“Time to Seek the LORD”

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD.”
—Hosea 10:12

THESE WORDS WERE spoken to Israel, which was then divided into two camps: the ten-tribe kingdom referred to as Israel, and the two-tribe kingdom known as Judah. While the prophecy of Hosea has a particular application to those who, in name only, are represented by the house of Israel, the words of our text are fitting and timely to all the Lord’s consecrated children at this end of the age; for truly, in the time remaining of our lives, we should strain every nerve in seeking the Lord and his favor. This same lesson is conveyed to us by the Apostle Peter where he says:

“For as much then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.”—I Pet. 4:1-3


We cannot live the rest of our time following the excesses of the world, nor emulating its spirit of bitterness and strife in any degree whatsoever. Before entering this consecrated life to suffer in the flesh with Christ, we, in a measure, partook of this world’s spirit. Perhaps we were inclined toward merrymaking; or seeking our own comforts and the satisfying of our own desires; or were involved with politics, philosophy, or false religion. We may have had animosity against certain ones or groups. Possibly we were jealous.

In some, or in all, of these ways we were tainted with the corruption that is in the world because of sin. This time of our lives, when we were yet in the “horrible pit” and the “miry clay,” demonstrated to us the vanity and contemptibleness of living under the influence of this world’s spirit. (Ps. 40:2) That manner of living is in the past and we have the precious and priceless opportunity of doing the will of our Father who is in heaven.


The privilege of serving the Lord calls for preparation, as the Apostle Peter says, “Arm yourselves likewise with the same mind [the mind of Christ].” (I Pet. 4:1) We are to ‘arm’ ourselves with the knowledge that Christ, our forerunner, suffered in the flesh; hence we must suffer also. We are also to ‘arm’ ourselves with the knowledge that each of us “should live the rest of his time … to the will of God.” (vs. 2) It seems that suffering and time are two elements that we should consider in this good warfare.

We are reminded frequently in the Scriptures concerning the sufferings that would be the portion of the saints. It was necessary for our Lord to suffer and then to enter into his glory. His suffering was pictured in Israel’s Tabernacle sacrifices on the Day of Atonement, where a bullock was slain and its fat burned upon the brazen altar, while the body of that animal was taken without the camp and burned. The burning ‘without the camp’ showed how the world viewed our Lord’s sacrifice—it was a reproach to them and a stench to their nostrils. (Lev. 16:25,27) Also, as the brazen serpent was lifted up in the wilderness by Moses, so our Lord was to be ‘lifted up’. (Num. 21:9; II Kings 18:4; John 3:14) It was prophesied of Jesus that he would be “forsaken” by his God and that he would be a “reproach of men, and despised of the people.” (Ps. 22:1,6,7) He was to be “wounded for our transgressions,” “bruised for our iniquities,” and the “chastisement of our peace” was to be upon him.— Isa. 53:5

As Christ suffered in the flesh, even so the church is to “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ.” (Col. 1:24) At the very beginning of our discipleship we are told, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24) As many as are “baptized into Jesus Christ” are “baptized into his death.” We are “planted together in the likeness of his death, … that our old man” might be “crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” (Rom. 6:3-6) We are forewarned also that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (II Tim. 3:12) So, with these and many other scriptures we should ‘arm’ ourselves with the knowledge that suffering and self-denial lie ahead of us, for it is written “that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”—Acts 14:22


Time is an element we do well to take into consideration if we hope ultimately to reach the heavenly city. We live in the present. The future, except for the prophecies of the Scriptures, is veiled and unknown to us. The past quickly fades from our imperfect minds, and only certain features or occurrences are remembered. For this reason, it is easy to fail to get the proper perspective of our consecrated lifetime.

It is because the fallen human race does not view life from the proper perspective that they pursue the vanities of this life. They seek to eke out of the present all the excitement and happiness they can, and all the while shun the future. If they could get the proper viewpoint of this life they would quickly conclude with the wise man that “all is vanity.” Moreover, they would seek to enrich their lives with more substantial hopes and loftier ambitions, and they would find that the whole duty of man is to “fear God, and keep his commandments.”—Eccles. 12:8,13

But we are not of this world, nor do we have its viewpoint. There is danger, however, that we might not have the proper perspective of our Christian life. Hence our prayer should be, as was David’s, “Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know what time I have here.” (Ps. 39:4, Marginal Translation) We do not understand this to mean that David desired to know the exact date of his death, but rather that he was considering the end of life’s walk and focusing his attention upon serving and pleasing the Lord. Psalm 90:12, has the same message: “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.”

