Divine Warnings are a Divine Mercy

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. Hosea 10:12

This is the only command of Hosea’s message to the nation of Israel in chapter 10. It is a divine imperative to repentance. Israel has “plowed wickedness and reaped iniquity” (v. 13). Now they are being called upon to “sow . . . righteousness” that they might “reap in mercy.” This is nothing less than a call to repentance! This call to repentance is also expressed as a command to “Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, til He comes and rains righteousness on you.” Fallow ground refers to a once plowed field which has set untended for some time. The ground has now hardened and is in need of being re-plowed. It is the image of a farmer who has plowed a field in view of planting a crop, but for whatever reason the field is left untended for a number of years and will have to be broken up again before anything can be planted in it.

I think two categories need to hear Hosea’s command in this text: the youth and the adults.
  • Young People! Break up your fallow ground now while your hearts are still relatively tender, not yet hardened by sin. The wisest man who ever lived wrote in Ecclessiastes 12 to remember your Creator in the days of your youth!
  • Older Adults! Your hearts are fallow! Many seasons have come and gone and your hearts are growing harder each year. Repent now before its too late!
Divine warnings are a mercy because they urge us to repent in order to escape God’s judgment. This is nowhere seen more clearly than in the story of Jonah going to preach judgment to Ninevah. He did not even mention the possibility of pardon, but the warning served its function in producing repentance and God’s judgment was averted.

The irony of history is that wicked Assyria (for Ninevah was the capitol city of Assyria) repented at the preaching of Jonah, but religious Israel refused to repent at the preaching of Hosea! If Israel would have repented, she would have reaped mercy (as did Assyria). But they did not and destruction was their destiny.

Today, you stand where both Assyria and Israel stood! Repent and you will be spared! Sow righteousness! Reap in mercy!

During the 18th and 19th centuries in Europe vaults in churches were used to store gunpowder. But churches also featured steeples or bell towers making them especially susceptible to lightning strikes. You don’t have to be a scientist to know that this is a deadly combination! In 1769 in Brescia, Italy a lightning strike, fire and gunpowder explosion killed 3,000 people. A similar lightning strike and explosion happened on the island of Rhodes in 1856 and killed 4,000 (see WORLD Magazine article by Marvin Olasky “Pride and Fall” from August 5, 2006) .

Looking back its easy to be amazed at the folly of this practice from the 18th and 19th centuries. We are way to smart today in the 21st century to do anything like that, or are we? May I suggest that those living unrepentant lives are living much more dangerously! But we foolishly think that because the lightning hasn’t struck yet, that it never will. But be sure, it will! It is appointed to man, once to die and after this the judgment! You will reap what you sow! Then it will be too late. It will be harvest time!

4 comments

  1. Yeah. So many times, we think of a warning as a put-down — kind of like how a small child will become upset when he is warned, not realizing that it’s for his good.

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