Daily Thought for: 7th April
SOW TO YOURSELVES IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
Hosea 10. 9-15
Hosea was a contemporary of Isaiah and prophesied principally against Israel, the northern kingdom, making special mention of the sad spiritual state of Ephraim, the one tribe often used by the prophets to picture the nation of Israel as a whole.
Chapter 10 begins with a rural picture, showing Israel as an empty vine, producing no fruit for God but rather worshipping at false altars and bowing down to golden calves. Our section stays in the same rural setting, with Israel now pictured as a working ox. The Lord was going to chasten Israel, v. 10, who had not taken heed to His warnings since the shameful incident at Gibeah, Judg. 19-20. Even though Israel might seek a military alliance they would eventually be overcome by a foreign invader. This alliance is pictured as two yoked oxen ploughing in adjacent furrows, v. 10.
The present carefree attitude of Israel was portrayed as that of a young ox, given easy work, treading out the ears of corn on the threshing floor at harvest time, unmuzzled and able to eat to its heart content, Deut. 25. 4. However, those easy-going days would soon be over and God was going to put the Assyrian yoke on Israel and, instead of the light, agreeable work of threshing, it would be the toil of heavy ploughing, that is, severe judgement at the hands of the foreign oppressor.
Their only means of escape from the prophesied judgement was again given by a rural picture, this time of sowing, reaping and breaking up fallow, unploughed, hard ground; cf. Matt. 13. 4. They should be seeking the Lord in righteousness, cf. Prov. 11. 18, looking for His mercy and allowing His word to find a place in their hardened hearts. Following this, the Lord is pictured as raining righteousness, that is, blessing, upon them, to give a harvest. Sadly, so far they had done the very opposite and they had already known limited judgement, see verses 13-14, when the Assyrian Shalman attacked the northern town of Beth-arbel.
If God chastens us, Heb. 12. 5-11, it is not for our judgement but for our correction. For those ‘which are exercised thereby’, it too ‘yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness’, for us; cf. Hos. 10. 12 with Heb. 12. 11.