Hosea 8:7 - They sow the wind and shall reap the whirlwind. Hosea 12:1 - Ephraim feeds on wind and pursues the east wind.
Whoever heard of an investment in wind? How ridiculous! We ought to have our heads examined if we fall for the sales pitch of a person selling wind. But wait a minute--maybe you are investing in wind! You may be dipping your hand into the overflowing pot of this life's activities and grabbing nothing but a fistful of wind. But I'm a Christian, you say. Yes, but Christians can invest in wind, too. We're not talking here about our eternal salvation, of course. That's settled and secure once and for all the moment we acknowledge the Lord Jesus as our personal Savior. But it does matter how we build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.) Our dividends in heaven are determined by what we invest in on earth. We can invest in eternal sureties--or we can invest in wind. Some Christians invest heavily in cubic yards of wind. Are you buying wind? Israel invested in wind. The story of God's people in the Old Testament is a sad commentary on the people who had so much going for them, but then "blew it" because they turned away from God to pagan idols. God certainly sent them plenty of "securities advisors" but they still invested in nothing of substance. Is it possible that some of us are as blind as Israel--surrounded by God's advice and warning, but still investing in nothing but wind? In the prophecy of Hosea we have a very dramatic portrayal of Israel's bad investment. It is seen as an analogy to Hosea's marriage. (See Hosea 1-3.) Hosea provided love, care, security and protection for his wife, Gomer, but she turned away and was unfaithful to him. Chapter 3 indicates that she actually sank to the level of a prostitute slave. Yet Hosea still loved her! He bought her back and brought her home. What a picture of God's love and faithfulness to His unfaithful people. We can praise the Lord that this picture of God is just as true today as it was in Old Testament times. In chapters 4-14 of Hosea, the unfaithfulness of Israel to the Lord is described in more detail. The figure of wind is used, along with other picturesque speech, to vividly portray Israel's sad condition. Three statements are made about God's people in reference to the wind, and all three have an important practical application for Christians today. God said that Israel was sowing the wind (8:7), feeding on wind (12:1), and pursuing the east wind (12:1). These descriptions portray three different aspects of investing in wind. In the figure of "sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind" we have two laws in view: the law of the harvest and the law of multiplication. According to the law of the harvest, you reap what you sow. If you sow wheat, you reap wheat; if you sow weeds, you reap weeds; if you sow wind, you reap wind. The law of the harvest operates in the spiritual and moral realms as well as the physical. "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7). The people of Israel had invested their time and resources and energies into that which would bring no eternal benefits. The folly and futility of their self-centered, idolatrous way of life is succinctly captured in the figure of "sowing wind." Are we sowing wind? Write out a list of all the activities you're involved in at present, and then check off the ones that will still matter 100 years from now. Quite a bit of wind left on the list, right?! We should guard against sowing too much time, energy and money on clothes and recreation and entertainment--and many other areas of self-indulgence. We will reap nothing in terms of our eternal well-being from these seeds. No wonder growing Christians are warned to "Keep yourselves from idols!" (1 John 5:21). Idols are not just the wood and stone types that Israel turned to, but anything that steals our hearts and minds away from total commitment to the Lord. "Irresistible idols" are but seeds of wind; they yield nothing but a harvest of wind. The law of multiplication means that you get back more than you put in. Sow a few wheat seeds and you reap a field of wheat; sow a few dandelion seeds and you reap a "golden lawn"; sow the wind and you reap a whirlwind! "Whirlwind implies not only more wind; it implies devastating and destructive wind. Like the law of the harvest, the law of multiplication also holds true in the moral and spiritual realms. If we invest our lives in the nothingness of what this world has to offer, we not only reap a harvest of nothing, but we destroy our lives as well. Many Christians have lives that are disordered, chaotic and shattered because of their investment in the wind of this world. The law of multiplication demands that the tornado will come! It is only a matter of time before a believer's life is totally messed up if he persists in sowing wind. "The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction" (Galatians 6:8). In Hosea 12:1 Israel is pictured as "feeding on wind." Ephraim, by the way, is just another name for northern Israel. Hosea's message was for all Israel, but was addressed to the northern ten tribes. What does it mean to feed on wind? Did you ever try a wind sandwich? Wind doesn't satisfy your hunger or nourish your body. There is no sustenance and there are no nutrients in wind. The people of Israel were feeding their souls with all the things of "the good life" and feeding their spirits with the words of the false prophets. Hosea's day was much like today. There was plenty of material prosperity on the outside, but the heart of the nation was morally and spiritually bankrupt. Instead of turning back to the Lord to satisfy their spiritual hunger, Israel continued to feed on wind. They stuffed themselves with the allurements and attractions of the surrounding pagan nations and filled themselves with the all-too-appealing words of the false prophets. But they ended up empty and starved. Today it is possible for a believer to follow the same pattern as Israel. Never before has there been such an attractive array of wind food around for the Christian. And it's not just the "junk foods" available through most movies and television. There are all kinds of wind salesmen around with appealing programs to "get into." Getting heavily involved in secular clubs and associations rather than Christian fellowship, or becoming experts in a hobby at the expense of our spiritual health are examples of wind programs. Even our studies and careers, which can consume enormous amounts of our time and energy, may become a feeding on wind if God is left out of the picture. We may feel fulfilled and satisfied now, but what about later? We must have a steady diet of the solid food of the Word of God now if we are to avoid the stunted growth, starvation and emptiness that are associated with feeding on wind. Remember that "man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Let's be careful of what we munch on and not lose our appetites for the Word of God. We also read in Hosea 12:1 that Israel pursued the east wind. The east wind is the terrible and dreaded sirocco which blows from the desert east of Palestine. It comes with scorching and devastating heat. Instead of trying to escape or seek protection, Israel is pictured as actually chasing this destructive wind! How was Israel pursuing the east wind? The rest of verse 1 gives us an example. Israel was double-dealing with the great foreign powers of that day. She made a peace treaty with Assyria, but at the same time she exported oil to Egypt, Assyria's arch-rival. How's that for foreign policy?! Playing both ends against the middle for security was as foolish as chasing the sirocco for tranquillity! Instead of turning to the Lord for peace and security, Israel turned to the foreign powers which would ultimately destroy her. It wasn't long before Assyria swept in like the east wind and thoroughly wiped out the northern kingdom of Israel. How foolish of Israel, we say. But aren't we just as foolish when we look away from God to "foreign powers" for peace and security? Why do we hoard? Doesn't the investment policy of Matthew 6:33 carry enough security for us? Why do we get so uptight and worry so much? Isn't the promise of Philippians 4:6 good enough for us? Why do we spend so much time and money in the pursuit of the proverbial "good life"? Doesn't our Lord's statement in John 10:10 carry enough weight for us? Maybe a lot of us need to re-think our investment policies and make sure that we're not pursuing the east wind. Chasing the east wind will not only fail to bring peace and security to us, it will eventually lead to our being "wiped out"--nothing of eternal value to our names! When Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, reflected on everything under the sun, he came to the conclusion that, apart from God, "all is vanity and striving after wind" Ecclesiastes 1:14). The nation of Israel did not follow King Solomon's advice. Let us, as growing Christians, be wise before the Lord and not invest in wind.