“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers righteousness on you” (Hosea 10:12).
As a pastor, it is important for me to keep track of current events, both here in South Florida and throughout the world, so that I may know how best to minister to our congregation and how to pray for all of you and for our world. But as a man whose sinful flesh is stained by sin and selfishness, there are times I’d really rather shut off the TV and just go sit by the pool. The news just seems to get worse and worse as the COVID-19 virus continues to spread.
I know in my heart that God is sovereign over all things and that “the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does” (Daniel 9:14), yet when I read of more and more people who are unable to go to work and even doctors and pastors dying from this virus, in the back of my mind there is that insidious, nagging voice whispering, This all looks really bad! How can God possibly be working all these things for the good of those who love Him?
I know full well where that voice is coming from; it is not the voice of the Spirit of God, but rather the voice of the serpent, who led Adam and Eve and all of humanity into sin with his sly suggestion, “Did God really say . . . ?” (Genesis 3:1). Satan convinced Adam and Eve to reject the Word of the Lord and follow their own desires, and all the evil throughout human history — including all the evil of COVID-19 — can be traced to that one disastrous moment.
Having said that, let me remind you of something I have said many times from the pulpit: It is not a sin to ask God, “Why are You doing this?” All throughout Scripture we read of those who cried out to God in this way. David and Job come immediately to mind, but there are many more. Some called to Him in confusion . . . some in frustration . . . some in fear . . . some in grief. But they all called to God with hearts that were beating for Him, and our God graciously invites us — nay, He commands us — to “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
Hosea wrote primarily to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel, not long before they would be overrun by the Assyrian invaders. While there was no unusual threat of disease hanging over God’s people at that time, their circumstances were very similar to ours today: unrest throughout the world, rampant apostasy as people turned away from the Lord God of Truth, and the virus of sin spreading rapidly throughout Israel and all over the world. And what was God’s message at that time to His people? We see it in the this passage (Hosea 10:12):
“Sow for yourselves righteousness”
Prayerfully strive to be and do your best . . . even if those around you are not. “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (Psalm 105:4 ESV). Let not the whisper of the serpent distract you; but “Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
“Reap the fruit of unfailing love”
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength, AND love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). All of us are feeling a little isolated and alone right now; let others feel the love of God through you! Pick up the phone and call someone and let them know you care for them and that you’re praying for them.
“Break up your unplowed ground”
Ask God to show you those areas in your life that are not fully yielded to Him, and then get to work on breaking up those hard, unyielding strongholds of sin in your life. Ask God to soften your heart so that He can sow seeds of righteousness in their place.
“It is time to seek the Lord”
As circumstances in Hosea’s day grew worse, the people of Israel, incredibly, drew even further away from God! But this is not for you! Draw near to God, seeking Him in His Word and in prayer, for He has promised to “shower righteousness on you” when you do.
Let us covenant together, you and I, to follow the invitation given to us by God through Hosea and eagerly wait for the fulfillment of His promise:
“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth” (Hosea 6:3).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!
Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach. He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com.