Hos 10:12 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.
sow = H2232 זרע BDB Definition:
1) to sow, scatter seed
Act righteously and ye shall reap the reward; a reward not of debt, but of grace. (Pro_11:18) in mercy — according to the measure of the divine “mercy,” which over and above repays the goodness or “mercy” which we show to our fellow man (Luk_6:38). [Jamieson-Fausset-Brown]
Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Gal 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
Jer 4:3 For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
fallow ground = H5215 נר / ניר 1) tillable or untilled or fallow ground. ‘break up your fallow ground‘ this is ground that lies untilled, not ploughed, nor sown, on which nothing grows but the produce of nature, as weeds, thorns, briers, &c. is common to men and beasts, and is trodden upon, and, so is hard and unsusceptible of seed; which, if it accidentally falls upon it, makes no impression on it, and is not received by it; and the breaking of it up is by the plough. The “fallow ground” fitly represents the hearts of unregenerate men, which are unopened to the word, and unbroken by it; nor have they the seed of divine grace sown in them; but are destitute of faith, hope, love, fear, and the like; there is nothing grows there but the weeds of sin and corruption; and are like a common beaten road; are the common track of sin, where lusts pass to and fro, and dwell; and so are hardened and obdurate, as hard as a stone, yea, harder than the nether millstone; and who, though they may occasionally be under the word, it makes no impression on them; it has no place in them, but is like the seed that falls by the wayside, Mat_13:4, unless divine power attends it; for the Gospel is the plough, and ministers are the ploughmen; but it is the Lord alone that makes it effectual to the breaking up the fallow ground of men’s hearts, Luk_9:62, but when the Lord puts his hand to the plough it enters within, and opens the heart; it is quick, powerful, and sharp; it cuts deep, and makes long and large furrows, even strong convictions of sin; it throws a man’s inside outward, as the plough does the earth; and lays all the wicked of his heart open to him; and roots up the pride, the vanity, and boasting of the creature, and other lusts; and so makes way for the seed of divine grace to be sown there:
and sow not among thorns; or, “that ye may not sow among thorns” (o); for, unless the fallow ground is broken up, it will be no other than sowing among thorns; and unless the hearts of men are opened by the power and grace of God, they will not attend to the things that are spoken; preaching and eating the word will be like sowing among thorns; cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, the pleasures of life, and the lusts thereof, which are comparable to thorns, because pricking, perplexing, and distressing, and because vain and unprofitable, choke the word, and make it unfruitful; see Mat_13:7, now this exhortation in the text does not suppose power in man to break up and open his heart; but to show his want of renewing grace; the necessity of it; and the danger he is in without it; and to awaken in him a concern for it; see Eze_18:31. The words may be applied to backsliding professors, since backsliding Israel and Judah are the persons addressed; and this may be done with great propriety and pertinence to the simile; for fallow ground is that which has been broke up and sown, and laid fallow. It is usual to till and sow two years, and lay fallow a third: and backsliding Christians look very much like fallow ground; so faithless, so lukewarm, and indifferent; so inattentive to the word, and unconcerned under it; so barren and unfruitful, as if they had never had any faith, or love, or good work in them; so that they need to be renewed in the spirit of their minds; to have a new face of things put upon them: and to have a clean heart, and a right spirit, created in them. [John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible]
Break up your fallow ground – Fallow ground is either that which, having been once tilled, has lain long uncultivated; or, ground slightly ploughed, in order to be ploughed again previously to its being sown. Ye have been long uncultivated in righteousness; let true repentance break up your fruitless and hardened hearts; and when the seed of the word of life is sown in them, take heed that worldly cares and concerns do not arise, and, like thorns, choke the good seed. [Adam Clarke]
Is it not time that we should look into our hearts and lives, break up the fallow ground, now covered with thorns and thistles, and begin to sow in righteousness? Let us ask God to drive the plowshares of deep soul-searching and conviction across the hard and sterile acres of our hearts, and sow them with His good seed. [F.B.Meyer; ‘Through the Bible Day by Day’]
*The ‘good seed’ is the Word of God. We need to sow the Word of God DEEPLY into our hearts, which can be done after we ‘break up our fallow ground.’ Our ‘fallow ground’ is soil that needs to be tilled or furrowed so that SEED can be SOWED into it, and we can reap a crop of righteous fruit. We won’t REAP if we don’t SOW. We need to tend the soil of our hearts, lest it become overgrown with ‘thistles and thorns,’ the cares and worries of this life –
Luk 8:11 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
Luk 8:12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
Luk 8:13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.
