ‘To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND [Isaiah 6:9-10]’” (Luke 8:9-10).
In Yeshua’s reply to His Disciples, He tells them in response to their questions that they have been told the mysteries of the Kingdom by Him, but others have been told the message in parables, which can be challenging to understand to the undiscerning. He quotes Isaiah 6:9 to them. Isaiah 6:8-10 says,
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’ He said, ‘Go, and tell this people: “Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.” Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.’”
This passage details the ministry calling of Isaiah into the service of the God of Israel as a prophet. The Lord tells Isaiah to prophecy to the people, “Hear, indeed, but do not understand; see, indeed, but do not grasp” (NJPS), in that most of the people to whom he will be prophesying will not understand the message. Yeshua applies this same passage to Himself and His ministry. Most of the people to whom He will be teaching and communicating are not going to understand. This is why they cannot understand the simplistic, yet profound meanings of His parables. This is how serious each one of us has to seek out Yeshua and truly press into God for salvation and deliverance. Sometimes we have to put our human minds aside, so we can let God be God and teach us lessons that affect our relationship with Him.
Yeshua then proceeds to describe the meaning of His parable, telling His Disciples,
“To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that SEEING THEY MAY NOT SEE, AND HEARING THEY MAY NOT UNDERSTAND [Isaiah 6:9-10]. Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance” (Luke 8:10-15).
This has largely been interpreted as representing how the good news or gospel message is received and then enacted in the lives of those who hear it. There are those who hear the message, but Satan takes it away from them before anything is able to be accomplished, as the seed falls by the road and then gets swept away. These people are unable to be saved. There are those who are like rocky soil, in whom a plant is able to sprout, but it has no stable root. Because of the lack of any foundation the person falls away from the faith when the temptations of the world come. The third group is those who grow up among thorns, and the thorns, representing the riches and pleasures of the world, choke them out, thus prohibiting them from becoming mature Believers. The fourth are those who grow properly and sprout much fruit. This comes by perseverance, and by always having the “proper soil,” representative of humble, contrite, and sincere people who are truly seeking after God.
This view of Yeshua’s parable of the sower has absolute merit, and it is important for us to understand it as Believers who have received the Messiah into our lives, and have received salvation. Some of us may have been, or are involved, in evangelism, and we have no doubt encountered these reactions to the gospel message, and have sadly seen people that we know fall away from the faith, or at the very least have a massively ineffective spiritual walk. Every day, we as individuals must go before our Heavenly Father, and pray that the good news that we accepted as truth one day in our lives perhaps years ago, fell on proper soil, and is continually growing and sprouting fruit. Part of being able to sprout fruit, is that as in any good garden, or field of produce, that we be continually cultivated. Spiritually for us as Believers, this means that we are to pray, ask the Lord to convict us of areas of our lives that need to change, and show us new things from His Word that can make us more effective for the work or service that He has for us.
The Parable of the Sower: The Seed as God’s Torah
Having just analyzed Yeshua’s parable of the sower from the customary evangelical Christian view, is there anything more that Yeshua’s words tell us? Of course there is. The Apostle Paul writes, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33). The Word of God is so deep, yet so direct, there are additional elements to the Messiah’s words that can directly apply to us as Messianic Believers, and what we see taking place in much of our faith community. Consider Yeshua’s explanation, “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). He explains that the seed that is cast upon the four types of soil is the Word.
From a Messianic viewpoint, we know that the Word of God is foremost representative of God’s Torah. One of the most common Messianic prophecies that relates to the coming Messianic Kingdom, Isaiah 2:3, equates the Torah and the Word of God: “And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’ For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” The Torah is the Word of God in that it forms the foundation of the rest of Scripture. It details the history and heritage of Ancient Israel, and its commandments specify what the Lord considers acceptable and unacceptable behavior. As “seed,” if you will, it is to be implanted in the hearts and minds of followers of the God of Israel, and should steadily grow within us as we learn to obey our Heavenly Father. It grows as we learn how to live more and more like our Messiah Yeshua. With this in mind, consider Yeshua’s following words:
“And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, ‘Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear’” (Matthew 13:3-9).
