Monday, January 28, 2019

READ IT! - Introduction to Hosea 2-8

Readings for this week

Monday: Hosea 2
Tuesday: Hosea 3
Wednesday: Hosea 4
Thursday: Hosea 5
Friday: Hosea 6
Saturday: Hosea 7
Sunday: Hosea 8

Introduction to Hosea 2-8

Chapter 2

Later, a son is born to Gomer. It is also questionable whether this child was Hosea's, for God commands that his name be Lo-Ammi. Lo-Ammi means “not my people.” The child bore this name of shame to show that the Northern Kingdom would also be shamed, for its people would no longer be known as God's People. In other words, the Northern Kingdom had been rejected by God.

Chapter 3

At God's command, Hosea seeks out Gomer once more. Either she has sold herself into slavery for debt, or she is with a lover who demands money in order to give her up, because Hosea has to buy her back. He takes her home, but refrains from sexual intimacy with her for many days, to symbolize the fact that Israel will be without a king for many years, but that God will take Israel back, even at a cost to Himself.

Chapter 4 

Chapters 4–14 spell out the allegory at length.

Chapters 4–10 contain a series of oracles, or prophetic sermons, showing exactly why God is rejecting the Northern Kingdom (what the grounds are for the divorce). 

The LORD has a charge against Israel: "There is no faithfulness. They have left God to play the whore. The rulers love shameful ways."

Chapter 5 

God says, "Hear this, O priests, O king! Israel shall stumble in his guilt. Ephraim is crushed in judgement. I will leave until they seek me." 

Chapter 6 

Hosea says, “Come, let us return to the LORD. On the third day he will raise us up.” God says, "I desire steadfast love, not offerings. Israel is defiled." 

Chapter 7 

"The sins of Ephraim are revealed. They are like a heated oven. They call to Egypt, and they go to Assyria. Woe to them for they have strayed!" 

Chapter 8 

"A vulture is over Israel. The calf of Samaria shall be broken. The LORD will punish their sins. For Israel has forgotten his Maker." 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

READ IT! - Introduction to Hosea 1

Introduction to Hosea 1

Background and content 

Hosea is the son of Beeri, and he prophesied during a dark and melancholic era of Israel's history, the period of the Northern Kingdom's decline and fall in the 8th century BC. According to the book, the apostasy of the people was rampant, having turned away from God in order to serve both the calves of Jeroboam and Baal, a Canaanite god.

The Book of Hosea says that, during Hosea's lifetime, the kings of the Northern Kingdom, their aristocratic supporters, and the priests had led the people away from the Law of God, as given in the Pentateuch. It says that they forsook the worship of God; they worshiped other gods, especially Baal, the Canaanite storm god, and Asherah, a Canaanite fertility god. Other sins followed, says the Book, including homicide, perjury, theft, and sexual sin. Hosea declares that unless they repent of these sins, God will allow their nation to be destroyed, and the people will be taken into captivity by Assyria, the greatest nation of the time.

The prophecy of Hosea centers around God's unending love towards a sinful Israel. In this text, God's agony is expressed over the betrayal of Israel. “Hosea” means “Salvation.” 

Chapter 1

Hosea was directed by God to marry a prostitute, and he did so. Marriage here is symbolic of the covenantal relationship between God and Israel. However, Israel has been unfaithful to God by following other gods and breaking the commandments which are the terms of the covenant, hence Israel is symbolized by a harlot who violates the obligations of marriage to her husband.

Later, Hosea and his wife, Gomer, have a son. God commands that the son be named Jezreel. This name refers to a valley in which much blood had been shed in Israel's history, especially by the kings of the Northern Kingdom. (See I Kings 21 and II Kings 9:21–35). The naming of this son was to stand as a prophecy against the reigning house of the Northern Kingdom, that they would pay for that bloodshed. Jezreel's name means “God Sows”.

Later, the couple have a daughter. God commands that she be named Lo-Ruhamah; “Unloved”, or, “Pity” or “Pitied On” to show Israel that, although God will still have pity on the Southern Kingdom, God will no longer have pity on the Northern Kingdom; its destruction is imminent. There is speculation as to whether Lo-Ruhamah was the daughter of Hosea or one of Gomer's lovers.

