21 This is what the Lord All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: “Go and offer as many burnt offerings and sacrifices as you want. Eat the meat of those sacrifices yourselves. 22 I brought your ancestors out of Egypt. I spoke to them, but I did not give them any commands about burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 I only gave them this command: ‘Obey me and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do all that I command, and good things will happen to you.’ Jeremiah 7:21-23 (Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
Book of Joshua
The Lord spoke to Joshua, as it is written in the first chapter. His word was confirmed as the spies went into Jericho, heard the people there were weakened by fear because of reports of destruction of kingdoms Og and Bashan as well as their crossing of the sea at Egypt. The Lord also reiterated 3 times to Joshua to be strong and of good courage. In these affairs, the works of God followed a pattern by which we also may discern whether our works are of our own making, or are the work of God.
Consider the call of Moses, how it begins with hearing God speak instructions after getting his attention.
Or Noah, hearing instructions on how do build an ark.
Or Saul, hearing instructions to go to Damascus after being struck blind.
Or the disciples, given instructions to wait in Jerusalem in the upper room until the appearance of the Holy Spirit.
Or Gideon, who was intimidated by the instructions much like Moses, but sufficiently clear to cause him to fear.
Or, being instructed to call Elizabeth’s child to be the coming John.
The pattern with all these is initial uncertainty in those receiving the instructions.
If we begin to employ our reasoning, faith dies and we arise to face situations different than what we would encounter had we followed those instructions.
A Case in Point
1988; The Lord took about a minute to speak instructions to me regarding employees who would work for me over the coming decades and plant fields with clover and grass at 10% each year until 30% would be idle at any given time, resting and being restored for greater productivity. He told me to build an altar with quarry rock, not rolled river stones. He said I would remember that day the rest of my life as if it had just happened, unlike other memories, being a sign that it was not my own internal thoughts, but was Him.
I wish now that my heart would have been like that of Abraham, or Mary, or David: Quick to respond, open to suggestion, trusting the One who was speaking.
Instead, I was slow. Months passed before constructing the altar. Over the years, I did pray for employees, but not with diligence. And I reasoned that if 30% of the land being farmed were taken out of production, there would not have been enough acreage to plant the contracted crops I had with the cannery. And in order to allow the clover and grass to have the full effect to soil building, it would leave a load of seed behind which would interfere with the crops being grown there once the three years elapsed while in clover and grass. Reasoning, reasoning, reasoning.
I am not stupid. But I am ignorant.
The story goes that the first year I let the first 10% of the land just go idle, planting nothing. Just tilling the soil to keep the weeds from growing. I knew about giving the land its rest every 7 years, right?
The next year, I decided to plant cereal rye, because it produces an abundance of compostable humus, and the seed all sprouts in the winter leaving no long-term “weed” like issues. Reasoning again. Still, only 10% is set aside, and there is enough land to grow all the contracted crops.
The third year after receiving instructions, 1991, I began tilling and planting in the idled soil where it had been getting a rest. There was a definite improvement in the soil structure, easier to till, more productive, easier to harvest the crop, and a little darker in appearance. Looking good, I thought.
So, for several more years, I left some ground out of production, always looking forward to the season that plot would again be available for sowing seeds. Here is where things get interesting, but I will have to provide some history:
In a cannery coop such as ours, all members contribute capital for its ongoing business. Over the decades, my contribution totaled $130,000. If you sold a contract to another grower, your contributions resulted in being over-invested and you would receive a refund, which had occurred for me in 1985 when I sold a carrot contract, receiving 30,000 for the contract sale and 15,000 for being over-invested. Now in 1988 when I received the message from the Lord to idle 30% of the land, I would have had to sell additional contracts because there would not have been enough land to grow the crops. Thus, I could have had proceeds from the contract sale itself as well as over investment funds coming from the cannery. From these extra funds, I could have paid down some debt, saving interest expense as well. At the time from 1987-1990, the cannery was seeing its best profit years in its 100-year history, so there were funds available to pay over-invested growers immediately.
BUT, because I did not follow the Lord’s instructions, following my own reasoning, contracts were not sold, I did not idle more than 20% of the land in any given year and instead bought back my carrot contract because the cannery was paying more than ever before.
Had I sold my 100 acre corn contract: 10,000 + 10,000 = $20,000
Had I sold my 30 acre bean contract : 40,000 + 30,000 = $70,000
Had I Not repurchased the carrot contract: 10,000 + recapture investment or 10,000 = $20,000
Had I sold the 45 acre beet contract: 15,000 + 25,000 = $40,000
So, if I had left the cannery completely, I would have been debt free and not paid another dime of interest which was about 12% at that time.
Instead, by 1994, the cannery entered bankruptcy proceedings, our crops were not being paid for. The contracts were worthless and we lost all capital contributions. Four years before I could have sold and received $150,000.
Now, 30 years later after the 1988 instructions, I am finally debt free. In those past 30 years, I was under extra stress, always in debt, rarely bought any needed equipment, could not take advantage of some investment opportunities, and remember my wife trying to get me to change some things so we could be profitable. It was hard on the kids, hard on my wife, and challenging for me. I was blessed by the Lord in my spirit, but certainly not in my labors.