You can hear the audio lesson at this link.
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus illustrates 4 different types of hearts that people have when it comes to the Word of God. While the Good soil is the one that we all want to be like, we have to understand the other soils and make adjustments so that we either stop being those soils or so that we do not become those soils.
The Rocky soil is a unique and sometimes hidden soil. The issue with this one is that the roots of faith are not deep enough to sustain it during hard or difficult times. Sometimes they are not deep enough to sustain it even in the face of POTENTIAL hard times. However, until those hard times come, it may not manifest itself.
Luke 8:13 ESV And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.
A.K.A. The “As long as it is easy.” soil
Israel faced this problem. When Moses was sent back to deliver Israel by God, Israel rejoiced. They saw the signs that God had given and praised and worshiped God. They were probably thinking “Pharaoh just has to let us go…these signs will convince him that God is God!” And, of course, Pharaoh, not only didn’t let them go, but made their work even harder. Rather than turning to God for support, they turned on God and complained. (Exodus 4:29-5:21)
Later, after crossing the Red Sea, Israel did another about face. At first they were rejoicing that God delivered them. Then that joy turned to complaining a few days later because they found water that was bitter and undrinkable. Now they were convinced they had been brought out there to die! (Exodus 14:31-15:4ff)
Many other examples can be seen in the next couple of years with manna, quail and other problems but the last straw was just before they were to go into the land of Canaan. (Read Number 13 and 14.) Here Israel was persuaded by the 10 spies that the land, which was flowing with milk and honey, would be a terrible land because the inhabitants were more powerful. And so, the congregation decided it was better to go back to Egypt and were ready to stone Moses. God, on the other hand, had had enough. Ten times the children of Israel had tested Him and He decided that they would NOT go into the promised land until that generation died off. They were to wander 40 years.
As you might imagine the people did not like that. They probably looked at the 40 years wandering on one hand and the giants in the land on the other hand and decided that fighting would be the easiest route to go. They presented themselves to Moses ready to do battle early the next morning and in spite of Moses’ warning that God was not with them, they still went to battle…and, of course, lost.
Israel shows us that Faith does exist which is allergic to conflict and problems. Unfortunately, God’s words and commands often bring conflicts. Mark’s account of the sower reads this way:
Mark 4:17 ESV And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.
Put another way: If it easy we believe, if it is difficult we leave.
What can be done?
This soils needs some special attention and help. It is important to realize that sometimes nothing CAN be done. Sometimes people fall away and they just will not listen. In cases like this, waiting and, in most cases, praying are about the best we can do as we wait until the prodigal comes to his senses. Other times, however, we need to pursue the fallen away brother. We need to look for the lost sheep or lost coin and do what we can to recover them.
Warnings can help!
A good warning ahead of the problem can be a good start. It can prepare us so we are not surprised when it happens. We need to let our fellow Christians know that Satan is not some little friendly guy in a red suit. He is like a roaring lion looking for his next meal. We are not fighting flesh and blood in this life but the spiritual forces of evil. To this end, we need to know that persecution and tribulation and trials/testings of our faith WILL come. Not might. Not maybe. WILL!
2 Timothy 3:12 ESV Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, (7) so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
James 1:2-4 ESV Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, (3) for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. (4) And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Not only do these trials prove our faith they IM-prove our faith. Our faith grows in the midst of these trials and…God’s name is glorified. While discipline and training are never pleasant (Hebrews 12:3-15), they are necessary components of becoming a productive and functional part of society…whether physically speaking or spiritually speaking.
How can we avoid being the Rocky Soil?
We need good deep roots. When you see a tree planted by the waters, you know that its roots are going to run deep. This is the image the first psalm provides and that tree is the person who delights in God’s word.
Psalms 1:1-3 ESV Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; (2) but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (3) He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
We also need to put on the armor of God. This armor will help us in the inevitable battles we face.
Ephesians 6:10-13 ESV Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. (11) Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (12) For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (13) Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.
Perhaps with the proper training and warnings, the rocky soil will change into the good soil. However, it is important that we do realize that we all have rocks to trip over and we should never consider ourselves above stumbling.
Galatians 6:1 ESV Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
What other characteristics do you notice in the rocky soil? Again, you can listen to the 30 minute sermon here.