Monday, January 21, 2019

READ IT! - Introduction to Amos 4-9

Readings for this week

Monday: Amos 4
Tuesday: Amos 5
Wednesday: Amos 6
Thursday: Amos 7
Friday: Amos 8
Saturday: Amos 9
Sunday: Hosea 1

Introduction to Amos 4-9

Chapters 4-5 

Chapters 4-5 remind Israel that God is the creator and ruler of all. 

Amos writes, "You cows of Bashan will be led away with hooks. I withheld the rain. I overthrew some of you. Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!" 

However, Amos speaks also of God’s grace. God waited to bring judgment to Israel and gave them an opportunity to repent of their sins first. God does the same in our lives. But we need to learn that it is important to not abuse God’s grace. 

Amos writes, "Fallen is virgin Israel. Seek me and live. You shall not dwell in your houses. I despise your feasts… Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” 


Amos is perhaps the first biblical prophet to deliver God’s threat of exile against His people. 

Amos writes, “Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end… Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, who are not grieved over Joseph. The LORD declares: ‘I will raise up a nation against you.’”
Chapter 7 

Amos writes, “The LORD showed me locusts, fire and a plumb line.” 

Amos declared God’s justice, but most of people rejected Amos’s message. The priest Amaziah in Bethel tells Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there.” Amos said, "You shall die in an unclean land." And so Amos was kicked out of Israel for “raising a conspiracy.” No one wanted to believe what was coming. 

Another non-biblical source that references Amos is Lives of The Prophets which says that: 

“He was from Tekoa. Amaziah (the priest of Bethel) had often beaten him, and at last Amaziah’s son killed him with a cudgel, striking him in the temple. While still living, he made his way to his land, and after some days died and was buried there.” 

Also, we learn from Amos that it is important to see things through God’s eyes. In chapter 7, Amos thought God’s judgment was not fair, but when he began to see things from God’s point of view, he stopped protesting as he began to understand why God had to judge his people. 

Chapter 8 

The theme of loneliness (8:11) is present, and Amos portrays the frustration that God feels when we turn away from him. 

The LORD said: "The end has come upon Israel. I will not forget your deeds. I will send a famine of hearing the words of the LORD." 

Chapter 9 

Amos lets Israel know that a Judgment Day is coming upon them, where all their evils – idolatry, murder, slavery, theft and turning from God – will be confronted. And only those who are faithful will survive this judgment day. There is no future for Israel. 

Amos says, 

“Surely the eyes of the Sovereign LORD 
are on the sinful kingdom. 
I will destroy it
from the face of the earth.
Yet I will not totally destroy
the descendants of Jacob,”
declares the LORD. 

However, God goes on to remind his people that he had rescued them before from Egypt when they had experienced injustice themselves. Amos also speaks of Israel’s restoration. At the end of chapter 9, Amos explains that God’s grace will prevail and Israel will be restored. God brings judgment to Israel in order to restore them to a right relationship with Him. 

He says, 

“In that day
'I will restore David’s fallen shelter—
I will repair its broken walls
and restore its ruins—
and will rebuild it as it used to be...'"

Friday, January 18, 2019

READ IT! - Introduction to Amos 1-3

Introduction to Amos 1-3


The Book of Amos is one of the twelve minor prophets of the Old Testament. We don’t know a lot about Amos, but we do know that he prophesied in the north in Israel in locations like Bethel, and that he was a shepherd and dresser of sycamore trees from the town of Tekoa in Judah, and he frequently references and mentions scenes from his country life. 

Amos prophesied During the reigns of Uzziah (aka Azariah) in the southern kingdom and Jeroboam II in the northern kingdom. Amos is usually dated between 760 and 750 B.C., which is after Jeroboam’s military successes in Gilead and before the rise of Tiglath-Pileser III. Amos prophesied from approximately “two years before the earthquake” to “two years after the earthquake.” 

This was during a time in which Israel was at the height of its power politically, but the people were spiritually and morally corrupt, constantly forgetting about God, and the rich and powerful were oppressing the poor. 

