It’s Time to Break Up Your Fallow Ground

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Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament prophetic book of Hosea, and more specifically, is found in the ninth and tenth chapters. “Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you” (Hosea 11:12). If there was ever a prophetic word and message that was so desperately needed in this generation, it is found within these words. There is within this particular verse of Scripture a powerful invitation that was given to those who had previously walked in blatant rebellion and transgression before the Lord. The invitation and offer was actually quite simple—“It is time to seek the Lord.” Oh, we as the people of God in this generation need to hear these words, and we need to act upon the great truth that surrounds it. It is truly time to seek the Lord, and indeed, I would say that it has been time to seek the Lord. There is a powerful call of the Spirit of the Lord in this generation to seek the Lord—to enter into the secret closets of prayer, and seek the Lord with all their heart, all their soul, all their strength. Tell me—when was the last time you truly sought the Lord with everything that was within you? When was the last time you truly sought the Lord with all your strength—with everything that was found within your heart, your soul and your mind? Dear brother and sister, do you hear the call and cry of the Spirit inviting you to seek the Lord? When considering the wonderful and powerful reality of seeking the Lord, it is imperative that we don’t quickly gloss over what is recorded in this verse prior to the declaration and invitation to seek the Lord. Through the prophet Hosea, the Lord declares to the house of Israel that it was time to sow [with a view to righteousness], it was time to reap [in accordance with kindness], and it was time to break up the fallow ground.

SOW! REAP! BREAK UP! Directly connected and joined together with seeking the Lord came a deep inner work that was necessary prior to seeking the Lord. Oh there was an invitation to seek the Lord, but there was an invitation in conjunction with that invitation to deal with one’s own heart. The Lord wanted the house of Israel to seek Him, but He wanted them to deal with the condition of their hearts—He wanted them to deal with the condition of the soil and ground of their hearts before Him. This is actually quite imperative for our understanding, for in the previous chapter, we read how the house of Israel sowed to the wind, and as as result, reaped the whirlwind. When considering these words, I was reminded of the words of the apostle Paul concerning sowing to one’s flesh versus sowing to the Spirit. When writing to the Galatians, the apostle Paul admonished and encouraged them to not be deceived, for God will not be mocked. He went on to emphasize the reality that those who sowed to the flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but those who sow to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. When teaching His disciples and the crowds, Jesus told a parable of the one who sowed the word, and then went on to describe the various types of soil upon which the word was sown. “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has not root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty” (Matthew 13:19-23). It is time to seek the Lord, but I am convinced that there is a deep, abiding and inward work that is associated and connected with it. It is time for the body of Christ and the people of the Lord to seek the Lord, yet I believe there is a work of sowing, a work of reaping, and a work of breaking up the fallow ground that needs to be accomplished prior to, and alongside seeking the face of our God.

This breaking up of the fallow ground is vital in our rising up to seek the Lord, for seeking the Lord works best with soil that has been broken up. Seeking the Lord works best when the fallow ground of our hearts and our souls have been broken up, and the Lord is once more able to sow in the midst of it. Consider what the actual definition of fallow means, and you will gain a better understand of the deep work that’s needed within our hearts and minds when we prepare to and attempt to seek the Lord. “Fallow is in reference to farmland or soil plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation or to avoid surplus production.” Consider the powerful invitation that was given to the house of Judah through the prophet Jeremiah, and is recorded for us in the fourth chapter of the prophetic book bearing his name. “For thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings” (Jeremiah 4:3-4). Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord called, instructed and invited the men of Judah and Jerusalem to break up their fallow ground—to break up that which had been left untouched and which had remained inactive. Oh, through the prophet Hosea, the Lord was instructing and inviting the house of Israel to seek the Lord, yet there needed to be an inward work that was done in conjunction with that seeking. Seeking the Lord was necessary, and seeking the Lord was vital, but there was a work which needed to be done within one’s heart and soul in order for such seeking to have any worth or value. If you consider the actual land of Israel and Judah—particularly during the seventy years in which they remained in captivity and exile—you will discover that the land remained untouched for seventy years. In fact, the length of years in which the house of Judah was to remain in captivity was in direct relation to the number of Shemitah years they had violated. Seventy years was decreed by the Lord for their captivity and exile, for they had forsaken, ignored, rejected and despised seventy Shemitah years—a total of four-hundred and ninety years. Those seventy years they remained in captivity, the land remained untouched and unharvested, and was permitted to enjoy the rest which the men of Judah and Jerusalem failed to provide for it.

