You Have Eaten the Fruit of Lies

"Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. You have plowed iniquity; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and in the multitude of your warriors" 
(Hosea 10:12–13, ESV)

God used the prophet Hosea to detail the failings of his people. Israel — and especially the tribe of Ephraim — received a drubbing at the hands (… well… at the lips) of this prophet. In fact, God used the term a wife of the whoredoms during his instructions to Hosea. But God also used many agrarian references to describe the people’s prosperity… or lack of it. Fortunately, he broke-up long periods of doom-and-gloom with the occasional way-of-escape, and we find such encouragement in our key verses.

Trust in the Lord! That is so easy to say… yet, so hard to do. But by hard I do not mean intrinsically difficult. Rather, it is something that runs against our human nature. On one hand we are wired to trust, and on the other hand, we are wired to work… but the two need not be mutually exclusive. We should lift holy hands to the Lord! … and we should also work hard and prosper. Problems only develop when we let an attitude of self-sufficiency eclipse God’s provisioning process. Believe me, when we behold our own muscled arms, we are beholding iniquity.

Note also the instructions in our key verses. Sowing is the very picture of a proactive life. If you want to eat in September, you’d better get busy in March. We non-farmers probably miss these agrarian calendar issues. After all, we merely purchase food. But farmers take the long-view. They must consider land care, markets and seasons; it’s more than just watching things grow.

In biblical times, crop failure was devastating… and it can still be so in economically isolated areas. In the developed world, however, food supplies are buffered by access to global agricultural markets, but the ancients had to rely more on God’s direct agricultural blessings. They prayed for rain, relief from pests… or for a good growing season in general. But in the main, one had to be proactive or die. God set up agriculture so we could be proactive with him… and we risk losing his blessing if we go on without him.

God never missed a beat as he wove the agricultural idiom through his spiritual instructions. Sow in righteousness, but reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground; seek the Lord; wait on the Lord and he will rain righteousness down upon you. But verse 13 shows the contrast between his hope for the people and their actual behavior: you have plowed wickedness, reaped iniquity and eaten the fruit of lies. You have trusted in your own resources!

Self-reliance is a good thing. I wish it upon more Americans. However, any self-reliance that is not based in God-reliance is hubris… and this was the core problem in the history of Israel and Judah. Remember their cycle? God would show his hand and establish his people. Then they prospered… and then became proud, forgot God, God thumped them, they bottomed out, they sought the Lord, they had revival, God restored them, they became proud….

This cycle would be comical if it were not so costly. How many perished? How many grew up in godless households? How many were clueless about their people’s history and God’s wonderful works among their fathers? Their ignorance caused the ground to go fallow. So, God is saying to us as he said to them, break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord.

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