Today’s phrase is contextually tied to Israel’s behavior of spiritual prostitution. You have heard this often in this series. Why? It is the theme of the book. Perhaps we think it offensive to refer to Israel as a prostitute, might I even say as a whore. (When I use this word in Word it gives me a message that this word might be offensive to my readers.) Hosea is not politically correct. Truth’s goal is not to be politically correct. Its goal is not to be unnecessarily offensive either. Yet “offense” is often in the eye of the beholder. Jesus was a rock of offense to the Jews (1 Peter 2:8) though He also was the Rock in the Desert from which they drank. (1 Corinthians 10:4)
What does Hosea tell us today? “So now your harvest will be too small to feed you. The grapes you gather will not quench your thirst.” (Hosea 9:2) The idolatrous gods worshipped by Israel were sold as being able to make the land more fertile. Ironically the opposite happened. Actually, it did not just “happen.” God decided that the sacrifices they were offering to Baal would produce the opposite effect from what they desired. It is one thing to say that what we are pursuing in life, other than the kingdom and God’s righteousness (Matthew 6:33), is just not paying off in terms of blessings, satisfaction, or fulfillment. It is another to say that God is deliberately blocking the outcomes of lesser pursuits, causing them to become ineffective. This is what Hosea is saying.
This is like what happened with Balaam’s donkey in Numbers 22. Balaam is attempting to prophesy lies, but God uses a donkey to stop him. God appoints an angel to block the entrance to Eden. God prevents the Israelites from entering the land of Canaan because of their unbelief. Do you see the point? Not only do we learn in life that the wells from which we seek to draw water are dry, but God can dry up the well. God often intervenes within our investments to prevent them from paying off. He can suck the nutrients necessary for produce out of the soil even as we are planting the seed. He can dry up the water we use to water our crops even as we are pouring it on. He can kill the bull’s sperm before it reaches the cow’s egg. God can thwart our plans. He can block our way. He can derail our strategies. He can change our direction. He can make our labor useless.
Paul wrote “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Cor.15:58) This was said at the end of a chapter on resurrection. Bodies planted in the dirt can be raised up. Bodies that were engaged in the work of the Lord during their earthly lifetime will find their labors useful. Not only do we plant and water seeds of the kingdom, seeds of good deeds, seeds of faith, hope and love, but we also sow the seed of our own bodies as living sacrifices to God which can and will result in a harvest of righteousness if we do not lose hope. God will not prevent His work in you to flourish. He will give the increase. But, if you sow to the flesh God will produce in you weeds, thorns, and thistles. Ask Solomon. Under the sun all is meaningless. We plant our crops above the sun and in the SON.
Let me recommend a book. It is written by Gordon MacDonald entitled The Life God Blesses. It will bless your life.