Other than the few facts we already mentioned about Amos, not much is known about him. Most of the dates of when he prophesied are speculation. However, one of the issues he probably dealt with was that fact that he was a southerner preaching change to a well-off northern kingdom. Amos… is usually pictured as a blunt rustic, compared with intellectual urbanites. It’s possible that he was even beaten for his message. 

In short, Amos teaches us about the power of God, and what it means to have a healthy fear of him. Amos teaches us that God can use anyone. Amos was just a shepherd with no formal schooling, but God was able to use him to bring his message to the people of Israel. God can use anyone. 

So what was it about his message that got the northerners so riled up? 

Well, God was planning on destroying Israel because they refused to repent of their social injustice. 

Chapters 1-2 

God’s primary role in the book of Amos is to be the judge and the executioner of those who have refused to obey the standards of justice. 

The LORD says: "I will punish Damascus. The remnant of the Philistines shall perish. I will send fire upon Tyre, Edom and Ammon." 

Many verses in the book portray God killing, destroying, or sending fire and plagues among His people. 

God says, "I will send fire upon Moab and Judah. I will punish Israel. They sell the poor for a pair of sandals. The mighty shall flee naked." 

So what are we supposed to learn from Amos’s message? 

Well, something that still applies today is the issue of social injustice. And Amos would have us believe that God thinks that the sins of His people are worse than the sins of others because His people ought to know better. 


Amos writes, “Does a lion roar when it has no prey? The LORD reveals his plans to the prophets. ‘On the day I punish Israel, I will punish Bethel.’” 

Monday, January 14, 2019

READ IT! - Introduction to Proverbs 28-31

Readings for this week

Monday: Proverbs 28
Tuesday: Proverbs 29
Wednesday: Proverbs 30
Thursday: Proverbs 31
Friday: Amos 1
Saturday: Amos 2
Sunday: Amos 3

Introduction to Proverbs 28-31

Chapters 28-29 

In the next section of the Book, we read More Proverbs of Solomon. Chapters 25–29, attributed to editorial activity of "the men of Hezekiah," contrasts the just and the wicked and broaches the topic of rich and poor.

Section One-Miscellaneous Proverbs

Section Two-Proverbs Concerning Contrasts between the Wicked and the Righteous

Proverbs Which Contrast Wicked and Righteous Attitudes (28:1-28)
Proverbs Which Contrast Wicked and Righteous Relationships (29:1-27)


Better to be poor and honest than crooked and rich.
Whoever confesses sins will find mercy.
Whoever trusts in the LORD will prosper.
By justice a king builds up the land.
Whether a fool rages or laughs, there is no peace.
Correct your son and he will give you rest. 

Chapter 30 

Chapters 30 and 31 (the "words of Agur," the "words of Lemuel," and the description of the ideal woman) are a set of appendices, quite different in style and emphasis from the previous chapters.

The "sayings of Agur", introduces creation, divine power, and human ignorance.

After the Introduction, Agur tells us about The Supremacy of Knowing God:

"Surely I am only a brute, not a man;
I do not have human understanding.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I attained to the knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and what is the name of his son?
Surely you know!"

“Two things I ask of you, Lord;
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.” 

Agur then presents several Proverbs Which Relate Things That Are Alike, but first briefly Advises Not to Tattle on a Slave.

First, he lists Four Kinds of Sinners:

“There are those who curse their fathers
and do not bless their mothers;
those who are pure in their own eyes
and yet are not cleansed of their filth;
those whose eyes are ever so haughty,
whose glances are so disdainful;
those whose teeth are swords
and whose jaws are set with knives
to devour the poor from the earth
and the needy from among mankind."

Second, he lists Four Things Never Satisfied:

“There are three things that are never satisfied,
four that never say, ‘Enough!’: the grave, the barren womb,
land, which is never satisfied with water,
and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’” 

Agur then briefly gives a Warning Not to Disrespect Your Parents. But then, thirdly, he lists Four Incomprehensible Things:

“There are three things that are too amazing for me,
four that I do not understand:
the way of an eagle in the sky,
the way of a snake on a rock,
the way of a ship on the high seas,
and the way of a man with a young woman.”

