Amy and I were speaking not too long ago about the desire of most women to be pursued by their man. I had made a comment in a recent sermon that most men are at the top of their game romantically in the “pursuit stage” of their future wife. It would seem that the pattern is that the majority of men lessen the emphasis on romance once they have “captured their prey”. For many women this comes as a shock and sense of loss after the marriage is official. We understand that there are exceptions to this rule, but I stand by my observation that there is typically a decrease in this area for most men after the “I do’s” have become “It’s done!”
During our conversation Amy referenced the Old Testament book of Hosea, and how the prophet pursued his renegade wife even after she had betrayed him in repeated unfaithfulness. Not only did Hosea pursue Gomer, his bride, in the initial stages, but he also chased after her when she least deserved it. This lady broke her vows repeatedly and ran off from her husband to other lovers. Whatever may have gone on in her head, Gomer knew that she was desired by her husband when she saw Hosea’s committed pursuit of her to bring her home again. She was his precious one, and Hosea could not give up on her. I found myself reading through much of Hosea’s prophecy recently and finding many verses that I had notated, underscored and highlighted years ago. Is there a more appropriate exhortation for the American church today than this one found in Hosea 10:12? What about the church in Great Britain? Hungary? Tanzania? Ecuador? Canada? Here it is for you to consider:
“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.” – Hosea 10:12
The command from God was for His people to recognize that it was time to prepare for harvest. They had fallen back in their faithfulness (see Hosea 4:16) and God was summoning them to return to Him. The nasty seeds of idolatry and sensuality and unfaithfulness needed to be discarded in favor of the seed of righteousness. If they would do this in faithfulness to God, they would reap a bumper crop of the benefits of God’s mercy and steadfast love. They had been running from Him for far too long and had deprived themselves of the benefits of His commitment unto them. What they had embraced in place of Him only brought shame and defeat to their lives. He was giving His people another chance as the God of all grace often does for us. How priceless is His pursuit of His sometimes-blinded, backsliding bride.
Yet God’s people had some clear commands to obey. God had told His people that they needed to turn the soil of their hearts. To “break up the fallow ground” indicates a need to dig down, exert some energy and bring from underneath that which is fit for seed planting. The soil on top had grown hard and dry but the necessary moisture still waited within. They just needed to dig and turn to break up that which had become hard, and find that which was awaiting seed. That’s why God put the onus on them to prepare their own hearts. Why didn’t He do it for them? The reason is clarified by our own experience: if you aren’t willing to prepare your heart after God beckons you in grace to return, then you aren’t prepared for what He would have graciously planted anew inside of you. God qualifies the breaking up of the soil with the phrase, ‘it is time to seek the LORD’. Truth be known, God’s covenant people had stopped looking for God to be God. They had no anticipation that He would be coming in grace and therefore they had gone fruitless for quite some time as the soil of their collective soul had become hard and dry. God was saying that He would bless them anew if they were willing to believe Him and prepare themselves in humility, repentance and faith. Would the tines of their tillers turn? Would they trust in a second-chance God? Or…would another layer of dust settle upon their already hardened hearts?
Friend, I want to stress to each of you that God will replenish if you will till up your heart. He will even empower you to break up that tough soul-soil if you will simply lay your hand on the plow. He has good seed prepared uniquely for you and desires to bless you with a bumper crop of His goodness. As a matter of fact, He ends the verse we have been looking at by promising to “rain righteousness on you.” Will you trust Him today? If you have wandered then, by all means, return. One step is too far when we move away from God. I am told that if I will draw near to Him then He will close the gap even tighter (James 4:8). He is not running from you at all. Gomer, your Hosea is running to you, to you, to you. Stop where you are, turn towards Him, open your arms of grateful faith and enjoy His grace-embrace like never before. That’s what you have been missing.
By the way, He has been missing it too. That’s why He hasn’t given up on you.