Plow the Fallow Ground
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to chapter 10 of the book of Hosea. We will read the entire chapter, that we might have all of the facts fixed firmly in our minds before we attempt to think about it. We read from verse 1:

Hosea 10

1Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.
2Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images.
3For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the LORD; what then should a king do to us?
4They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.
5The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it.
6It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel.
7As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water.
8The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us.
9O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them.
10It is in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows.
11And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods.
12Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
13Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.
14Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon her children.
15So shall Bethel do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.

You will remember we are studying the book of Hosea verse by verse, chapter by chapter, and at the present time we have been discussing what has been designated as Hosea's complaint against Israel. Hosea, of course, was God's spokesman, the one who represented God's message against Israel because of Israel's sin.

The purpose in our studying it is not only to familiarize ourselves with the history of Israel, but also to recognize that in the history of this nation of another day are lessons for us of this day—individually, church-wise, and nationally—by way of application.

In this particular chapter, we have come to the last of the sermons which were preached in this particular series related to God's complaint against the nation of Israel. Since this is the last chapter of this particular section, it is only fitting that we should see in it a summary of what has gone on before and an appeal for something better. As a matter of fact, I think that the entire chapter might be summed up in three words, which would be helpful in our understanding of the chapter by way of pinpointing the basic truths that are within the chapter. You can expect to find the summation of all of the charges God had to level at the nation of Israel, then a warning , and finally an appeal . I don't know how many of you recognized this manner of division as we read the chapter, but perhaps you did. I trust certainly by the time we are through with our discussion, you will recognize that these are the natural divisions into which the chapter actually falls.

Summation of Israel's Guilt

We are using the word summation in the same sense that it is used in a court of law. After evidence has been presented and witnesses have been called, the case is to be presented to the jury or to the judge, as the case may be. There is a summation of all of the evidence related to the matter under discussion, with the idea of emphasizing the guilt of the person or people who are on trial.

I would like for us to think about the summation of guilt which Israel faced in this particular instance. Please don't just relate what I am going to say to another nation, and say, “That is interesting,” but use the things that we are going to suggest to you as lights to look into your own life, and realize that perchance you are guilty of the same thing this ancient nation was. For in a dispensational sense of another nature, they were the people of God just as certainly as you are the people of God.

Please, notice with me in chapter 10, verse 1:

Hosea 10

1Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself…

We will pause there for just a moment, as I suggest to you that the word empty , in that first verse, is an unhappy translation of the original word. This is true in the King James translation. It is true in the American Standard translation. The word empty actually comes from a word which means “to empty out.” In the light of the verse and the succeeding context, it has been translated—and I think more properly so—“Israel is a fruitful vine.” “Israel is a luxuriant vine, he bringeth forth fruit.” In the same verse, there is mentioned “increase of his fruit,” and several verses down it seems an “unusual luxuriant production of fruit.” So we would remind you that Israel is a fruitful vine which produces much fruit. You may say, “Is there anything wrong with that?” Nothing at all, except for what is found in the last portion of that first statement—two little words, “unto himself.”

Israel Was Self-centered

The first charge that we might sum up as being leveled at Israel is one that we might refer to as being self-centered . Israel was self-centered. Everything that she did, she did for herself. Every talent that she had, she did not use for God's glory; she used it for her own interest. Every time there was any increase in the harvest, it was not that the increase could be used advantageously for the cause of God, it was that her own interest be furthered.

Her main interest at this particular time was idol worship. It was not a matter of worshiping one idol; it was a matter of seeing how many idols could be worshiped. They accumulated idols like some people accumulate jewelry. You will notice there in the middle of the first verse, it reads:

Hosea 10

1…according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images.

Every amount of increase was for his own interest and his own purpose. May I ask a question which I trust the Holy Spirit will use to provoke your thinking? Are you self-centered in this fashion? Is there anything so wrong in using all the money you have for your own interest? Is there anything so wrong in using all of the time that is yours in pursuit of your own desires? Someone might answer quickly, “We don't do anything wrong with our money. We don't do anything wrong with our time or with our talent.” All of that could be true, but Israel faced the judgment of God because she was self-centered in the sense that her only interest was her own welfare. Let her lesson be your lesson.

