1. Ezekiel was carried in exile to Babylon in 596 BC (the 2nd deportation by Nebuchadnezzar), a decade before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. He began prophesying 5 (1:2) years before Jerusalem fell and prophesied many years after the 586 BC.
  2. His first vision in Babylon is of the 4 living creatures (1:5), the wheels, the throne, a man surrounded with a radiant glory, and a rainbow. Compare this with Rev 1. The 4 living creatures are probably symbolic of God’s agents of judgment on Judah, Israel, and the nations. They have eyes to see all that is going on over the earth. They can act rapidly.
  3. God appointed him as a watchman (3:17) to warn the people to repent. He tells him to eat a scroll (3:1) that has bad predictions on it. Compare with Rev 10:9,10 where John is told to eat a little book that has the predictions of the book of Revelation.
  4. He does several sign acts like making a siege on a small brick model of Jerusalem (4:1-3), lying on his side 390 days and then 40 days, eating food cooked over cow dung (4:12). 
  5. In ch 8 he has a vision of what is going on back in the temple (8:16) in Jerusalem: 70 elders worshiping idolatrous images, women worshiping Tammuz, 25 men worship the sun. 
  6. The glory of the Lord departed from the temple (10:18) and from Jerusalem (11:23) due to the idolatry of the people, but there will be a remnant saved. 
  7. He does more signs: carrying baggage (12:3) for exile around, eating food while quaking (12:18).
  8. In ch 13 he denounces the false prophets (13:2) who say Jerusalem will not be destroyed. 
  9. Even Noah, Daniel, and Job could not spare Jerusalem’s fate (14:14). 
  10. He pictures Judah as an unfaithful wife whom he rescued from her birth, groomed her, married her, but she has become a harlot (16:28), committing adultery with the gods of other nations (Chapter 16). He says her older sister is Samaria (Israel) and he younger sister is Sodom (16:46). 
  11. In ch 18 he makes it clear that they are not being punished for the sins of their fathers, but for their own sins. That principle is stated in 18:20, “the soul that sins shall die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s sin, nor the Father bear punishment for the son’s sins.” 
  12. In ch 19, he gives a lamentation over the last 3 kings of Judah. 
  13. In ch 20 God refuses to be inquired of by the elders (20:3). Ezekiel reminds them of their idolatry in Egypt, rebellion in the wilderness, and idolatry in Canaan, and current idolatry. 
  14. In ch 21 Babylon will be a sharpened sword (21:9,19) that God uses to destroy Judah. 
  15. In ch 23 he tells of 2 harlot sisters: Oholah, which is Samaria (23:4), and Oholibah, which is Jerusalem (23:4). Both committed harlotry with gods of the nations and will be punished. 
  16. Why do you think God would not allow Ezekiel to mourn the death of his wife? 24:15-17 
  17.  Ch 25-32 He gives prophecies against the surrounding nations: Ammon, Moab, Edom, Philistia, Tyre ch 26-28 (Isaiah 23: 1st by Nebuchadezzaar, later by Alexander), Egypt ch 29-32 (defeated by Necuchaddezzar in 572 and 568 BC; 29:18). 
  18. In 33:21-22 he gets word from refugees from Jerusalem that the city has fallen. The people will hear but not heed Ezekiel, but when his prophecies “come to pass-as surely they will- then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst” (33:33).
  19. In ch 34 he condemns the shepherds (34:1) of Israel for not feeding and taking care of the flock. He predicts that God will set over them a shepherd, David (Jesus) (34:23,24). Jesus the good shepherd (John 10), chief shepherd (1 Pet 5:4), great shepherd (Heb 13:20) 
  20. He predicts that a remnant will be restored and God will put His Spirit in them to give them a new heart to obey Him. This is Messianic under the shepherd David (35:25-27).
  21. In ch 37 he sees the vision of the valley of dry bones (37:1) (i.e. dead spiritual Israel). But God puts His Spirit (37:14) in them, they grow flesh and come out of graves and come alive. This has to be Messianic when God poured out His Spirit on all flesh. Joel 2:28; Acts 2. 
  22. In ch 37:15-28, he also unites 2 sticks, Israel and Judah, cleanses them, and makes David as their king (Jesus), makes an everlasting covenant and sets his sanctuary (37:28) in their midst. Compare this with Rev 21:1-3 where the New Jerusalem comes down to earth and God puts his tabernacle (sanctuary) among men and dwells among them. This is the church, 21:9. 
  23. Ch 38, 39 the. Messianic destruction of all of Judah’s enemies is represented by Prince Gog of Magog who come up to destroy Israel (38:14-16) in the “latter years” (38:8) but are destroyed by God. God will restore the fortunes of Israel (39:25) and pour out His Spirit (39:29) on Israel. Again, this is Messianic, Joel 2, Acts 2. In Rev 20:8 Gog is Rome attacking Jerusalem. 
  24. In ch 40-46 he gets a vision of a new temple (40:5) to be built one day. It will be larger and far more glorious than the temple of Solomon. The glory of the Lord will fill this temple again (43:1-5). That glory has been gone since the temple was destroyed. 
  25. Levitical priests will be offering animal sacrifices in this new temple (42:13; 43:18-27). For those who believe that this is to be a temple rebuild one day when the Messiah comes, this is a real problem. Hebrews teaches us that the priesthood of Levi and animal sacrifices have been done away, so surely God will not one day restore those. 
  26. There is a Prince who offers animal sacrifices and goes in and out of the temple (Chapter 46). Would this not be David the prince of 34:24; 37:25? Again that would be Jesus. Hebrews teaches us that Jesus our King offered his own blood, not animals. This is a real problem for those who think Ezekiel is predicting a physical temple to be built one day and Levitical priests offereing animal sacrifices. 
  27. This new temple must surely be figurative of the temple that the Branch (Jesus) would build one day (Zechariah 6:12-15). He is both king and priest on His everlasting throne. That temple will be the church, a spiritual temple (1 Cor 3:16;. 6:19) where God dwells (Ephesians 2:22). Notice in Rev 21:22 there is no temple in the new Jerusalem, the church (i.e. no physical temple). 
  28. In ch 47, Ezekiel sees a river 47:5 flowing out from this new temple. It provides life for the fish and there are trees on its banks that bear fruit year round for the healing of the nations. Compare this with Rev 22:1-5, a river of life flowing from the church temple of Rev 21. 
  29. The book ends with the naming of this new Jerusalem, “The Lord is there” (48:35). In Rev 21:1-3 God will make his abode among men and dwell with them in the church.
  30. Extra discussion: What is the role of shepherds in the church today? Acts 20:17-38 where they are called elders, shepherds, and overseers. 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9 give the qualifications for elders. Hebrews 13:17 gives their responsibility. 1 Pete 5:1-3 stresses leadership by example not dictatorship. Eph 4:11 lists elders as pastors and teachers (one office); no doubt miraculously equipped in the 1st century. How much authority do elders even today since they are not inspired? Do we still need elders? Most elderships are boards of directors.


