The cities into which the Seventy were sent, represent the harvest fields for the Kingdom of God. The harvest belongs to the Lord of the harvest (Luke 10:2), who seems to be Jesus, who sends out the Seventy to preach the Gospel. However, Jesus claimed the harvest was great and would overburden the few laborers that were sent. Therefore, Jesus told the Seventy to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send in more laborers (Luke 10:2). This is a surprise! Why are there so few laborers? Hadn’t Jesus, the Lord of the harvest, understood the extent of the harvest when he called for laborers to go into the fields?
The interesting thing about praying is that it shows one already has a heart for what one prays for! The folks in Luke 9:57-62 didn’t seem to have a heart for the work of God, so they couldn’t be used. Nevertheless, he that prays already has what Jesus is looking for, and may very well be the one who is sent. Moreover, Luke 9:57-62 may very well represent a discussion that took place along the way, and that discussion culminated in Jesus appointing the Seventy. Some volunteered but didn’t count the cost, while Jesus called others who were afraid to go.
The seriousness of the appointment of the Seventy is seen in Deuteronomy 1:21, 26. There Moses sent twelve spies into the Promised Land to bring back a report, but when the report was brought back, the people were afraid to enter. Jesus sent out the Seventy in order to harvest or gain ground for the Kingdom of God, but Luke at least implies there were others, perhaps many, who were with Jesus who were afraid to go in.
Under the Mosaic Covenant, God had appointed an entire tribe of the nation of Israel (the tribe of Levi) to educate their brethren, the other eleven tribes. It was Levi’s responsibility to teach everyone else the word of God. This was the ideal, but the priesthood had become corrupt (Ezekiel 34:2-6) even to the point of exploiting the nation for private gain (Isaiah 56:9-12). Thus, those who were originally appointed to tend the fields for the Lord, refused to enter into his harvest. Rather, they looked to take the harvest for themselves.
Luke tells us that Jesus sent out the Seventy as lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3)! Yet, there doesn’t seem to be a warning of danger, as far as their lives are concerned. Rather, we have the sense that Jesus’ disciples were protected from harm throughout his public ministry (John 10:27-28; 17:12; cf. Revelation 12:14). The wolves into whose midst the disciples / lambs were sent are the corrupt authorities, who have continually rebelled against God throughout Israel’s history (Zephaniah 3:3). The disciples were neither to fear their words nor their hateful glares (Ezekiel 2:3-6).
The harvest of Luke 10:2 can be compared to April 15th in America, or paying the bills at the end of the month, or finals in college. All federal taxes come due on the 15th of April each year. If they are not paid by that date, penalties would result. Similarly, if one didn’t prepare for the final exams in college, one would fail to reap the benefit of one’s studies. It would all be wasted. Likewise the harvest, there is a deadline whereby the fields need to be harvested. Otherwise, all will be lost. Bankruptcy could result in not tending to the harvest. There is an urgency in Jesus’ command to the Seventy.
Jesus seems to be pointing to the fact that the Jews would eventually be judged, and after that time there would be no harvest to reap. The season would be over, and only gleaning what was left behind could be gained.