March 27, 2001
By ROBERT FIGUEROA
Bringing Out The Rototillers: Hosea And The Fallow Ground
"Sow 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." - Hosea 10:12
The context of this scripture was that the Jews were a nation of farmers. It is therefore a common thing for illustrations in the scriptures to refer to their occupation, and to the scenes with which farmers and shepherds are familiar. The prophet Hosea addresses them as a nation of backsliders; he rebuke them for their idolatry and threatens them with the judgments of God. Farming is a lot easier today than it was years ago. In the time of Hosea farmers had to till with mule and plow, harvest by hand, weed with a hoe, and diligently seek God that He would, in His Grace, allow rain in the proper amounts at the proper time. Today the modern farmer relies on air conditioned tractors, and air patrol pesticides. With the advance of technology, farming has become easier, though it is still a job that only a few are strong enough to do.
There's No Market For Weeds
In this verse Hosea tells the nation of Israel to sow righteousness and reap mercy and to break up the fallow ground. Fallow ground is ground which has once been tilled, but which now lies waste, and needs to be broken up and mellowed before it is ready to receive grain. In my small garden I need to till or fallow the dirt to allow the water to flourish through the ground. You must break or till the ground for it to be profitable. Sitting in your front porch rocker and wishing the ground to be tilled is useless. You can wish all you want, but you have to get up and break the ground, whether by mule or tractor, if you expect an eventual reward. If you fail to break the ground something will grow there, but nothing profitable. There is no market for weeds.
You must rely on the Lord to provide rain in due season. You can plant all the seed that you want, but unless God waters it your profit is pitiful, the harvest withers. Harvest must be gathered at the right time, and in the right way. If you gather too soon you lose money, for the crop is yet green and underdeveloped. If you gather too late, the crop will rot on the way to market.
Breaking The Fallow Ground Of Your Heart
So the question is: how to break up the fallow ground? How too break up your hearts? How to prepare your minds to bring forth fruit unto God. To break up the fallow ground therefore, is to bring the mind into such a state that it is fitted to receive the Word of God. Sometimes your heart gets matted or covered down, hard and dry, until there is no such thing as getting fruit from them until they are broken up, and mellowed down, and fitted to the Word of God. It is this softening of the heart, to make it feel the truth, which the prophet Hosea calls "break up your fallow ground".
To break up the fallow ground of your heart, you must begin by looking at your heart: examine and note the state of your mind, and see where you are. Many never seem to think about this. They pay no attention to their own hearts, and never know whether they are doing well in the will of God, whether they are gaining ground or going back, whether they are fruitful or lying waste.
Examining Your Characteristics
Now you must draw off your attention from other things, and look into this. Examine thoroughly the state of your hearts, and see where you are, here are some examples:
- Lack of love to God
- Neglect of the Bible
- Neglect of prayer
- Lack of love for the souls of your fellow men
- Lack of care for the lost
- Neglect of family duties
- Neglect of social duties
- Neglect to watch over your brethren
- Worldly mindedness
- Censoriousness and bitterness
- Slander and gossip
- Robbing God
- Bad temper
- Hindering others from being useful
God reasons with each and every one of us today to "Sow to yourselves" the right spiritual seed if you expect to reap a harvest. So many of us are sowing things in our lives that are not only unprofitable, they are downright destructive.
If you refuse to break the fallow ground today, if you refuse to give your life to the Lord, then you will learn the farmer's lesson "The ground that lies fallow grows weeds". This is true in the field and certainly true in the spiritual life. If you refuse to bow yourself to God, then you will find yourself adrift on the sea of life, with weeds popping up and troubling you all about. Now is the time to seek out God, to "break up your fallow ground". Just imagine: "sow righteousness" and "reap mercy" - WOW, that's wonderful. When the rain from heaven falls on our hearts - if our hearts are like fallowed ground - then the water will simply bounce off and go another direction. This rain from heaven will look for a ground that is soft and ready to receive that which is from up above.
Somebody please, break up the ground around your hearts today!
Robert Figueroa is co-executive producer of Inspired Christian.org. Most any Saturday these days you can find him and his wife Irma in their yard pulling out them weeds. You can reach him by email at email@example.com.
More articles in our Minor Prophets Series
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