Read the overview of Habakkuk from Chuck Swindoll. https://insight.org/resources/bible/the-minor-prophets/habakkuk

Habakkuk was recognized as a prophet to Judah. He prophesied after the fall of Assyria in 612 BC since he doesn’t mention Assyria at all. He probably then prophesied in the latter reign of Josiah or during the reign of Jehoiakim, one of the last kings of the southern kingdom of Judah. The reforms of Josiah were “too little, too late” to saved Judah from punishment. The book is unique in that it is a dialogue between Habakkuk and God. Twice, Habakkuk questions God about what God is doing or not doing, and twice God answers him (ch 1,2). It concludes with a confession of faith (ch 3).

Does injustice in society bother you? Does it bother you that so many evil people seem to get rich while the righteous never seem to “get ahead”? Does the violence, the mass shootings, bother you? Does it bother you that “the poor get poorer and the rich get richer” in life? Well, all these things bothered Habakkuk. He complained to God that “justice is never upheld”. He has been preaching to the people of Judah, condemning them for their sins, but after he does that, he goes to God in private, questioning Him about why He doesn’t punish the wicked. God answers him: “The wicked will be punished. I am sending the Chaldeans (Babylons) to punish the wicked in Judah. God did that when Babylon invaded Judah and destroyed the temple and Jerusalem in 586 BC.

But that answer bothered Habakkuk. 1:13 “Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?” Ok, Judah deserved to be punished for their sins. But, he questions God, how can God use those who are more evil than Judah to punish Judah? The Babylonians worshiped many false gods. They were known for their immorality. The harlot (which was Jerusalem) in the book of Revelation had “Babylon” written across her forehead (Rev 17), a symbol of the immorality of Jerusalem. To use a nation to punish Judah that was more wicked and idolatrous than Judah really bothers Habakkuk.

Can you imagine this? God decides to punish the U.S. for our immorality, for forsaking our Judeo-Christian values, so He sends radical terrorists to take over our country. They will set off bombs in our major cities and overthrow our government. These terrorists are idolaters or, maybe atheists. How would you feel if that happened? Do you remember how we felt after 9/11 attacks. We look at America and we are grieved by the sexual immorality and violence in our country, by that lack of respect for the word of God, by the LGBTQ movement that seems to be taking over, etc. We know that our nation needs to be humbled. We know we need a grass roots revival like the Great Awakening. But for God to use idolatrous or atheistic savage terrorists to punish us? We may be wicked, but most of our people still believe in the one true God and most are still good people. Maybe this helps us understand how Habakkuk felt about God using the Babylonians to punish Judah.

“This account of wrestling with God is, however, not just a fragment from a private journal that has somehow entered the public domain. It was composed for Israel. No doubt it represented the voice of the godly in Judah, struggling to comprehend the ways of God. God’s answers therefore spoke to all who shared Habakkuk’s troubled doubts. And Habakkuk’s confession became a public expression — as indicated by its liturgical notations” (taken from Biblestudytools.com). Habakkuk waits for God’s answer to this 2nd question, expecting to be reproved for his questioning of God. 2:1 I will stand on my guard post And station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, And how I may reply [r]when I am reproved”. God then makes a prediction and tells Habakkuk to write it down. 2:2-3 Then the Lord answered me and said, “Record the vision And inscribe it on tablets, That [s]the one who [t]reads it may run.“For the vision is yet for the appointed time;It [u]hastens toward the goal and it will not [v]fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay”. He then predicts that He will indeed one day punish the Babylonians (ch 2). He gives 5 “woes” that will befall the Babylonians, condemning their brutality, greed, and idolatry. That will be fulfilled when the Medes and Persians defeat Babylon in 539 BC. The atheistic Communist Stalin defeated the atheistic Nazi Hitler’s invading forces in Russia, which was a major factor in the fall of Hitler. Many worried about the power of Stalin, and rightfully so. But no one would have expected or predicted the fall of the mighty Russian nation that happened many years later. Habakkuk’s prediction of the fall of the mighty Babylonian Empire, which had just defeated Assyria in 612 BC, is a critical prophecy. Some would even live to see Babylon fall in 539 BC some 50 years later after Habakkuk made this prediction.

Habakkuk says, 2:4 “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his [w]faith”. He is encouraging the righteous in Judah to trust that God will eventually execute justice and punish the wicked even if that doesn’t appear that God is doing that at the time. In other words, quit questioning what God is doing and just trust Him. I don’t know where the U.S. is headed in the future. Will we become a secular state with very little respect for God? Will God punish us with another great depression to humble us, or more terrorist attacks? Will God allow radical Muslim terrorists to overthrow us? Will we destroy ourselves with corruption and immorality as the Romans did? I don’t know. We can only trust God that He will eventually execute justice and punish the wicked, whether in this life or the next. 2:20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.” Habakkuk tells us to quit questioning God, to be silent. Do you remember the little song using this verse. We sang that song to get children to be quiet in church services or VBS. Or we sang it in church to get people to be reverent during the service. Not quite the context as it originally used in Habakkuk.

