Sow to yourselves in righteousness - Let the seed you sow be of the best kind, and in just measure.
Reap in mercy - By the blessing of God on this ploughing, sowing, and harrowing, you may expect a good crop in harvest.
Break up your fallow ground - Do not be satisfied with a slight furrow; let the land that was fallowed (slightly ploughed) be broken up again with a deep furrow.
For it is time to seek the Lord - This should be immediately done: the season is passing; and if you do not get the seed in the ground, the early rain will be past, and your fields will be unfruitful.
Rain righteousness upon you - God will give you the early rain in due time, and in proper measure. Here are the metaphors, and the application cannot be difficult.. Here are ploughing, fallowing, sowing, harrowing, watering, reaping, threshing, and feeding on the produce of well-directed labor. All may be applied to the human heart, and the work of God upon it. Correction, contrition, conversion, receiving the grace of Christ, bringing forth fruit, etc.
Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy - Literally, “in the proportion of mercy,” not in proportion to what you have sown, nor what justice would give, but beyond all deserts, “in the proportion of mercy;” i. e., “according to the capacity and fullness of the mercy of God; what becometh the mercy of God, which is boundless,” which overlooketh man‘s failings, and giveth an infinite reward for poor imperfect labor. As our Lord says, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together and running over, shall men give into your bosom” Luke 6:38.: “If the earth giveth thee larger fruits than it has received, how much more shall the requiting of mercy repay thee manifold more than thou gavest!” Sowing and reaping always stand over against each other, as labor and reward. “He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” 2 Corinthians 9:6.
And, “whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. In due season we shall reap, if we faint not” Galatians 6:7-9. We are bidden “to sow to ourselves,” for, “our goodness reacheth not to God” Psalm 16:2; our‘s is the gain, if we love God, the Fountain of all good. This reward, “according to mercy,” is in both worlds. it is in this world also. For “grace well used draws more grace.” God giveth “grace upon grace” John 1:16; so that each good deed, the fruit of grace, is the seed-corn of larger grace. “If thou humble thyself, it stimulates thee to humble thyself more. If thou prayest, thou longest to pray more. If thou givest alms, thou wishest to give more.” It is in the world to come. For, says a holy man, “our works do not pass away as it seems, but each thing done in time, is sown as the Seed of eternity. The simple will be amazed, when from this slight seed he shall see the copious harvest arise, good or evil, according as the seed was.” “Thou seekest two sheaves, rest and glory. They shall reap glory and rest, who have sown toil and self-abasement”.
Break up your fallow ground - This is not the order of husbandry. The ground was already plowed, harrowed, sown. Now he bids her anew, “Break up your fallow ground.” The Church breaks up her own fallow ground, when she stirs up anew the decaying piety of her own members; she breaks up fallow ground, when, by preaching the Gospel of Christ, she brings new people into His fold. And for us too, one sowing sufficeth not. It must be no surface-sowing. And “the soil of our hearts must ever be anew cleansed; for no one in this mortal life is so perfect, in piety, that noxious desires will not spring up again in the heart, us tares in the well-tilled field.”
For it is time to seek the Lord, until He come and rain righteousness upon you - Or better, “until he shall come and teach you righteousness.” To “rain righteousness” is the same image as Solomon uses of Christ; “He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass, as showers that water the earth” Psalm 72:6, and Isaiah, “drop down ye heavens from above and let the skies pour down righteousness” Isaiah 45:8. It expresses in picture-language how He, who is “our Righteousness,” came down from heaven, to give life to us, who were dried and parched up and withered, when the whole face of our mortal nature was as dead. Yet there is nothing to indicate that the prophet is here using imagery. The Hebrew word is used very rarely in the meaning, to “rain;” in that of teaching, continually, and that, in exactly the same idiom as here. One office of our Lord was to teach. Nicodemus owned Him, “as a teacher sent from” God John 3:2. The Samaritans looked to the Messiah, as one who should “teach all things” John 4:25. The prophets foretold that He should “teach us His ways” Isaiah 2:3, that He should be a “witness unto the people” Isaiah 55:4.
The prophet bids them “seek diligently,” and perseveringly, “not leaving off or desisting,” if they should not at once find, but continuing the search, quite “up to” the time when they should find. His words imply the need of perseverance and patience, which should stop short of nothing but God‘s own time for finding. The prophet, as is the way of the prophets, goes on to Christ, who was ever in the prophets‘ hearts and hopes. The words could only be understood improperly of God the Father. God does not “come,” who is everywhere. He ever was among His people, nor did He will to be among them otherwise than heretofore. No coming of God, as God, was looked for, to “teach righteousness.” Rather, the time was coming, when He would be less visibly among them than before. Among the ten tribes, as a distinct people, He would shortly be no more, either by prophecy, or in worship, or by any perceptible token of His providence. From Judah also He was about, although at a later period, to withdraw the kingdom of David, and the Urim and Thummira, and the Shechinah, or visible presence. Soon after the captivity, prophecy itself was to cease. But “the coming of Christ the patriarchs and holy men all along desired to see: Abraham saw it and was glad John 8:56. Jacob longed for it Genesis 49:18. The law and the prophets directed to it, so that there were always in Israel such as waited for it, as appears by the example of old Simeon and Joseph of Arimathaea, and those many prophets and righteous men whom our Saviour speaks of Luke 2:25; Mark 15:43; Matthew 13:17. “He that should come” seems to have been a known title for Him; since John Baptist sent two of his disciples, to say unto Him, “Art thou He that shall come, or do we look for another?” Matthew 11:3.
