Introduction to Amos Friday, Jan 20 2017 

Things had never been better. Israel was at the pinnacle of her national power. Trade and commerce were at an all time high. For the first time in many generations there was no threat of war. Merchants began to pile up profits. The people had luxuries they had only heard of. New homes were springing up everywhere. Beautiful ivory laid furniture was in the homes of the affluent. Meat, wine, body lotions were all common place in every home. 

Then one lone voice rose above the din of pleasure. From the southern kingdom a lone prophet had come to town with a new message. Amos first two sermons ingratiated him with the rich elite socialites of Jerusalem. Everything was going well. Then, Amos’ third sermon exploded their carefully constructed lives. Amos called these expensively coiffured socialites a bunch of cows. The priest challenged the Prophet and judgment fell quickly. 

Amos was no professional prophet. He was a herdsman from lowly Tekoa in the south. He addressed a religious group of people who were regular church goers. They were comfortable and looking forward to the Day of the Lord. Suddenly a prophet was bringing bad news. God said “I hate, I despise your religious festivals”. God wanted justice. Amos focuses on the injustice of Israelite society. 

The rich were abusing the poor to get luxuries. They paraded their devotion to God like future Pharisees. They wanted God to fit neatly into their lives. Amos informed them God must be master over all of life, even business.

Amos was rough and unpolished. He did not fit in their cultured, opulent life style. His language is coarse and plain. His allusions are from the country. He speaks of baskets of fruit and plumb lines. The simplest person in society could understand his plain language. All men understand the language of cruelty and inhumanity. Amos predicted coming judgment. From the moment he spoke these words, Israel began to spiral downward. In the next thirteen years five Kings took the throne. Three were assassinated. Within thirty years Israel had been dismantled by Assyria. 

Amos again illustrates that God used Prophets as His direct mouthpiece to the people because the priesthood had failed in its function. 

Thanks for reading today…

Joel Commentary Thursday, Jan 19 2017 

2.1-2 the trumpet. The sounding of the trumpet was a call to religious gathering. Here the prophet uses the metaphor to signal God is sounding a trumpet. This will be repeated in the New Testament by Paul and John the revelator in the books of 1 Corinthians and Revelation.

2.3-11the day of the Lord. This is a major theme of the Old Testament. Joel is sounding the alarm that the day is approaching rapidly. Joel likens it to a scorched earth scenario. This is common among the peoples of that day. Armies many times used this technique to render an opponent helpless. In the case of God it is a reflection of the completeness of His anger and judgment. The analogy of locusts is to chariots and war horses. The destruction will be complete. The day of the Lord will be terrible and who can abide it?

2.12-17 the appeal to return. It is not too late. God is still reaching for His people. Turn to the Lord with weeping and mourning. God is slow to anger and merciful. Begin with the priests and a call to repentance. This is the second time Joel metaphorically sounds the trumpet.

2.18-27 the beauty of God’s judgment is it did not last forever. It was for a season. The prophet now shifts his eye to the restoration of the people of God. There will be restoration of the very things the locust destroyed. Wheat, corn, wine, oil, and all the beasts of the field will again be plentiful. The fruit trees will again bear in their season. The promise is to restore everything taken away by the locusts. The prophet now moves into the great prophecy of the coming of the Spirit of God fulfilled in Acts chapter 2.

2.28-32 this prophecy is one of the turning points of the Old Testament and points to the great outpouring of the Holy Ghost in Acts 2. God reveals His will to indwell every person who will allow Him to live inside them. In the bigger picture of planet earth, the destruction caused by the fall of Adam and Eve will be restored by the spiritual rain that falls in Acts chapter 2. This is the restoration God has provided for all of mankind. Mankind was destroyed by sin in the garden and now God has provided complete restoration through His in dwelling spirit.All things destroyed by the fall are now restored in Jesus Christ. Peter confirms this when he preaches the first message of the New Testament era in Acts 2. Peter quotes this passage as proof of God’s spirit indwelling believers. The moment in Acts 2, when the Holy Ghost falls is the pinnacle of all God’s purpose and promise to humankind. From that moment, the eternal purpose of God is made manifest; God came to earth to save all of mankind.

Chapter 3

3.1-8 The prophet extends the eye of prophecy to all the nations of the world. There will be a gathering of all nations into the valley of Jehoshaphat. This is referring to the great battle of Armageddon in the future. The battle of Armageddon will balance the scales of all the wrongs listed in these verses by the nations that opposed God.

