All for that Harvest: Unfailing Love!

You’ve made me your heifer pulling the plow,
you’ve shaped me and trained me, showing me how
to lean to the left when your strong hand presses,
to walk straight ahead, cleaning up messes
and tearing out weeds, preparing the way
for planting the seed in that soil on the day
when all is in readiness, soft dirt tilled,
and we press in the seeds till the rows are all filled.

You bring out the seed: it’s sorted, it’s good;
it’s all about health and the way that we should
be loving our neighbor, helping the torn,
the poor, the lost, the hungry, the worn,
carefully living, meticulously,
the love of the Father for you and for me
and for all the husbandless, all those alone,
for all of the fatherless needing a home.

You must give the seed; my own is diseased.
You must show me how I should plant it, then please –
you must send the rain that will make the shoots thrive,
the rain of what’s right and of hope that’s alive.
The roots will go deep, the stems will grow tall,
the leaves will shout green and the blossoms will fall
to make way for grain that is bred high, above:
a life-giving harvest of unfailing love!

Can you picture yourself as a heifer? The imagery of being cow in the field is not one we would choose in our culture. But let’s take ourselves back to when the prophet Hosea was speaking to farmers in Israel, encouraging them that the Lord was indeed using them for his excellent purposes. He was using them to work out his plans for justice in the world. So he was telling his people to “sow righteousness” because then they would get a harvest of unfailing love!

11 Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh; so I will put a yoke on her fair neck. I will drive Ephraim, Judah must plow, and Jacob must break up the ground. 12 Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.  (Hos. 10:11-12 NIV)

Jesus also used this imagery when he was calling out to his disciples to commit themselves to working together with him for his Kingdom purposes:

“All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:27-30 NIV)

So what is a “yoke”? The note in the NET version says: “ 52 sn A yoke is a wooden bar or frame that joins two animals like oxen or horses so that they can pull a wagon, plow, etc. together.” If disciples are being guided by the “yoke” that Jesus would put on them, their experience is in stark contrast to what it would be like to follow the nit-picky rules that other teachers were insisting were necessary. He said that his yoke was “easy” and the burden he would put on them “light” because his guidance would always be correct, never leading them off the path!

Just as God had told his people through the prophet Hosea, this would not be a life chained to mere legalism. Instead, they would be working together to spread the truth about Kingdom righteousness, righteousness that the Spirit of God would shower on them. And this good news would bring spiritual rest to them. They would no longer be chained to worry about doing it all through their own effort!

Jesus was making the same priority explicit for anyone who wants to be his disciple when he said in the Sermon on the Mount that their primary goal had to be to do the work of the Kingdom:

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt. 6:31-34 NIV)

The command to prioritize the Father’s kingdom and his righteousness is sandwiched in between two injunctions not to worry. The first one concerns anxiety about daily provisions; the second one is explicitly about focusing on the “what-ifs,” the hardships that might come tomorrow. Trust in the goodness and power of the One who is in charge of the future releases the disciple from that kind of worry.

So Jesus made it clear that If his disciples have their priorities straight, they will stop making anything worth more to them than working for their Father the King’s purposes and for personal transformation, to be righteous like God is righteous.

Paul reiterated this when he told Timothy that it is easy to put one’s trust in wealth and personal accomplishment, but instead “you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (1 Tim. 6:11 NIV)

It is a pursuit! A farmer plowing a field needs to stay on course, row after row. A runner needs to keep to the route laid out for him, not veering off in another direction. A disciple of Jesus needs to run after the qualities that will make him or her effective in participation in Jesus’ Kingdom purposes.

How can one seek the Father’s righteousness and pass that on, “sow” it? As Dallas Willard explains, the Greek word that is usually translated “righteousness” is dikaiosune which should be understood as “true inner goodness” –the “relationship of the soul to God.”[1] A disciple makes the development of that relationship his priority, so that his reflexes become increasingly like God’s—he sees a need or an opportunity and reacts the way his Master reacts. His bonds to the Master are that strong! Or if we continue with the imagery of being in the Master’s yoke, the disciple is directed the way the Master wishes.

It’s true that we cannot earn our right standing before God through our own efforts at building our character; no, he makes it clear that faith is what makes it possible for us to enter his Kingdom, to become his disciples (cf Rom. 4:3-5). But that is not an endpoint but a new beginning—he has prepared specific things for us to do:

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith– and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph. 2:8 NIV)

That is why we are like the cattle being directed by the farmer to plant seed that is going to produce the desired harvest—as Hosea 10:12 underlines, a harvest of “unfailing love.” God is love, and when we are driven by him, in his yoke, we are sowing that inner goodness that is characterized by love. It is shown by our commitment to spread the good news of the Kingdom of love and rescue, and in our personal pursuit of becoming like Jesus, gentle, humble and loving. He “showers his righteousness” on us through his Spirit (Hosea 10:12) so that we can live out those qualities, “sowing” right living, reaping a harvest that is unfailing love!

That is the “easy” yoke?? Yes, because instead of stumbling around, on and off the right path, when we are directed by Jesus we know that we are truly partnering with him, and he keeps us going the right direction. He transforms our inner person so that we can be that “trained heifer” (Hosea 10:11) that can accomplish his work. That righteousness, “true inner goodness,”[2] is to be our Kingdom priority (“but seek first his Kingdom and his righteousness” Mat 6:33.)

Bound to him in purpose and in love, we are then true disciples with no more worries about what may happen next. He directs the journey and provides all that we need along the way.

[1] Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God (HarperSanFrancisco, 1997), 145.

[2] Ibid.

Published by Linnea Boese

After spending most of my life in Africa, as the child of missionaries then in missions with my husband, I am now retired and free to use my time to write! I am working on publishing poetry and on writing an autobiography. There have been many adventures, challenges and wonderful blessings along the way -- lots to share!

2 thoughts on “All for that Harvest: Unfailing Love!

  1. Hi Linn Thank you for the card. I spoke with you earlier this year. Please say hi to Bryn? Happy Holidays and Peace be with you.Love and prayers, Ebonie 12-20-2021


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