“… Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields! They are white and ready for harvest” (John 4:35 – TLV).
One of the most colorful—and perhaps confusing aspects of Scripture is the frequent use of idioms. Expressions with a deeper meaning that are not meant to be taken literally.
The main livelihood for many people living in ancient Judea and Samaria was agriculture. Most families grew their own crops or worked for someone who had a field. There were two grain harvests and one grape harvest that demanded hard labor from the workers. If they were poor, the workers were permitted to glean from the farmer’s field taking what was on the corners or what was left behind. Frequent references to fields, harvests, and seasons are richly woven into the fabric of the Bible.
However, when Yeshua spoke these words to His disciples from John 4:35 it wasn’t harvest season. He had just ministered to the Samarian women by the well and she immediately began to spread the news about this man of God—a message that quickly went viral as people began to show up to see for themselves what the woman proclaimed. When Yeshua looked out over the land, He was not referring to the wheat growing in the fields, but rather to all the people coming to see Him whose heads were draped in white as part of their traditional work garments. As the growing crowd came toward Him dressed in white, He saw a vast and verdant field of souls that were ripe and ready to be harvested. He saw the opportunity to save.