Paul cites Hab 2:4 in Romans,” For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, “But the righteous shall live by faith” (1:16-17). Just as in Habakkuk, he is encouraging the righteous remnant to trust in God for their salvation through the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. This verse in Romans had a tremendous impact on Martin Luther, the founder of the Reformation Movement. I encourage you to stop here and read “Luther’s breakthrough in Romans”. https://lutheranreformation.org/theology/luthers-breakthrough-romans/ It introduces the term “infused grace” from Catholicism. God infuses or puts grace in believers so that by their righteous actions (penance and the rituals of Catholicism) can become righteous. That is a works based righteousness. Luther, using Hab 2:4, came to realize that righteousness is “imputed righteousness” where God reckons us to be right in his eyes, not on the basis of our works, but on the basis of our faith, our trusting in what Jesus did for us on the cross. His comment on this verse: ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ Now I felt as though I had been reborn altogether and had entered Paradise. In the same moment the face of the whole of Scripture became apparent to me. My mind ran through the Scriptures, as far as I was able to recollect them, seeking analogies in other phrases, such as the work of God, by which He makes us strong, the wisdom of God, by which He makes us wise, the strength of God, the salvation of God, the glory of God. Just as intensely as I had now hated the expression ‘the righteousness of God,’ I now lovingly praised this most pleasant word. This passage from Paul became to me the very gate to Paradise.” [6] He had come to hate righteousness because he could never do enough penance or rituals to obtain it, but now he could love the fact that God makes us righteous simply through our faith. This verse will change the lives of all who are living under some legalistic works based system of religion. My own Church of Christ movement put so much emphasis on correct doctrine and working faith that it became similar to the Catholicism that Luther was raised in. We ended up leaving people to trust in their knowledge and works rather than the grace of God for their salvation. We seldom stressed that we are “saved by grace through faith and not works” (Ephesians 2:8,9) for fear that someone will adopt the Calvinistic “can’t fall from grace” error. Our teaching left believers with very little assurance of their salvation even though we worked hard to try to obtain it. It also caused many splits over minor doctrines that we made heaven/hell issues in our zeal for obedience to the truth. Many have “discovered grace” and felt the same experience that Luther did. They now have full assurance of their salvation. They no longer divide over minor issues, trusting that God’s grace will save us even though we disagree on minor issues. I remember how excited I was to get into a deep study of the book of Romans in the school of preaching that I attended for 2 years. Few east of the Mississippi River had boldly taught the message of Romans, but my Romans teacher did, and it changed my theology drastically.

Chapter 3 concludes with Habakkuk’s reaction to God’s 2nd answer about punishing the Babylonians one day. 3:2 Lord, I have heard [an]the report about You and[ao]I fear. O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years,
In the midst of the years make it known; In wrath remember [ap]mercy.” 3:16-10

I heard and my [ay]inward parts trembled,
At the sound my lips quivered.
Decay enters my bones,
And in my place I tremble.
Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress,
[az]For the people to arise who will invade us.
17 Though the fig tree should not blossom
And there be no [ba]fruit on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive should fail
And the fields produce no food,
Though the flock should be cut off from the fold
And there be no cattle in the stalls,
18 Yet I will exult in the Lord,
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
19 The Lord [bb]God is my strength,
And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet,
And makes me walk on my high places.

He can only trust God and wait for Him to act. He dreads the invading Babylonian army that will destroy the temple and Jerusalem and take Judah captive for 70 years. He can only beg that God be merciful as He executes His wrath on Judah. Somehow, he even comes to “exult and rejoice” in God in spite of the impending judgment that is coming on Judah. No doubt he lived to see the fall of Jerusalem and yet had faith that in the long run God would do what was best. Even the righteous remnant in Judah would suffer, but they could rejoice in their suffering. The righteous remnant of believers all across the globe can rejoice in their suffering. Many persecuted believers in Muslim and atheistic countries can rejoice in the message of Habakkuk.

So, when your eyes see things in life where you question why God allows bad, evil stuff to happen, and you begin to have doubts about God’s very existence or doubts about His character (is He a God of justice), then read the book of Habakkuk. Be silent and trust God. Try to rejoice in God. Try to assure others that God is still the one true God. Don’t feel guilty about your doubts and questions you are asking God. Study the Bible to find all the answers you can find.


I continue to be impressed with Swindoll’s summaries of the books of the prophets in the OT. Read his overview of Zephaniah at this link. https://insight.org/resources/bible/the-minor-prophets/zephaniah

Having read that, let’s do this article! Zephaniah is the great great grandson of the good king Hezekiah of Judah. Zephaniah and Habbakuk are the only two prophets who prophesied only to the southern kingdom of Judah after the Assyrian captivity of the northern kingdom of Israel (722 BC) and yet before the captivity of Judah to Babylon (586 BC). The other. major and minor prophets prophesied to both kingdoms (like Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, Micah) or to Judah some after 586 BC (like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel) or to some foreign nation (like Jonah, Nahum). He prophesied probably in the latter period of Josiah (some think about 630 BC), still before the fall of Assyria to Babylon in 612 BC (2:13 he predicts the fall of Assyria so it had not fallen yet). He also predicts the judgment of many other nations which would apparently be in the future at the hands of the Babylonians as they took world power from the Assyrians. Josiah was a good king of Judah whose reforms led to the discovery of the book of the Law of Moses which had been lost due to idolatry and neglect. Josiah had the book read to all the people and called on them to repent. Maybe Zephaniah is following up on that.

