Exodus 19 – The Scene at Sinai

You may well know where the Sinai Peninsula is even if you don’t know that you know it. It’s the triangle of land between Israel and northern Egypt. It’s part of the Arabian Peninsula, which connects the African continent to the rest of the Middle East. Oddly enough, the Sinai Peninsula is roughly the same shape as the Arabian Peninsula, only smaller, like a tiny peninsular fractal. Mount Sinai is toward the southern end of the peninsula that bears its name, and here the Israelites arrive and encounter God in today’s yesterday’s Friday’s chapter (oof).

Haggai 2 – The Humility to Learn and the Courage to Speak

When you’re a prophet of the Lord, the word of the Lord comes to you. It’s what you do. Well, it’s not so much what you do as what happens to you. But then you go to the people and tell them the word of the Lord. Unless you’re Jonah, in which case you have to get caught in a storm at sea and swallowed by a fish before you’ll get up and do your job. But Haggai isn’t Jonah.

Isaiah 65 – In Which the People of Israel Front a Lot

I can’t read the opening verses of this chapter without thinking of the MC Frontalot track “Indier Than Thou,” which precedes each of its verses with spoken lines quoted from Isaiah 65. “I have spread out My hands all the day unto a rebellious people,” intones a booming voice, “who say, ‘Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou!’” (2, 5). God is disgusted by his people’s hypocrisy, as they claim holiness as a sign of social status while ignoring both God and his law. In his song, Frontalot humorously casts himself as a religious devotee of “indieness” in the mode of the Israelites, seeking to garner indie cred through a mixture of obscurity and ignominy. As he puts it: “Should I ever garner triple-digit fans, you can tell me then there’s someone I ain’t indier than” ([*]).

Isaiah 6 – Holy [Expletive Deleted]

Ah, Isaiah 6: the temple vision. I remember first learning about this passage in Sunday school in Charlotte, NC, which means that for my first encounter with it, I couldn’t have been older than five years. Everything is new at that age, but as I get older, I run the risk of getting inured by familiarity with passages like this. But even if you’re reading it for the first time, if you don’t take the time to visualize it or read it attentively, you can gloss over it without getting the impact of Isaiah’s vision. If you “keep on looking, but do not understand” (6:9), the words remain mere words on the page.

[On Sabbath] The End of the Tour

Today’s Chocolate: Lily’s 55% Cocoa Almond Dark Chocolate Today’s Passage: Exodus 20:8-11, Deuteronomy 5:12-15 and related passages Welcome, everyone, to the conclusion of our survey of the Sabbath in the Bible. Before we tie a bow on this one, I wanted to step back and take a look at everywhere we’ve been, ask, “What’s the takeaway from here?” […]

[On Sabbath] Keeping the Stabbath (Ezekiel 20:10-26, 22:8, 22:26, 23:38)

Like Jeremiah, the prophet Ezekiel is a man with a message from the Lord. God’s judgment on the Jewish people is a primary theme in his prophecy; in one of the most bizarre pieces of performance art inside or outside the Bible, he lays siege to a model of Jerusalem and bakes bread over a fire fueled by human feces (Ezekiel 4:1-17). And as Ezekiel relates, one of the many things for which God is judging his people is neglecting the Sabbath.

[On Sabbath] A Holy Day to the Lord, to Play Video Games in Your Pajamas (Isaiah 1:11-17, 56:1-7, 58:13-14)

There are three sections of Isaiah that discuss the Sabbath, and there are three lessons we can learn from them. Actually, there are probably a lot more than three, but I dug up an insight from each of the three passages today, so that’s what I’m sharing. Isaiah’s Sabbath lessons relate to rejecting empty rituals and practicing religion meaningfully, keeping Sabbath inclusively, and honoring God first in one’s rest.

[On Sabbath] Levitical Grab Bag (Leviticus 2:13, 19:1-4, 24:5-9, 25:2-7)

Today on our Sabbath study, we have a grab bag of Sabbath mentions from Leviticus. The first one in the English translation doesn’t even have the word “Sabbath” in it! Leviticus 2:13 contains the statement “The salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking from your grain offering.” See that phrase “shall not be lacking?” That’s a form of the Hebrew verb shabath, “to cease.” The salt don’t stop, y’all. This doesn’t really shed much light on the practice of keeping the Sabbath day, but it does occur to me: the religious use of salt adds a new layer to Jesus’ words about salt losing its taste in Matthew 5:13. It’s not simply a secular seasoning; the Jewish grain offering puts it to sacred use as well. An ordinary thing takes on a holy dimension–until it loses its flavor.