The Apostle Paul desired that all those consecrated to God should have the proper perspective, and to realize that the time applying to their lives was limited. He wrote, “This I say, brethren, the time [of life] is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none; and they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not; and they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.”—I Cor. 7:29-31

The opportunity to serve the Lord is very short. We can deduct from the brief span of life the years before we came to a knowledge of the truth and consecrated ourselves to the service of God, as well as the time expended in providing things needful for the temporal wants of ourselves and those dependent upon us. To all of this, add the necessary hours spent in eating and sleeping, and even with the greatest economy of time, how little is left!


Since we have no time to waste, how should we conduct ourselves in order to serve and please the Lord? The Apostle Paul counsels that ‘they that have wives be as though they had none’. (vs. 29) He did not mean to imply that marital relationships should be annulled among the consecrated, but rather, his exhortation was for them to touch as lightly as possible all earthly relationships, seeking to set their affections upon heavenly things. The service of God should not compete with earthly cares and responsibilities. We can successfully concentrate upon one thing at a time, so choose we must. Paul said, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus.”—Phil. 3:13,14

The apostle further counsels that those who ‘weep’ be ‘as though they wept not’; and they that ‘rejoice’, as though they ‘rejoiced not’; and they that ‘buy’, as though they ‘possessed not’. (I Cor. 7:30) We must carry on the work of the church so perseveringly that none know we had either rejoiced or sorrowed. We may always rejoice in the Spirit because a heavenly joy is set before us. Also, we realize that in due time the “ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads.”—Isa. 35:10

Those who possess houses and lands, or riches of any earthly nature—those who have consecrated their all to the Lord—should remember that these possessions are not really theirs, but belong to the Lord. They must give an account to the Lord for their stewardship. If thoroughly awake to the fact that every possession is the Lord’s and not their own, it would free us from many snares. This is spoken of in I Timothy 6:10: “Which while some coveted after, they have been seduced from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”—Marginal Translation


With the proper perspective on the shortness of life’s span, it becomes easier to ‘use this world, as not abusing it’, for we realize the ‘fashion of this world passeth away’. (I Cor. 7:31) We have a new goal before us and should seek at every cost to make our calling and election sure. While we are busy providing things honest (II Cor. 8:21), we must remember that it is ‘time to seek the Lord’.

Because the time in which ‘to seek the Lord’ is limited, the Apostle Paul was not remiss in instructing what would be the wise course for us to pursue. His words are, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:16) He also writes, “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.” (Col. 4:5) This seems to signify buying back the time, as though the time were already mortgaged. And this is so. The cares of this life—its necessities, the customs of this world, our fallen tendencies—would, if permitted, absorb every hour of our time, whereas, our life, our all, is dedicated to the King of kings, and the Lord of Lords.

How do we obtain time for study or witnessing? We must buy back the time that we had previously spent for worldly things. No longer will we take time to pamper fallen appetites and tendencies; rather, the interests of the New Creature, and the service of the Lord will come first.—Eph. 5:15,16


Furthermore, we see the evidence that the disolution of the world is taking place. Fear and uncertainty cover the earth; and the floodwaters of human selfishness and hatred are constantly rising. God will intervene when “the servants of our God” are sealed “in their foreheads.”—Rev. 7:3

While the final phase of trouble is being held back by Divine power, we should especially appreciate this extended opportunity to “make [our] calling and election sure,” and account that for us “the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.” (II Pet. 1:10; 3:15) It becomes increasingly necessary to ‘redeem the time’ in devoting ourselves more fully to the Lord and his service. We need to hasten our steps toward the heavenly city. The knowledge of the fact that our deliverance “draweth nigh,” should spur us on to greater zeal and faithfulness.—Luke 21:28


The Christian test is not simply of ‘well doing’, but “patient continuance in well doing.” (Rom. 2:7) How often we find those who ‘endure’ for a while; who ‘run well’ for a while; who ‘suffer’ for a while; who ‘watch and pray’ for a while; who ‘rejoice’ for a while, who are ‘faithful’ for a while. But soon time begins to show its effects in their lives. Gradually, almost imperceptibly, these begin to slacken in their running for the prize; gradually they draw back from suffering and sacrifice—not deliberately—but with seemingly justifiable reasons; gradually they find less time for prayer and much less for watching the Lord’s hand in their lives, or for watching the times and seasons, or for even watching themselves; gradually the heavenly joy is diminished, and perhaps supplanted with some human happiness which makes the change less noticeable. Thus gradually their faithfulness is lessened, and they become “weary in well doing.”—Gal. 6:9

