There is something precious about reading through the Bible with purpose to seek the Lord and discover what He wants to teach, say and do in my life.
It is a beautiful thing, reading the Bible with the purpose of learning more about God and figuring out what each verse can teach me.
I’m continually amazed at the awesomeness of our God… How the themes of love, forgiveness, judgement, repentance, mercy and grace are represented repeatedly throughout each book. How the gospel is woven together through time, people and situations to clearly present who God is and can be to us.
I am falling in love with the Word of God. I love it more each time I read it.
In recent reading, I came to the book of Hosea. I know about Hosea. He was a prophet who was called by God to marry an adulterous woman. If you have read “Redeeming Love” by Francine Rivers, you know what an amazing story this is.
Once again, before starting a new book of the Bible, I’ll be honest and tell you that I had kind of an “Oh, I’ve read this before…” attitude. But, as I began to read and got past the story of Hosea’s life and dug into the actual words given to him by God to the nation of Israel, I caught phrases that have been with me all week.
First of all, if you read through the prophets, you will read about a God who deals out punishment to his people. They aren’t “slap on the wrist” punishments. They are “destroy your whole city in a terrible way” punishments. Big trials. Big problems.
The bottom line for the nation of Israel is that they refused to return to God.
They refused to truly seek the Lord.
They went to the temple to give sacrifices and observe holy days. Then, they would worship golden idols in their homes and practice unfathomable acts to other gods. God saw this and sent numerous prophets to warn them that if they didn’t change their ways, if they didn’t repent and seek Him, if they refused to turn from their sin, this prophecy would come to pass.
Now, something to consider is that yes, this is Old Testament.
God was working to see that something greater was accomplished by the birth of Jesus through the line of David.
That aside, He is still the same God, wanting the same dedication and loyalty from us. He wants us to serve Him and seek relationship with Him. He is with us, offering the same grace and mercy that he offered to the nation of Israel. He loves us and doesn’t want to see us suffer for our sin.
He tells the nation of Israel in Hosea 8:7 that “They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.”
This farming analogy reminds us that Israel had planted the wind of sin and idol worship; now they would harvest the tornado of devastating events. Hosea was warning them of how their rebellion could come back to harm them.
And God wants to start plowing through the soil of their hearts.
Next, God says through Hosea, “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes and showers righteousness on you.”
Other versions use the wording of breaking up fallow ground. The Message says, “It’s time to till the ready earth, it’s time to dig in with God.”
I really had to think about those words.
Break up your unplowed ground, your fallow ground. Ready the earth for digging.
What does that mean?
In a simple sense, this means that we have to soften our hearts. We need to have a change of heart, a change of attitude, turn from our sin and begin seeking God and we will be blessed.
How does God do that?
Many times, unfortunately, He begins the plowing with struggles, pain, trials and long journeys of faith.
He gets our attention. He sheds light on the soil of our hearts that He wants to touch. The hard ground. The difficult places.
But, as I thought the words, I began to see the unplowed ground as more than a trial.
More like a clean slate.
A fresh start.
The freshness of spring, a field that has yet to be planted.
Isn’t that the picture of forgiveness? The picture of mourning turned to dancing? Of trial turned to joy?
As we seek the Lord and ask him to forgive us, he gives us unplowed ground to start over.
To try again. HOPE.
He gives an opportunity to refresh your relationship with him and know that He loves you and has forgiven you.
Hosea 12:6 says, “But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.”
Wait on Him. He isn’t giving up on you. He loves you and wants you to turn to Him.
We can wake up each morning and seek the Lord, thanking God for unplowed ground and asking His guidance as we sow new seeds of righteousness for His Name.