Stephen Caswell © 2004
A young man had a terrible falling out with a neighboring farmer. One night, in an act of cruel vengeance, he crept through the neighboring fields, sowing the seeds of a persistent, virulent weed. The weeds sprang up, and no amount of effort would eradicate them. Years passed, and eventually the young man fell in love with the farmer’s daughter. He married her and, at length, inherited the farm. He later confessed that he was spending the rest of his life reaping what he had sown in that one act of angry folly.
When a farmer plants potatoes he will not reap broccoli, but potatoes. Every tree and herb produces after its kind. This is one of the laws of nature that God has established. God has also brought spiritual laws into being so that we will reap what we sow. Hosea tells us that our very lives are producing a harvest. Today we will see 2 ways we can plant. Sowing to the Flesh or Sowing to the Spirit.
1. Sowing to the Flesh
Hosea 10:13: You have plowed wickedness; you have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way, In the multitude of your mighty men.
a. Sowing Bad Seed
Firstly, Hosea charges Israel with wicked behavior. Verse 13 says, You have plowed wickedness. God had redeemed Israel from bondage in Egypt to be His own people. He wanted them to be a holy nation. But Israel had forgotten their high calling. The nation had labored hard in seeking success. Yet in this they had not obeyed God’s Law. They hadn’t prayed for His guidance and blessing on their labor. Therefore it produced wickedness. In the previous verses God condemns Israel for adultery, idolatry and unfaithfulness to Him. They had been treacherous to the Lord who redeemed them. Israel lived for pleasure not for the Lord their God. Our time, possessions and labor can all be used to promote the flesh, or to promote the things of the Spirit. But once we have finished sowing, we cannot change the harvest. Israel sowed to the flesh.
b. Reaping a Corrupt Harvest
If you sow bad seed you will inevitably reap a corrupt harvest. When people plant wickedness they will harvest the same. Hosea says, you have reaped iniquity. Galatians 6:7-8: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. Every sower decides what his harvest will be. If a person sows to please his sinful nature, that is, if he spends his money to indulge the flesh, he will reap a harvest that will fade into oblivion. When you sow sin, you will reap sin. That is inescapable. If you think that you can escape the results of sin, you are making God out a liar and the Bible a falsehood. Job 4:8: Even as I have seen, those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same. Israel reaped iniquity.
c. Eating The Wrong Food
Israel had listened to their political leaders and this is why they were led astray. Hosea said, You have eaten the fruit of lies. Their leaders assured them that all would be okay. Instead of listening to the Lord and to His prophets they ate up the words of liars. Israel’s leaders promised peace and prosperity and the people believed them. This is because that’s what they wanted to hear. They didn’t want to hear about sin, righteousness, and judgment to come. They swallowed up the lies and trusted their own ways instead of trusting God.
O how we need to be careful what we believe. A lie travels around the world while Truth is putting on her boots. Spurgeon. Lies bind and deceive. They lead to death. Only the truth can set us free and bring life. We will never please God by doing our own thing. We must listen to the truth and obey it. Brethren we must be careful what we swallow. Lies and gossip can sound so juicy, but they only lead us astray. Israel was led astray by lies.
West Point’s Harder Right
The following quotation is from the Cadet Prayer. It is repeated every Sunday in chapel services at West Point: Make us choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be contented with half truth when whole truth can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when right and truth are in jeopardy.”
d. Trusting In The Wrong Things
Finally, Hosea gives the reason why the nation had gone astray. He says, because you trusted in your own way. Proverbs 16:25: There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. We need to do things God’s way not our own. Jesus said I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no onecomes to the Father but by me. To enjoy God’s salvation and blessings we must do things God’s way. In fact the early Christians were called people of The Way. You find that description of believers in the book of Acts. As disciples or followers of Christ we are to walk His way. Jeremiah too, challenged the nation to change their ways. Jeremiah 6:16: Thus says the Lord: Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, we will not walk in it.
They sought security from the multitude of their mighty men. Their confidence was in the flesh, not in God. They thought they were strong; they thought they could provide security and stability for their homes and their nation. They had trusted in their own military might and not in the Lord. They didn’t do it God’s way. Isaiah gave a warning to Judah concerning this. Isaiah 31:1: Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, And rely on horses, Who trust in chariots because they are many, And in horsemen because they are very strong, But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, Nor seek the Lord! Israel trusted in her military power and past successes. Tragically they ignored God’s warning and were removed from the land.