Zephaniah 1:7 [e]Be silent before the Lord [f]God! For the day of the Lord is near. 1:14 Near is the great day of the Lord, Near and coming very quickly;
Listen, the day of the Lord!” The day of the Lord is a day of judgment on Judah. The Babylonians would carry the first captives to Babylon in 606 BC, the second captives in 596 BC, and the last group in 586 BC when they destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple. So indeed the day of the Lord was near and coming very quickly. The NT writers talk about a day of the Lord, a judgment day on the nation of Israel, and the 2nd coming of Jesus as being “near” (Revelation 1:3; 2:10; James 5:8; 1 Peter 4:7), “in a very little while” (Hebrews 10:37). Jesus had predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and judgment on the Jews that the Romans would fulfill in 70 AD (Matthew 24) within the generation of those to whom he was speaking (Matthew 24:34). Jesus even predicted His coming while some to whom he was speaking would still be alive. I am amazed when people say that the word “near” could be “near in God’s time frame” and thus thousands of years since “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years ” (2 Peter 3:8). A day in God’s time frame is like a thousand years, or even a million years, since He is not bounded by time. But when Zephaniah or the NT writers predicted a day of the Lord that was near, he/they were not speaking in God’s time frame. It is obvious that he/they were speaking in the time frame of the people he/they were speaking to.

But back to this judgment that was imminent when Zephaniah prophesied. The people of Judah were worshiping idols, even the god Milcom (probably the god of the Ammonites). They might even have offered their first born to the god Molech (of the Moabites) as the evil king Manasseh of Judah did. God will judge them and send them into Babylonian captivity for 70 years (606-536 BC) to stop their idolatry. It is interesting that, while the Jews who later returned from captivity still were very sinful and disobedient to God (Malachi is a good picture of this), there is no mention of idolatry among the Jews after their captivity in Babylon all the way down to the times of Jesus. This cessation of idolatry was important to the coming of Jesus in the first century AD. At least the Jews in Jesus’ time were still believing in the one true God, Yahweh, and not idolatrous. That would have made it much more difficult when Jesus came as the Son of God (which god?), or when he claimed to be equal to the Father (John 5:18), or when Thomas called him “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28-29). If they were still idolatrous, the thought would be, “which god”?

In chapter 3, he condemns their princes, judges, prophets, and priests. Josiah’s reforms had helped, but the corruption within Judah and her leadership was too deeply rooted to have a grass roots revival that might spare her from God’s judgment. But there are some who are “humble and lowly” (3:12). There will also be a remnant (2:7,9; 3:13) for whom God will “restore your fortunes” (2:7; 3:20). We know a remnant did return from Babylonian captivity in 536 BC (actually 3 returns to rebuild the temple, reform the keeping of the Law, and the rebuilding of the walls). This might be what Zephaniah is referring to.

So what application do we get from this book, if any? We might look at the corruption in the leadership and people in our nation that was once built on Christian values. We might wonder if God is about ready to send some judgment on our country. Or we might look at God’s people, the Christians, and the churches in this great country. Have we become idolatrous with the worship of pleasure, or our possessions, our materialism and greed, our hobbies, our careers? Has the leadership within the church become corrupt? I mean, we are talking about the sins of God’s people and yet today even some church leaders are telling God’s people that things like homosexuality, gay marriages, etc. are not even sinful! We are trying to get God’s people to obey God’s word and yet some church leaders are telling God’s people that the writings of the NT are not really the words of God, just the words of men. 1 Thessalonians 2: 13 “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” The church has often become more like a religious business to be run with big budgets and professional staffs and expensive buildings. May God help us to humble ourselves and return to God.


As I did with Nahum, I refer you to Chuck Swindoll’s overview of Jeremiah at this link. https://insight.org/resources/bible/the-major-prophets/jeremiah

Now, I will follow up with a few thoughts of my own after you have hopefully read that overview. Jeremiah began prophesying at the age of 20 in 627 BC and prophesied until 582 BC. His scribe Baruch would write down all his words (35:32; 45:1). He began while Assyria was still a world power and a threat to Judah, just as they had been in the days of Hezekiah in 701 BC although Nahum (652 BC) had predicted the fall of Ninevah (Ninevah would be destroyed in 612 BC by the Babylonians, Medes, and Persians). So he saw Ninevah destroyed, and Babylon took Assyria’s place as the world power. He began during the reign of the good king Josiah of Judah (640-610 BC). Josiah was the king who began to reign at the age of 8, the one who found the book of the Law that had been lost due to lack of use, and made many reforms.

The last 4 kings of Judah were either sons or grandsons of Josiah.

Josiah’s sons: 1 Chron. 3:15 lists Josiah’s four sons in this order:

  1. 1) Johanan (oldest, but mentioned only here in Scripture)
  2. Jehoiakim
  3. Zedekiah
  4. Shallum = Jehoahaz

But the sons did not rule in their birth order. Here is the record, additional names included:

  1. Jehoahaz (Josiah’s #4) = Shallum; reigned 3 months (608)
  2. Jehoiakim (Josiah’s #2) = Eliakim; reigned 11 years (608-597)
  3. Jehoiachin (Josiah’s grandson, son of #2, Jehoiakim) = Joiachin = Jeconiah = Coniah; reigned 3 months (597). According to the Hebrew Massoretic text, he was 8 years old when he began to reign. But a comparison of 2 Kings 24:8 with the Septuagint (Greek) of 2 Chron. 36:9 indicates that he was 18 years old when he began to reign.
  4. Zedekiah (Josiah’s #3) = Mattaniah; reigned 11 years (not the brother of Jehoiachin as in 2 Chron. 36:10; cf. 1 Chron. 3:16 where it is stated that Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) had a son named Zedekiah; 2 Kings 24:17 rightly identifies Zedekiah as uncle to Jehoiachin. NOTE: Ezekiel dates his prophecies (8:1; 20:1, etc.) to the exile of Jehoiachin, not to the reign of Zedekiah. In 2 Kings 25:27 Jehoiachin is still referred to as king.

The book of Jeremiah is difficult to follow because it will skip back and forth between Jeremiah prophesying to Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin (Coniah), and Zedekiah (notice Jeremiah 21-22 all 3 kings are mentioned).

As you can see, things moved into the final stages for Judah after Josiah was killed in a battle against the Egyptians. Pharoah Neco did not want to fight him, but Josiah forced the fight and was killed at Megiddo. Josiah had made reforms but for Judah, it was “too little, too late”. The idolatry and sins of Judah were too far rooted to get out. God used Jeremiah to predict to the last kings of Judah that Judah was going into Babylonian captivity. He even encouraged Zedekiah to not rebel against Babylon, but he did anyway, which led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple and the carrying of Judah into Babylonian captivity in 586 BC.

