Summary: Israel had wandered from God, even though He sought them to return. He wanted to bless them, but they had to meet God's conditions. The church has much potential, but we too must return to the Lord.
Now is the Time
Over the past few weeks we have considered the condition of Israel and her need for repentance. God loved His people and desired to have a fulfilling relationship with them. Unfortunately they sought the ways of the world and the desires of the flesh while neglecting their commitment to God. Having warned of impending judgment, God offered another opportunity for repentance and restoration.
Although Hosea penned these words thousands of years ago, I see a great parallel to America and the world at large. The prophet of old recorded timeless truth that is relevant and needful in our modern day. Like Israel of old, we need to repent of sin, return to God, and live faithfully for Him.
Our text verse today deals with an issue that transcends generations and geographic boundaries. It deals with the principles of sowing and harvest. You don’t have to have an agricultural degree to understand these principles. We all know that we reap what we sow. Much is being sown today, and soon enough we will reap what we have sown, whether it is good or bad. It was time for Israel to consider their actions and we too need to be mindful of our lives. I want to examine the instructions within the text as we consider the thought: Now is the Time.
I. The Challenge Extended (12a) – Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy. Through Hosea, God extended a direct challenge to Israel. Notice:
A. The Participation (12a) – Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy. Like many before them, those in Israel refused to admit their need. They viewed themselves as God’s chosen people, refusing to think God would in any way bring judgment upon them. Their lives were void of reverence for the Lord, having no desire to serve Him or live according to His ways, and yet they lived in an imaginary world void of reality. God challenged them to examine their own lives and personally engage in an act of repentance and obedience to Him.
As I consider the state of affairs within the modern church, I sense the same complacency and denial of truth. The church seeks to lay the blame for our decline at the feet of the world and the devil, and yet we never sense any need for improvement in our spiritual lives. We have been lulled to sleep by the enemy, led to believe our lack of commitment has not, in any way, contributed to the spiritual condition in our world and the decline of the church. While I agree that we face opposition and fight spiritual battles, I also know it is time for the church to assume some ownership in our decline. Until the church repents of her sin and returns to the Lord, the decline will continue.
B. The Obligation (12a) – Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy. Rather than living as they pleased, seeking only to satisfy the flesh, God challenged them to sow in righteousness in order to reap His mercy. He reminded them of the unchangeable truth – you always reap what you sow. Israel had not been sowing righteousness. Consider the rebuke in V.13 – Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men. They were sowing wickedness and reaping iniquity. If they were to avoid judgment and enjoy God’s blessing, they must begin to sow in righteousness.
This same principle applies spiritually in our day. If we are to enjoy the blessing of God, live fulfilling lives spiritually, and see the church strong and healthy, we too must sow in righteousness. We all share responsibility for the health and growth of the church. If we are not pleased with where we are, we need to look within. What are we sowing today? Are we sowing seeds of peace, love, encouragement and righteousness, or are we sowing seeds of anger, bitterness, and discord?
The principles of sowing and reaping will never change. We always reap what we sow; we reap later than we sow, and we always reap more than we sow. These are sobering thoughts when considered from a spiritual perspective. 2 Cor.9:6 – But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Gal.6:7-9 – Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.  And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.