Just as the good news or gospel message is sown among many kinds of people, and many different reactions take place, can the same be true when various types of Believers hear about the message of Torah validity? When conservative, evangelical Christians, who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and believe that we should all be living like Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), are presented with the message that He upheld the Torah or Law of Moses, that it was not abolished by His atoning work on the cross, that the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council facilitated the early non-Jewish Believers being attached to a community where Moses’ Teaching was communicated every week, and that Paul in his writings does not counter its validity but rather clarifies its appropriate usage in the assembly—how do these people react? Do we not see varied reactions, some positive and some negative? Do not some people receive the message with enthusiasm, and some want nothing to do with it? What might Yeshua tell us in this regard?
Read Yeshua’s explanation for how the Word of God is sown into the lives of people, and then how the people respond to it. Read the verses below with the vantage point of God’s Word being the Torah, and how various types of people integrate it, or fail to integrate it, into their walk of faith:
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matthew 13:18-23).
You have no doubt encountered people, or perhaps this may even apply to yourself, who respond differently to the role that the Torah, or Law of God, plays in their lives. Some eagerly want to obey the Lord, and some do not. Some want to obey the Lord, but do not know how to do it. Some have appropriate attitudes, and some are in disobedience.
What are some of the different reactions we encounter?
How do people respond to the message of Torah validity?
If we can legitimately apply the words of Yeshua in His parable of the sower to the message of Torah validity being implanted in Believers, what are the varied responses that people have? Of the three different accounts of this parable, Mark’s is probably the most thorough, providing us with the most details. Let us re-read Yeshua’s parable with the understanding that “the Word” being sown is the message of Torah validity, and then critique the diverse responses to this occurring:
“He began to teach again by the sea. And such a very large crowd gathered to Him that He got into a boat in the sea and sat down; and the whole crowd was by the sea on the land. And He was teaching them many things in parables, and was saying to them in His teaching, ‘Listen to this! Behold, the sower went out to sow; as he was sowing, some seed fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. Other seeds fell into the good soil, and as they grew up and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.’ And He was saying, ‘He who has ears to hear, let him hear’” (Mark 4:1-9).
What does Yeshua tell us here?
Some seed falls beside the road, and birds eat it up. Birds can be representative in Scripture of demonic forces, as the Book of Revelation describes the city Babylon as having “every unclean and hateful bird” (18:2). The forces of the Adversary can prevent the Word of God, or the Torah, from ever convicting a person of His truth.
Some seed falls on rocky ground, where there is not much soil, or the ability for growth. While the seed immediately sprouts, it is unable to gain a firm rooting, and the sun is able to immediately scorch it, or burn it up. This is because the plant is unable to gain liquid nutrients from the water that is in the soil. Yeshua says in John 3:5, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Water is representative of the immersion that we are to undergo when we first become Believers. This water immersion is an outward physical declaration of an internal spiritual change that is to take place. While in this case a plant immediately sprouts, its growth may be described as somewhat artificial, because there has not been any true spiritual transformation for it to gain nutrients from to enable maturation.
Some seed falls among thorns, in a part of the field that is surrounded by those things that will purposefully choke the plant when it grows. Proverbs 22:5 says, “Thorns and snares are in the way of the perverse; he who guards himself will be far from them.” The thorns represent the types of people or environment that this seed falls into. While a plant immediately begins to grow, the environment begins to choke it out, prohibiting it from yielding any fruit. The Scriptures admonish the redeemed to separate themselves from environments which will prohibit us from functioning in our spiritual calling. The Apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” Unless we are in fellowship with those who are truly helping us spiritually, we will not grow.
Some seed actually falls upon the right kind of soil. This kind of soil has been well-prepared by the Lord, and when the seed falls, it falls at the right time and immediately a plant begins to grow. This plant is able to yield much fruit because it is in the proper environment and is receiving the appropriate nutrients.