So Jeremiah lived to see the fall of Assyria in 612 BC, but then he also saw the 1st deportation in 606 BC, the 2nd deportation in 596 BC, and the fall of Jerusalem and the 3rd deportation into Babylon in 586 BC. He would see King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon appoint Gedaliah as governor of Judea after Jerusalem fell, only to see some Jews assassinate Gedaliah. Fearing reprisal from Nebuchadnezzar, they fled to Egypt for safety, carrying Jeremiah with them, although he warned them not to flee. Most think Jeremiah died in Egypt around 582 BC.

In chapter 7, he condemns Judah for idolatry, immorality, and injustice (oppression of the poor), saying that Judah had broke their covenant with God (11:8). Even the intercession of Moses and Samuel, if they had been living and could approach God, would not avoid Judah’s fall to Babylon (15:1). He is told not to marry lest his wife and children perish at the hands of the cruel Babylonians (16:1). Passhur the priest had him beaten and put in stocks where he was mocked (ch 20). He mourned and cursed the day of his birth. He will come to be known as “the weeping prophet”. He makes it clear to Judah that Babylon will take them into captivity for 70 years because of their idolatry (ch 25), although in the same chapter he predicts that Babylon will be destroyed at the end of the 70 years.

In the reign of Jehoiakim, he says that Judah has refused to listen to the warnings of “My servants the prophets”. 26: And you will say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord, “If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, to listen to the words of My servants the prophets, whom I have been sending to you [q]again and again, but you have not listened”. Jeremiah was arrested and sentenced to death (ch 26), but was released. Instead, another prophet, Uriah, who had also prophesied against Judah, fled to Egypt but was brought back to Jehoiakim who killed him. In chapter 36, Jeremiah’s predictions against Jehoiakim were written on a scroll which Jehoiakim cut with a knife and burned, although Jeremiah had Baruch write them again on another scroll.

During Zedekiah’s reign, the false prophet Hananiah predicted that Judah would be freed from the yoke of Babylon within 2 years (ch 28). Jeremiah told him that would not be true, and that he would die within the current year, which he did. In the meantime, Jeremiah assures those Jews already in Babylon (taken during the 1st or 2nd deportations in 606 BC and 596 BC) that they would be safer in Babylon rather than joining in the rebellion against Babylon that was happening in Palestine (ch 29). Also in the reign of Zedekiah, Jeremiah is arrested and put in a dungeon, and then later thrown in to a cistern, but he is rescued at Zedekiah’s orders by an Ethiopian eunuch (ch 37,38). Zedekiah then has a private conversation with Jeremiah. Jeremiah gives him one last chance to surrender to the Babylonians and save Jerusalem from falling, but Zedekiah is afraid of his officials and does not surrender. After an 18 month siege of the city, Jerusalem fell and was destroyed by the Babylonians and the temple destroyed (ch 39; ch 52). Zedekiah flees the city, but is caught. He gets to see his sons killed before his very eyes, and then the Babylonians put out his eyes and carried him captive to Babylon. Jeremiah is treated kindly by the Babylonians and entrusted to the newly appointed governor Gedaliah.

Chapters 40-45 occur after the fall of Jerusalem in 586 BC. Gedaliah is assassinated by some Jews, and they flee to Egypt. Jeremiah warns them not to go, but they go anyway and taken Jeremiah with them. As already stated, we don’t know their fate but can only assume that they and Jeremiah perished in Egypt. At some point before his death, he predicted that Babylon would fall to the Medes at the end of the 70 years in captivity (ch 51). The Medes and Persians did destroy Babylon in 539 BC, which allowed the Jews to make 3 returns from captivity to rebuild the temple, reform the Law keeping, and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. In the 37th year of King Jehoiachin’s exile to Babylon, he was released from prison there and treated kindly till his death.

Jeremiah not only promises a return from Babylonian captivity, but he also predicts the time when God will make a new covenant with Judah.

31:31 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34 They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

We know this has a Messianic fulfillment because the Hebrews writer quotes this entire section in Hebrews 8:8-13. He says the old covenant with the Jews was “obsolete, growing old, and ready to disappear”. He wrote around 60 AD, and predicted the fall of Jerusalem (70 AD). He predicted that 70 AD would be the time when the old covenant with the Jews would finally be completely replaced by the new covenant. There would be a change of the priesthood, a change of the Law, a change of the sacrifices (from animals to the blood of Jesus), etc. In this new covenant, a person would not be born into the covenant like in the old covenant, but would only be in the new covenant if they “know the Lord”, i.e. a personal relationship through faith in Jesus, the Son of God, who died for their sins. Jesus’ death would be “once for all time”, unlike the high priest going into the Holy of Holies every year on the Day of Atonement to get the sins of Israel remembered for another year.