Agur then gives a brief Warning to Avoid the Adulteress. Fourthly, he lists Four Unfair Things:

“Under three things the earth trembles,
under four it cannot bear up:
a servant who becomes king,
a godless fool who gets plenty to eat,
a contemptible woman who gets married,
and a servant who displaces her mistress.”

Fifthly, he lists Four Wise though Small Animals:

“Four things on earth are small,
yet they are extremely wise:
Ants are creatures of little strength,
yet they store up their food in the summer;
hyraxes are creatures of little power,
yet they make their home in the crags;
locusts have no king,
yet they advance together in ranks;
a lizard can be caught with the hand,
yet it is found in kings’ palaces.

Sixthly, he lists Four Strutting Beings:

“There are three things that are stately in their stride,
four that move with stately bearing:
a lion, mighty among beasts,
who retreats before nothing;
a strutting rooster, a he-goat,
and a king secure against revolt."

He then gives Advice to Avoid Pride and Anger. 

Chapter 31 

Chapter 31 contains the Sayings of King Lemuel. There was no King Lemuel of Israel, so we don't really know who this king is, but he may have been Arabian or Assyrian. This passage is describes as “…an inspired utterance his mother taught him.”

“It is not for kings, Lemuel—
it is not for kings to drink wine,
not for rulers to crave beer, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
and deprive all the oppressed of their rights. Let beer be for those who are perishing,
wine for those who are in anguish!
Let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.”

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

The Book concludes with an Epilogue: On The Wife of Noble Character.

Proverbs ends very much where it began, with a personification of Wisdom as a woman - more specifically, the wife of noble character. The conclusion of the father's advice to his sons seems then to be that a great way to go about attaining wisdom, or marrying yourself to that "Woman Wisdom," is to actually marry a real woman who has the same attributes of the "Woman Wisdom." Verses 10-31 are an acrostic poem. Each verse begins with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

“A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.”
“Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
‘Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.’
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

Monday, January 7, 2019

READ IT! - Introduction to Proverbs 21-27

Readings for this week

Monday: Proverbs 21
Tuesday: Proverbs 22
Wednesday: Proverbs 23
Thursday: Proverbs 24
Friday: Proverbs 25
Saturday: Proverbs 26
Sunday: Proverbs 27

Introduction to Proverbs 21-27

Chapter 21 

Proverbs 10:1–22:16 contains 375 sayings and consists of two parts.

Part One: Proverbs Which Contrast Righteous (Wise) with Wicked (Foolish) Living (10:1-15:33)

Part Two: Assorted Proverbs Which Exalt Righteous Living (16:1-22:16)


To do justice is better than sacrifice.
Better to live on the roof than with a quarrelsome wife.
No plans can avail against the LORD. 

Chapters 22-24 

The third section of the Book contains Thirty Sayings of the Wise (22:17–24:22). It is An Adapted Egyptian Instruction. The third unit is headed, "bend your ear and hear the words of the wise": a large part of it is a recasting of a second-millennium Egyptian work, the Instructions of Amenemopet, and may have reached the Hebrew author(s) through an Aramaic translation. It begins with an Introductory Prelude--Exhortation to Apply Your Mind. The purpose of the sayings is for the reader to trust in the Lord and to have a ready response to life.

1. Warning Not to Rob the Poor (22:22-23)
2. Warning Not to Associate with the Hot-Tempered (22:24-25)
3. Warning Not to Cosign for Debts (22:26-27)
4. Warning Not to Move Ancient Boundaries (22:28)
5. Advice to Be Skillful (22:29)
6. Warning Not to be a Glutton before a King (23:1-3a)
7. Warning Not to Be Materialistic (23:4-5)
8. Warning Not to Eat with a Selfish Person (23:6-8)
9. Warning Not to Converse with a Fool (23:9)
10. Warning Not to Move Ancient Boundaries (23:10-11) 

After the first ten sayings, is an Introductory Prelude to Sayings 11-30—More Exhortations to Apply Your Mind. 

