They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up. Hosea 8
The Bible is filled with agricultural metaphors. In the Old Testament, Israel is often likened to a vineyard whom the Lord tends (such as Isaiah 27:2-3). And that God gives us the seeds to sow, which he will turn into harvests of righteousness (2 Corinthians 9:10). Jesus too spoke of seeds in his parable of the sower (Matthew 13). His illustration of the seeds which land in various soils – some to grow and quickly die, some to be snatched by birds, some to be choked by thorns, some to produce even a hundred times what was sown – gives us a vivid picture of people’s responses to the gospel message.
Hosea too employs a seed-based image, but his is one of warning. When God’s people sold themselves to other nations, they were sowing the wind. And now they are reaping the whirlwind of a ruined crop. Their harvest has no nutritional value. And even if it could be salvaged, the people from other nations, whom they invited into their fields, would swallow up its remaining goodness. The people have turned from God and now they have nothing.
If we come to the Lord in humility, asking for good seeds to sow, he will answer our prayers in abundance. We might think our soil is beyond repair, or that the good plants in our garden will never thrive because of the choking weeds we can’t seem to eradicate – such as addictive behaviors or bitterness over past wrongs. But the Lord is the Master Gardener who delights in removing the rocks and thorns and releasing us from their suffocating grip. He will make us to be a tree planted by streams of water, who yields its fruit in season and whose leaves will never wither (Psalm 1:3).
For reflection: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (Jesus, John 15:5).