Jeremiah makes another Messianic prediction in ch 33: 14 ‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good word which I have spoken concerning the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall execute justice and righteousness on the earth. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell in safety; and this is the name by which she will be called: the Lord is our righteousness.’ 17 For thus says the Lord, ‘[ak]David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel; 18 [al]and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man before Me to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to prepare sacrifices [am]continually.’” This prediction is really interesting. He predicts that the righter Branch of David will come one day (that always refers to Jesus in the OT), that the Davidic line of kings would continue forever after Jesus comes, and that the Levitical priesthool would continue to offer sacrifices after Jesus comes. Now, if you understand the figurative language Messianic predictions of the OT prophets, this passage is easy to understand. Jesus, the Branch of David, would sit on the throne of David (as God promised David in 2 Samuel 7) forever (as Gabriel told Mary that Jesus would do in Luke 1). The continuous Levitical priesthood prediction is also fulfilled in Jesus, who is the high priest in the new covenant (Hebrews 7), a high priest who reigns forever because he does not die like the Levitical priests did. If this was interpreted literally, the Levitical priesthood would continue after Jesus came. Instead, the Hebrew writer says that the Levitical priesthood was completely done away with and replaced by the eternal priesthood of Jesus, who was of the tribe of Judah, not Levi. It is amazing to me that most look for such Messianic predictions to be fulfilled literally instead of figuratively. They usually say that most of the Messianic kingdom predictions have not even been fulfilled yet because they expect them to be fulfilled literally. For instance, 33: For I will restore the [ai]fortunes of the land as they were at first,’ says the Lord.” Such predictions to restore Israel to their Holy Land in Palestine are taken by most to be fulfilled literally by Israel being restored to Palestine, which they usually say was fulfilled in the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 AD. The promises of restoration to the land were made to the remnant of Israel who would believe in Jesus as the Messiah, and not made to the entire unbelieving nation of Israel. Those promises were fulfilled for the 1st century AD remnant of the Jewish Christians, and had nothing to do with physical land. They, like the other Messianic predictions, were written in figurative language using OT covenant terminology. In Romans 9-11, Paul says that God kept His promises to Israel, but that those promises were made to the believing remnant and not to the entire nation. There are no prophecies that predict anything for the nation of Israel after 70 AD.

As did most of the prophets, Jeremiah gave a distant future promise of hope for the few righteous in Judah who grieved with him over the sinfulness of the nation. They would not even live to see the predictions in chapter 31 and 33 come true (700 years later), but it would still give them a bit of comfort to know that God was preparing something better for the remnant of Judah. I doubt they understood the “new covenant” promise at all. They also probably mistakenly thought the continuance of the Levitical priesthood would be fulfilled literally, as did the Jews when Jesus came (which caused them to reject Jesus and His teaching about the new covenant). But at least they had hope. The apostles and NT writers would by the Holy Spirit explain the spiritual fulfillment of all these predictions, and the believing remnant would accept a spiritual fulfillment. The rest of the Jews would reject Jesus because they wanted a physical fulfillment and restoration of the nation to its power under the reign of David.

One last thought that Swindoll emphasized. “The prophecies of Jeremiah offer us a unique insight into the mind and heart of one of God’s faithful servants. The book includes numerous personal statements of emotional engagement, painting Jeremiah not merely as a prophet brought on the scene to deliver God’s message but also as a red-blooded human being who felt compassion for his people, desired judgment for evildoers, and was concerned about his own safety as well.” How does that apply to us? Well, if you are concerned about the sin around us and in the world, if you have compassion for the righteous who are being persecuted all over the world, if you desire judgment against the wicked of the world, then you can at least appreciate Jeremiah. If you are persecuted as he was, then you can appreciate him even more. Most of us are not persecuted, but many Christians are persecuted in foreign countries. They can not only sympathize with Jeremiah, but can empathize with him. They have wept under the pain of persecution. They have been mocked by their fellow countrymen because of their conversion to Christianity. They have been imprisoned like Jeremiah. They have been maligned by their national leaders. The Voice of the Martyrs continually sends out requests for prayer and help for persecuted Christians all over the world. I urge you to request a free subscription to their magazine. They will ask for donations, but it is free and it is both sad but heart worming to see the plight of fellow believers and yet how they remain strong and how VOM helps them.


To begin with, go to this link to read a brief overview of Nahum by Chuck Swindoll. It is really good and I won’t try to repeat everything he wrote. https://insight.org/resources/bible/the-minor-prophets/nahum

Now, what stands out about the book of Nahum and how does it apply to us and help us? Nahum is one of those books that is easy to date: sometime between the fall of No-amon (Thebes) in Egypt (663 BC), which Nahum refers to in the past tense, and the rebuilding of Thebes (654 BC). He prophesied during the reign of perhaps the most evil king of Judah, King Manasseh, and yet before the very end of Manasseh’s reign when he repented in 648 BC. That means Nahum is still prophesying during the idolatrous and evil period of Manasseh’s reign.

God had sent Jonah in about 760 BC to announce that Ninevah was about to fall, but Ninevah repented and God spared them, at least for the time, much to Jonah’s anger. We don’t know how long the revival in Ninevah lasted, but Ninevah and Assyria returned to their evil ways after that and now, 100 years after Jonah, the prophet Nahum announced that Ninevah was going to fall. Read the 3 chapters of Ninevah. It is a detailed description of the panic and destruction of the city. Assyria was at full strength (1:12), God was about to destroy them. Assyria had been a world power for several centuries (especially from 900-600 BC). They conquered all of Mesopotamia and expanded the empire to include much of the Middle East including Egypt, Babylonia, Israel, and Cypress. They reached their peak under the rule of King Tiglath-Pileser I. The final, and perhaps strongest, of the Assyrian Empires ruled from 744 BC to 612 BC.

Assyria had been a great thorn in the side of the northern kingdom of Israel. 2 Kings 17:1-6 tells about the fall of Samaria (and Israel) to Assyria.

17:1 “Hoshea son of Elah began to rule over Israel in the twelfth year of King Ahaz’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Samaria nine years. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, but not to the same extent as the kings of Israel who ruled before him.

King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked King Hoshea, so Hoshea was forced to pay heavy tribute to Assyria. But Hoshea stopped paying the annual tribute and conspired against the king of Assyria by asking King So of Egypt* to help him shake free of Assyria’s power. When the king of Assyria discovered this treachery, he seized Hoshea and put him in prison. Then the king of Assyria invaded the entire land, and for three years he besieged the city of Samaria. Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. They were settled in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.” Samaria, the capital of Israel, fell to Assyria in 722BC.

