Monday, November 12, 2012

The Trained Heifer


The Trained Heifer

 

Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh grain; but I harnessed her fair neck, I will make Ephraim pull a plow. Judah shall plow; Jacob shall break his clods.  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 10:11-12


It’s easy to get in a rut when serving God.  Serving takes a lot of giving, and giving can sometimes be exhausting.  I’m sure many ministers awake on Sunday mornings wishing they could just pull the covers over their heads and sleep in.  But once you discover the joy that comes from serving God, you cannot walk away from it.  Your heart won’t let you! 
In Matthew 13:44 Jesus says “the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Living for God is like a field with treasure hidden in it.  Once you find it, “for joy over it”, you have to possess it, and all of it!  Your heart is filled with its worth.  You’re overcome by the power of the love for that field.  But what do you do when you’re working that beautiful field and you end up in a rut? What do you do when suddenly the field you love becomes drudgery?

In Hosea 10 God is pronouncing punishment on Israel for their sins. He talks of Ephraim, one of the twelve tribes of Israel being “a trained heifer that loves to thresh grain”.  A threshing floor was a hard surface, sometimes a hollowed out place in a rock, in which the grain would be pressed down by a rock turning on top of it.  The heifer, going around in circles on the threshing floor to turn the rock, would break the husks from the grain and release it.  The husk would be blown away by the wind.  And while the heifer was at the threshing floor, they could eat the fresh grain.  It was a comfortable task, with quick and easy benefits.  But the heifer just went round and round, hour after hour, doing the same task over and over, and eating the easy grain that it brought.
But God said that He would harness the heifer’s neck to pull a plow.  He would cause it to break up “fallow ground”.   A cow placed under a yoke for plowing endures pain in pulling the heavy plow on their shoulders.  Plowing is not comfortable for the heifer.  Fallow ground refers to ground that has gone to waste, which may be hard as rock, or covered in thorns.  Plowing fields of rocks isn’t easy, and walking through a thorn filled field means enduring pain.  He goes on to say that Judah would also plow, and Jacob would break up clods.  This work is not easy, not comfortable, but it’s given by God.

When you’re in a rut, you need to seek the fallow ground.  Where in your life have you not plowed with God’s word and done His work?  Is it in your family, your work place, or the gym?  Is it with your children, your best friend, or your neighbors that never go to church?  We get in a rut because we stop doing what’s uncomfortable.  We “settle” for the easy grain.     
God gives us the command to break up the fallow ground, which is hard, but not without reward.  Ground that has been untended is often rich in minerals because it has not had them drawn out by crop after crop after crop.  Some of the greatest mission fields in the world are those that are never plowed. They’re rich in souls to be saved and lives to be changed.

He says “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.”  Sow righteousness - reap mercy.  Mercy is the reward for the worker.  Mercy will prevent punishment, and release us from our burdens. 
God goes on to say “it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” Without plowed ground for the seed to be planted, very little can grow.  The parable of the seeds and the sower in Luke 8 says that the seed that falls on the rock, or hard ground, will wither away after it sprouts because there’s no moisture to nourish it.  If you want to grow in God, you have to break open the fallow ground, the hard places in your life to serve Him.  He will then use that ground and rain righteousness on you.  He will honor your work.  Isaiah 55:11 says God’s word NEVER returns void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

NOW – now is the time to seek God.  There’s so little time in our planting season here on this earth.  There’s so little ground that we can plow.  People come into our lives and leave it every day, taking the fallow ground of their hearts with them.  If you want to get out of the rut and rediscover the “treasure hidden in a field” that you crave from your relationship with God, plow up your fallow ground.

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