Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness on you (Hosea 10:12).
The Hebrew definition of fallow ground is a noun signifying fallow, untilled ground. It indicates farming land, property owned that lies unplowed. This fallow ground does not sound like productive use of land; or in the use of the metaphor: not a condition for a productive Christian life.
He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread, but he who follows frivolity is devoid of understanding (Proverbs 12:11). This verse speaks loudly of a choice we make as believers: till the land and have a satisfying Christian experience or lead a life that is clueless!
Much food is in the ground of the poor, and for lack of justice there is waste (Proverbs 13:23). There is fruit in your field to be produced for the kingdom, but your fallow ground needs to be plowed. The Hand of The Plow is to be desired in our lives; remember submission to the Holy Spirit is how we allow The Plow to break up our fallowed ground.
Fallow ground is a waste of God’s good gifts and His provision. God provides food from crops which need cultivation and work due to the curse of the fall of man (Genesis 3:19). The ground should be broken and upset by The Plow in order for the process of crop production to occur. This process does not work on unproductive, fallow ground. In the passages of Jeremiah 4:3 and Hosea 10:12 fallow ground is used to paint a picture of the hardened, untilled attitudes of the people of Judah and Israel which needed to be repented of, plowed over, and replanted with the good seed of God’s loving provision.
Plow in the Hebrew is a verb meaning to plow, or to engrave. It refers to plowing and tilling the soil with animals and various cruel instruments to upset the soil so seed can be planted and take root. In Scripture you can plow for evil or plow for good. The crops produced follow the plow in either case; the plow of self or The Plow of God, the choice is yours. Disciples chose to have their ground subjected to The Hand of The Plow to develop fruitful lives for the kingdom.
But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
Jesus points out in this passage plowing is a focused task and uses the illustration of plowing as work. Discipleship is based on the focus of the worker and what he is plowing toward. The eye kept on the Lord allows us to follow the plow to produce a crop consistent with the needs of the kingdom. The Plow is concerned with both the work of God and the work of the disciple done in submission to the Great Commission and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Tozer used the word harrow. A harrow is an agricultural implement consisting of many spikes, tines or discs dragged across the soil for breaking up and smoothing out soil. The plow, in contrast, is used for deeper tillage. Harrowing is done after the plowing to provide a finer finish to a field before adding seed. Both The Plow and the harrow are needed in the life of the disciple. The heart is to be torn open and rough edges smoothed over by the hand of the Lord, by use of The Plow and The Harrow.
Till is a Hebrew verb meaning to work, to serve. This labor may be focused on things, other people, or God. When it is used in reference to things, this idea is usually expressed: to till the ground; to work in a garden; or to dress a vineyard. We look once again to Proverbs 12:11, “He who tills his land will be satisfied with bread.” Tilling is work which reaps a benefit in relation to the work done. This is a great comfort as we look at the life of a disciple. God is willing to work our fallow ground and produce a fruitful crop with our lives for the benefit of His kingdom.
He does the plowing. He does the harrowing. He is the One who tills and brings in the harvest. All we have to do is submit to the work of the Holy Spirit and fulfill the Great Commission in being disciples, making disciples, and teaching the Word of Christ.