Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more they were called, the more they went away from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts
a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.
I read this interesting passage about God’s love for his people in the book of Hosea. It was written to the Israelite nation, but it also speaks about God’s love for his people- all people. We have all strayed in our own way, and we need guidance like children.
In these passages, Hosea uses metaphors which were well known to the people of the time. He used agricultural analogies to relay to them what they needed to do, and to demonstrate God’s love for them. Hosea pointed out that it was time to go deeper into their relationship with God. He encouraged them to break up the ground, to plow deeper to break up the hard ground which does not sustain plants. If one does not plow a field deep enough, the hardened crust of the top soil will not allow moisture to penetrate to the deeper soil.
Further, the young plants, if they do germinate, cannot break through the hard crust of the unplowed top soil. Hosea is encouraging them to break their hardness of heart, and be receptive to the tender hands of the planter who loves them. They are to “sow in righteousness”.
Hosea also uses the analogy of God as the parent who is helping them to learn how to walk (drew them with cords of compassion – a method of tying cords to toddlers so that they would feel confident when first learning to walk). Hosea also uses the agricultural analogy of taking the yoke off the oxen to give them refreshment after they have been plowing the fields. The promise is that, when we do the hard work of plowing the ground deeper, there is the reward of reaping in righteousness, and being fed by the God who loves us.
We can never outdo God in love. For whatever small efforts we are capable of doing in loving others, God richly rewards, not according to our efforts, but according to His treasures.
Prayer: Father, thank you for your everlasting love. You call us to love you by loving others. Help us to show that love freely and willingly. Amen.