Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it again

FROM ancient Egypt there has come down to us a tale and a maxim which still carries an important truth.

Once a year the river Nile overflowed its banks and the land along the river’s banks became marshes. The farmer on a skiff canoe was to use that occasion for planting rice seeds.

Across the waters the farmer cast his seeds in the rich alluvial soil. Then the river would subside and under the life giving influence of the equatorial sun the rice flourished and grew.

At harvest time the farmer gathered in what would provide for him and his family for another year. That farming process gave rise to the maxim which we have taken as our text:

Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again - Ecclesiastes 11 verse 1.

Within that text and the farming activity upon which it is based there is a double process at work. There was a generous scattering of something precious and this produced a handsome ingathering. Both these disiplines depended upon each other. Where there had been a niggardly sowing then a limited harvest resulted.

But where there had been a generous scattering of what was precious, the reaping was correspondingly abundant.

The Generous Scattering - The basic truth of the Christian Gospel is that God dealt generously with sinful humanity. He sent His Son. There was a Cross in the heart of God long before there was a Cross on Calvary’s hill. God cast upon the waters His most precious seed. The ransomed Church of God will represent that subsequent harvest.

Christian service demands a willing sacrifice of what is precious. The Master’s symbol of His kingdom was this: “A sower went forth to so.”

There is no easy way to serve the cause of Christ. The servant must give and give again and never counting the cost. But the sacrifice is for the Master’s sake.

The Abundant Reaping - That which was sown didn’t die. It brought forth a generous harvest. This double principle of scattering and gathering is easily illustrated from the history of the Early Church.

Historians contend that the spread of the Church during the first century was unbelievable wide and deep. Those who have numbered the graves with Christian symbols in the catacombs of Rome claim that about on third of every generation in the first century of the Christian era professed faith in Christ.