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)
Sin came upon the heart of man in the Garden of Eden and among the consequences of his rebellion, Adam would toil the ground by the sweat of his brow that was cursed for his sake. Through the millennia of time, the earth has required constant work of plowing the hard ground, sowing the seed and harvesting the bounty of the crops produced through diligent labor of the hand of men. As a shadow of the spiritual condition of sinful man, farming is used by the Lord to impress upon the heart of the disobedient the pattern of salvation and redemption. Hosea was a prophet tasked with pleading with the people of God to return to their first love and to see the forgiveness of God as a man taking back his adulterous wife. The Lord had required the prophet to marry a woman of harlotry and her story would be the backdrop for the prophet’s burden in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah and Jeroboam, king of Israel. Forgiveness was offered to the rebellious people if they would but repent and change their hearts. The key to repentance is described by the Lord in the parable of the man who sowed seed on hard ground with the blessings of harvesting the love of God through their obedience to his word. It would require plowing up the hard ground of their hearts to allow the seeds of righteousness to be planted. Sin had hardened their hearts against the love of God. Like a woman going after her many lovers, Israel and Judah had plowed the fields of the nations around them for their delight and engaged in spiritual harlotry. Repentance must begin with breaking the heart of rebellion in the sorrow for sin. Without a mourning spirit over the seriousness of sin, the people of God would never return to the Lord. Repentance demanded a breaking of the ground in order to allow the seeds of righteousness, goodness, and mercy to be implanted in the heart. Good ground broken and plowed will readily receive the good seed and bring forth a harvest of God’s love and he showers righteousness upon the people.
Forgiveness comes from the heart of God but repentance begins in the heart of man. It requires an action on his part to receive the grace of the Lord and without the willingness of the heart of man to change, there can be no mercy. God is not willing that any man perishes but will not force his will upon the heart if the spirit of man is unwilling to yield to the word of the Lord. Sowing seed on hard ground will never produce a crop. Jesus told the disciples a parable of the seed that fell on the hard ground that was immediately devoured by the birds. This is the man who hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it and the devil comes and quickly snatches away the word lest the heart of the man receives the mercy of God. Only the good ground broken up, tilled and plowed with a penitent heart is able to receive the seed of righteousness. The work is not finished with the ground is plowed. The seed must be planted and cultivated to produce a crop. Seeds of righteousness must be sown. Hosea reminds the people the admonition of the Lord was to plant the good seeds of righteousness. Refusing to plant the right kind of seed would not bring forth a crop of love. There was only one seed that could be planted. It could not be tainted with the disease of worldliness, carnality, sensual pleasures and self-will. The incorruptible seed of truth must come from the storehouse of a merciful God willing to forgive. Harvesting a crop of love would only come from the seeds of righteousness. Not any seed would suffice. Only the one true seed of God’s word would save the people.
With all the warnings of prophets like Hosea and others, Israel cultivated wickedness and harvested a flourishing crop of sins. They ate the fruit of lies when they trusted in the might of their own power, believing they could save themselves without God. Their hard ground of rebellion was not broken up and Satan devoured their hearts with his lies and deceit. The day of judgment came upon the people and they were cast from the presence of the Lord. Harvesting the crop of sin did not bring the bounty of joy they sought and it never will. Satan’s greatest deception is to sell in the market of self-will the seeds of pride, fleshly gratification and the eye-candy of human wisdom to hearts hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Without spiritual farming to break up the hardened heart and sow the good seeds of righteousness, there will never be a reaping of mercy. Forgiveness comes to those who seek the will of the Lord and yield their hearts to his mercy as he showers upon them his righteousness. Ground broken and planted with good seed will receive the seasons of rain to nourish and bless the bountiful harvest. The heart of man will find joy when he breaks up his stubborn will to receive the implanted word which is able to save the soul. It is then the Lord rains down his righteousness and mercy on the good ground that will bear fruit and produce a hundredfold of divine blessings. Joy is found in the harvest. It comes from the broken ground. Grab your hat and your plow and let’s break up some fallow ground. A harvest of joy awaits from the heart of God.