3.9-16 the greatest battle of all history is now spoken of. The gentile nations are awakened. Plowshares are beaten into instruments of war, and pruning hooks into spears. This is the great harvest of the ages in which God will bring mankind to answer for his rebellion. There will be reactions from nature in the sun and the moon. The stars will go black. God will roar out of heaven and proclaim His rightful place as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. This is the ultimate war of good verses evil, and good triumphs forever.

3.17-21 the aftermath of war. God will restore earth and He himself will rule as King. Earth rejoices with plentiful crops and abundance. Jerusalem takes her rightful place as the capitol of the world. In these final sweeping verses, Joel captures the promise of the ages of almighty God to His faithful followers. The devastation at their feet left from the invasion of locusts that represent judgment, will give way to the glorious morning of Christ’s rule on Earth. All things will be restored and God shall fill all in all.

Thanks for reading today…..

Joel Commentary Wednesday, Jan 18 2017 

Joel

Introduction

Is a natural disaster an act of God? When earthquakes strike, or famines continue, are these the acts of God or are they just the result of life on planet earth? This Theist verses Deist argument has been around for 2500 years. Plato and his school discussed this ad infinitum. The prophet Joel had no hesitation. He boldly proclaimed this was God working among men. 

The book of Joel is about a locust invasion. A swarm of locusts that covered the land and destroyed everything in sight. Joel’s vision was God leading these locusts into battle like a General leads his troops (2.11). Joel encouraged the priests to call a national day of prayer and fasting to lead the people back to God. He promised if the people would return to God they would eat in plenty (2.26). Joel proposed this disaster could bring a backslidden nation back to God.

It was an uphill task for God’s prophet. Joel’s vision was that God’s people would love God all the time, not just in times of disaster. It is human nature to turn to God in times of great tragedy. This book is an eternal appeal to all mankind to love God in the times of prosperity, and in the times of dearth.

It begins with the plague of locusts, and moves to the call for repentance. The day of the Lord is coming and the prophet is calling for men to turn back to God. One of the greatest promises of the Bible is in this small book. It is the promise of the coming Spirit of God being poured out on all flesh. This would happen centuries in the future on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. The prophecy then moves on to the judgment of Judah’s enemies and the future eternal blessings on God’s people.

This small book of three chapters covers some of the most profound questions mankind has asked throughout history. The conclusion is succinct and powerful. Whether it’s is a swarm of locusts, or nuclear war, God is in control. Turn to God and your future will be blessed and secure.

Chapter 1

1.1-3 the prophet gives his ancestry as the son of Pethuel, which means enlarged of God. He calls to the aged among the people to see if anyone remembers such a plague as they now experience? He encourages them to not let this moment be forgotten in the generations to come.

1.4-12 the devastation is documented. The terms of four destroying insects are offered. These are the palmerworm, the locust, the cankerworm and the caterpillar. These also represent the stages of the plague and the results. First there was a worm, then a grown locust that left behind eggs that would hatch again and bring yet another plague of young locusts. This vivid imagery was poignant to farmers for all future crops were in jeopardy. They would no sooner get one crop grown before the eggs gave birth to new young hordes of locusts and the cycle repeated itself again. The cycle would never end. This was the story of the people of God over the last six hundred years of Israel’s history. The image of revolving failure was stark for the people to see. The total loss of meats, fig trees, corn, wine, wheat and barley, and pomegranates reflect the loss of joy in the hearts of the populace. They were facing a hopeless future.

1.13-20 the prophet starts with the answer; the priests. Joel calls the ministry to lament and howl and fast. The hunger is a result of the spiritual famine and leaving God. The natural disaster is a mirror of what has happened to the nation spiritually. The seed is rotten, the barns are broken down, and the beasts have no pasture. The future is bleak unless the people turn back to their God.

