Break Up Your Fallow Ground
Gen 2:15-17 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. (16) And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: (17) But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
In the beginning, when the Lord fashioned man of the dust of the ground and breathed into him the breath of life, He placed man in the garden… with responsibility. He didn’t just place him there and say, “Enjoy it! It’s all yours!” On the contrary, He not only gave man responsibility, “to dress it and to keep it”, naming all the animals, God also commanded Adam to eat of every tree except one. He also then told him of the consequences of eating from that one tree… death.
Here, I see a pattern being established when God relates with man… He reveals Himself and demands and requires from man in order to establish a covenant with man. A covenant is an agreement between two parties and both are required to keep that covenant with each other. Both are mandated by the law established with the covenant to do so. But with God, there is no mandating God. He is not a man that He should lie, but rather is inherently bound by His Word to perform it. Otherwise He would violate the very essence of His nature and character.
Therefore, when God comes to man, no requirement is necessary of Him. God performs His side of the Covenant. Man, however, must meet his own side of the Covenant.
Gen 12:1-4 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: (2) And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: (3) And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (4) So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
Here, we see God revealing Himself to Abram for the first time. When He does so, He immediately demands and requires of Abram to leave his country, leave his kindred, even his own father’s house to go to a land God would show Him. After this commandment is given, God proceeds to outline His promise to Abram… in other words His side of the Covenant to Abram. What I would like to emphasize here are two things:
God began this relationship requiring and demanding of Abram.
In verse 4, it says, “Abram departed, as the LORD has spoken unto him.”
In this account, and all other accounts regarding Abram and the Lord, Abram never argues, or questions God. He simply, obeys.
Gen 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.
A couple of chapters later, Abram shares with the Lord his concern that he has no inheritance. God promises that Abram will have his own seed, and then the scriptures say that Abram believed in the Lord and it was counted to him as righteousness.
Rom 4:4-5 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. (5) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
This seemingly insignificant statement is reiterated by Paul in Romans. Many “believers” and “Christians” take this statement and conclude that nothing by man need be done, nor can be done, in order to be justified. Yet, we must rightly divide the word and understand the context that Paul wrote these words regarding works. If we turn back a few verses the “works” Paul spoke of were specifically “the deeds of the law.”
Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
If we take a step back for a moment and look at the biblical history of mankind, this would make perfect sense. First we had Adam, Cain, Abel, Seth, Enoch, Noah, Ham, Shem, Japheth and then came Abram, who became Abraham. Then we have Isaac, Jacob/Israel, Joseph and several hundred years later, Moses. One of the many memorable things we know about Moses was that on Mt. Sinai he was given the law. Well, if the law came by Moses (John 1:17), how could Abram/Abraham be justified and made righteous without the law? The answer is quite easy… he couldn’t.
Yet the scriptures say Abram was justified… justified by faith, without the deeds of the law. What I am emphasizing here is that the faith Abram exhibited was obedience. Not just at first contact with God, but at every contact thereafter. When God required of Abram, Abram simply obeyed and for this reason his faith was counted to him as righteousness. It made it possible for him to have a continuing relationship with God. Without his adherence to God’s word, he would have received nothing from the Lord.
The scriptures declare that without faith it is impossible to please God. Whoever desires to have a continuing relationship with God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who would diligently seek Him. The faith that was exhibited by Abram through obedience pleases God and “that” faith - obedience to His word - will assuredly be rewarded.
Gen 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
Yet again, we see God demanding of Abram, “Walk before me, and be though perfect.” To the carnal man the demands of God seem implausible and, more so, impossible. Yet God never demands of man what He does not make possible for him to do. He calls him and equips him to do that which he requires of him to do.
Gen 17:13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
At this point, Abram becomes Abraham… but before God fulfills His promise to Abraham concerning His seed, God demands of Abraham again. Abraham and all the males in his household were required to be circumcised. Abraham obeyed again, and afterward within one year, he then received the promise of Isaac, who was also circumcised on the eighth day of his life.
Gen 22:2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
Years later, after having fulfilled His promise to Abraham concerning his son, he demands that Abraham now sacrifice his promised son Isaac somewhere in the land of Moriah. Notice the pattern again… God comes to Abraham, demands of Abraham… the demand requires a response in order to receive further instruction. Abraham obeys believing God, “will provide Himself a lamb”, which He most assuredly did both in that day of Abraham, and in the day to come for the sins of the whole world. Abraham, the father of the faith, is a classic example of what it truly means to walk by faith, not by sight.
God blessed and highly favored Abraham because of his obedience. Otherwise, without Abraham’s cooperation through obedience, it would be a mockery for the Lord to bless a man what wouldn’t obey Him. As parents, when our children are caught in disobedience, the last thing we’re going to do is reward them. If our children are willfully walking in sin, the last thing we are going to do is enable them and empower them to walk in their sin. If they have a gambling or drug addiction, a wise parent will not give them money, clothing, food knowing that they will take those goods and trade them up to fuel their addiction. The only thing a parent should do is aid them in repenting of their ways.
