In Matthew 9 we read: “35 Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Jesus calls on His disciples to ask God for help in reaching those in need. This does not suggest, however, that they had no responsibility to go to work for the harvest themselves. We see this later when Jesus charges the disciples with going into all the world to make disciples.
In the book of Judges we see a kind of parallel when Israel is under threat from Jabin king of Canaan. The Judge Deborah calls for Israel to resist. The result is a response from Zebulun and Naphtali. The people of God are triumphant, but only two tribes met the challenge. In chapter 5, “The Song of Deborah,” we see that the failure of the others to help was a flaw not in the leadership of Deborah and Barak, but of themselves:
“15b In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart. 16 Why did you stay among the sheep pens to hear the whistling for the flocks? In the districts of Reuben there was much searching of heart. 7 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan. And Dan, why did he linger by the ships? Asher remained on the coast and stayed in his coves. 18 The people of Zebulun risked their very lives; so did Naphtali on the terraced fields.”
It is interesting that there seems to be a self-serving by Reuben, Asher, the people of Gilead, and Dan. Their lands were not directly at risk, and they seemed to have no drive to aid their brethern. What goes around, comes around so they say, for later with the arrival of the Philistines (and others) they are picked off one by one [Reuben by Moab in 1315 BC, Asher by Hazor in 1277 BC, Gilead by Midian in 1217 BC, and Dan by the Philistines in 1122 BC].
As the work of the Lord beckons, let us not leave the work to others, for who knows when we may be the one’s in need of assistance?