To Be Sown or To Be Scattered, That Is the Question
Minor Musings | Hosea 1
Three years ago, when we bought our house, we got to work immediately tearing out a grove of bamboo. While the devilish weed put up a solid fight, eventually we won and set out to reclaim our yard. We spent an entire day spreading a truckload of topsoil where the bamboo used to be, and then I spent the evening sowing grass seed around and about.
The kicker was I had to watch the area carefully because the three or four cats that apparently owned the neighborhood before we moved in set sights on “fertilizing” the area for me. More times than I care to recall you could have caught me charging out the door toward the sown-seeded area, arms flailing wildly, hollering for those cats to get along now (southern accent assumed), trying to scatter them away.
I’m reading through the first chapter of Hosea this morning and chucking to myself just slightly because, of all the pictures that could come to mind – you’ll read it and know what I mean – this twisted up picture of my sowing and scattering was the one colorful enough to stay with for a spell.
There’s a word in Hebrew that means “God will sow.” Interestingly the same word means “God will scatter” or even “God will chase.” The word is Jezreel.
Curious to me how the same word in Hebrew can suggest something positive and negative at one and the same time. Not that it has two meanings. It is one meaning – think about the hand movement for sowing seeds and scattering cats – but two different expressions.
When I’m sowing seeds, I’m ambling along, whistling a praise tune. I’m carefully attentive to getting a wide spread and even ground cover, all while my arms swing about.
When I’m scattering cats, I’m racing hot, voice raised sounding like deep carved v-shaped eyebrows. I’m attentive only to that cat high-tailing it along, all the while my arms swing about.
It is not two words, just a more whole or well-rounded word.
In Hosea 1, Hosea himself becomes God’s metaphor…
“Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking YHWH.” (vs. 2)
In other words, go marry a prostitute, because my people have acted like prostitutes with other gods.
Can you even imagine the initial reaction? Me neither! Hosea is a prophet though. He is called of God to be for God a marker pointing to God.
Hosea takes Gomer to be his wife. I know, the name is a teaser, but wait ‘til you hear what they named their kids.
The first was a son named Jezreel, or “God will scatter” even “chase,” for God will rise up a nearby nation to take captive His people and they will be scattered or chased from their land for their pride and idolatry.
The next two were a daughter named Lo-ruhama and a son named Lo-ammi. Respectively “I will no longer have mercy on you” and “You are no longer my people.”
Ouch. The family portrait is not a pleasant one to look at. But there are the three kids, standing with Dad and Mom as representatives of the God of Justice who is jealous for His people’s adoration and obedience and love.
Wonderfully, yet curiously, the tale spins at the end of the chapter. God promises restoration; an in-gathering, and where He stared them down and disowned them – Lo-ammi – He will at that time gaze upon them in joy and rename them “Children of the Living God.”
And the chapter-closing sentence declares, with a tone of triumph…
“And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel!” (vs. 11)
Yup, same word, Jezreel, with a jubilant spin: The day of not scattering or chasing away, but sowing back into the land. Just imagine the hand of God seeding the land with the people He has covenanted redemption with.
But wait, is this a different God sowing here than the one scattering earlier? Nope. Just two meaningful expressions of His love; the fullness of who He is! It is not two God’s, but a more whole or well-rounded vision of the one true God.
He Himself is jealous for you and for me. Here we go about our days living life in accord with what we hope or want, sometimes off the rails of alignment with God and His heart cry for us. And all along God’s love and holiness and justice are forcing His presence upon us.
At once it may feel altogether like an awful scattering or chasing away.
At once, as well, it may feel altogether like a joyful sowing.
For you, right now… Do you imagine you’re being sown or being scattered. In either or both, God has made a way for us to come to Him. The way is Jesus the Son.
If for you, right now, this is a season of being scattered or chased, it is a good time to stop, sort through your attitude and actions; search your heart, and turn to Jesus. If for you, right now, this is a season of being sown or gathered back, it is a good time also to stop, bend your knee or raise your hand, and give thanks to Jesus.