Hosea 10:12-13 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. Ye have ploughed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.
In the first eleven verses of this chapter, God, through the prophecy of Hosea, condemns Israel severely. Israel is referred to as an empty vine that brings forth fruit unto himself (Hos. 10:1). Israel, at this time, was not productive for God, but rather the fruit of their labor was kept for themselves. They appeared to be corrupted by their prosperity - a self-serving prosperity that led them into idolatry. God said, The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed (Hos. 10:8). The altars erected for idol worship in Aven (Bethaven), would be destroyed. Continuing, Hosea wrote: O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: the battle of Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them (Hos. 10:9). If this reference is to the battle of eleven tribes of Israel against the Benjamites, it took place 666 years prior to the reference in the lesson text. The cause of this battle and the near elimination of the tribe of Benjamin are recorded in Judges, chapters 19 and 20. Even in the chapters preceding this battle, graven and molten images were made, set up in temples and worshipped (Judges 17:3-5). God says that from the time of the battle at Gibeah, Israel had sinned as an idolatrous people.
This takes us to the lesson text. God told Israel to change and repent of their wicked ways. If you will sow ...righteousness, you will reap ... mercy. All during these six hundred plus years you have ploughed wickedness, and reaped iniquity. And why? God said through Hosea it was Because thou didst trust in thy way. God was pleading to Israel to live righteously andobediently. In doing so, God promised them His mercy. On the other hand, if they continued to live wicked lives, He would punish them severely. They were admonished to quit trusting in their self-righteous ways and turn to the righteous ways of God.
The question to each of us is this: What are we sowing? Are we living our lives by trusting in our own ways, or are we forming our lives to God's ways. In the Paul's letter to the Galatian Christianswe read, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 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 (Gal. 6:7-8). Instead of us giving explanations to these verses, let us turn to biblical explanations.
The flesh refers to the ways of Satan - as those of the world are being led by man's own wisdom. The Spirit refers to ways of God - as men and women are obediently being led by the Holy Spirit-inspired word of God. There is something innate to mankind that shouts, "Live your life the way you want to live it." On the other hand, we also have a small voice of a spiritual consciousness inside us that whispers pleadingly: "Live your life the way God wants you to live it." These two urgings within us are contrary the one to the other (Galatians 5:17).
If we sow to the flesh, we shall reap corruption. What does this mean? It is explained in Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. You are encouraged to study good reference material to learn the true meaning of each of these works of the flesh.
If we sow to the Spirit, we shall reap life everlasting. What does this mean? It is explained in Galatians 5:22-23, but the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. If not already understood, you are encouraged to study each of these fruits of the Spirit to learn their true meaning.
God, the giver of all things, has supplied us with sufficient seed. Sow righteousness - reap mercy!