Sunday, June 15, 2008 -
Hosea 10:12 - “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.”
1) THE LORD DESIRES TO RAIN RIGHTEOUSNESS ON HIS PEOPLE
God’s desire for our righteousness outstrips our own. And His desire nourishes our hope and answers to our deepest fear and doubt that transformation might be possible for others, but not for us. This is how God paves the way for the rise of our own faith and expectation. While the process, as we will see, isn’t automatic, it is also not fruitless or impossible. God desires to rain righteousness into hearts just like yours and mine.
Look carefully at this little text. The verse ends with the promise of God doing what we cannot do. And the verse begins with the exhortation that we must do what God commands before God offers what only He can supply. There is such beautiful balance pictured here.
2) CONSIDER THE PROPHET’S DESCRIPTION OF WHAT TRUE GOD-SEEKERS LOOK LIKE
a) While no farmer can make it rain, that must not keep him from ploughing and sowing. Only a very foolish farmer would say, “I’m not going to plant or plough because it is out of my power to make it rain.” In fact, the reason the prophets (and Jesus Himself) so frequently used farming as an image of the work of God in our heart is farming is such a perfect illustration of a joint venture. Each must do his part for a harvest to materialize.
b) “Sowing with a view to righteousness” means laying the foundation for the transformation of our desires and affections. True, the inward inclinations of your heart are not immediately within your reach. But that need not lead to despair. God can reach them. And God has promised to reach and transform the parts of our lives we can’t transform directly as we yield to His control the parts we can reach directly.
c) My pursuit of righteousness is defined by the application of the plough to unturned sections of my exterior life. “Break up your fallow ground” - I may not be able to do everything, but I can do this. I can uproot the habits of my outward life that have formed the affections and desires of my heart. I cannot make new life grow. That is God’s job. But I can plough under what shouldn’t be there in the first place. Hosea says the people had “ploughed iniquity” Hosea 10:13 - “You have plowed iniquity; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and in the multitude of your warriors....”
The Lord labors to make them see the connection between where they were spiritually with what they had aimed their lives at in the past. They had formed wrong grooves of behavior in their hearts. They had “trusted to their own ways”(13). That means they were unteachable. Nobody, even God, could tell them they were wrong. And that’s that part of their lives they had to change.
This same theme is picked up in the New Testament in Galatians 6:1-10 - “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.  For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.  But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.  For each will have to bear his own load.  One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.  Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.  So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
d) There is hope to encourage and entice the faint hearted back to the Lord. How gracious His approach is! It doesn’t come as a bare threat. This is certainly what we deserve, but God frames His approach in the form of a promise, even in the midst of our backslidden condition. God tailors His approach to accommodate our natural timidness to approach Him. He helps us overcome our own shame and failure. Notice those beautiful words, “It is time to seek the Lord!” People must make up their minds because God has already graciously made up His. Set your heart to cut deep into the cold, hard indifference of your own heart. Don’t wait any longer. It is time!