12 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.
13 You have plowed wickedness;
You have reaped iniquity.
You have eaten the fruit of lies,
Because you trusted in your own way,
In the multitude of your mighty men.
A couple of days ago we observed the US holiday known as Veterans Day. That day began as Armistice Day, a day to commemorate the signing of the treaty that ended World War I in 1918. World War I was once known as the Great War and “The War to End All Wars.” But just twenty years later, Europe was again embroiled in war. And twenty years after that was the beginning of the so-called “Cold War.” Even after the fall of Communism in Europe in 1989, there continued to be war in eastern Europe. So much for the “War to End All Wars.”
The peace brought by men is never a lasting peace. It is, at best, a cessation of hostilities or a change in tactics. One need look no further than the history books to see that the seeds of one war are sown in the treaties of the previous one. As the Lord said through Hosea, “They sow the wind, And reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7) Men sow empty promises, and they reap warfare and death.
In today’s verses from the prophet Hosea, he is exhorting the Israelites to sow something else: righteousness. Simply laying down arms only creates a false “peace,” a peace that is only the outward lack of hostility. But the peace of man is not the peace – “shalom” – of God. “Shalom” is the peace and tranquility that comes from knowing God’s love is with you. “Shalom” is the everlasting peace that reigns from our hearts outward, not from our hands inward. The peace of man that comes from putting away our weapons can never penetrate our hearts of stone. The peace we need is the peace that only Christ can give us.
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
Our best fields have been lying fallow because we have not sown the seeds of the gospel there. We have reaped the fruit of lies because all we have ever sown was wickedness, sin, and deceit. We are weak and weary because we trusted in our own strength and neglected to have the proper nourishment of God’s Holy Word. We reaped the whirlwind because we have sown nothing but falsehood and words spoken from stony hearts.
As Hosea said, “it is time to seek the LORD.” Let us sow God’s righteousness, planting the gospel in the ground broken up by repentance and humility. Let us put aside pride and self-sufficiency and seek God till He comes. Solomon wrote:
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and depart from evil.
Throw aside the wisdom of this world that commemorates false peace and that tells us wars will end when men lay down their arms. Wars can only cease when all people have come to the knowledge of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. But we know from Scripture that even in the last days there will be “wars and rumors of wars.” (Matthew 24:6) Until those days, let us sow the seed of righteousness and expect the mercy of God our Savior. Rest not in the peace of men but rest in the “shalom” of God, whose love is so great He sent His Son to bring salvation to the world.
Father God, we rest in you – resting as the soldier rests before a great battle, resting as the farmer rests to wipe his brow while plowing a field, resting as the mother rests as her child sleeps. We rest because Your shalom reigns in our hearts. Help us, Lord God, to plant righteousness instead of wickedness, so that we can reap Your mercy instead of Your wrath. Let Your salvation spring up from the ground and Your righteousness rain down upon us all. Amen.