“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. Ye 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” (Hos 10:12,13).
These verses express a truism, a forever true principle - the law of sowing and reaping. For every effect there is a cause. We reap what we sow. Hosea lived in a time of spiritual famine. The Glory of the Lord had departed from Israel. Israel’s heart was unfaithful and they had broken the covenant with God. Apostasy and drift had set in to their religious experience. Hosea used the analogy of sowing and reaping to help Israel see the effect of their apostasy. They could not escape the effect of their course of action; Israel was going to reap the increase of iniquity rather than mercy.
Within a seed is the germ that will develop into an organism that will grow and reproduce itself. Ground temperature, moisture, nutrient availability, etc, all are essential environmental conditions for growth. Hosea recognized that to produce spiritual growth, conditions must be conducive to life. Sowing is about reproducing. What about my church or home? Is it an environment for spiritual growth and reproduction?
Reaping the mercy of God is a result of sowing in righteousness. Hosea advised Israel to break up the fallow ground, and cultivate an environment for growth.
There are three practical principles in sowing that are very important.
What We Sow
The seed we sow establishes the potential of the harvest. are we sowing the Word of God by giving it prominence by teaching the importance of personal devotional time, family worship, consistent church attendance (Sunday evening and prayer meetings included), preparation for Sunday School class, etc.?
Or are we sowing the seed of trust in the multitude of mighty men? (v 13) Is the pure seed of the Word of God being mixed with the tainted unclean seed of worldly philosophy and humanism? Do we teach, preach, and believe the Biblical views of the awfulness of sin, separation from the world for the Christian, the doctrine of destiny, the permanence of marriage, the sanctity of life, the principle of love? If these teachings are clear would we be so dependant on “Christianized” humanistic counseling for many of life’s problems? It is crucially important that we provide the environment for the Word to flourish.
Where We Sow
“Break up the fallow ground.” Cultivate an environment for growth. Agronomists constantly study how various agronomic practices affect the harvest. One practice that is proven to affect the harvest of righteousness adversely is the disdain for historical practices of conservatism. Sowing in an anti-traditional environment is sowing in unbroken fallow ground. Resistance against time-proven practices of Godliness will produce a harvest of iniquity. Principle-driven conservatism will be traditional. Each generation that sows in righteousness will practice similar patterns, modest dress, sound preaching, simple worship, common-man occupations, pilgrim and stranger concepts of life, and submission to a church. These are all traditions that will be part of an environment that produces long term generational succession in our churches and homes. We must be unapologetic about a lifestyle that is traditional.
Of course traditions that do not have a systemic connection to the life-giving Word of God will produce an unwanted harvest of cold religious formality and will give a false sense of righteousness that will choke out Spirit-filled obedience, which is true righteousness.
When We Sow
“For it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” It is important that we capture the opportunity. Just as crops depend on a timely rain, so righteousness depends on God’s blessing. There is urgency in Hosea’s message; seeding time passes! The time to meet the need of our church or family to cultivate a favorable environment passes. There is an optimum time to seed for the harvest of mercy. Pastors and fathers who procrastinate when evidences of the flesh and worldliness are choking life from the church and home will harvest the bitter harvest of iniquity rather than the harvest of mercy. May God help us sow in righteousness!