Assyria continued to be a bully and oppressor of the southern kingdom of Judah after the fall of Israel, the northern kingdom. 2Kings18.13–19.37 tells about Assyria’s siege of Jerusalem in 701 BC by King Sennacherib of Assyria when Hezekiah was the king of Judah. Read that section in 2 Kings. Even though Assyria was a terribly cruel empire, God had actually used Assyria to punish His people in the northern kingdom. He had allowed Assyria to take Israel into exile in 722 BC and transplanted Assyria’s to take their place, which led to the Samaritan people that you read about in the NT. So, in the reign of Hezekiah of Judah, Assyria is ready to overthrow Jerusalem and take Judah into captivity also. Hezekiah was a good king and had made many reforms. So God was favorable to Hezekiah and Judah at this time. But, as you read 2 Kings 18 and 19, notice the arrogance and blasphemy of Assyria. The Assyrians mock Judah for trying to resist them. They brag at how they had conquered the gods of many nations, and they mocked Judah for trusting in their god to deliver them. This arrogance and blasphemy seems to be the turning point in God using Assyria any longer. 2 Kings 19:

27 “But I know you well— where you stay and when you come and go. I know the way you have raged against me. 28 And because of your raging against me and your arrogance, which I have heard for myself, I will put my hook in your nose and my bit in your mouth. I will make you return by the same road on which you came.” 32 “And this is what the Lord says about the king of Assyria: “His armies will not enter Jerusalem. They will not even shoot an arrow at it. They will not march outside its gates with their shields nor build banks of earth against its walls. 33 The king will return to his own country by the same road on which he came. He will not enter this city, says the Lord. 34 For my own honor and for the sake of my servant David, I will defend this city and protect it.” That night God killed 185,000 of the Assyrian army and the siege lifted and King Sennacherib returned to Assyria, only to be assassinated after that by his own sons. Assyria continued to be a world power after this, but something interesting happened after Jerusalem was saved. God told Hezekiah that he was about to die, but God gave him 15 extra years and the miracle of the sun dial going backwards to confirm that. The Babylonians sent messengers to Hezekiah to check out that miracle, and Hezekiah boastfully showed them the treasures of the temple. God then told Hezekiah that the Babylonians would eventually take Judah captive. God knew that after Hezekiah’s good reign would follow the most evil king of Judah, King Manasseh. He knew that He would one day allow Babylonian to do what Assyria had tried to do, i.e. overthrow Jerusalem and take Judah captive. Hezekiah reigned from 715-686 BC. His evil son Manasseh would reign for 55 years (some of that co-regent with Hezekiah and as sole reign 686-642 BC).

That brings us back to Nahum who prophesied sometime between 663-654 BC during the evil reign of Manasseh. God has already told Hezekiah that it would be Babylon who would take Judah captive some day, and now through Nahum he predicts the fall of Assyria which would happen in 612 BC, paving the way for Babylon to be the world power that would destroy Jerusalem and the temple, and take Judah captive in 586 BC as God had told Hezekiah. Ninevah would be destroyed 50 years after Nahum predicted it, but the plans are already in working. God is moving among the nations. As Daniel said in Daniel 2:21 God “removes kings and establishes kings”. He will remove the Assyrian Empire and replace it with the Babylonian Empire. Babylon will do His will and destroy Jerusalem and take Judah into captivity for 70 years (606-536 BC). God will then send the Medes and Persians to destroy Babylon in 539 BC, and cause Cyrus the Persian king to allow Judah to return to the Holy Land to rebuild the temple. Ezra will make a 2nd return from Babylon to reform the keeping of the Law. Nehemiah will make a 3rd return to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

But did the fall of Ninevah happen just as Nahum predicted? Yes, in every detail. I suggest you go to this Wikipedia cite to get an a good account of the battle of Ninevah in 612 BC. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Nineveh_(612_BC) Or google it! Of course, the agnostics say Nahum could not have predicted this 50 years before it happened! They say he or someone using his name wrote the book of Nahum after the fact! But we know God can use his prophets to predict the future. That is they way He proves that His prophets are true prophets.

So, other than seeing prophecy fulfilled, which in very valuable to us, how does Nahum apply to us? To answer that, look at how it applied to Judah at the time that it was written. Most of the original readers would not live to see the prophecy come true. But they could get comfort to know that eventually God would punish the evil, idolatrous, wicked, cruel Assyrians. Notice that is how Nahum begins his book. Nahum 1:

A jealous and avenging God is the Lord;
The Lord is avenging and [b]wrathful.
The Lord takes vengeance on His adversaries,
And He reserves wrath for His enemies.
The Lord is slow to anger and great in power,
And the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.”

No doubt the righteous people among Judah are depressed by the evil reign of Manasseh and the cruelty of the Assryians. After Jerusalem was spared under Hezekiah, they probably still feared that eventually God would send the Assyrians after all to punish Judah just as He had send them to punish Israel. They perhaps wonder about God’s justice in the world and why the wicked are allowed to prosper. God had described Himself to Moses in Exodus 34 as a slow to anger but wrathful God who would seek vengeance against the wicked and by no means leave the guilty unpunished. So, they wonder, is God really capable of doing that, and if so, why does He not act. Nahum just wants them to know that God will eventually punish the wicked, cruel Assryians. Some might even live to see it happen. Notice Nahum does not even mention the Babylonians and what they would do to Jerusalem and Judah in 586 BC. For the time being, He just wants the righteous in Judah to have some comfort in knowing that God will eventually execute justice in the world. The wicked in Judah would care less about what Nahum was predicting probably, but the righteous need to know God’s plans.

So how does that apply to us today? I’m not sure that many of us in America can appreciate this book. In the U.S. we are living in a period of peace and prosperity. There is no world power threatening our existence, or is there? Many of us are very concerned about the spread of radical religious extremists. ISIS was a big threat for a while. Many of us remember the Bay of Pigs in Cuba and the nuclear confrontation between Kennedy and Krushchev of Russia in the 1960’s and how close we came to WWIII. 9/11 struck hard at us. Now the conflict with Iran is posing the threat of another war. Terrorism scares us to death, imagining what the terrorists will use next. Where will all this end up in the future? Only God knows, and He does not send prophets any more to predict the future. Some claim to be able to do that, but their prophecies never come true 100% of the time. In spite of all this, we can know that eventually God will punish the wicked. He will act among the nations to do His will. He might just let the free will of man carry out its course. But eventually, He will execute justice. Just remember, if America doesn’t return to its roots and follow God, part of His plans might be to allow America to be destroyed also. Nahum said Ninevah would fall, but late Judah would fall also.