Having a Divided Heart

We hurry on and suggest another thing which they had to face as the summation of guilt was presented. Look at verse 2, and notice the words, “their heart is divided.”

Hosea 10

2Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images.

The first thing that we are interested in, in this second verse, is the statement, “their heart is divided.” They were not only guilty of self-centeredness, they were guilty of having a divided heart. They were guilty of having a divided loyalty, if you please. The word divided is a word that oftentimes is translated by the word “smooth.” However, the translators advisedly use the word divided to convey a better meaning to us. We could just as well have said, “They are smooth-hearted.” We would say today, concerning such individuals, “Well, he is a slick operator, isn't he?” What do we mean by that? We mean that he is able to gain the confidence of those with whom he deals. He makes them think that he is one hundred percent for them, but he isn't really. He has loyalty to another, and he is merely using them. It is a serious thing to say today, but something that needs to be recognized, and that is that the Israelites were slick operators. They used God for their own purposes.

I ask your hearts this question, “Have you fallen, perhaps even unconsciously, into the practice of using God? Some folk have, you know. When you pray, why do you pray? Do you pray because you ultimately have God's glory at heart and you want to see His purposes fulfilled, or do you pray just to use Him? You know He has power. There isn't anything that He can't do, and you're in a tight spot, so you use His power for your own interest. You might sincerely say, “I don't really know. I thought it was all right to pray about individual matters.” It is. One of the words that is used most often for prayer in the New Testament is the Greek word erotao , which means “to ask for yourself.” It is all right to ask for yourself. But, is the only time you visit with God when you need something awfully bad? You're such a slick operator that you carry water on both shoulders. You have a divided heart, or as James puts it in his epistle, “You are a double-minded man.” One day you are for God and for that for which He stands, and other days you are not.

The Deceitfulness of Israel

Notice verse 4 with me:

Hosea 10

4They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.

Closely akin to the accusation of the divided hearts is the accusation that these individuals were deceitful. They were a deceitful people, not in relation to God—that's related to divided hearts—but in relation to other people.

Basically, as far as Israel was concerned in this particular period of Israel's history, what they were doing was making a covenant with Egypt; and while their ambassadors were still there, before the ink was dry on the treaty that was written, other ambassadors were in Assyria making a treaty with them. One treaty with Egypt said, “Fight Assyria with us.” One treaty with Assyria said, “Fight Egypt with us.” Their thought was, “Either way we will be saved.” They were deceitful in their transactions as a nation, and naturally that would mean deceitfulness in transactions on a local and personal level.

I have always been interested in verse 4 from the up-to-dateness of the statement. Please look at it again:

Hosea 10

4They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field.

The thing that has always amused me somewhat is that literally this word judgment could be, and perhaps should be, translated lawsuits . There was such deceitfulness in this nation, from the top to the bottom, that lawsuits were filling the courts of the land like poisonous weeds—that's the meaning of hemlock—were filling the furrows of the field. You all know how quickly weeds can come. You hardly have them chopped when there they are again. That was the moral condition of Israel at that particular time—lawsuits growing up like weeds. The lawyers had plenty to do in that day.

The serious thing about it is that the Holy Spirit of God relates lawsuits on a local level to the insincerity of the nation on a higher level. An interesting thing to recognize is that in the day in which we live, we have not gone bad from the local level to the national level, we have gone bad from the national level down to the local level.

God said, in summing up the charges against Israel, that they would someday have to answer for their deceitfulness. We suggest the application to your heart; we ask you to look into your own hearts and ask yourself if perhaps you are an individual who swears falsely. You tell one person one thing and another person another thing. God said someday you will have to face the guilt therein.

