In 2 Chronicles 34 we read about Josiah who became king when he was 8 years old. In the 12th year of his reign, he started purging the land of Asherah poles and Baals. At this time the Temple of the Lord had been shut up. No worship took place. It was to be a further 6 years before Josiah got round to cleaning and repairing the Temple.
It was in this limbo period , between the removal of the Asherah poles and the restoring of the Temple, that God calls Jeremiah and commissions him to be a prophet. And it is probably in this limbo period that God speaks these words to His people through Jeremiah.
Jer 4:3 For thus says the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem: “Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.
It was only in the 18th year of Josiah’s reign that the Book of the Law was found among the clutter in the Temple. 5 years after Jeremiah started preaching. So when God spoke those words through Jeremiah, He knew that His Word was going to be found, and read out. In anticipation of that event, God began to speak to His people to tell them to prepare their hearts to receive His Word, His Covenant, His blessings and promises and instructions.
I could not work out just how many years the Book had been missing, and for how many years God’s people had completely forgotten His Word, and since they had forgotten His Word, they didn’t worship Him, and certainly their lives and society were not shaped by His Word. Corruption, injustice, exploitation, unfair privileges, idolatory, etc were rampant.
It was into such a scenario that God speaks through Jeremiah, urging the people to prepare their hearts.
Just some random thoughts about fallow ground:
> Fallow ground remains fertile even though for a season it is allowed to rest. Fallow ground does not lose its identity or properties just because it was allowed to lie unsown and untended.
> The difference between fallow ground and a field is that a field is sown with a purpose, with a clear intent that there should be a harvest. A field is not randomly sown with any odd collection of seed. It is specifically tended, prepared and sown with seed that will bring forth a specific harvest.
> Fallow ground is fertile ground, and so whatever seed finds a resting place in the soil, sprouts and grows and brings forth a harvest. Only it is not a harvest that is useful, because all kinds of plants have grown up in the fallow period – weeds, flowers, saplings and maybe even plants from leftover seed from past harvests.
> Soul Searcher: What exactly am I allowing to find a resting place in my heart? What wisps of worldly wisdom am I allowing to bear fruit in me?
Father in Heaven, You alone are the gardener. The One who understands the times and seasons. The One who cares enough not to abandon a field to being taken over by random seed. Thank you that Your Holy Spirit searches our hearts and prepares our hearts to receive the seed of Your Word. Thank You Lord that Word always accomplishes that which it was sent out to do, that it will produce a harvest of righteousness in our lives. Thank You that in time the hidden seed will bring forth a harvest which will in time become bread and seed for future harvests. How awesome and marvellous and wonderful are Your ways, and how truly complete is Your Wisdom and Love.
Fallow ground and fruitful field – the only difference is the seed that is allowed to grow…
Sow for yourselves righteousness;
reap steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the LORD,
that he may come
and rain righteousness upon you.
Hos 10:12 ESV
I am for you,
and I will turn to you,
and you shall be tilled and sown.
Eze 36:9 ESV