Act 17:30b …but now commandeth all men every where to repent:
Today, a trumpet sounds throughout the earth calling all men everywhere to repent. Yet this message is as old as early days of mankind.
Deu 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
During the days of the Israelites in the wilderness, God was calling His people to repent. He used the term that He gave Abraham, circumcise. Rather than circumcise the foreskin of their flesh, He demanded that they circumcise the foreskin of their heart and remove from themselves their stubbornness and obstinacy.
Jer 4:3-4 For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. (4) Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.
Hundreds of years later, during the Israelites captivity to Babylon, God spoke the same words again. The call remained the same after centuries because His people had not heeded the call when spoken to them in the wilderness. Fallow ground is ground that is hardened, not tilled. God tells them to not sow among thorns. Thorns are that which chokes away the life of fruit we actually desire. There are two types of ground here that are being described. The first is stony, and the other is thorny. We will get back to both of these types of soil or hearts of man when we conclude. The Lord says, if we do not circumcise ourselves, His fury will come like fire and quench the evil of what we have done.
Yet, something very interesting happens at the end of the book of Deuteronomy.
Deu 30:6 And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
The Lord says that He Himself will circumcise our hearts, and the hearts of our children. Why? He wants us to love Him with all our heart and soul (Ezek 36:26-27).
Notice again, at the beginning of the book of Deuteronomy that the demand is given to us to circumcise our own hearts, break up our own fallow ground. At the end of the book of Deuteronomy, we see that the Lord will circumcise our hearts. So which is it? Do we do it or does the Lord do it? This is the synergy between God and man. This is the covenant between God and man.
God lays out the conditions of His covenant and, based on the response of man, He will either keep His covenant or not. Christians don’t like to admit it, but God’s love is conditional. His promises are conditional. They are conditional based on our responses to His word. The promises of God, the blessings and the curses, are all CONDITIONAL. The Lord sets a standard in His word and, depending on YOU and how YOU decide, YOU will receive the consequences of your decision.
Repentance – What is it?
Defined – biblical repentance is to change one’s mind or purpose; to turn from one’s own way to God or to turn from the ways of the world (representing sin, which is contrary to God) toward ways of God (His righteousness and His kingdom).
Many “Christians” today think that repentance is merely apologizing. So they find themselves continually falling in sin, apologizing to the Lord and walking in the same sin again. They think this is a normal cycle of repentance for all of God’s children. Yet consider… if you had a very dear friend that by words or actions repeatedly hurt you and apologized every time, but continued hurting you through words and actions, how precious is that apology to you? Not worth much right? Rather than hearing an apology from them, wouldn’t you rather have that very dear friend stop hurting you with their words and actions, period? That is repentance… that is CHANGE!
What Should Lead a Man to Repent?
2. Goodness of God
3. Godly Sorrow
Act 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Here we see that the listeners of the gospel that Peter preached were pierced in their heart. They had a conviction from God that they did something wrong. They readily recognized and were forced to ask what they must do to rectify the situation. That’s what a Godly conviction will cause you to do--to ask and seek out how to remedy the situation.
Rom 2:4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Paul here said that knowing the goodness of God, His forbearance and longsuffering for us is what leads a man to repent. Thank God that He was and is forbearing and longsuffering. I was at least 20 some ought years not knowing the Lord, thinking I knew the Lord and He was patient with me to get me to the point where I was truly born again and in covenant with Him. It is not God’s heart that any man should perish. He wishes that they would all repent and turn to Him for the salvation and deliverance. The scriptures say He died for the sins of the whole world, yet not all men are going to be saved and delivered from the wrath to come. Why? Because that salvation is dependent on the response of mankind.
Today, ministers have changed their approach and said we need to preach hell, fire, and brimstone to get these people to respond. They leave out the gospel and expect people to be moved by fear rather than a Godly conviction of sin and the resulting separation from God. It says explicitly that knowing the goodness of God leads you to repent. Have you ever read of the apostles preaching “the gospel of hell, fire and brimstone” to lead people to Christ and obtain salvation? “Hell, fire, and brimstone” are for the hard and impenitent hearts for that will be exactly what they deserve for their rebellion. But it is the goodness of God that leads ready men to repent!
2Co 7:8-12 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. (9) Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. (10) For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. (11) For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter. (12) Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.
Lastly, Paul said Godly sorrow leads men to repent. Paul said this in his second writing to the Corinthians. In a way, he was consoling them because they were truly sorrowful for the things they were doing that Paul pointed out to them in the first letter. The first letter to the Corinthians was a letter of correction. Though the Corinthians seemed to flow greatly in the gifts, they were extremely carnal toward one another and in disorder in many areas within the Church. Paul rejoiced not because they were sorrowful, but because that sorrow led them to repent of their deeds in the flesh.
