Welcome back to our study on thankfulness, “Totally Hip Gratitude.” Get it? It’s a play on attitude? Like cool–you know, forget it. Before returning to the minor prophets, we’re going to look at thankfulness in the Torah, like we intended to in the first installment of this series before we got distracted by portions of the Torah where any mention of thankfulness is conspicuously absent. And this time around? There’s gonna be more of my other favorite food, Biblical Hebrew, so crack open your Strong’s Concordance and let’s get to word-studyin’.
We interrupt your regularly-scheduled trip through the minor prophets to bring you a new series: Totally Hip Gratitude. In this study, we’ll examine the topic of thankfulness, and we’re going to intersperse installments of it between prophets. To kick the study off, we’re going to look at a few passages from Leviticus, as well as a few passages where thankfulness doesn’t directly come up.
If you follow me on Instagram (and let’s be honest, you don’t follow me on Instagram, but whatever), you know that there’s only one meal I ever actually fix, and that’s fajitas. When I need to heat things, I use the microwave, the stovetop, and my automatic rice cooker almost exclusively. The oven for the most part only sees use when I reheat my leftover french fries. And, of course, it’s an electric oven. As a result, when Hosea starts making similes comparing Israel to an oven, I–who am by no means a baker–find myself at a bit of a loss.
Let’s talk about mysteries. I’m having trouble getting started today, and we’ve got to talk about something, so mysteries it is.
Paul’s got a two-pronged argument here for those among the Galatians who would want to hang onto the Jewish law and insist that it’s necessary for salvation. He starts with a contrast between law and faith, similar to his arguments in the first handful of chapters from Romans, then moves into one based on chronology. But before we get into all that, I just want to note: the Galatians are by and large not Jews themselves! But they’ve bought into this false gospel from diehard Jewish legalists that being a Christian means getting circumcised and getting your kosher on and keeping the Sabbath. Which, honestly, strikes me as a serious feat of persuasion, getting predominantly Greek Gentiles to adopt the restrictive legal code of a minority religious-ethnic group that enjoys no particular popularity in the Roman Empire.
The home stretch of the book of Psalms is full of songs of praise, and Psalm 147 is no exception. Brueggemann’s classification scheme designates it as a psalm of new orientation, in which the formerly oppressed and wounded of Israel praise God for coming to their aid. Having been lifted out of the pit of suffering, Israel now worships God in song for his protection and provision.
Psalm 135 isn’t exactly a brief history of the universe, but that’s the closest I can think of to a one-sentence summary of it. Going by Brueggemann’s classifications, it’s generally considered a psalm of new orientation, but I personally am inclined to read it as simple orientation. It’s a call to praise founded on conviction that God is good, and the only hint of having passed through disorientation (vv.8-11, recollection of Israel’s struggles against Pharaoh and various pagan kings) is a historical footnote, a distant memory at most. Moreover, it’s equal parts assertion of God’s supremacy, litany of Israelite history, and indictment of idolatry. If it evades encapsulation into a single summary with a single theme, then we can roll with that.