You have eaten the fruit of deception

Devotional thoughts for May 2020

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... where I discuss the thinking that led to this article.)

Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you. But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors. (Hosea 10:12–13)

God used Hosea to detail the failings of his people. The nation Israel, but especially Ephraim, received a severe drubbing at the lips of this prophet. God called Israel “a wife of whoredoms” at one point — which is no small slap! Then he went on to use agrarian references to explain the people’s lack of prosperity, but also, to show the way of escape.

Trust in the Lord! That’s easy to say yet hard to do... but by “hard” I do not mean intrinsically difficult. Rather, it is something that goes against our natures to do. On the one hand, we are wired to trust God. But on the other hand, we are wired to work. Since our nature is to do both, they are not mutually exclusive. Just the opposite is true. I see them as mutually necessary.

Therefore, we should lift holy hands to the Lord, and we should work hard and prosper! Problems only develop when an attitude of self-sufficiency blocks our view of God’s provisioning. When we start looking inward for the roots of success, that’s when we start beholding iniquity.

Sowing is the picture of a proactive life. If you want to eat in September, you’d better get busy in March. People like me who are not farmers can miss these calendar issues since we merely purchase food at stores. But farmers must take the long view of land-care, markets and seasons... because farming is more than just watching things grow. God created the world with wisdom (Proverbs 3:19), and with wisdom, we should engage it.

In biblical times, crop failure was devastating. They didn’t have continual access to global markets as we do. They relied more immediately on agricultural blessings such as rain, lack of locusts and a good growing season. So, although good farmers were proactive, they understood that any successful harvest had as its “first cause” God’s creative decrees.

This is why God has filled his word with agricultural idioms: sow in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground; seek the Lord; wait for him to rain righteousness down upon you... but my focus is on verse 13 today; it shows the contrast between God’s hope for his people and their actual behavior: “... you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength....”

Don’t get me wrong: self-reliance is a good thing. But the type of self-reliance that is not based on God-reliance is a fruit of evil — and it is the core problem in the history of Israel and Judah. Remember their cycle? God established them, they prospered, became proud... then they forgot God, God thumped them, they bottomed out, they sought the Lord, they had a revival, God restored them, they became proud….

The Jews ignored their history, and ultimately, their ground went fallow. But it’s not just the Jews who have this problem. God speaks to us all when he says, “Break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord.”

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20200427 You have eaten the fruit of deception.)

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