Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sowing and reaping

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Hosea 10:1-15


TO CHEW ON: "Sow for yourselves righteousness;
Reap in mercy;
Break up your fallow ground,
for it is time to seek the Lord
Till He comes and rains righteousness on you." - Hosea 10:12

Today's passage is full of the imagery of farming and nature.

Hosea 10:1 talks about how Israel has enjoyed good harvests of the vine. But they have spent it on themselves and on improving idol altars and poles.

Hosea 10:4 talks about their system of justice. It's faulty and as a result "...judgment springs up like hemlock in the furrows of the field." I see weeds sprouting in newly plowed fields. But these aren't just any weeds. These are hemlock — a deadly poison that destroys the land's fruitfulness.

Hosea 10:7-8 talks about how Samaria will become desolate. Her king will be "cut off like a twig on the water" (a severed tree branch floating downriver?). Her idol altars for worshiping idols at Aven will no longer be used but will become the home of thorns and thistles. ("Aven" is short for Beth Aven a play on the name Bethel. Beth Aven means "House of Iniquity." Bethel which means "House of God.")

Hosea 10:10-11 tells us that as a result of their sins, the Israelites will be punished by other nations ("Peoples shall be gathered against them / When I bind them for their two transgressions"). Instead of enjoying the fruit of their work in an independent way ("Ephraim is a trained heifer / that loves to thresh grain"), they will now be forced to do menial work. "Ephraim will pull a plow...Jacob shall break his clods."

In the middle of these gloomy predictions God begs them to again take up farming His way:

"Sow for yourselves righteousness;
Reap in mercy;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the Lord,"

It would result in His blessing of rain:

"Till He comes and rains
righteousness on you" - Hosea 10:12.

Instead of complying this is what they have done: "...plowed wickedness...reaped iniquity...eaten the fruit of lies / Because you trusted in your own way..." Hosea 10:13.

It all comes back to the old truism, for us as it did for them:

We reap what we sow.

This is true in nature and it's true spiritually. Let's ask ourselves:
  • What are we sowing personally — watching, reading, listening to, thinking and meditating about?
  • What are we sowing in our families — modeling for our kids and grand-kids, saying with our words and attitudes, spending our money on?
  • What are we sowing in our communities, our churches, cities, the nation? How do we care for the poor? Is our justice system really just? I think about how much our governments depend on income streams from questionable sources like gambling. This can't be a good thing, can it?

PRAYER: Dear God, it's easy to shrug off warnings like we have in Hosea as applicable to people in a different time and place. Help me to take these personally and do what I can about sowing good things in my life, my family's life, my community. Help me to remember to pray for my country and other big areas where I feel like I have little influence. Amen.

MORE: "Someday we will be amazed"
"We never know what God might be growing in the fields of obscurity we are tending. What might God do through the child whose diaper you’re changing, or the grandchild of the boy in your Sunday school class, or the bored teen in your small church, or the coworker who currently mocks your faith in Jesus, or the hardened inmate who looks impossible to reach? We can be confident of this: he is doing more than we can see. He always is. Someday we will be amazed." - Excerpt from a Bethlehem Baptist Church Newsletter "You Never Know What God is Growing"  by Jon Bloom, December 2007. Read entire...   © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org 


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