Luk 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
Luk 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
Break up your fallow ground ….one sowing sufficeth not. It must be no surface-sowing. And “the soil of our hearts must ever be anew cleansed; for no one in this mortal life is so perfect, in piety, that noxious desires will not spring up again in the heart, as tares….” [Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible]
*Tilling the soil of our hearts would include pulling out the thistles and thorns of wrong or evil thoughts, motives, and pursuits. When we examine our hearts and find these things growing in them, we need to pull them up, and sow the seed of God’s Word in their place! Then we’ll reap a crop of good fruit from our righteous acts when it is ready or ripe. Just like natural crops must ripen before picking, we patiently wait for our spiritual seeds to mature before we see fruit appear –
Gal 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
For it is time to seek the Lord – This should be immediately done: the season is passing; and if you do not get the seed in the ground, the early rain will be past, and your fields will be unfruitful. [Adam Clarke’s Commentary]
seek … Lord, fill he come — The prophet bids them “seek diligently,” and perseveringly, “not leaving off or desisting,” if they should not at once find, but continuing the search, quite “up to” the time when they should find. His words imply the need of perseverance and patience, which should stop short of nothing but God’s own time for finding.
“If Israel of old were so to order their ways in expectation of Him, and that they might be prepared for His coming; and if their neglecting to do this made them liable to such heavy judgments, how much severer judgments shall they be worthy of, who, after His Coming and raining upon them the plentiful showers of heavenly doctrine, and abundant measure of His grace and gifts of His Holy Spirit, do, for want of breaking up the fallow ground of their hearts, suffer His holy word to be lost on them. The fearful doom of such unfruitful Christians is set down by Paul” Heb_6:4-8.
The present is ever the time to seek the Lord. “Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the Day of Salvation” 2Co_6:2. As Hosea says, “it is time to seek the Lord until He come,” so Paul saith, “unto them that look for Him, shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation” Heb_9:28. [Albert Barnes]
Rain righteousness upon you – God will give you the early rain in due time, and in proper measure. Here are the metaphors, and the application cannot be difficult.. Here are ploughing, fallowing, sowing, harrowing, watering, reaping, threshing, and feeding on the produce of well-directed labor. All may be applied to the human heart, and the work of God upon it. Correction, contrition, conversion, receiving the grace of Christ, bringing forth fruit, etc. [Adam Clarke’s Commentary]
SUMMATION: The ‘Good Seed’ is the Word of God, the bible. The ‘soil’ represents the hearts of men. The Ploughmen are ministers and preachers who sow the seed. ‘Fallow ground’ is soil that has been left unattended and has hardened so that it can’t receive seed. It’s a condition primarily of unregenerate hearts, but can also occur in those who’ve accepted Christ. The hardened soil of men’s hearts has to be ‘broken up,’ (furrowed/plowed) before the good seed can be sown in them. Whether it be for the first time, or numerous times; however often men discover that ‘thorns and thistles’ (cares of this life) are growing in their hearts!
A PERSONAL NOTE: I feel that the Lord impressed me today with two passages of Scripture from two different prophetic books, Hosea and Isaiah. Both mention SEEKING God and being RECONCILED to Him and to one’s fellow man; a two-pronged message. I feel that the terms ‘seeking’ and ‘reconciliation,’ were highlighted to me as I read those texts, and go hand-in-hand. 2017 may be a year in which many estranged relationships are healed as people reconcile with one another. I sure hope so.
Debra R. Stout, December 31, 2016