hos 10.12

In Hosea 10:11-15 at the close of this chapter now we see a description of the Destruction that is coming at Dawn. “Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh grain; but I harnessed her fair neck, I will make Ephraim pull a plow. Judah shall plow; Jacob shall break his clods.” This describes a cow that has been used to thresh grain. In the threshing floor they would lay out the stalks and bundles of wheat on the ground and a cow would walk back and forth, trampling it, causing the grain and the chaff to be separated from the stalk. This was a cushy job for a cow! They were not tied to anything or harnessed and could eat all the grain they wanted as they moseyed around the threshing floor. God describes Israel as this kind of cow, who is now going to be taken out, yoked to another cow or other animal to be used to pull a plow through hard, cracked dirt that needs to be broken up for planting crops.

In the days ahead, what the people thought were hard times, when they sought help from Egypt and Assyria, these times are going to turn out by comparison to have been the easy times and the good old days!

In verse 12 then He tells them, “12 Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” Here is what they should have been doing all along. Here is the key. Here is their hope. They needed to have been sowing righteousness, not self-righteousness. They could then have reaped mercy instead of judgment. And what is fallow ground? Fallow means unused. It has lain dormant. It has not been tilled in a while and so is not growing anything. As a result, the topsoil has become hard and cracked. If it does rain the water cannot penetrate the top layers of the dirt and it just runs off. You cannot plant or sow seed in a fallow field. The plants will not take root or grow.

God here says they need to seek the Lord and He will send righteous rains upon them, but in order for the rain to be beneficial they first need to till up that hardened fallow soil.

To break up the fallow ground requires plowing. The soil must be tilled, broken up, softened. And then you need rain. It must be irrigated.

God says till up the fallow ground, prepare the soil, sow the seeds of righteousness and reap mercy. The word for mercy is lovingkindness. They must seek the Lord and He will bear this fruit, the fruit of the Spirit, in and through them.

Breaking up the fallow ground can be accomplished two ways. Both are by discipline! It takes self-discipline to seek the Lord and sow righteousness. Or it takes the discipline, the chastening of God to bring brokenness so that His Word will take root and produce good fruit in our lives.

Are there places in our lives where we find fallow ground? Places where we are not bearing fruit, or not bearing good fruit? Places that lie dormant, hardened, dried out, unfruitful? Get to work breaking up the fallow ground!

Now up to this point what has Israel been doing? Verse 13 tells us, “13 You have plowed wickedness; you have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way, in the multitude of your mighty men.” They are not sowing righteousness, but wickedness. They are not reaping mercy and lovingkindness, but iniquity. The fruit then being produced is deceptive, the fruit of lies, fruit that might look good on the outside but is sour and rotten on the inside. They trust their own way and do things for themselves. They believe they as a nation can handle things themselves without the help of the Lord.

“14 Therefore tumult shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be plundered as Shalman plundered Beth Arbel in the day of battle— a mother dashed in pieces upon her children. 15 Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great wickedness. At dawn the king of Israel shall be cut off utterly.”

Shalman is another name for Shalmaneser the Fifth, who was the Assyrian ruler who would come to conquer Israel. The King of Israel was going to be cut off suddenly without warning.

The last King in Israel before the Assyrian take over was King Hoshea. He ruled for 5 years but was captured and imprisoned by Shalmaneser before the actual invasion ever started. Before the battle began, the King was already removed and put away in captivity. In 2 Kings 17:3-6 we read this account, “3 Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him; and Hoshea became his vassal, and paid him tribute money. 4 And the king of Assyria uncovered a conspiracy by Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and brought no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. 5 Now the king of Assyria went throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years. 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.

Israel was going to be utterly ruined because of their sin.