But how does this apply to how various types of people receive the message of Torah validity? Consider the following.
As some seed is cast on the side of the road, not even falling on any kind of soil, being devoured up by birds, likewise the enemy is able to prevent certain people from even hearing the message. Before these people even hear the message of the Torah being valid instruction for Believers today, they cannot hear it. This may be because of a spiritual blindness, the inability to see things, or perhaps even spiritual rebellion to God in their hearts. Regardless of the specific circumstances, as birds can be representative of demonic forces in the Scriptures, the Adversary is directly at work in these people from hearing the truth. Yeshua confirms this by saying, “These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them” (Mark 4:15).
As some seed is cast on rocky soil, and sprouts a plant with the inability to obtain nutrients from the soil, so do many people receive the message of Torah validity. The inability to obtain nutrients from the soil, i.e., receive and/or apply proper spiritual instruction from the Lord, and be led by the Holy Spirit, can occur as a result of a person thinking that he or she is a Believer, when in actuality the person is not truly saved. As it relates to the message of Torah validity, these can be the people who appear to be growing, but have no root in Messiah Yeshua, and they may not know it. These people have no root in the Root, who is Messiah Yeshua. The Prophet Isaiah makes a direct reference to the Messiah being the root, declaring, “For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him” (Isaiah 53:2). These are the people who are easily scorched as the sun would burn a plant that is incapable of receiving liquid nutrients from the soil. These are the people who easily fall away from the faith when presented with teachings that deride the Divinity and Messiahship of Yeshua. These are the people who are more concerned with the Torah itself, and perhaps become enamored with some of the extremes of Jewish tradition, as opposed to truly living forth God’s Torah by His Spirit, as the Holy Spirit is to convict us and enable us to live like Yeshua. The Lord says, “In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away” (Mark 4:16-17). When these people receive persecution because of their belief in the Messiah, these are the ones who later deny Him, because they are unable to partake of the spiritual nutrients that He, as the Root, provides. Sadly, this includes many Jewish people who have claimed to believe in Messiah Yeshua, but later revert back to a Messiah-less Judaism.
As some seed is cast upon soil that has thorns in it, and a plant grows up surrounded by thorns, so can many people receive the message of Torah validity surrounded by influences that are impeding this growth and later cause the plant to die. Specifically, these types of people are those who accept the Torah as being valid instruction for Believers today, but they have difficulty integrating it into their lives. They have difficulty honoring Shabbat, the appointed times, the dietary laws, and all of the other things that make our lives distinctly “Messianic.” These people have difficulty separating themselves from much of the culture of contemporary Christianity, and do not realize that they cannot stay in the Church forever. These people try to control their “Torah observance,” as opposed to being led by the Spirit of God in His timing, and often give into peer pressure which is to do anything but obey the Lord. These people may think that it is cool to “look Jewish” for a season, but their time in the Messianic movement is exactly that: seasonal. It includes many people who look to the Messianic movement for enrichment of their Christianity, but not for a full-time lifestyle. Yeshua says, “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:18-19).
The last seed is cast on the right kind of soil, that has been plowed and prepared by the Lord to receive the message. This represents those people who have been prepared well in advance by our Heavenly Father to hear that the Torah is still to be followed as valid instruction for Believers today. How this happens is entirely up to Him, and those of us who are Messianic Bible teachers when presenting the message, often do not know this. This type of tilling of spiritual soil can occur through any number of circumstances in a person’s life, but regardless of these circumstances the person is hungering and thirsting after righteousness, wants as much of God as possible, and knows that obedience to God is paramount to a proper walk of faith. The author of Hebrews writes, “For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God” (Hebrews 6:7). This person has been prepared by the Father to receive the message, has been born again, and when the seed is sown a plant grows that is able to yield much fruit. They are the ones who are convicted from the pages of the Bible to change, and who have a steady prayer life where they ask the Lord to convict them of areas of their lives that need to change. When the Holy Spirit reveals to them that the Torah is to be followed, so that they can live like Yeshua, great and exciting changes begin to take place. Yeshua says of these people, “But those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it, and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold” (Mark 4:8). These people are able to receive the true blessings of the Lord, as He honors them for their obedience.