A true repentance causes you to turn away from the world, its lies, its sin… and turn toward God with all your heart. Godly sorrow will lead you to repent. It will not lead you to repent again and turn back to old wicked ways.
Godly Sorrow – leads or causes a man to a repent unto salvation that he will not repent of.
In contrast, the sorrow of the world is short lived. It cries in the night, but come morning it has forgotten what took place the previous night and continues to walk in the old wicked ways of man. It makes loud cries and draws much worldly attention, but unless God shows you the heart of that man, repentance should be easily seen by the change of action, with a sustained and concerted effort to not turn back - which leads to never repenting back to it again.
2. The sorrow of the world leads to death because for a short while they will repent (change their ways) but like the dog that returns to its’ vomit, so they will yet repent again.
Mat 3:8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
Luk 7:28-30 For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. (29) And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John. (30) But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.
Jesus spoke to all the people, including the Pharisees and religious leaders of His day, that there was not a greater prophet to have lived than John the Baptist. All that heard Him, except those religious leaders, justified God. The people who justified God were baptized according to John’s baptism, but the religious leaders were not baptized of John. Those religious leaders, according the Word of God, rejected “the counsel of God” given to John the Baptist to baptize unto repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Not only did the religious leaders not hear Jesus, but even in what they heard, they did not do. They did not obey the Word of God and this resulted in their judgment, therefore, they had no faith.
1Sa 8:7b …for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
What was true in Samuel’s day, is still true today. When the word of God is ministered to people and they get offended with you and reject what you tell them, they are rejecting you. However, this is not a personal issue between flesh and blood. Their issue is with the Lord and what He has demanded.
Jesus made us a part of the salvation process by having us proclaim the gospel of His kingdom. Without controversy, He says if those who hear your words do not receive you or your words, they not only have rejected you as a person, but they have also rejected Christ Himself and God who sent Him.
Act 2:38-39 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (39) For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
I want to use this example here to show that the pattern we observed in the Old Covenant is alive and well in the New Covenant. Here the Lord reveals Himself to man through His apostles and begins with His demands. The call is the same: repent! The following demand is to be baptized in the name of Jesus and, for us who come into covenant with the Lord, that is the first fruits of faith and obedience that we bring before the Lord.
Just as in the early days of mankind and their first encounters with the Lord, God then concludes His demands with His promise to them. He says, “Ye shall receive the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
Hos 10:12-13 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. (13) Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men.
The ground spoken of… is our heart. We must break up the hardness of our own hearts and seek the Lord… till he rain righteousness upon us. The Lord declares that we have plowed wickedness in our own hearts, and in doing so we have reaped iniquity thereof. We have eaten of the fruit of our own lies and self deception, placing our trusts in all else, but the Lord.
To me, it seems like a waste to sow seed in ground not tilled. Yet the Lord will sow seed anywhere and everywhere… the parable of the sower testifies to this. Matthew 13 is a parable of the different state of men’s hearts.
Wayside ground – Man of no understanding. The seed is pilfered by the birds and the man does not even know what priceless jewel he has lost. He is oblivious.
Stony ground – Man, obstinate and stubborn. The seed takes little or no root and when tribulation or persecution come brought on by the Word. They become offended… even though they call themselves Christian.
Thorny ground – Man consumed with worldly things. The seed is choked by the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches, and he becomes unfruitful in the end.
The following is the example of thorny ground man who never tilled his ground from the things of the world.
Mar 10:21-23 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. (22) And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. (23) And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
This is why it is so important that we till our ground before coming into the kingdom and while walking in the kingdom.
Mat 15:22-28 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. (23) But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. (24) But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (25) Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. (26) But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. (27) And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. (28) Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.
The above example was not given to represent a man of stony ground, but rather show an example of a man who has tilled their ground from the stony heart of pride. This woman could have easily been offended… after all the Word of God, Jesus, first ignored her cries, then declared He was only sent to the lost sheep of the Israel, and then practically referred to her as a dog. Yet, she never got offended because pride was non-existent within her. She humbled herself realizing that the healing of her daughter meant more to her than her “precious pride”.
Good ground –not stony or thorny, but ground that is purposely tilled; this is the man that receives, understands the word and bears fruit
This good ground is perfectly displayed by the example the apostles left us. They remained abiding in the word and removing from themselves through repentance that which is an obstacle to the work of the Lord in their lives.
Jas 1:22, 25 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (25) But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
In order for us to till our ground, we must move from being hearers of the word only, to being doers of the word. It is the only way we can properly circumcise ourselves according to God’s word. This is what He demands… this is our challenge.
© copyright 2010 Jesus M. Ruiz