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Reap the Whirlwind

by Jul 9, 2024Friar Reflection

In today’s first reading, the Northern Kingdom of Israel is being warned about the choices they have made and are making – and the consequences of those choices should they continue. As a whole, Hosea accuses Israel of three sins in particular. Instead of putting their trust in the Lord alone, the people break the covenant: (1) by counting on their own military strength, (2) by making treaties with foreign powers (Assyria and Egypt), and (3) by running after the Baals, the gods of fertility. Israel thus forgets that the Lord is its strength, its covenant partner, and giver of fertility.

In the midst of recounting their many sins, transgressions, rebellions and failures, he gives them a simple warning: “When they sow the wind, they will reap the whirlwind.” (Hosea 8:7)

The warning uses an illustration gleaned from the agricultural process of sowing and reaping. A farmer would sow seed. Of course, the type of seed he planted determined the type of plant that would grow and be harvested. In Hosea 8:7, God says that Israel had planted wind, taking the “wind” to mean something worthless and foolish. Hosea is speaking of Israel’s idolatry, warning that their foolish pursuit of false gods would reap a severe judgment from the Lord, a veritable storm of consequence.

The farmer may plant one kernel of corn, but he will reap much more than that—a whole ear. In the same way, Israel’s sin of idolatry will reap much more than wind, but rather the destructive power of the whirlwind, an amplified consequence that would sweep them all away in a “whirlwind” of judgment.

All very “Old Testament” you say? I mean, after all, we worship the one true God. We have no other idols in our lives. We don’t count on our own strength alone. We haven’t compromised with a more laxed civil society. And we don’t needlessly expend our energies pursuing things that don’t last. … Right?

None of us are perfect on these counts. All of us, to one degree or another, plant seeds via the choices we make – not all of which are holy and true.

We can look to Jesus in the gospel and New Testament as that promised Good Shepherd, but even the prophet Hosea understood God as the source of a shepherd’s care, of parental concern and love:

How could I give you up, O Ephraim, or deliver you up, O Israel? …My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. I will not give vent to my blazing anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again; For I am God and not man, the Holy One present among you; I will not let the flames consume you.” (Hosea 11:8-9)

The heart of God is always moved with compassion and love for us. Turn to God and know the parental embrace. That is a whirlwind totally worth being carried away by.

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