Yeshua’s parable of the sower truly has much to tell us about Torah observance, and how this message is received by varying groups of people.
How should we sow the message?
The parable of the sower has some critical lessons to teach us as Messianic Believers about the reactions that different people have to the message that the God’s Torah should still be followed today. Although this vignette of Scripture is customarily interpreted as relating to how people receive the gospel message, a critical part of the good news is living like Yeshua the Messiah, and obeying the Father’s commandments. The parable of the sower, while teaching us the reactions of people to the gospel, also teaches us how people react to the message of Torah validity. We see people who reject and accept the message of Torah validity the same as we see people reject or accept the salvation available in Messiah.
However, is the responsibility solely on the hearer? Is the person who rejects, or accepts, the message of Torah validity the only one who is going to be held responsible, for the better or worse, by God? Is there a responsibility placed upon the sower, just as there is a responsibility upon the person who has seed sown on him?
James the Just, the brother of Yeshua, issues the warning, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment” (James 3:1). As Bible teachers, we are going to be judged by the Lord, and whether that is a good or bad judgment is ultimately up to us. We are servants of our Heavenly Father, and must let Him function through us. The Word says, “Behold, God is exalted in His power; who is a teacher like Him?” (Job 36:22). We have to let the Lord be the Teacher through us, otherwise we can lead people astray. There is a responsibility upon the sower, every bit as much as the person who has the seed sown upon them.
Put yourself back into the agrarian First Century setting of Israel to which Yeshua directed this parable. Those who wanted to eat wheat or barley, for example, had to plow their fields, and then manually sow seed into their fields. There was no doubt a specialized technique used by farmers of First Century Galilee, which is extremely rocky terrain even until this day, to get the most out of the seed and the land upon which the seed was sown. Without a doubt, much of the seed cast upon the ground by farmers was wasted due to the large number of rocks. Nevertheless, there was probably a special way that the sowers would take the seed from their pouches and spread it on the dirt. This was long before the days of the advanced, mechanized farming equipment that we enjoy today, that will plant individual seeds into the ground and cover it up with dirt in virtually seconds compared to the hard manual labor of First Century Israel. To plant seed was difficult work, and required coordination.
How does this relate to those who plant the Word of God into the hearts of people? As Messianic Bible teachers, how does it relate to those of us who are trying to teach or convey the value of God’s Torah to others?
There is a huge responsibility that is upon us, and learning how to sow the seed so that it can bear much fruit is every bit as much of a challenge as is how those who hear respond to the message. Just as James says that teachers receive a strict judgment, he also writes, “Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic” (James 3:12-15). We have to demonstrate Divine wisdom and understanding that is from God to those who hear us. The fruit of those who hear us, and who truly heed the message, must be positive and lead others into a greater understanding both of God’s Word and in knowing God more intimately themselves. How much of this is truly understood by teachers in the Messianic community today? How many of them consciously realize that as “sowers of seed,” people are looking at them and emulating them?
There are Messianic Bible teachers who do not know how to properly sow the seed of the Word of God. Rather than speaking the words of life into people, allowing the Holy Spirit to do the convicting, they use sensationalistic tactics that are condemning. Their words focus on themselves rather than on the atoning work of the Messiah, and why we must live like Him. Their words do more to take people away from Yeshua than lead people to Him. We must endeavor to do better, and demonstrate Yeshua to others through our Torah obedience.
In His comments on seed being sown into the fields, Yeshua attests to the fact that there will be tares also cast into the same fields:
“Yeshua presented another parable to them, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?” And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn”’” (Matthew 13:24-30).