A Hypocritical People

The fourth thing that I would like for you to notice related to the summation of the charge is not as evident as these others, because it is not so plainly stated, but you have to know something about the situation to understand it, so I am going to suggest to you what the charge is and then show you from the Word of God how it becomes so. The charge that was leveled in addition to these others was that this was a hypocritical people . I say they were a hypocritical people because of their attitude to the house of God, because of what they did to the house of God. Look at verse 5:

Hosea 10

5The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it.

Basically the verse is saying that the idols of Samaria will be broken in pieces, as would the idols of Judah when the enemy uses a chastening rod. God's hand would move in upon them, and the priests and the people would weep because the idols on which they had spent so much money and to whom they had prayed so often, were utterly unable to help them.

However, we are interested, for the purpose of our immediate discussion, in the word Bethaven . You notice there in verse 5, that there was a sin related to Bethaven. It is very evident if you will look down to verse 8, where you read:

Hosea 10

8The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel…

Aven and Bethaven are one and the same. Do you notice that God refers to it as “the sin of Israel”? You say, “What was that sin?” Someone else will say, “I know. It was having an idol there at Bethaven.” The idol was only incidental, as becomes evident as you recognize the word Bethaven and the meaning of it. The Hebrew word Beth means “house.” The Hebrew word Aven means “emptiness.” The house of emptiness . Where was Bethaven? If we had the time to pursue the matter geographically, you would find Bethaven was located on the site of Bethel. When you recognize the meaning of the two words, I think the lesson will be evident. Beth , again means “house,” and El means “God.” House of God. Are you following me? Do you realize what they did? Do you realize the last thing that God's lawyer presented to the court, when he summed up the case as being a serious charge against them? He said, “They have changed the house of God into the house of emptiness.”

That is a tremendous charge. No, he wasn't thinking primarily about empty pews. That is really incidental. He was thinking about the fact that individuals who had come to the house of God expecting to receive a blessing went away empty, because there was nothing there. In our day we meet people all of the time who are constantly telling us that they do not go to such and such a church because it is so empty. And again, they are not thinking about the empty pews; they are thinking about what they are unable to carry away with them, because they long to be fed when they go to the house of God.

It is a serious thing for leaders of any group to so arrange things that Bethel becomes Bethaven. Let's make this very personal today and suggest that it is a serious thing when, because of your own attitude of heart, you change Bethel to Bethaven. Because of your own attitude of heart, you change the house of God into the house of emptiness. If I need an added word of elaboration, let me say that you can go to the house of God at the appointed time of the service, and you can let your mind wander, or you can refuse to pay attention to the Word of God, and you can go away absolutely empty, while somebody sitting right beside you whose heart is hungry, who is looking for what God has for him, can go away full and bubbling over. Make allowances for an uninteresting minister, make the allowances for subjects that are beyond your scope of comprehension, but making all of these allowances, the fact still remains that someday people are going to have to face their guilt of changing Bethel into Bethaven. That is a serious thing indeed.

A Warning for Israel

It is only natural that we should find, after the summation that we have presented, that which we have suggested to you from the very beginning of what we said we would find in this chapter—a warning . For, you see, as far as Israel was concerned, judgment had not yet fallen. It was going to fall, but it had not yet fallen in its entirety. So in the last summary of things, before God would comfort their heart in other ways, He would warn them of several things. One of them you will find in verse 2:

Hosea 10

2Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images.

Notice the phrase, “found faulty.” A better translation of the phrase is, “face guilt.” What he is saying is, “Now you will have to face your guilt.” You see, most of us have a way of putting off the unpleasant inevitable. Oh, the thing that we look forward to, we see to it that we keep our appointments. We see to it that we are on time. When there is something unpleasant and we know it's inevitable, we like to put it off as long as we possibly can. However, God is saying here in His Word, “Israel, the day is coming when you are going to have to face your guilt. There is absolutely no way around it in your present condition and with your present attitude.” So, we say to you, if God speaks to your heart about things that are contrary to His will and to His purpose, you, unless things change, are going to have to face your guilt. You should accept this as a warning from the Lord.

