Last night we looked at Hosea 10:12
“Sow for yourselves righteousness;
Reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unploughed ground;
For it is time to seek the LORD, until He comes and showers righteousness on you.”

Hosea, one of the 12 minor prophets, is probably best known for his life which God used as a parable to reflect His unconditional love for Israel. Hosea was ordered to take Gomer the prostitute as his wife and much of the book details the difficulties he faced but shows how his unfailing love reflects God’s relationship with His people who have proved to be just as fickle and unfaithful as Gomer ever did. Hosea’s words often challenged Israel to realise their sins and to do something about them.

Israel’s self-sufficiency and pride led to problems. They turned away from God to idols: we too can do the same thing, even if our idols look different to the wooden images carved in the Old Testament. The principles of the way back to God are laid out for us in this verse:

Break up your unploughed land

The Parable of the Sower (Mark 4, Luke 8, Matthew 13) talks about different kinds of soils. We have to make the hard soil of our hearts soft through the washing of the Word (Eph 5:26) and we need open ears that hear what the Spirit has to say to us. More than just hearing, however, we need to obey (see James 1:22-25).If we fail to act on the conviction the Holy Spirit brings, we are, in effect, hardening our hearts and we only have to look at what happened to the Israelites in the wilderness to see where this will lead us.

Sow for yourselves righteousness
Christ’s righetousness is imparted to us (see 2 Cor 5:21, 1 Cor 1:30). Our own righteousness is as filthy rags (Is 64:6), but we participate in a divine exchange – “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, for the display of His splendour.” (Is 61:3)We sow for ourselves righteousness when we live in right ways which reflect who God is (see Matt 5:16) and accept God’s estimation of us rather than our own views on who we are and what righteousness is.

Reap the fruit of unfailing love
Galatians 6 reminds us that we reap what we sow and that to reap spiritual fruit, we must sow to the Spirit. Jesus reminded us that there is a correlation between the tree and the fruit it produces (Matt 7:16-17). The fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 is the result of our ongoing relationship with Christ. We can reap the fruit of unfailing love ultimately because God’s character reflects this (see Ps 130:7, Is 54:10). Human love may fail, but God’s love never fails.

The conditions of our heart soil matter.We have to break up the unploughed ground in our lives, letting God’s Word water our hearts, responding to God with eagerness and willingness, not grudging reluctance.

We need to live righteously, accepting God’s evaluation of who we are and seeking to abide in Him so that we hunger and thirst for righteousness.

The rewards of living this way will be to reap the fruit of unfailing love.

We also had a birthday to celebrate!