"They Sow the Wind, and Reap the Whirlwind"
There have been times that I have struggled with things the Bible taught. For example, I once wondered if people could really be as fickle as the Bible portrayed ancient Israel and Judah as being. Bible history records that these people were blessed abundantly by God in every way. But they apostatized. They turned their backs on God and His Law which had been the source of their stability, security and prosperity. They became exceedingly corrupt and suffered horribly for it. God sent prophets to them to call them back to the right track, assuring them renewal and deliverance if they would repent, but the Bible relates how they said "no" to these offers, even to the point of persecuting and slaying the prophets sent to them. I wondered about that. I wondered how anybody could reject such an offer. Wouldn't any reasonable person jump at such an opportunity to be rid of the hardships caused by their own degradation so they could begin anew? People do not really behave that way, do they? Wouldn't they seek to rescue their society and culture from the moral and spiritual cesspool they had created? Wouldn't they do so for their children? Would they react so hatefully toward their only hope? It was hard for me to believe that people could be so callused and stubborn that they would continue to follow such a destructive path seeing all the hardship it was causing. It was difficult to accept but it isn't anymore. Why? Because I see it happening so clearly in my own country today. The sad truth is that yes, people are exactly that way.
BACKGROUND TO HOSEA'S PROPHECY
"Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, for the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land." (HOSEA 4:1) Hosea prophesied from 750-725 B.C. in Israel. The nation was now several generations into its religious apostasy. Everything was getting worse across the nation. No one was still alive who could remember the glory of the faithful nation during the reigns of David and Solomon. The stirring principles of justice and righteousness upon which their nation had been founded had also been forgotten. In their religion, they sometimes continued to pay verbal homage unto Jehovah, but had mixed in plenty of paganism, including calf-worship and the worship of Baal. It had become a carnal affair designed to appeal to sensual appetites. It would continue to degrade until in not the too distant future that they would even resort to sacrificing their own children on the altars of pagan deities.
The moral climate had also plummeted. Mentioned in the prophecy is such conduct as swearing, breaking faith, murder, stealing, adultery, deceit, drunkenness and dishonesty in business. The political climate was no better than the moral and religious climates. Kings seldom ascended the throne by peaceful means. There was corruption and greed, treachery and murder. While there might be some differences between our condition today and theirs then, the similarities are striking!
Consider the following excerpts from the eighth chapter of Hosea. Any similarity between these people and us today is purely intentional.
Put the trumpet to your lips! Like an eagle the enemy comes against the house of the Lord, because they have transgressed My covenant, and rebelled against My law. They cry out to Me, "My God, we of Israel know Thee!" Israel has rejected the good; the enemy will pursue him. They have set up kings, but not by Me; They have appointed princes, but I did not know it. With their silver and gold they have made idols for themselves... how long will they be incapable of innocence? ...For they sow the wind, and they reap the whirlwind... Since Ephraim has multiplied altars for sin, they have become altars of sinning for him. Though I wrote for him ten thousand precepts of My law, they are regarded as a strange thing. As for My sacrificial gifts, they sacrifice the flesh and eat it, but the Lord has taken no delight in them. Now He will remember their iniquity, and punish them for their sins; they will return to Egypt. For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces; and Judah has multiplied fortified cities, but I will send a fire upon its cities that it may consume its palatial dwellings. (HOSEA 8:1-14).
"It is your destruction, O Israel, that you are against Me, against your help." (HOSEA 13:9)
Everyone recognizes the problems we face in our nation. Few, if any, argue that things are getting better. There is a solution to our dilemma, just as there was for Israel's. But Israel rejected the true solution in favor of quick and easy fixes which were no fixes at all. They mocked and ridiculed the solution and were destroyed for it.
"Like an eagle the enemy comes against the house of the Lord."
How quickly control was lost. Though the apostasy was slow, little by little over several generations, the leaders insisted that everything was O.K. The false prophets were proclaiming "peace, peace" when there was no peace. The damage to the moral and spiritual fiber of the nation continued to accumulate until the collapse came, sudden and quick. In our own situation, it seems as if the digression is quickening as more and more of our institutions are losing control.
"My God, we of Israel know Thee."
Today, the majority of Americans claim to believe in God. But it is an empty claim if one is not willing to obey God. One who will lie, cheat or steal and then proudly boast of his belief in God is only deceiving himself. The same polls in which the majority say they believe in God will also show that the majority do not respect His word as they should. If they did, then the Scriptures would settle moral and doctrinal issues for them, but as it is, many more people are willing to say they believe in God than are willing to live their lives according to the Scriptures.
"With their silver and gold they made idols for themselves."
We are little different from them. They made idols out of silver and gold while we have made silver and gold our idol. Materialism is a horrible, demeaning affliction. Any society where things become more important than people and a person's success is measured more by his possessions than his relationships with others is clearly on the wrong path.
"They sow the wind, and they reap the whirlwind."
We can never really escape the consequences of our actions. Think about how much of the hardship and suffering that exists today is a direct result of sinful behavior! The cry goes out for compassion, but when one responds compassionately by advising a return to the moral standards and principles as taught in the Word of God he is soundly renounced. We, as a nation, have sown the wind. We are now beginning to reap the whirlwind.
"Though I wrote him ten thousand precepts of My law, they regard it as a strange thing."
Isn't that how people regard God's law today in our own nation? As a strange thing? Of course it is. And those who try to live by it are strange people. People say they long for the day when they could feel safe walking down the street, when they could keep their doors unlocked, when people were more honest and helpful and still felt a sense of brotherhood, when schools were safe for our children, when drugs were almost unheard of, and when there was a prevailing sense that things were good and getting better. But that was back when the word of God was not regarded as a strange thing. Why cannot people see that there is an obvious connection?
"Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right. and the righteous will walk in them, But transgressors will stumble in them." (Hosea 14:9).
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 7.11; November 2000