The Destruction of Their Idols

Notice with me, please, something else that was going to be necessary. Because we are going to read several verses in which it is emphasized, we're going to suggest to you what it is. God warned them that all of their idols were going to be destroyed. Look at the latter part of verse 2:

Hosea 10

2…he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images.

Now verse 5:

Hosea 10

5The inhabitants of Samaria shall fear because of the calves of Bethaven: for the people thereof shall mourn over it, and the priests thereof that rejoiced on it, for the glory thereof, because it is departed from it.

In Samaria there was a golden calf which they doted on; it was the light of their life. So God said that He would destroy it. In verse 6, He said:

Hosea 10

6It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb…

Incidentally, in case you run into individuals who love to think they have found some error in the Word of God and tell you there was no such individual as king Jareb, you will be one up on them if you tell them you know that. The original texts does not suggest that there was. The word Jareb here simply means “great.” The suggestion of the verse is that this golden calf would be carried away into Assyria to the great king of Assyria, because he wanted the idol, not to worship, but for the gold that was in it.

You will notice in verse 7:

Hosea 10

7As for Samaria, her king is cut off as the foam upon the water.

You know how quickly you can brush back foam on other things beside water. That is how quickly the king would disappear, and you realize that as a chip on water is blown away, so would the king of Samaria be brought to an end.

You will notice in verse 8:

Hosea 10

8The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: [their destruction will be so complete] the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; [and so sad will be the people when they realize that everything on which they had trusted had gone] and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us.

The book of the Revelation tells us there is a day coming when judgment will be so horrible on the whole world that everybody in the world will be crying out this very thing. “Mountains, fall on us. Hills, cover us and hide us from the face of the great God, the Almighty.”

Why is it interesting to us, by way of application, to know that individuals who are guilty of sin will someday have to face the destruction of their idols? There are Christians, Beloved, who are putting all of their faith and their hope in idols, and those idols can't last. They don't want to give up the idol when they are faced with it. They could give it up much easier now than when God destroys it and they have to give it up.

Individuals have a way of getting idols. Oh, no, I'm not talking about images to which you bow down and offer your worship. The Bible teaches us that such a thing as covetousness is idolatry—anything you put before God, that thing that you think is so important now. Some of you are willing to surrender some of the dearest things you possess just so you can have that particular thing that you want. One of these days, God is going to take that thing away from you, and the idol, when taken away, will leave you empty and bereft, and you will realize that you've made a very, very poor bargain.

Inevitable Chastening

The fourth thing that Hosea offered as a warning, is the word chastening . In Hebrews chapter 12, verse 6, God says:

Hebrews 12

6For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

The nation of Israel was the people of God, as you know, in a very special sense, so He had to chasten them. He had to smite them with the rod—not because He was angry with them, but because He loved them—and the chastening of Israel is but an illustration of the chastening that awaits every child of God who lives in disobedience, because the Word of God teaches that God can not condemn born-again believers to Hell. They have already been saved. There is no way that He could condemn without violating every truth He knows, but He has to chasten. Many believers today, who do not understand why some of the things that are happening to them are happening, could better understand it if they paused long enough to realize that they belong to God, and whom God loves He chastens, and He scourges every son whom He receives.

There may be individual Christians who feel that they have gotten away with a whole lot; because a bolt of lightning has not come down and stricken them dead, they feel that God really isn't noticing what is happening to them. He is. He is just biding His time for purposes of mercy. The chastening rod will fall.

Deliberate Rebellion

It might be good for emphasis to notice what is said in the paragraph about the chastening that awaited Israel. So will you notice verse 9, where we read:

Hosea 10

9O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them.

We pointed out to you in our last study that Gibeah, according to chapter 19 in the book of Judges, was a place where because of the selfishness of men nearly one whole tribe in Israel was massacred, and it was necessary for them to find wives of other people whose men they killed to provide those wives. This in God's sight was a horrible thing, and when He talked to them about the awfulness of deliberate rebellion, He always brought up the subject of Gibeah.