11. Warning Not to Withhold Child Discipline (23:13-14) 
12. Advice to Be Wise and Upright (23:15-16)
13. Warning Not to Envy Sinners and Advice to Fear the Lord (23:17-18)
14. Advice to Be Wise and Warning Not to Associate with Drunkards and Gluttons (23:19-21)
15. Advice to Listen to Your Father, and Warning Not to Despise Your Elderly Mother (23:22-23)
16. Advice to Be Wise (23:24-25)
17. Advice to Follow a Father's Ways and Warning to Avoid the Adulteress (23:26-28)
18. Warning Not to Be a Drunkard (23:29-35)
19. Warning Not to Envy Sinners (24:1-2)
20. Indirect Advice to Be Wise (24:3-4)
21. Indirect Advice to Get Wise Counsel (24:5-6)
22. Indirect Warning Not to Be a Fool (24:7)
23. Indirect Warning Not to Plan Sin (24:8-9)
24. Indirect Advice to Be Strong (24:10)
25. Advice to Help People Who Are Victimized (24:11-12)
26. Advice to Get Wisdom Which Is Sweet to the Soul (24:13-14)
27. Warning Not to Rob a Godly Person's House (24:15-16)
28. Warning Not to Be Glad When an Enemy Falls (24:17-18)
29. Warning Not to Envy Sinners (24:19)
30. Advice to Fear the Lord and Warning to Avoid Renegades (24:21-22)

We then come to section of Further Sayings of the Wise. Chapter 24:23 begins a new section and source with the declaration, "these too are from the wise."

1. Warning Not to Show Favoritism in Court (24:23-25)
2. Advice to Give an Honest and Forthright Answer (24:26)
3. Advice to Cultivate Your Field (24:27)
4. Warning Not to Give a False Witness in Court (24:28)
5. Warning Not to Avenge Yourself (24:29)
6. Indirect Warning Not to Be Lazy (24:30-34) 

Chapter 25 

In the next section of the Book, we read more Proverbs of Solomon (chs. 25–29). The next section at chapter 25:1 has a superscription to the effect that the following proverbs were transcribed "by the men of Hezekiah", indicating at face value that they were collected in the reign of Hezekiah in the late 8th century BCE. Chapters 25–29, attributed to editorial activity of "the men of Hezekiah," contrasts the just and the wicked and broaches the topic of rich and poor.

Section One-Miscellaneous Proverbs

Introduction (25:1)
Proverbs Concerning Kings (25:2-7)
Proverbs Concerning Court Cases (25:8-10)
Proverbs Concerning Words (25:11-15)
Proverbs Concerning Excesses (25:16-17)
Proverbs Concerning Unreliability (25:18-20)
Proverbs Concerning Enemies (25:21-22)
Proverbs Concerning Backbiting (25:23-24)
Proverbs Concerning Cool Water and Muddy Springs (25:25-26)
Proverbs Concerning Self-Pride and Self-Control (25:27-28) 

Chapters 26-27 

Proverbs Concerning Fools: 

“Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.”
“Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.”
“Sending a message by the hands of a fool is like cutting off one’s feet or drinking poison.”
“A thorn got stuck in a drunkard’s hand, and a proverb in the mouth of a fool.”

The "wise fool" (or the "sophomore") explained...

"The drunkard in question here has fallen to the ground and, groping about on all fours, has gotten a thorn or a thistle stuck in his hand. In similar fashion - that is, quite by accident and through no personal virtue - a proverb may end up in the mouth of a fool, but the fact that he has acquired it, does not mean that he has actually learned its truth and internalized it. It just ended up with him by chance, with no more effort or conscious intention than that of the mindless drunkard. So just because you hear someone spouting words of ancient wisdom, this proverb asserts, don't think that the person in question really understands what he is saying."

“As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”

Proverbs Concerning Sluggards:

“A sluggard says, “There’s a lion in the road,
a fierce lion roaming the streets!”
As a door turns on its hinges,
so a sluggard turns on his bed.
A sluggard buries his hand in the dish;
he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.
A sluggard is wiser in his own eyes
than seven people who answer discreetly.” 

Proverbs Concerning Talkers (26:17-28)
Proverbs Concerning Interpersonal Problems (27:1-5)
Proverbs Concerning Friends (27:6-10)
Proverbs Concerning Relationships (27:11-22)
Proverbs Concerning Farming (27:3-27)