2. Sowing to the Spirit.
Hosea 10:12: 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.
a. Sowing The Good Seed
In verse 12 Hosea gives Israel some commands from the Lord. Firstly, he says, sow for yourselves righteousness. How do we sow righteousness? How can we be just before a holy God? By living God’s way. Habakuk 2:4: The just or righteous shall live by his faith. We must believe God and obey Him. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6 We must seek God’s will for our life through the Word of God and prayer. The Word of God is the good seed we need to cultivate for righteous living. We must believe that God will provide all our needs if we put Him first.
Abraham believed God and it was accounted to Him for righteousness. To live righteously we must give ourselves afresh to Him every day. Righteousness comes as Christ lives His life in us and through us. Prayer and God’s Word are vital for this to happen. We must seek God’s grace and guidance every day. Christians either live by faith or works every day of their lives. It’s one or the other. Matthew 6:31-33: Therefore do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
If you don’t seek God every day because of work how are you seeking His kingdom? If you’re too busy to pray or serve the Lord you’re not seeking His kingdom. In fact you really don’t believe that God can provide your food, drink and clothes. You are trusting in your own efforts and not God’s provision. It’s faith or works! Not both. Our work can be used for God’s kingdom if we allow the Lord to be in charge. If we work 70 hours a week and spend 1 or 2 alone with the Lord are we living by faith? If we want to reap spiritual blessings we must first sow spiritual values into our lives. God will not bless people who do not seek Him or obey His Word. If God is not Lord of all our lives He is not Lord at all. Faith in God must govern every area of living. We reap what we sow.
Working At Tacspo Distributing
I worked as a traveling salesman for a company called Tacspo Distributing for about 13 years. I also worked there as a store man for about 7 years. A number of times my boss asked me to work on the weekends including Sunday. I did work some Saturdays but refused to work on Sundays. I told my boss that Sunday belonged to the Lord. I made an exception once or twice when the firm moved premises and needed all the help they could get. On those days I still went to the evening services. When I was pressed I offered my resignation on more than one occasion. The boss declined it. He didn’t want me to leave. Sometimes we need to take a stand for what is right and trust God to help us.
b. Reaping a Good Harvest
In the parable of the sower, Jesus said, that the good soil represents those who keep or obey God’s Word. Luke 8:15: But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
Hosea says if we sow righteousness we will reap in mercy. When we seek God’s ways and live by faith He blesses our lives with mercy and grace. The word mercy is chessed חֶסֶד. In the OT it’s translated loving kindness, unfailing kindness, steadfast or loyal love; grace; faithfulness; goodness. This word described God’s covenant love for Israel. Lamentations 3:22-23: Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.
Job was a man of faith that God blessed abundantly. Even though Job was a farmer and a merchant he still spent a great deal of time in prayer. He offered sacrifices and prayed not only for himself but also all of his 10 grown children. When we seek God’s kingdom first and His righteousness the Lord allows us to reap a great harvest from His mercy, His loving kindness. Galatians 6:7-10: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
Our Home Situation
After Sandy and I had been married for about 2 years we moved into our first home at Manly West. The loan was for $40,000 over 15 years. We had supported the Lord’s work at church and a number of missionaries since we had been married. We didn’t change that even though we had loan repayments to make. We gave more than 25% of our combined incomes to God’s work. God blessed us and we payed out the loan in 45 months. God blessed us because we put His kingdom first. He met all our needs. And this continued when we when to Bible College too. God met our needs as we trusted him to.
c. Preparing The Soil
In verse 12 He says, break up your fallow ground. What is fallow ground? It is the hard ground that has been trampled down by livestock when they pass through a field. From the constant trampling the ground becomes hard and unproductive. It can also describe land that is filled with weeds and laying idle. Seed cannot penetrate the soil and is eaten by birds before it can spring to life. Or the seed that does germinate is strangled by weeds. Jeremiah 4:3: For thus says the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: Break up your fallow ground, And do not sow among thorns. Jesus calls fallow ground the wayside in the parable of the sower. Matthew 13:19: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.
