Sowing the Wind; Reaping the Whirldwind

We are not to seek alliances with the world, nor follow their plans, nor court their favor.

I.H.E. is editor of the Ministry.

The prophet Hosea lived during the reign of both good and bad kings. He seems to have ministered in behalf of both Judah and Israel. He saw the trend toward idolatry, for Judah was rapidly drifting into the very sins which Israel had been following since the days of Jeroboam, and of whom the prophet Hosea had written: "They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind."

On one occasion, Ahaz, king of Judah, went to Damascus to meet the king of Assyria, whom Ahaz had hired to help him in a war against two other kings. All this was contrary to God's plan for His people. They were to trust in Je­hovah, and obey Him, and He had promised to be the defense of His people.

While in Damascus, Ahaz saw an altar, the dimensions of which he sent to the priest Uri­jah, ordering him to have one made like it. When Ahaz returned to Jerusalem, the altar was completed, and the king had it set up, offering upon it the sacrifices of God's people. The brazen altar standing before the door of the temple was taken from its place, and set over opposite this new altar, which Ahaz planned to have used henceforth for divination purposes.

"He burnt his burnt offering and his meat offering, and poured his drink offering, and sprinkled the blood of his peace offerings, upon the altar. And he brought also the brazen altar, which was before the Lord, from the forefront of the house, from between the altar and the house of the Lord, and put it on the north side of the altar. And King Ahaz commanded Uri­jah the priest, saying, Upon the great altar burn the morning burnt offering, and the eve­ning meat offering, and the king's burnt sacri­fice, and his meat offering, with the burnt offering of all the people of the land, and their meat offering, and their drink offer­ings; and sprinkle upon it all the blood of the burnt offering, and all the blood of the sacrifice: and the brazen altar shall be for me to inquire by." 2 Kings 16:13-15.

Thus because Ahaz failed to trust and obey the Lord, but sought the aid of heathen kings, he adopted heathen customs and worshiped the Lord after the ways of heathen kings. The people generally followed their leaders. So we read of the wickedness of Ahaz that "he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, accord­ing to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel. And he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, and on the hills, and under every green tree." Verses 3, 4.

Hezekiah followed Ahaz as king; but unlike his father, "he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord." He repaired the temple, caused it to be cleansed, and re-established the ordinances and services of God's worship. In the cities of Judah the groves dedicated to idol worship were cut down, the images broken, and the altars destroyed. His reign was marked by victory over his enemies, and by peace and prosperity at home.

But there came a day of test for Hezekiah. The record says that "God left him, to try him." He was sick unto death, but in answer to his prayer his life was lengthened. The fame of this miracle was known in distant lands, and the king of Babylon sent letters and a present to Hezekiah.

Some strange infatuation seemed to possess Hezekiah. Instead of receiving the men hum­bly, and ascribing praise to God for the miracle that had been wrought, he showed the ambassadors from the heathen king "all the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armor, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Heze­kiah showed them not." 2 Kings 20:13.

Very soon the prophet of the Lord came to Hezekiah, and rebuking him for his folly, told him that all these riches the king of Babylon would take from Judah and carry to his own city.

It seemed only a friendly act on the part of Hezekiah to show his riches and treasures to the Babylonian ambassadors; but the motive was to seek favor and court admiration from the world. Hezekiah sowed the wind, and the whirlwind followed.

The lesson that the remnant people of God should learn from this incident in the life of King Hezekiah is clear. We are not to seek alliances with the world, nor follow their plans, nor court their favor. There can be no com­promise with sin, no following after the world in its fashions or practices or worship. Said Christ, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you!" To be a seeker after the world means ruin to one's faith. Ancient Israel never could obey God when they tried to be like the peoples and nations around them.

The world has ever sought alliance with the people of God. The peculiar faith of the Bible lifts men up on a higher plane; and like the Hebrews in Babylon, and Joseph in Egypt, God's men should be superior to the world. But the world ought never to be attractive to the people of God. The command is, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world." And the reason given should challenge our serious attention: "If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

It is a common observation that apostasy begins with doubt. It matters not so much what phase of truth doubt may attack, if it is not put out of the heart, it will sap the very foundations on which faith rests. Doubts, like weeds, grow with great rapidity, and if cher­ished will sooner or later wreck the faith of the individual holding them. The doubter sows the wind, but reaps the whirlwind.

There are habits of conduct which seem of slight importance. Liberties are often taken, from age or from association, which seem small in themselves; but many a poor man has gone down before the whirlwind of uncontrolled de­sire, fanned and fed by small beginnings. Sin­ful appetite may be gratified till its grip be­comes so strong that the hope of eternal life is lost as the price of the indulgence.

Recently a fine type of man holding a respon­sible position in a large bank appropriated a small sum of money to cover some speculations on which he had ventured. He lost; borrowed again and again, each time becoming more and more hopelessly involved. Then came exposure, disgrace, and ruin.

This cause is built up by sacrifice. Self-denial and loyalty mean much to its prosperity. Little things count in our lives more than we sometimes appreciate. One failure in morality in a worker may wreck the faith of thousands of humble believers.

The little things, little decisions, little acts, of everyday life make up the sum of our ex­istence. Our words and acts are watched, and we should never forget that carelessness on our part may wreck the faith of someone who sees in us a representative of Jesus. While charity is said to "cover a multitude of sins," each one ought to be sure that he gives no cause for offense. These are trying times, and men must hold themselves in leash, lest the enemy destroy their faith. As workers, we may well be charitable to others, but strict and rigid in disciplining ourselves.

These last days present manifold temptations to young and old. New appeals to the eye and ear and heart are everywhere. We should often reflect upon the warning contained in the words of Hosea, "They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind," not for­getting that the whirlwind is a mad breaking out of uncontrollable forces of evil, and that it always leaves death and destruction in its wake. Never can it be harnessed for good. The only way to avoid the whirlwind is to take heed, each man for himself, to his sowing.

I. H. E.

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I.H.E. is editor of the Ministry.

March 1934

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