by Jarrod Jacobs
“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jeremiah 8:20 KJV). In context, these words were spoken by people desperate for someone to deliver them from the consequences of their decisions. Some Bible versions even use phrases like “we have not been delivered,” “rescued,” and “we have not been helped” in place of the word “saved” used in the KJV. It seems people had recognized God’s power to help them (Jeremiah 8:14) but understood it was too late now (Jeremiah 8:15). Now, these people, God’s people, realize they had run out of chances. “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” What a tragedy!
I suppose there are no sadder words in the English language than “no hope.” They are used by Paul in Ephesians 2:12 when he describes the spiritual state of people who are outside of Christ. This is the way these people in Jeremiah’s day were! Though they were God’s children, they continued to reject God through idolatry (Jeremiah 8:2). They “hold fast deceit, they refuse to return” was another charge against the people (Jeremiah 8:5). In addition to these, we read of their stubbornness when they rejected “the old paths” in Jeremiah 6:16!
I understand that God extends a time of patience to allow people to see the error of their ways and repent (II Peter 3:9; Romans 2:4). God extended such patience to the Canaanites (Genesis 15:16). He did this with the Egyptians, allowing them not only 430 years to correct their error and adding ten more plagues as a means of giving the Pharaoh every last chance to free the Israelites. We have seen God’s longsuffering in other areas of life, and it was evident when He dealt with the Israelites during these years of the divided kingdom!
Yet, God’s long-suffering is not eternal. For example, there was a day when God shut the door to the ark, and none were allowed in (Genesis 7:16). Even in the parable of the ten virgins, the door was shut after a period of time, and five virgins remained outside of the wedding feast (Matthew 25:10). In Jeremiah 8, we see the people lament because summer is over and the harvest is past. In other words, it is too late now!
When we look in the New Testament, the urgency to become a Christian is apparent. After urging people to “save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2:40), Acts 2:41 says about 3000 were baptized when they gladly received the word. The language here leaves us with the understanding that they were baptized right then. They did not put it off. Again, when the Philippian jailor wanted to be saved, he was taken “straightway … the same hour of the night” to do it (Acts 16:25, 33-34). The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians and told them, “now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2). The Hebrew writer also emphasized taking immediate action when he wrote, “today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 3:7-8, 15).
Procrastination has no place in the Lord’s plan of salvation. We have no lease on life and know not what might happen in our future (Proverbs 27:1). Thus we need to take advantage of the “here and now” before it is gone. The Israelites learned the hard way what it means when the “harvest is past.” Don’t you make that mistake! Be saved today while you still can (Acts 22:16). If you need to repent and return to your Lord, your first love, then do it while the breath is in your body. You don’t know when your life’s “summer” will be ended!