Read Hosea 10:11-13.
What message is the Lord giving to His people here? How do we understand the phrase, “until he comes and showers righteousness on you”? (NIV).
In Hosea 10, God’s child Ephraim is compared to a trained heifer who loves to thresh grain because she could eat as she threshed. Thus, instead of being productive, Israel’s existence had become self-centered. When God yokes Israel to work in open fields as the nation should, righteousness and kindness will grow.
In Bible times, the yoke was an instrument of service. Young beasts of burden were trained to be docile by working first on the threshing floor (Jer. 50:11). While yoked, they simply would tread out corn with their feet. At the next stage, they pulled a threshing sledge over the corn (2 Sam. 24:22, NIV). This type of work prepared them for the more disciplined task of plowing a furrow in a field (1 Kings 19:19, Jer. 4:3). God had a similar plan in His training of Israel. He would put a yoke on Ephraim’s fair neck to make him work hard in the plowing and breaking up of the soil.
In Hosea 10:12 the prophet presents what the Lord desires Israel to be through obedience to His word. Righteousness and steadfast love are the gifts promised by God to His wife when the covenant is renewed (Hos. 2:19). If people sow righteousness, they will reap kindness in return. Only by searching for the Lord and His will can Israel be delivered from the coming punishment. The door of mercy is still open for possible repentance on the part of God’s chosen people.
The admonition to sow righteousness concerns people-to-people relationships; the search for God concerns the relation between God and His people. The breaking up of the soil represents spiritual and social reform and renewal. The Lord and His people will work together in a mutual relationship to bring blessings back to the land. The results will be a glorious blossoming that will fill the whole earth (Hos. 14:5-7).
Read Christ’s invitation to take His yoke upon ourselves (Matt. 11:28-30). How can learning from Christ to be “gentle and humble in heart” (NIV) help us to find rest for our souls?