The prophet saith then, “Now is the time to seek the Lord, and prepare for the coming of Christ, for He, when He cometh, will teach you, yea, will give you true righteousness, whereby ye shall be righteous before God, and heirs of His kingdom.”: “So God speaketh through Isaiah, “keep ye judgment and do justice, for My salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.” In both places, people are warned, “to prepare the way” to receive Christ, which was the office assigned to the law. As Paul saith, “Whereunto was the law? It was added because of transgressions.” It was given to restrain the passions of people by fear of punishment, lest they should so defile themselves by sin, as to despise the mercy and office of Christ. It was given to prepare our souls by love of righteousness and mercy to receive Christ, that he might enrich them with the divine wealth of righteousness.”: “If Israel of old were so to order their ways in expectation of Him, and that they might be prepared for His coming; and if their neglecting to do this made them liable to such heavy judgments, how much severer judgments shall they be worthy of, who, after His Coming and raining upon them the plentiful showers of heavenly doctrine, and abundant measure of His grace and gifts of His Holy Spirit, do, for want of breaking up the fallow ground of their hearts, suffer His holy word to be lost on them. The fearful doom of such unfruitful Christians is set down by Paul” Hebrews 6:4-8.
The present is ever the time to seek the Lord. “Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the Day of Salvation” 2 Corinthians 6:2. As Hosea says, “it is time to seek the Lord until He come,” so Paul saith, “unto them that look for Him, shall he appear the second time, without sin, unto salvation” Hebrews 9:28.
Throughout the parable of the sower, Christ represents the different results of the sowing as depending upon the soil. In every case the sower and the seed are the same. Thus He teaches that if the word of God fails of accomplishing its work in our hearts and lives, the reason is to be found in ourselves. But the result is not beyond our control. True, we cannot change ourselves; but the power of choice is ours, and it rests with us to determine what we will become. The wayside, the stony-ground, the thorny-ground hearers need not remain such. The Spirit of God is ever seeking to break the spell of infatuation that holds men absorbed in worldly things, and to awaken a desire for the imperishable treasure. It is by resisting the Spirit that men become inattentive to or neglectful of God's word. They are themselves responsible for the hardness of heart that prevents the good seed from taking root, and for the evil growths that check its development. COL 56.1
The garden of the heart must be cultivated. The soil must be broken up by deep repentance for sin. Poisonous, Satanic plants must be uprooted. The soil once overgrown by thorns can be reclaimed only by diligent labor. So the evil tendencies of the natural heart can be overcome only by earnest effort in the name and strength of Jesus. The Lord bids us by His prophet, “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.” “Sow to yourselves in righteousness; reap in mercy.” Jeremiah 4:3; Hosea 10:12. This work He desires to accomplish for us, and He asks us to co-operate with Him. COL 56.2Read in context »
Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. Hosea 10:12. SD 326.1
The principles of the truth must be interwoven with our character and life. We should cherish every ray of light that falls upon our pathway, and live up to the requirements of God. We should grow in spirituality. We are losing a great deal of the blessing ... because we do not take advance steps in the Christian life.... SD 326.2Read in context »
The work has been extended so that it now covers a large territory, and the number of believers has increased. Still there is a great deficiency, for a larger work might have been accomplished had the same missionary spirit been manifested as in earlier days. Without this spirit the laborer will only mar and deface the cause of God. The work is really retrograding instead of advancing as God designs it should. Our present numbers and the extent of our work are not to be compared with what they were in the beginning. We should consider what might have been done had every worker consecrated himself, in soul, body, and spirit, to God as he should have done. 6T 420.1
Our churches are to co-operate in the work of spiritual tilling, with the hope of reaping by and by. There is much perversity to be met, much thwarting of holy plans and consecrated effort, because of the evil heart of unbelief. But the work must be done. The soil is stubborn, but the fallow ground must be broken up, the seeds of righteousness must be sown. Pause not, teachers beloved by God, as though doubtful whether to prosecute a labor which will grow as performed. Fail not, neither be discouraged. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. “We are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9. Remember that you cannot trust in self. 6T 420.2Read in context »
Young men should be qualifying themselves for service by becoming familiar with other languages, that God may use them as mediums through which to communicate His saving truth to those of other nations. These young men may obtain a knowledge of other languages even while engaged in laboring for sinners. If they are economical of their time they can improve their minds and qualify themselves for more extended usefulness. CT 508.1
It will make our young men strong to go into new fields and break up the fallow ground of human hearts. This work will draw them nearer to God. It will help them to see that of themselves they are altogether inefficient, that they must be wholly the Lord's. They must put away their self-esteem and self-importance, and put on the Lord Jesus Christ. When they do this, they will be willing to go without the camp and bear the burden as good soldiers of the cross. They will gain efficiency and ability by mastering difficulties and overcoming obstacles. Men are wanted for responsible positions, but they must be men who have given full proof of their ministry, in willingness to wear the yoke of Christ. CT 508.2Read in context »