These tares look almost exactly the same as wheat, but they are not. People are allowed to enter into the field unaware and sow tares into the same field as the wheat. The wheat and the tares grow together until harvest time when the tares are gathered up by the owner of the field and burned. This represents the Kingdom of God and those who have already sown the field as wheat grows up. However, other people, servants of the Adversary, sneak in unaware and sow things that cause tares to grow up. Obviously, if we are to be as the wheat, we must stay away from such tares. But ultimately, the separation of the wheat and the tares goes to God and to Him alone. He determines who enters into His Kingdom and who does not.
Perhaps what is disturbing is that today we are seeing varying reactions in the Messianic community to the message of the Torah. There will always be those who accept it with enthusiasm, and truly grow spiritually being led by the Lord, and there will always be those who are encroached upon by peer pressure and fall away. What is most disturbing is those who grow and who have no root in Yeshua. These people fall away because they grow quickly without any root. These people fall away from the faith. Ultimately, the responsibility is up to them, but how many of them fall away because of how the seed was sown? How much responsibility falls upon the sower?
The Messianic community today is looking for proper direction. In the years to come, we are going to be much larger than we are right now. People from all over the theological, ideological, and indeed social spectrum are entering into our faith community, and be they Jewish or non-Jewish, they are entering into some lifestyle that adheres to Moses’ Teaching. We want this manner of living to be abundant, bountiful, and above all Messiah-focused. We do not want it to lead people doubting who the Messiah is and His atoning work for us on the cross. Those of us who sow seed into the lives of people need to be sowing good seed from the Scriptures, that is going to result in plants growing that yield much fruit. We do this by being positive, uplifting, loving, Scripturally-focused, and above all demonstrating through our lives that the message of Torah restoration has made us more like Yeshua, not less. One of the reasons that we have people who leave the faith in our midst, or at least downplay Yeshua for a season, is that they had no root in Him when the seed was sown, or perhaps tares were sown. Either way, the responsibility may fall upon the person who sowed the Word every bit as much as the person who received it.
What might we be speaking about? I have heard many testimonies of people who have rejected the message of Torah restoration. While the specific reasons vary, the underlying constant is that they felt that this message brings people into legalistic bondage, forgetting the atoning work of the Messiah and God’s grace toward us, completely throws out the New Testament (Apostolic Writings) as inspired Scripture, and is spiritually condemning. Some have attested to being told by various Messianic people that as Christians they are total pagans and are not saved. These Christians said that they could not see the love, grace, and maturity of the Lord in these people and that the Holy Spirit showed them that something was wrong.
In all candor, I cannot blame these people for rejecting the Messianic message, if indeed it was presented in a negative and condemning way. Certainly, if you are insulted for insults’ sake, and people presenting the message cannot tell you what our Heavenly Father has done in your life by bringing you into a Messianic lifestyle, why should (any) Christians be interested in considering it? This is the legitimate question that Christians who are sincerely interested in Messianic things are asking. If you cannot demonstrate to them a lifestyle testimony of one who is more like Messiah Yeshua, and who truly has Divine wisdom, insight, and peace, why would people want to consider studying the Torah on a consistent basis? Proverbs 3:17-18, describing the Torah, says, “Her ways are pleasant ways and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.” Even though the seed of the Torah might be cast onto people who are sincerely interested, how many are casting it in a way so that it is rejected—perhaps for seemingly valid reasons?
The responsibility upon us as Messianic Believers is immense. This responsibility is multiplied even more so upon us as Messianic Bible teachers, to whom many look for answers. We have to be in the position to properly instruct our fellow Messianics, properly instruct new people to see that they are properly trained and discipled, and be able to properly talk to Christians who are asking honest questions about Messianic belief and practice. How many people are doing this properly? How many people are doing this so as to sow seed that will result in a plant that will bear much fruit? Sadly, there are not enough who are doing this right now, but they are coming. In the meantime, Yeshua tells us that if we cause anyone to go astray, “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble” (Luke 17:2).
The judgment upon us as sowers, as Bible teachers, is going to be dispensed. This judgment needs to be a positive one as we have stimulated positive change in others. Just as there were proper ways to sow seed in the days before mechanical farming equipment, so must we learn how to sow seed, and see that it is properly cast upon our eager brothers and sisters.