Break Up Your Fallow Ground
For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. (Jeremiah 4:3) 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)
Jeremiah and Hosea both preached that God’s people should break up their fallow ground. Fallow ground is: “plowed and left unseeded for a season or more; uncultivated.” (Dictionary.com) Israel was instructed by the Lord to let their land go unplowed and unplanted every seventh year. But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. (Leviticus 25:4)
Jeremiah and Hosea have borrowed a metaphor from Israel’s farm life to illustrate a spiritual need in the lives of the people. The message is to God’s people who at one time were in touch with Him and need to plow their souls again. This message is strictly to God’s people. It is not about plowing new ground that has never grown crops before. That’s why He specifically called it: fallow ground. God did not harden the hearts of His people. They did that themselves. But, He used the fallow ground as an object lesson for them.
Land that has never been plowed or had crops to grow on it before is not fallow ground. Many pictures like the one above on the right are portrayed online as fallow ground but it is not fallow ground. This appears to be the dried bottom of a lake that has a high content of clay. That’s why it cracked open. Nothing has been growing on this land and most likely, farm crops would not easily grow on it.
The message is not to lost people who have never had the seed of the Word of God planted in them. He wants lost people to be saved, but that is not dealt with in this message. God’s people need times of refreshing so that the seed of the Word of God can take root and grow fruit.
McGee comments: “This is a principle that runs throughout the Bible. It is exactly what Paul wrote to the believers in Galatia: "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" (Galatians 6:7-8). Hosea is saying that if they would sow in righteousness, they would reap in mercy. It is always true that we cannot live by the Devil's standards and then expect to reap a reward from God!
This doesn’t need a lot of explaining to those who have done any farming or gardening. A small amount of clay is desirable in the growing soil, but only a small amount. The roots of plants breath oxygen that is in the loose soil. If too much clay is in the soil, the oxygen level will be low, and the plants will suffocate for lack of root oxygen. It’s the same if it rains too long and the plants begin to turn yellow because they are starved for oxygen at the root level. Air and breath are words that remind us of the Holy Spirit. Fallow ground shuts out air, shuts out the Holy Spirit.
I watched my Grandpa Richards plow between the rows of corn or garden plants, even when there were few weeds. I wondered why he did that. He didn’t know why, except his father taught him to do it. He was breaking up the crust that had formed on top of the ground after a rain and the crust hindered the input of oxygen into the soil. So, breaking up the soil is a constant need, especially when the plants are small, and the root system is not fully developed.
If soil “lays out” for a year, the rains pack the soil and the packed soil hinders the plants just like too much clay in the soil. So, the soil must be broken up.
JESUS DISPLAYED A SIMILAR PRINCIPLE when He washed the disciples’ feet and Peter didn’t want Jesus to wash his feet. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.(Judas needed a complete bath and was not clean at all.) (John 13:8-10)
JOHN WROTE ABOUT OUR NEED OF CLEANSING, which corresponds to the breaking up of fallow ground. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1John 1:8-10)
PETER WROTE ABOUT THE NEED TO BE STIRRED UP. This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: (2Peter 3:1-2)
MOSES WROTE OF THE LAMPSTAND and its need to be trimmed of its ashes. And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold. Of a talent of pure gold (about 75 pounds of gold) shall he make it, with all these vessels. (Exodus 25:38-39)
Barnes comments: Exodus 25:38 “The tongs - Used to trim and adjust the wicks. (Compare Isa_6:6.) The snuff-dishes - These were shallow vessels used to receive the burnt fragments of wick removed by the tongs. The same Hebrew word is translated, in accordance with its connection, “fire pans,” Exo_27:3; Exo_38:3; and “censers,” Num_4:14; Num_16:6.” (Barnes)
The tongs and basin for the ashes and wick trimmings were made of gold and weighed at least 75 pounds. The gold is a symbol of deity.
TRIMMING THE WICKS AND THE SNUFFERS IN THE TEMPLE. They became corrupted because of their God-appointed use and not because of rebellion and sin.
LIKEWISE, God told His people to let the ground lay out and in that obedience, the ground compacted and needed to be broken up. Nevertheless, Jeremiah and Hosea used fallow ground to illustrate what ought to be done in the lives of His people. As we serve God, in the line of our appointed duty, we become polluted and hardened in our hearts and need to break up the hardened condition that has come upon us. We need the fresh dew of Heaven upon us.
In our appointed duty, our feet become soiled in a fallen world and we need to wash our feet. After we have spent ourselves and we are reduced to ashes, we need to cast ourselves in our burned-out condition into the presence of God. In our service for God we grow weary and need to be stirred up and refreshed again.
When Elijah called down fire from Heaven upon the sacrifice and altar on Mount Carmel, he ran ahead of Ahab’s chariot to get ahead of the rain that was coming. But, he spent himself outrunning the horses and the words of Jezebel discouraged him. He went into the wilderness and lay down, wishing to die. The angel of the Lord came and gave him food and he slept again. Then, and only then could he go on and finish his God-appointed work and turn it over to Elisha.
Have you grown tired? In the service of God, are you spent? Do you need to break up the fallow ground so the seed of the Word of God can once again grow in you and prosper your journey in serving the Lord?
Today’s song is: Break Up Your Fallow Ground, by Kathy Owens and Tammy Thomas.
Chorus - Break up my fallow ground; give a heart just like Your own; where Your word will find sweet soil everywhere that it is sown. Break up my fallow ground; rid my heart of sinful stone; break up my fallow ground, my heart Your throne.
Verse 1 - Lord, you saved me with Your Blood You shed on Calvary, and sweet blessings You have given every day; but my stubborn heart has often not been yielded to Your plan You had for me, Your perfect way.
Verse. 2 - Every day I am so easily distracted from the glory and the joy of serving Thee. Wicked pride and bitterness are there to strangle; sinful habits keep me from the victory.
Read Through the Bible in a Year
NOVEMBER 6, 2017 - MONDAY
A.M. Jeremiah 43-45 P.M. Hebrews 3
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Good Verse to Memorize:
He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1)
Song for Today:
Break Up Your Shallow Ground (Tammy Thomas & Kathy Owens)
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