The beginning of late spring is an exciting time for our family. One of our favorite outdoor activities is planting and maintaining a garden. Last year, we had an abundance of zucchini, squash, okra, and beans. This year, we hope to reap an abundant crop again. It is a real treasure to have fresh garden produce preserved for a harsh winter. It is truly a gift from God.
In Hosea, God gives Israel an opportunity to return to Him. He wanted them to seek Him in sincerity. In Hosea 10:12, God gives a picture of a garden or field in preparation for a crop and harvest. Although this is a picture for Israel, it can easily apply to our lives as well. As described below, the scripture gives three ways for us to seek God.
Preparing the Garden of our Heart
First, you must “sow for yourselves righteousness.” Looking back at Hosea 6:3, God says to “pursue the knowledge of the Lord.” We must learn about God in order to “sow” the seeds of righteousness. Righteousness can only come when learn about God through scripture. It is through Scripture that we learn that we cannot be righteous by our actions. Romans 3:20 states that “by the deeds of law, no flesh will be justified in His sight, for the law is the knowledge of sin.” Therefore, by pursuing the knowledge of God, we realize that the only way to gain righteousness is through Jesus Christ. Our belief through faith in Jesus Christ sows our righteousness. (Read Romans 3: 21-26)
Second, God says to “reap in mercy.” By the actions and blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, we are shown compassion and forgiveness by God, who has the power to punish us for our sin. However, we must be careful. For what we sow, we will reap. Galatians 6: 7 says “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.” If we sow righteousness, then by mercy, we will reap righteousness. However, the alternative will be reaped if we sow worldly things. If our pursuits are money, power, and fame apart from God, we will sow those things apart from God. For many, this is a lesson that is hard learned.
Thirdly, God instructs to “break up fallow ground.” Fallow ground was left unsown for a time to regain fertility. This was done as part of a rotation of crops. The time for the ground to be left unsown was over. The plowing of the soil helped make the ground ready for sowing by the farmer. The plowing broke up weeds that had grown, which made the ground unusable.
The Parable of the Sower
Matthew 13: 18-23 tells of a parable of the sower. Seeds were sown in three different types of ground. The first is that of stony ground. The seed (representing the Gospel) does not take root due to the stones. This represents a person who hears about Christ, makes a commitment, but does not allow it to take root. This person cannot withstand trials or hard times. The second seed falls among thorns. The thorns are worldly cares, which choke out the seed. This person cares too much about worldly things and does not allow the seed to grow, becoming unfruitful. The third seed falls among good ground. “This person hears the word and understands it, which indeed bears fruit and produces (v. 23).” Our hearts must be good ground that allows the seed to grow, produce, and multiply.
We are to seek the Lord. Our hearts must be fertile gardens in which the seed of Christ must be able to grow and flourish. Our goal should be make an abundance of fruit. In this passage, the Lord gives us a way to prepare our hearts to make way for Him.
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