The Strategic View of the Parable of the Soil


11"This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. 12Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. 15But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop (Luke 8:4-15).


What I love about God's Word is that there is often more than one way to interpret it. Often, Jesus spoke on two levels, for example, on the cellular level and the organism level. While we should receive it at the cellular level, we can also look at it from a strategic sowing and harvesting level of an area, state, or country. We have been commanded by our Lord to preach the Gospel to the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and the end will not come until the job has been done (Matthew 24:14). People resources and financial resources should not be spent on trying to raise a harvest on pathway soil, ground that will bring little return on the investment. Strategic thinking is required to find suitable soil for our resources.

Any good farmer will test the pH level of the soil to find out if it will grow what he wishes to plant. Let me illustrate what I mean. When I worked as a commercial fisherman with my father, we wouldn’t go hunting in the summer for the small fish called sprats. There were only certain times of the year that the sprats would school together in huge numbers. It was not strategic or pragmatic to put sprat nets on our gear and try to catch them. The times and the seasons determined the kind of investment to catch the fish. C. Peter Wagner uses the illustration of an apple farm:

“Suppose I have an apple farm with three fields. In the first field, the apples are so ripe that one worker can reap five bushels in one hour. In the second field, only a few have ripened, and it would take five hours just to reap one bushel. In the third are no ripe apples at all. I have 30 workers to send out to pick apples. Where to send them is not a difficult decision. I would not send all 30 into the first field where the apples are ripe, but I would send 29. I would ask the other worker to go into the second field and pick as many apples as possible, but frequently to travel over to the third field as well. When this worker returns, I do not expect to see a great number of apples. In this case, I am more interested in information than apples. Through this person I will know when the other apples ripen, and on that basis redeploy my workforce. The harvest determines the quantity of workers employed.”[1]


Timing and location are essential in bringing in the harvest. Countries and regions go through seasons of fruitfulness. Don't misunderstand me. There are people in all countries ready to receive the Word of God and come to Christ, but revivals are often due to something God is doing in a region or country. The church needs to look strategically as to where God is working, which fields are ripe. Let me give you an example. Argentina was hard pathway soil that was trusting in its leadership council in the early 1980s. All that changed when the military leadership sent an invasion force to capture the Malvinas Islands or the Falkland Islands from the British. Maggie Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, deployed the British troops down to the South Atlantic, and after several battles, recaptured the Falklands with the loss of many lives.


The Argentine national pride was humbled, and with it, a loss of trust in their leaders. God said, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land...” (2 Chronicles 7:14). The humbling of the Argentine people was used by the Lord to turn hard pathway soil into good, rich growing soil. A massive turning to Evangelical Christianity and an enormous revival took place. Political situations are used by the Lord to create conditions of ripening of the soil. God is working by His Spirit everywhere, and history shows us vast moves of the Spirit at different times and places, changing the spiritual climate of those countries.

For the most part here in the United States, our soil condition is one of the weeds. Fruitfulness is in the soil, but the weeds choke the plant's growth. Our adversary, the devil, pushes hard to transform the culture into one of deception and evil, but I sense that God, out of His mercy, will not allow our complacency to continue! I believe that there will be conditions, situations, and events that will turn the spiritual tide for these United States to create the right conditions for a massive harvest among people today, especially in our youth. Let us humble ourselves and return to the Lord. Keith Thomas.

Taken from the in-depth Luke study # 16, The Parable of the Soil.

[1] Strategies for Church Growth, C. Peter Wagner, Published by Regal Books. Page 65.