An interesting thing to notice, too, in light of our present text, is that the sin of Gibeah to which He referred occurred something like 650 years before this statement was made by Hosea. What He was saying is, “Oh Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah. For 650 years you have been disobeying. You have been sinning; you have been ignoring me. I have waited in mercy and have not passed judgment.” Notice verse 11:

Hosea 10

11And Ephraim is as an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn; but I passed over upon her fair neck: I will make Ephraim to ride; Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods.

This is not a happy translation of the original text. It may not be as clear to you as it could be, so let me suggest a thing or two to you about it. The first portion of the verse, “Ephraim is an heifer that is taught, and loveth to tread out the corn,” is a reference to the fact that Israel, in the mercy of God, had not been led too deep into captivity. A heifer who is tied to a post and goes round and round and round on the threshing floor does not have too difficult a job. Anytime the heifer wishes, she can lower her head, and eat of the corn. This was the manner in which God had dealt with Israel. He had dealt with her lightly. Of course, the heifer on the threshing floor was not as fortunate as the heifer in the pasture, but she certainly had an easier job than the job that God said He was going to give to Israel now. If you will look at the middle part of verse 11, you read the statement:

Hosea 10

11…but I passed over upon her fair neck…

If you didn't know any background for that verse or that statement, what would you say it means? The way it is written there, it means practically nothing. If you read this in the original text, you would discover that what it says is this: “But I am going to put a yoke upon her fair neck.” Instead of the verse, “I will make Ephraim to ride,” you would read, “I will tie Ephraim to the post. Judah shall plow, and Jacob shall break his clods.” You see, an ox, for this is the real meaning of the word heifer here, who treads out the corn doesn't have nearly so hard a job as an oxen yoked with another oxen which has to plow out in the hot sun, the heavy dry ground, breaking up the clods of dirt.

What God is saying, by way of warning in relation to chastening for Israel, is, “I have spanked you, and nothing has happened. You are still going on the way you are going. I'm going to have to whip you soundly if you don't change in the way that you are doing.”

I would beg of you to be sensitive to the dealing of the Holy Spirit of God in your life so that when God deals with you lightly, you will be able to recognize that it is He, and you will acknowledge your sins and be restored to fellowship before it becomes necessary for Him to spank you soundly, for mark what I say: He will.

An added word about chastening is found in verses 14 and 15:

Hosea 10

14Therefore shall a tumult arise among thy people, and all thy fortresses shall be spoiled, as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle: the mother was dashed in pieces upon her children.
15So shall Bethel do unto you because of your great wickedness: in a morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.

Notice, “all thy fortresses shall be spoiled.” Oh, they were so proud. You remember, in our study we learned that instead of getting right with God, they built more fortresses. They said, “We can take care of any enemy that comes against us. All that we need is that we be sure we are fully armed.” But now He said, “They shall spoil all your fortresses as Shalman spoiled Betharbel in the day of battle.” Notice that word Shalman . Critics of the Scripture say that there was nobody by that name, but if they were more diligent in their search for truth than they are in their desire to criticize the Word of God, they would realize the word Shalman is a contraction of the name Shalmaneser , who was the Assyrian king who created so much trouble.

In the history of Shalmaneser's conquests, at Betharbel there was a horrible battle, and cruel injustices were performed to the extent that they took women and dashed their heads against stone walls, then took up their little brains out on the bodies and the wall that was yet there. This was the cruel injustice of heathen warfare.

God said to Israel, in verse 15, “So shall it be done unto you, Bethel, because of your great wickedness. In the morning shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off.” What He is saying is, “You remember hearing what happened at Betharbel; you thought it was so terrible. It was, but if you continue on in the way your are going, the very same thing that happened at Betharbel is going to happen to you.” You see why I say that in this chapter there was first a summation of guilt, then a warning.