Thanks for reading today……

Obadiah Tuesday, Jan 17 2017 

1.1-3 We are not privy to know which Obadiah in the scripture this is, or if he is any of those listed in the Bible. The importance here is not the messenger, but rather the message. God does not leave out or hide details to be evasive. God chooses to put in the details He sees necessary. The issue is concerning Edom, the lineage of Esau. As Edom rises to battle against his brother Israel, God rises to battle against Edom. God made Edom small and despised. God exposed the pride of Edom’s heart to the world. God pulled away Edom’s bogus safety of the high craggy cliffs of Petra. Edom has ascended not only the rocky heights of Petra, but like Lucifer he climbed the heights of pride. This pinnacle will always cause a fall.
1.4-6 By man’s standard Esau’s descendants were very high and secure. By God’s standard, they were just another foolish pride to be cast down. The almighty lets them know his battle with them will leave no prisoners and give no quarter. Thieves or robbers would not utterly destroy, they would only take the valuables. God needs no valuables. God is not there to plunder. If men were gathering grapes, they would leave some behind. God has no such intentions. God has tolerated this feud for generations and now the judgment falls. One of the most poetic and focused moments in scripture is penned by an unknown author in an unknown time. “How are the things of Esau searched out?” The original language speaks of secret things. This goes far beyond visible things. Esau is about to be removed forever. The only thing left will be a vague memory of a once proud people.

1.7-9 the striping of Edom will include his confederates. Those he sought laughter and solace in will now oppose him and Edom will feel the lash of their derision. Edom is now going to feel the stab in the back he has subjected Jacob to. Jesus confirmed this in His teaching, “with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged”. The wise and mighty men of Edom are now cut off by slaughter and a violent death.

1.10-14 the violence you have dispensed now overwhelms you Edom. You drink of the cup you have served for generations. The sword you wielded will now execute you. God documents His verdict on Edom. Edom stood by and watched as his brother Jacob was attacked and bloodied. This points to our obligation to help our brother. This is illustrated in the New Testament by the parable of the good samaritan. Jesus asked the pointed question “who is my neighbor”. God set down a principal that if you refuse to help your brother when he is in need you are not absolved of guilt. The calamity of a brother reaches into our realm of responsibility. We are our brother’s keeper.

1.15-16 divine retribution continues to be the pronounced edict of God on Edom. As you have done to others, so shall it be done to you. The day has come, judgment has arrived. Edom chose their reward by how they lived. This is the universal principal of God. Man chooses his judgment, God only pronounces it. You will drink what you have served others.

1.17-18 the promise of Jacob’s triumph. After centuries of letting the scales seem out of balance, God now reassures the world judgment will arrive in due time. It will flow from God’s chosen people. Esau and all his offspring will eventually be usurped by Jacob and his offspring. Jacob will be a fire and Esau will be stubble, and none shall remain of the house of Esau.

1.19-20 the spoil of war will be bequeathed upon Jacob’s offspring. The final verdict is pronounced. Edom you are forever judged, Jacob you are forever blessed. 

Thanks for reading today……

Introduction to Obadiah Monday, Jan 16 2017 

Obadiah

Introduction

This book, like others in sacred canon, is sometimes looked at and pondered. It would be more plausible if it contained world views or clashing armies with world changing moments. Instead it is about a feud between two brothers that spans hundreds of years. So the question arises, why is this in the Bible? What eternal truth was so valuable that God said every generation needs to read this and adjust their life to be saved? The Bible is our roadmap to get to heaven and each book and chapter serves that purpose in some manner. So how does the story of twin brothers in a life long feud serve millenniums of pilgrims headed for a celestial city?

To add to the mystic, the author is anonymous. There is no certainty who he is for sure. Then add to the conundrum the date of the writing. It is also uncertain. We are left with the simple concept that God felt this scroll was important. This book is an important detail to the overall body of the Bible. It is the shortest book in the Bible. The author can be anyone from a King’s courier and temple confidant, to an unknown person. The message God is sending seems to be, focus on the content, not the container.

These twins, Jacob and Esau, struggled in their mothers womb. Even in their birth there was conflict with Jacob holding his brother’s heel. Throughout their life this open conflict continued. The details are recorded in the sacred canon. This book details how God views such issues. In the larger span of life, this conflict speaks to universal man. Life is a conflict. How we react and interact with that conflict determines not only our eternal salvation, but also our quality of life. The depth of the Bible is ever about layers of truth. Never more so than in this brief interlude in your daily reading. How you react to your brother is important to God. God documents your secret thoughts and and all your insidious motives. This is the far reaching meaning of this smallest of books. God watches if you rejoice when your brother struggles. God is documenting the moment if you assist in your brother’s demise. Just as God wrote down the motives and machinations of Esau and his lineage, He is documenting ours as well. The resounding echo of this small compendium is that we live carefully and cognizant of this. Jesus emphatically stated, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

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