According to Wikipedia, “during the Shemitah, the land was left to lie fallow and all agricultural activity, including plowing, planting, pruning and harvesting was forbidden by Jewish law. Other cultivation techniques such as watering, fertilizing, weeding, spraying, trimming and mowing could have been perofmed as a preventative measure only, not to improve the growth of trees or other plants. Additionally, any fruits which grew of their own accord are deemed ownerless and may be picked by anyone.” Consider the words which are recorded in the final chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Chronicles concerning the seventy years which Jerusalem and Judah were to spend in captivity and exile—“He took into exile in Babylon those who had escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and to his sons until the establishment of the kingdom of Persia, to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, UNTIL THE LAND HAD ENJOYED ITS SABBATHS. All the days that it lay desolate it kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years” (2 Chronicles 36:20-21). In order to properly understand this, you must turn and direct your attention to the Old Testament law which was given through Moses in the wilderness of Sinai. “But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the Lord: thous shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land. And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for they servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee” (Leviticus 25:4-6).

The words which are recorded in this passage form the command and the law that was given through Moses to the children of Israel by the Lord, and was to be observed throughout the generations. When you come to the very next chapter, you will find the warning that was given in connection with the law and command given through Moses. “Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lie desolate, and ye be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lieth desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths when ye dwelt upon it…The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes” (Leviticus 36:34-35, 43). When I read the words of the prophet Hosea in the eleventh chapter concerning breaking up the fallow ground, I am convinced that he was speaking to a people who had been restored from a place of captivity and exile. I believe that when the prophet Hosea declared that it was time to seek the Lord, he was speaking directly and straight to a people who had spent a significant length of time serving their enemies in the territory of their enemies. Through the prophet Hosea, the Lord was instructing and inviting a people who been unfruitful and unproductive to break up their fallow ground—to break up that ground which had remained unplowed, unpruned, and untouched for quite some time. Oh, tell me dear brother or sister, what fallow ground is present within your own heart and life? When the Lord speaks to you about breaking up your fallow ground, what does the fallow ground represent for you? Perhaps it’s the fallow ground of your devotional life, for the soil of your devotional life has remained in a state where it has not been cultivated, plowed, pruned, or sown. Perhaps it’s the fallow ground of your prayer life and your prayer closet, for the soil of your prayer closet has been permitted to remain in a state where it hasn’t been cultivated, sown, plowed or pruned? Maybe it’s the fallow ground of relationships and fellowship with other brothers and sisters, for you haven’t allowed such ground to be cultivated, plowed or pruned in quite some time. Maybe it’s the fallow ground of your worship of the Lord, for it has been quite some time since you have cultivated and sown into the soil of your worship.

Oh, it is time to seek the Lord—it is high time to seek the Lord—but I am convinced that it is time to break up the fallow ground in our lives. There has been soil that has been permitted to remain untouched, unplowed, unsown, and uncultivated for too long, and the Lord is calling on you to break up the fallow ground. The Lord is calling upon you to break up the fallow ground within your life, and to once more begin to sow and plant in those places which have remained untouched. I can hear the voice of the Spirit calling for the people of God to rise up and seek the Lord, but with that seeking the Lord, we must break up our fallow ground, and allow restoration to take place. It’s worth noting and mentioning that the prophet Hosea called the house of Israel to break up their fallow ground, but also to sow and reap—to sow with a view to righteousness, and to reap in accordance with kindness. There is a strong and powerful call for us to break up our fallow ground, and to break it up in order that we might once more sow with a view to righteousness. Oh, you might be sowing into the soil of your heart, and the soil of your life to unrighteousness, to the carnal desires and nature of your flesh, yet the Lord is calling on you to rise up and sow to the Spirit. The Lord is calling on you to cease sowing to the flesh, and to begin sowing with a view to righteousness. Each and every one of us is sowing something, and we are either sowing to the flesh, or we are sowing to the Spirit. There is a people in the earth today—even a people within the house of the Lord—who are sowing to their flesh, and who are from their flesh reaping corruption. We have been called to seek the Lord, but we have been, and are being called to break up our fallow ground—to break up our fallow ground in order that we might once more sow to righteousness and to the Spirit.

