Hosea 10 – Plow Now, Disobedient Cow

Pre-industrial agriculture is one of those aspects of the ancient world that I know next to nothing about. I have no hands-on farming experience, but I know enough about it to know I’m glad I don’t have to know about it. Plowing is hard work. Sowing is hard work. There’s a reason they call all the farm activity that gets done before sunrise “hell to breakfast,” and weeding the flower beds is about all the horticulture I can handle, thank you very much. If God had put me in the fifth century instead of the twenty-first, I guess I’d have to get my hands dirty and sweat out ten-hour days just to eat. But thank God I don’t.

Hebrews 4 – Under a Rest

Remember Hebrews 4 from our Sabbath study? We looked at Heaven as the supreme Sabbath, or to put it in the author of Hebrews’ terms, God’s goal of rest for his people. I suggested that the rest that the author discusses has not fully arrived, but as I read the passage today, I’m prepared to reverse that conclusion, or at least to amend it: there’s a sense in which we can, and should, enter God’s Sabbath rest for all creation right here and now. See, there is more to this passage than we originally surmised. On Chocolate Book, we are not content to remain in our former ignorance; we learn as we go.

Psalm 128 – Most People Are in China

This is a psalm about how good things come to everyone who fears the Lord. When you follow his will, you enjoy the delicious fruit of obedience. Your wife and kids will also prosper, all you people who fear the Lord. Moreover, the psalmist hopes that the prosperity of Jerusalem will be your constant companion from cradle to grave, and that you will even live to see your grandkids. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, everyone! Even the ladies!

Isaiah 7 – Too Good to Be True

The first handful of chapters in Isaiah are a prophetic message from God to Israel, but chapter 6 begins a tradition into historical narrative, and by chapter 7, we’re fully into the story. The two Jewish kingdoms are at war with each other, and Pekah, the king of Israel, has teamed up with King Rezin of Syria to lay siege to Jerusalem in Judah. King Ahaz of Judah freaks out over the attack, so God sends Isaiah and his son out to reassure the king that Judah will not fall. If it seems like there’s a lot going on and it’s hard to make sense of, don’t worry; you’re in good company. I myself had to check out a study guide by David Guzik just to distill it all down to that summary.

[On Sabbath] Sabbath Privileges (Hosea)

The second chapter of Hosea accuses Israel of violating the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2). The indictment is set up as a divorce case between God the faithful husband and his adulterous wife. He gives her grain, new wine, oil, silver, and gold, which she turns around and offers to the pagan god Baal. For her sin, he vows to take away not only the gifts, but also her Sabbaths: “I will also put an end to all her gaiety, her feasts, her new moons, her sabbaths, and all her festal assemblies” (Hosea 2:11). This verse can easily be another record-scratch moment: is God putting an end to Israel’s obedience, in essence compelling her to disobey?

[On Sabbath] Serious as a Hittite Attack (Leviticus 26)

You’ll find the final mentions of the Sabbath in Leviticus in the twenty-sixth chapter. It’s an “I have set life and death before you, choose life” situation, where God lays out the blessings that Israel will reap from obeying his commandments and the penalties they’ll suffer if they don’t. The passage opens by recapitulating the prohibition on idolatry, then adds, “You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the Lord” (2). Here the Sabbath is tied to reverence for God’s space and rejection of the worship of other gods. As an emulation of the example set by God in creating the world, it’s a way of joining him in one’s rest. The Sabbath is serious business.