Because some have not ‘armed’ their minds to meet the tests that time puts upon them, they are soon defeated in their Christian warfare. They fail to get the proper perspective of this present life, and also fail to focus their minds upon the eternity of blessing promised to the faithful overcomers. Hence, before long, their conflicts and trials seem endless, the suffering too great, the opposition too strong, their efforts unavailing, and they faint in their minds. The Adversary is quick then to bring subtle temptations into the mind—pleasing allurements with a show of righteousness.

The Apostle Paul foresaw the danger in not being properly conscious of time—both the brevity of life and the ‘times and seasons’, so he wrote: “Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” (Rom. 13:11,12) With our minds properly armed, it will not be so difficult to stand the test that time brings to bear upon all the followers of the Master. We will be fully awake to our glorious privileges, seeking with all our hearts to serve and please the Lord. We will be able to look at our trials and self-denials as light afflictions. Nor will they seem endless and unbearable, for the time is short—only as a moment when compared to the “eternal weight of glory.”—II Cor. 4:17


‘It is time to seek the Lord’, and as our text suggests, the proper course for us to pursue is to ‘sow’ to ourselves in ‘righteousness, reap in mercy’, and to ‘break up’ our ‘fallow ground’. None of the Lord’s followers can afford to sow otherwise, for “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”—Gal. 6:7,8

But some may ask, “What will such a sowing to ourselves in righteousness mean?” It will mean that the Lord’s people will study the subject of justice continually, and daily put into practice the lessons inculcated in the Divine word. All the saints must be foes of sin. Wherever sin is, they must wage a warfare against it and see to it that in their hearts, at least, they are free from sin, that in their hearts they do not countenance sin, but oppose it. Sin should find no harboring place nor sympathy in their hearts. The Christian should heed the Apostle Paul’s counsel when he said, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”—Phil. 4:8

We are told to ‘break up’ the ‘fallow’ ground; that is, to till or cultivate our freshly plowed heart-soil. In this figure, the mind is likened to a newly-plowed field which has not been tilled or cultivated sufficiently for the planting of seed. We might think of this plowing of the heart-soil as representing or picturing our consecration—the complete turning over of our hearts from the service of sin to the service of righteousness. The old mind or disposition has been “buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” (Rom. 6:4) The ‘newness of life’ becomes ours to develop, to cultivate, and to sow with righteousness.

There is danger in not cultivating or properly planting, the ‘fallow’ soil of our hearts. Where we fail to cultivate and plant righteousness, the Adversary is sure to take advantage of the dormant condition and plant evil thoughts and suggestions that, once they take root in the mind, spread rapidly, and to the injury and sorrow of the New Creature. Also, we will find the fleshly desires cropping up in the uncultivated corners of our heart-soil, absorbing our time, vitality, and attention, and decreasing the opportunity to glorify our Heavenly Father, by failing to bear “much fruit,” the fruit of the Spirit.—John 15:8


The Rotherham Translation renders Hosea 10:12 as follows: “Reap … at the bidding of lovingkindness.” This means we must first grow an abundant yield of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. Happy are we if we do these things, for then we will be able to receive “an hundredfold” blessing in this life, notwithstanding the additional inheritance of “everlasting life.” (Matt. 19:29) How rich and blessed indeed is the life that is lived in conformity to the pattern exemplified in our Lord.

The greater our present sacrifices, the greater our spiritual rewards, both now and hereafter. The faithful will find that they can say with the wise man, “The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.”—Prov. 10:22

When we come to the end of life’s journey, where the trials and tears will have their end, where every earthly tie will be broken, and with all of life’s possessions behind us, then will our past life of suffering and sacrifice which took place in ‘filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ’, appear to us a most wise and precious course! Having sown to the Spirit in our lifetime, our personal harvest will not be corruption, as the world’s, but life everlasting. We shall have accumulated great treasures in heaven and hence shall have ministered to us an abundant entrance “into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,” to receive the “crown of glory that fadeth not away.”—II Pet. 1:11; I Pet. 5:4

Dawn Bible Students Association
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