The soil and ground of your heart has remained fallow for too long now, and the Spirit of the Lord is calling on you to begin the process of breaking up that fallow ground. The soil of your prayer life has remained fallow and uncultivated for far too long now, and the Lord is calling on you to being the process of breaking up that fallow ground in order that you might once more sow to the Spirit, and sow to prayer and intercession. The soil of your relationships and fellowship with fellow brothers and sisters has remained fallow and uncultivated for far too long now, and the time has come for you to begin breaking up that ground in order that you might once more begin sowing to relationships. I know for myself that the Lord is calling on me to break up the fallow ground of relationships, and to once more begin plowing and sowing the seeds of relationships. I can honestly say that the soil and ground of relationships and fellowship within my life has remained fallow and uncultivated for quite some time, and it is high time for me to rise up and to once more begin sowing and planting the seeds of relationship. What does the process of sowing and planting mean for you in connection with the fallow ground that is present within your life? What is the seed which you must sow in order that a plentiful and fruitful harvest might be brought forth from the midst of the soil? The Lord desires to bring some one hundred fold, some sixty fold, and some thirty fold, but He desires to bring increase nonetheless. The Lord desires to bring increase into the midst of your prayer life—into the midst of your seeking the Lord, calling on the name of the Lord, and standing in the gap as a watchman in intercession. The Lord desires to bring increase into the midst of your relationships—into the midst of your fellowship and accountability with brothers and sisters. The Lord desires to bring increase into the midst of your relationships, and desires to bring increase in places you never dreamed of, imagined, or experienced before. The Lord desires to bring increase into your worship, and desires that your worship be cultivated and plowed like never before. What’s more, is that the one thing that serves as the seed in each of these areas in our lives is none other than the divine word of God.
Do you want to know what you are to sow into the soil and ground of your prayer life? Sow the Word of God. Do you want to know what you are to sow into the soil and ground of your relationships? Sow the Word of God. Do you want to know what to sow into the soil of your worship? Sow the Word of God. The Word of God is the seed which we are to sow into the soil and ground of our hearts and lives, in order that the Lord might bring the increase. What’s more, is that we must recognize and understand that the Lord might bring others alongside us in order to bring about the growth and increase that is necessary. Consider the words of the apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian congregation, and you will understand what I am speaking of. “What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants, nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Chronicles 3:5-9). The apostle Paul recognized that when it came to the Corinthian congregation, he himself planted, and Apollos watered, but it was God alone who provided the increase. Oh, let us never dare attempt to take any credit for the increase of that which has been sown, for it is the Lord, and the Lord alone who brings the increase. We as God’s people are called to plant and water, and it is the Lord Himself who brings the increase.

Oh dear brother and sister, you have been called to plant within your own field, and within your own soil, but there are others who will come alongside, and who will water that which has been sown. Additionally, you must recognize that you haven’t just been called to sow and plant within your own soil and fields, but you have been called to water the seed and the soil of others. There are far too many people who are focused solely on planting and sowing within their own fields, and within their own soil, that they never take the time to water the seed and the soil of another. What’s more, is that I would even dare say that we are called to help sow and plant in the soil and fields of others, in order that the Lord might bring great increase. The Lord might be calling you to sow seed into another’s field, perhaps by sending them Scripture through a text message or e-mail. The Lord might be calling you to sow seed into another’s field, perhaps by picking up the phone and calling them, or even by making a surprise visit to them. Tell me—what are we doing to help sow into the fields and soil of others? What are you and I doing to sow into the soil of another in this generation? We cannot, dare not and must not become so busy, so self-centered, and so focused on ourselves that we are unable to sow seed into the field of another, or even come by and water that which has been sown. Are you willing to water that which has been sown in the soil of another—maybe through prayer, or through worship, or through an encouraging word. It is time for us to seek the Lord, but it is time for us to break up the fallow ground within our hearts and lives, to begin the process of sowing with a view to righteousness, and reaping in accordance with kindness. Oh, who among us is willing to sow to the Spirit, and is willing to sow the word of God in the soil of our hearts, our homes, our families, our marriages, our communities, our churches, and yes, perhaps even our nation?

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