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 (Hosea 10:12).
Fallow ground is unproductive, untilled ground. When I was young my dad bought some land in a rural area and built a house there. There were fields of various kinds of produce surrounding my house. One field sat unplowed for a long time. The government paid the farmer to allow it to lie fallow.
The ground in this unplowed field had a thin crust over it that made it difficult for water to permeate. When it rained, the water simply ran off into the lowest place. Weeds grew in abundance there.
I noticed that when the farmers would plant crops in an adjoining field, some of the seed would be thrown over into this “fallow” field. They never germinated because the ground was so hard. The seed just lay on top of the soil and produced nothing.
Jesus mentioned four types of heart soil where the seed of the Word is planted. In Mark 4 He mentioned wayside, stony, thorny, and good ground. Fallow ground is much like the wayside, stony, and thorny ground. The seed just will not germinate in this type of soil.
Hosea was encouraging Israel to break up their fallow ground or to allow the Word to penetrate their hardened hearts. And it is wise for us to check up on the condition of the soil of our hearts, and make sure that our ground is not fallow.
The writer of Hebrews mentions that sin hardens the heart. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God (Hebrews 3:13 – New Living Translation). Sin is deceptive. As one pastor many years ago said: Sin will take you farther than you want to go, it will make you stay longer than you want to stay, and it will make you pay more than you want to pay.
Sin in all its varying forms: unforgiveness, pride, lust, self-centeredness, gossip, and refusing to walk in love, are a few ways that our heart soil can become fallow or hardened. The word just won’t produce fruit under these conditions. And the Holy Spirit’s voice is easily muffled when the heart becomes hardened. Don’t allow yourself to remain in sin without immediately repenting. WHen you see a person who is a believer, maybe even a leader, suddenly caught in sexual sin or greed or some scandal, be aware that the hardness began years ago. Sin deceives. Don’t allow it to deceive you!
Breaking up fallow ground involves allowing the Father through the Word and the Holy Spirit to show us areas of disobedience, leading us to confessing it, and forsake it. Repentance plows the soil of the human heart and allows the Word to germinate. Repentance softens the hardness, allows conviction from the Holy Spirit to do its work deep within our hearts, and enables us to change what we’ve done that broken our fellowship with God.
If you’ve noticed weeds growing in your life, sins that easily ensnare you, or if you notice a hardness in your attitude towards others, let me encourage you to take Hosea’s advice and do some spiritual plowing. Confess any known sin. Break up your fallow ground. The results will be fresh life from God, producing joy, peace, and a freedom to experience the best that God has for you.