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Break Up Your Fallow Ground

Hosea prophesied a message of impending judgment during the decline of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  When Hosea began his work, Israel was experiencing a time of prosperity under King Jeroboam II (2Ki. 14:23-29).  Unfortunately, Israel did not handle prosperity well, and they forgot God just as Moses had warned that they would (Deut. 8:10-20).  Hosea warned Israel about their faithlessness and idolatry in terms of spiritual adultery against God (Hos. 2:2-13).  Hosea’s work in Israel, like Jeremiah’s work in Judah, was a final attempt to turn God’s people back to Him and avoid severe punishment.

In the midst of Hosea’s prophecy of judgment is this message of hopeful instruction: "Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD until He comes to rain righteousness on you” (Hos. 10:12).  Israel had plowed wickedness, reaped injustice, and eaten the fruit of lies (Hos. 10:13), but a reversal of this course could have saved them from their fearful fate.  Hosea tried to convince Israel to change their ways, but ultimately it was to no avail, and the sad ending of the Northern Kingdom is recorded in 2Kings 17:5-23.

Presently, let us consider for ourselves applications of the hopeful message that Israel rejected in Hosea 10:12.  Each part of this message is a step toward the noble goal of having God to "rain righteousness” on us.

Sow with a view to righteousness – Whether we realize it or not, we are all sowing seeds for a future harvest.  Those who "sow  with a view to righteousness” can expect for God to "rain righteousness” on them at harvest time.  To have "a view to righteousness,” we must make righteousness our goal, just as the Lord said, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness…” (Matt. 6:33).  Let us look for righteousness and pursue it, and He assures us that we may succeed.

Reap in accordance with kindness – God assures those who seek His righteousness of a harvest of His kind blessings.  We "reap in accordance with kindness”  in a temporal way when God provides the necessities of life for those who seek first His righteousness (Matt. 6:33).  Moreover, we "reap in accordance with kindness” in a spiritual way when God provides eternal life for those who have faith in Christ.  This spiritual principle of sowing and reaping is stated in Galatians 6:8 – "For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the spirit will from the spirit reap eternal life.”

Break up your fallow ground – Fallow ground is land that is compacted, hard, and unreceptive to seed.  The fallow ground of the spirit is the hardened heart that unreceptive to the seed of God’s word.  Any seed sown on such fallow hearts merely falls on the surface and never finds any root.  In order for the seed to get into our hearts and grow to a harvest of righteousness, we must break up our fallow ground and till the soil of our hardened hearts until they are tender and ready for God’s word.  We must make our hearts into that good soil that receives the seed of God’s word and bears fruit (Matt. 13:23).

It is time to seek the LORD – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us that "there is an appointed time for everything,” but it is always time to seek for God, His kingdom, and His righteousness (Matt. 6:33).  Most of us have wasted too much time in the pursuits of sin (1Pet. 4:1-3), and now is the time to change our priorities.  The urgency of our spiritual needs calls upon us to put God first immediately.  "Behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation’” (2Cor. 6:2).  Let us take the opportunity now while we have it, for we "do not know what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1).    "Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near” (Isa. 55:6).

These steps of Hosea’s instruction are not one-time events, but rather they are ways of life to be followed continually.  We must live by these principles "until He comes to rain righteousness” on us.  Therefore, if your heart has been closed to God and His word, then break up your fallow ground and let His word take root in your heart.  If you would reap in accordance with God’s kindness, then you must sow with a view to righteousness.  Seek the Lord now while He may be found, or else it may be too late and your harvest may be desolate.

Stacey E. Durham




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