God's Appeal to Israel

Let us look at what I have termed the appeal , because really as far as the application of the message is concerned, it will be very largely lost unless you recognize the appeal that God made. This is the thing that always amazes me about God. He levels with us. He tells us what is wrong with us. He tells us what needs to be done. He tells us that judgment most certainly is coming, and then He begs us to change our way of doing things, because He really doesn't want to visit judgment. Judgment is a strange word with God. You know, some people have the idea that God just delights in visiting judgment like a little boy likes squashing a fly, but He doesn't. To be honest, He has to tell us, then He begs us to change so judgment won't fall.

Notice the appeal that He makes in this chapter. Look at verse 12:

Hosea 10

12Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: [notice this statement especially] for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

“It is time to seek the LORD.” In the original text there is a word which is not in our English text which I always like to emphasize because it indicates to me the longsuffering of God. The verse could read, “There is yet time to seek the LORD.” Oh, judgment is going to fall. It is inevitable. There is no way that God in His justice can refuse to visit with judgment, but before judgment falls, there is yet time to seek the LORD.

Break Up the Fallow Ground

I am glad to be able to offer that to all of our hearts. There is yet time to seek the LORD. How are you going to go about seeking Him? He makes several suggestions in this one verse. You probably noticed it. First, He said, “Break up fallow ground.” This is how you seek the LORD if you have been disobedient. You break up the fallow ground. What is fallow ground? When we speak of fallow ground, we speak of ground which has been plowed but never planted, plowed but left untended, plowed until it becomes dry and hard, and before any planting can be done, the ground must be broken again.

This produces an interesting thought to my mind. It suggests that the people to whom God spoke evidently wanted to do what was right; they plowed the ground, but they never did get any planting done. Do you know there are a lot of folk like that? There are a lot of folk who perhaps in a service hear the Gospel presented, and they respond to the Gospel—that is another way of talking about plowing the ground—but they go out from the service and they never do anything more. They don't hide the Word of God away in their hearts; they just let things go. Sometimes in a special series of meetings, the minister speaks under the power of the Spirit of God, and hearts are touched and decisions and commitments are made. That's plowing the ground, but nothing else is ever done. Things go along and people live in their own merry way, and the fallow ground appears. Before anything can be done, the fallow ground has to be broken up again.

That fallow ground gets weeds, thorns and thistles in it, and sometimes getting the thorns, weeds and thistles out is not as easy as it sounds. To provoke your thinking today, we trust under the direction of the Holy Spirit of God, we ask you, “Have you got any fallow ground in your heart? Have you made an effort to do what God would have you do, but things have come in and you haven't got it done yet, and the ground lies fallow? Your heart is being stirred again and you think you are going to have to go out and drop a few seeds in the ground, and everything is going to be all right. It can't be that way. You have to plow the fallow ground again. You have to break up the clods.

Sow In Righteousness

We suggest the last thing to you that should be done, and I think that it must be done in the order in which we suggest, for there is no other way to do it. Look at verse 12:

Hosea 10

12Sow to yourselves in righteousness…

This “sow to yourselves in righteousness” does not mean anything selfish. It is, “You yourselves sow in righteousness.” Earlier in the chapter we read that they were sowing wickedness; now He says, “Sow in righteousness.” Speaking in the terms of the farmer, He is sowing the things which are wrong. He is saying, “Stop sowing that kind of seed, and by God's grace, with the forgiveness provided by the Blood of Christ, begin to sow in righteousness.”

Then what will happen? This is the good thing, and we are able to stop with this word. You will be able to “reap steadfast love.” Look again at verse 12:

Hosea 10

12Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy…

A better translation is, “Reap the steadfast love of God.” Your love and mine fluctuates; it changes, but God's love is always steadfast. He would much rather shower upon you His love than anything else, but we keep Him from doing it. However, if we will break up the fallow ground, if we will sow righteousness, we will once again bask in the steadfast love of God.


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