What can be done to make fallow ground productive? It must be broken up with a plow. We must prepare our hearts for God’s Word to be fruitful in us. Hard hearts resist the Word and will not produce any fruit for righteousness. Therefore Hosea says to break up the fallow ground. He commands us to soften our hearts. This theme is found in a number of Old Testament passages. Psalm 51:17: The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart; These, O God, You will not despise. The word contrite, נָכֶה means, penitent, smitten, stricken. It pertains to being repentant for a sin or grievance, implying regret. It refers to a heart filled with sorrow over sin. The Church in Fiji has done this. They have humbled themselves before the Lord and repented of their sin.
Isaiah 66:2: For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist, says the Lord. But on this one will I look: On him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, And who trembles at My word. Isaiah 57:15: For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, With him who has a contrite and humble spirit, To revive the spirit of the humble, And to revive the heart of the contrite ones. God accused Israel of having a heart of stone. Their heart was cold and indifferent to spiritual things; it was unreceptive to God’s Word. I believe that this problem is still around today. Israel wasn’t the only one plagued with hard hearts. Repentance requires honesty and brokenness before God. We bare our soul before God and ask Him to cleanse us from all of our sin. Then God will receive us and restore us.
Gatton Baptist Church
Graham Ballin shared with me a while ago how they had a day of reconciliation. The church invited everyone to come. They sent letters to people who had left their fellowship because they felt hurt or wronged. Confession and repentance took place and God blessed. People wrote their grievances and sins on pieces of paper and brought them to the service. They were then placed in a box and burnt. People were reconciled to each other. Since then the Church has come into blessing and they are truly united.
d. Seeking The Lord
Hosea encourages the people to seek after God. He says, for it is time to seek the Lord. Today is the day of salvation, now is the accepted time. Procrastination is a common fault among human beings. We put off till tomorrow what we should do today. Isaiah 55:6-7: Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. If we seek the Lord we will find Him. He has promised us this.
What is involved in seeking the Lord? For one thing, it means admitting that we are sinners who have offended a holy God. It means repenting, changing our mind about sin, and turning away from sin and to the Lord. We must turn to God in faith and believe His promise that in mercy He will abundantly pardon. If we draw nigh unto God He will draw nigh unto us. There’s one place we will always be accepted; at the foot of the cross. The prodigal son was received with loving arms when he sought his father and repented. Jeremiah 29:12-14a: Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found of you says the Lord.
e. Receiving God’s Blessing
Hosea told Israel to keep seeking the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you. Don’t quit; seek Him with all your heart and you will find Him. Restoration may take some time. God wants to know that we mean business. The people of Fiji fasted and prayed. They waited on God and didn’t rush things. They meant business with God. They kept seeking Him till He came and blessed them. They waited until the Lord had rained His righteousness upon them. When God’s people are out of fellowship with the Lord and each other repentance always precedes God’s blessing. Psalm 126:5-6: Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
Areas where we may have sinned
- Do we love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength?
- Does Christ have first place in our lives? Does this show in our values & actions?
- Are we seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness first?
- Do we believe God can meet our needs as he has promised to?
- Are we praying and reading the Word each day?
- Do we attend Church prayer meetings and a Bible Study?
- Do we love our neighbor as ourselves?
- Are we fulfilling the Great Commission to make disciples of the nations?
- Are we serving the Lord in the Church and community? 20 stood down, 7stood up
- Are we sowing discord among the brethren through murmur, gossip & complaint?
- Have we spoken unkindly about a brother or sister? Have we put it right?
- Are we bitter, resentful, or unforgiving toward a brother or sister?
- Are we envious or jealous of what others have?
- Are we robbing God by holding back what belongs to Him?
- Are we living pure lives? What about what we watch on TV Video & Music?
- Achan’s sin affected all of Israel. 36 men died, Israel suffered defeat from Ai.
I believe that God has withdrawn His blessing from us because of unconfessed sin. Like the people of Fiji I believe we need to be reconciled to God and each other before the Lord will bless us again. Can I suggest that we have a time of prayer, sharing, confession and repentance. Let us come before God and open our hearts unto Him. Psalm 139:23-24: Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting.
James 5:16: Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. If we have offended a brother or sister let us seek their forgiveness right now. If we have been hurt by a brother or sister let’s forgive them as Christ forgave us. Let’s humble ourselves.