The Simple Gospel

God's Marvelous Gardening

Ralph E. Price

Each Spring we are privileged to witness the rejuvenation of those trees, flowers, and plants God created and made suitable for our particular region of His world. As the earth warms again, the thoughts of many return to the art of gardening. The first we read of gardening in the Bible is Genesis 2:8-10, "The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads." What a magnificent garden that must have been. Even this brief description paints for us a scene of bounty and conveys a sense of lush tranquillity. In addition to all of the trees which were pleasant to the eye and good for food, the tree of life, itself, was growing in God's garden. While we recognize the place described in Revelation 2:7 is not Eden, we can, perhaps, better appreciate Eden by this description... "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God." The place where the tree of life is found is described as paradise, so Eden must have been great.

However great Eden may have been, however, this author is convinced it does not represent God's greatest gardening efforts. Throughout the scriptures gardening metaphors are used to explain to us God's overall plan for mankind.

Isaiah 55:10-11 reads, "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." God here sets forth a fundamental idea in comparing the physical realm of His natural order with the spiritual realm over which He exerts equal control. The word which comes from God is just as effective in achieving its intended results as the rain is effective in its sphere of operation. The rain and snow are described by God's prophet, Isaiah, as "making" the earth produce its fruit. God's word, likewise, causes fruit to be produced according to His will.

Luke chronicled a parable spoken by the Lord Jesus in Luke 8:5-8; "'A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.' When He had said these things He cried, 'He who has ears to hear, let him hear!'" Jesus later explained this parable to His disciples in Luke 8:11-15; " Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience."

Certainly this parable is illustrative of the effectiveness of God's word. Even as a seed has the power in itself to produce fruit, so God's word produces fruit in the spiritual realm. This parable brings to light another aspect of gardening, though: the condition of the soil. The best of seeds cannot germinate, grow and produce "bread to the eater" if that seed meets with soil that is unsuitable for supporting growth. Just as soil needs to be prepared to receive seed, so do the hearts of men and women need preparation. Jesus said that it was "an honest and good heart" which enabled God's word to take root, grow and produce fruit. The scriptures speak of Rehoboam as doing evil "...because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord" (2 Chronicles 12:14). On the other hand, Ezra was described as having "...the good hand of his God upon him. For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel" (Ezra 7:9-10). Ezra was good soil. He had "an honest and good heart" because he prepared it to seek God's law. Further, when Ezra found God's law, he obeyed it and taught it. In Ezra's obedience, he, himself became fruit unto God. In Ezra's teaching of God's law he exemplifies, in the spiritual realm, the law God established in the beginning pertaining to seed and its self perpetuating nature. "Then God said, 'Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth'; and it was so" (Genesis 1:11).

The greatest "seeding" of the earth came when "...the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Jesus was the Word of God incarnate on the earth. He was both fruit, Himself, and a producer of fruit. In John 15:1-8, Jesus taught His disciples that He was the vine, they were the branches, and the Father was their Husbandman. In this context He explained they were made clean and enabled to bear fruit by the word (seed) abiding in them.

Later Jesus commanded these disciples to spread this same seed throughout the world. Mark 16:15-16, "And He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.'"

Another of Christ's disciples, the Apostle Paul, spread this seed to many in Corinth who believed it and let it take root in them such that they became fruit unto God. Afterward Paul addressed them as "...the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours" (1 Corinthians 1:2). Paul described labors among them as men planting and watering and God giving the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Finally, God's gardening makes a harvest. "Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain" (James 5:7). Praise His gardening!!

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