A.W. Tozer was in his era a Church critic. Writing more than a half a century ago in Tell the Man Who Cares Tozer explains how the Church in the West can break out of the easy Christian experience (the fallow ground life): “What shall we do to break its power over us? The answer is simple. We must acknowledge the right of Jesus Christ to control the activities of His Church. The New Testament contains full instructions, not only about what we are to believe but what we are to do and how we are to go about doing it. Any deviation from these instructions is a denial of the Lordship of Christ (Emphasis in the original).”
We as individual members of the Church need to heed the commands of Scripture and allow The Plow to unsettle our lives to the point we are submissive to Christ, and subsequently under the power of the Holy Spirit. We have a choice daily presented to us: (1) we can choose to live the Romans 7 life of self-reliance and defeat; or (2) we can choose the Romans 8 life of reliance upon the Holy Spirit and the life of victory. Choice (2) is clearly the call of Scripture. We choose the Romans 8 life when we submit to The Plow and allow Him to lead and empower us.
How do we submit to The Plow and choose the Romans 8 life? In Tozer’s comment above the authority of Christ and the authority of His Word are the keys to breaking out of the normal Christian life. In submitting to the Word of God we allow The Plow to upset the fallow ground of easy Christian living. We need to learn the Word, and subsequently obey the Word of God. We as members of the same Body should encourage each other to embrace the life that follows behind The Plow which leads to fruitful living. My prayer today is that you and I will step out of the box of easy Christian living and to call out for The Plow to enter our fields. Then we can do what God desires to do in our lives. As Tozer proclaimed: the New Testament is our instructional guide – follow it!
A Closer Look at Plowing
Not being a person with an agricultural background I was not familiar with the terms Tozer used when discussing plowing fallowed ground. How is soil broken up? What is fallow ground? What is a plow as compared to a harrow? How do the writers of the Bible implement these word pictures? I would like to explore these questions in the next few blog entries and apply them to our lives.
The Hebrew word for break up is used twice in the Old Testament. It is used once in our lead-in passage from Hosea 10:12 and once in Jeremiah 4:3. This word in the Hebrew is a verb meaning to break up something. It is used in an agricultural sense of plowing untilled ground, but in context it is used of Israel’s repentance and returning to God. Jeremiah 4:3-4 is as follows:
Break up your fallow ground, and do not sow among thorns. Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your hearts, you men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, lest My fury come forth like fire, and burn so that no one can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
Israel is called to repentance in Jeremiah 3:6 – 4:4 and Jeremiah ends this call with the picture of using plowed ground to plant new seed. The old fallowed field is full of weeds and nothing is growing there that produces fruit. It was time to start from scratch with a new, untilled field in which God can plow the land, cultivate it, and plant new seed. This passage confirms Tozer was correct in stating that The Plow is used after repentance so that God can start a new crop in your life.
Repentance includes a change of mind that causes a change in direction in day-to-day living. God desires a new work in all of us. If you desire a new work in your life you need to embrace The Plow with a change of mind. What is it that God wants you to change in your thinking, in your attitude, in your direction?
In entries to come we will continue to discuss the imagery of The Plow and how allowing it to work in our lives will bring transformation, fruitful living, and a closeness to the Lord that we all seek.