“Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD” (Hosea 10:12).
For the past many years, we have designated the Sunday after Easter as a “Fun Sunday” at Oakland. This year, the theme was originally going to be “Flannel Sunday.” We will all dress up in flannel shirts and blue jeans wearing our best farmer duds. We eventually changed the theme to “Down on the Farm,” with a Biblical emphasis on sowing and reaping. We will sing Christianized lyrics to country songs and serve farm themed foods at fellowship time.
With the COVID-19 restrictions and live-streamed worship, I believe my original theme, “Flannel Sunday” will be more appropriate. Folks will be able to worship online while remaining in their flannel pajamas. Who knows, we may even have a contest for the best, “Flannel-Clad PJs.”
Farming, planting, and harvesting are true Biblical and resurrection themes. The resurrection of Jesus and our resurrections are described in 1 Corinthians 15:36, “Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.” Jesus also describes His death and the resurrection, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24).
Looking ahead to a renewed normal, we at Oakland plan to designate a Palm Sunday and Holy Week, two weeks after we receive the go ahead to have open, in-person worship services. On the third Sunday (Hey, “3” is a Biblical number), we will celebrate Easter.
The prophet Hosea called Israel to “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” (10:12). During the stay at home restrictions, many of us have been breaking up the fallow ground areas in our lives. We have had to re-evaluate what is really important and necessary in our lives. We have cried out to God earnestly in prayer. We have supported those around us and reconnected with family members we had neglected.
Israel, the northern ten tribes, had turned away from God. Rather than repenting and seeking God for help, they turned to idols and foreign kings for rescue. Hosea pronounced judgment upon them, but tucked words of life in hope amid the punishment.
Hosea 10:12 promises if we sow in righteousness, we will reap mercy. If, in this season, we break up the fallow ground and seek the Lord, we will receive God’s rain (or reign) of righteousness. Fallow ground is uncultivated land or land left dormant. I pray that God uses this COVID-19 pandemic to cause many to call upon the Lord and cultivate the spiritual and relational areas of our lives that we have neglected for years. The tragedies of 911 caused many to turn to God, but only briefly. May we plow and sow righteousness that results in a renewed normal.
During these times of disease, politicized truth, social distancing, and quarantining, let us search and discover those neglected and uncultivated areas in our lives. Let us return to the Lord and the important areas of justice, truth, and relationships. May God rain His righteousness upon us, our churches, and our nation. May we reap God’s mercy in our day. ♦
For more by Pastor Randy Bain, visit his blog, and be sure to read the local Our Town where he contributes regularly.