Fresh, Soft Dirt
When you plant a crop, you first break up the ground and then flatten it out so that you can insert the seeds in fresh, soft dirt. In Ancient Israel the farmers used a trained heifer to do this. At the beginning of Israel’s monarchy, Saul ruled from Gibeah, and at first he was like a well-trained farm animal who responded to the Lord’s guidance. Then he turned away and his heart became hard. In the end he was mentally unbalanced. This craziness was like a seed in the heart of the Northern Kingdom that in Hosea’s time had grown into full-blown turning away from the Lord and his Word.
Hosea is persistent. He won’t give up easily on his people, so he once again challenges both the Northern Kingdom and Judah to plough up their hard ground, to soften their hearts and turn back to their true King and Lord. If they will, God will still give them the gift of loyal love and faithful intimacy with himself. But Hosea makes it clear their time for change is running out. How will they respond? How will I respond?
“Since the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, O Israel. There, they remained unchanged.
In Gibeah did not war overtake the sons of wickedness? When I desire, I will punish them.
Nations will mass against them to put them in bonds for their double sin.
Ephraim was a trained heifer that loves to thresh; so I will put a yoke upon her fair neck. I will drive Ephraim; Judah must break up its fallow ground.
Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of covenant loyal love. Break up the hard unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.” Hosea 10:9 -12
Lord, help my heart to be soft and responsive to you today. Help me realize that as I allow you to plant the seeds of truth, dependability, obedience, and love for you that they will grow and produce the fruit of your Spirit in my life. But if I fight against your yoke of guidance and allow my heart to harden, your discipline will be tough.
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