Parallels. Associations. This post will begin where it ends. Asking the question, what is the work involved in seeking Yahweh now? When we read the Bible (we do read the Bible, right?) do we just walk over it, picking what we want out of it when we feel the need or do we put our necks into the traces and pull and dig the plow deeper, break it, sweat over it, grunt and groan with the Master trying to understand it?
i don't know which one i do. Probably depends on the day and my tiredness. But here is a passage i read this morning and the raw excerpt from my journal on it. If it edifies, use it; if not, leave it alone. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along....
"Ephraim was a trained heifer,
that loved to thresh grain,
and I myself spared
the fairness of her neck;
I will make Ephraim break the ground,
Judah will plow,
Jacob must till for himself.
Sow for yourselves righteousness;
reap loyal love.
Break up for yourself fallow ground;
it is time to seek Yahweh
so he will come and rain
righteousness upon you.
You have plowed wickedness,
you have reaped injustice,
you have eaten the fruit of lies,
because you have trusted in your strength,
in the multitude of your warriors." Hosea 10
Threshing grain for a cow is easy work. You merely walk around on it. And if you’re not muzzled, you can even eat when you want to. Pick from what you are threshing. A joy to work. Easy work. Work, yes, but rewarding and peaceful. Not so plowing. The ground is hard and full of rocks and there is nothing to eat. The yoke is hard upon the neck and your straining which the whip and the goad keep you at, is back breaking and exhausting. You go to the stall spent, sweating and heaving and aching and there is no immediate reward which would matter to an ox.
Adam worked for his meals in the garden. He chose and picked them. But it grew on its own. It was there to be had. The work was pleasant. The reward instant. The joy present. He was cast out and the ground was cursed and no more would it yield for him. No more would he dig with his hand and plant with his foot. No more would the birds leave his scattered seed upon the surface. No more would the weeds keep their place and obey their boundaries. No more would the mist come in the morning faithful and gentle and kind and refresh the land. Now the rains came when they willed and they were hard and the mud was as much impediment as useful. Work is work now. And there is little joy in it.
The passage draws a parallel from working the ground to working the heart. Is it harder to believe now? Is it harder not to sin now? Is it harder to obey? Is it more work to serve Yahweh than it was before?