Christians living in 3rd world countries probably understand the application of Nahum better than we do. They are often faced with radical extremists threatening their very existence, just as the righteous among Judah faced the threat from Assyria. They have watched radical them come in, kill and imprison their leaders, persecute their fellow Christians, burn their churches, etc. Maybe they can read Nahum and get similar hope that God will one day execute justice and punish those who persecute them even if they don’t live to see it. Indeed, we wonder how God might do that. But believers wondered how God would stop Hitler and the Holocaust also, but God did eventually stop him. I hope this article helps you appreciate this short little book of prophecy and how it might apply to us. Relax and let God take care of the affairs of the world. Just set a good Christian example for those around you and let God do His thing. But be assured that He will do His thing. Take comfort in that.

Amos the Prophet

Amos 7:10 Then Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, “Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel; the land is unable to endure all his words. 11 For thus Amos says, ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword and Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.’” 12 Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Go, you seer, flee away to the land of Judah and there eat bread and there do your prophesying! 13 But no longer prophesy at Bethel, for it is a sanctuary of the king and a royal [cq]residence.”

14 Then Amos replied to Amaziah, “I am not a prophet, nor am I the son of a prophet; for I am a herdsman and a [cr]grower of sycamore figs. 15 But the Lord took me from [cs]following the flock and the Lord said to me, ‘Go prophesy to My people Israel.’ 16 Now hear the word of the Lord: you are saying, ‘You shall not prophesy against Israel nor shall you [ct]speak against the house of Isaac.’ 17 Therefore, thus says the Lord, ‘Your wife will become a harlot in the city, your sons and your daughters will fall by the sword, your land will be parceled up by a measuring line and you yourself will die [cu]upon unclean soil. Moreover, Israel will certainly go from its land into exile.’”

As you can see, Amos prophesied mainly to the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of Jereboam II, an evil king who reigned for 41 years (790-750 BC)of mainly prosperity and peace. Jonah the prophet, according to 2 Kings 14:23-27, had given a good prophecy to Jereboam that he would be successful militarily, that God was not ready yet to turn Israel over to foreign powers. But Amos, looking at the evil and idolatry of Jereboam, gives a different prophesy. He predicts that Israel will go into captivity soon, and they did, to Assyria, in 722 BC. Jonah finally went to Nivevah, the capital of Assyria, and preached to them which led to their repentance, which made Jonah angry and depressed. We don’t know what happened to Jonah after he returned from Ninevah as the Bible is silent on that. If he did return to Israel to continue prophesying to Jereboam, you have to wonder if he and Amos ever met and had a discussion about Amos’ prophecy that Assyria would take Israel into exile. Can you imagine how Jonah felt when he heard Amos’ prediction that it would be Israel falling and not Assyria?

Amos 3:

“You only have I [ab]chosen among all the families of the earth;
Therefore I will [ac]punish you for all your iniquities.”
Do two men walk together unless they have made an [ad]appointment?
Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey?
Does a young lion [ae]growl from his den unless he has captured something?
Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground when there is no [af]bait in it?
Does a trap spring up from the earth when it captures nothing at all?
If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble?
If a calamity occurs in a city has not the Lord done it?
7 [ag]Surely the Lord [ah]God does nothing
Unless He reveals His secret counsel
To His servants the prophets.
A lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord [ai]God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?

This is a very insightful passage about God’s work with His prophets. Who knows the mind, thinking, and plans of God? No one. Does God want man to know what He is planning and doing, and why He is doing it? Yes. So He communicates to man through “His servants the prophets”. The Hebrew word for prophet simply means “spokesman”. That phrase is used many times in the Old Testament. The prophet was God’s spokesman. Of course, God used the Holy Spirit to inspire (the Greek word means “God breathed”) or put His words in their mouths. 2 Peter 1: 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” Jeremiah 1:9 Then the LORD reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.” There is a constant battle to defend the inspiration of the Scriptures.

Amos 2:Thus says the Lord,
“For three transgressions of Israel and for four
I will not revoke its punishment,
Because they sell the righteous for money
And the needy for a pair of sandals.
“These who [o]pant after the very dust of the earth on the head of the helpless
Also turn aside the way of the humble;
And a man and his father [p]resort to the same [q]girl
In order to profane My holy name.
“On garments taken as pledges they stretch out beside every altar,
And in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.

Amos 3:15 “I will also smite the [ao]winter house together with the summer house;
The houses of [ap]ivory will also perish
And the great houses will come to an end,”
Declares the Lord.

Then there is this condemnation of the women of Israel where Amos calls them the “cows of Bashan” (the image of fat cows enjoying the green grass of Bashan). In my mission experiences, the women usually end up as the spiritual strength of the congregations. Amos 4:1 “Hear this word, you cows of Bashan who are on the mountain of Samaria,
Who oppress the poor, who crush the needy,
Who say to [aq]your husbands, “Bring now, that we may drink!”

In Amos 4 tells us that, as evil as Israel was, they still loved to offer their sacrifices and give their tithes. They are the prime example of “hypocritical religion”.

“Enter Bethel and transgress;
In Gilgal multiply transgression!
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
Your tithes every three days.
[au]Offer a thank offering also from that which is leavened,
And proclaim freewill offerings, make them known.
For so you love to do, you sons of Israel,”
Declares the Lord God.

Amos 5:10 They hate him who reproves in the [bb]gate,
And they abhor him who speaks with integrity.
11 Therefore because you [bc]impose heavy rent on the poor
And exact a tribute of grain from them,
Though you have built houses of well-hewn stone,
Yet you will not live in them;
You have planted pleasant vineyards, yet you will not drink their wine.
12 For I know your transgressions are many and your sins are great,
You who distress the righteous and accept bribes
And [bd]turn aside the poor in the [be]gate.
13 Therefore at [bf]such a time the prudent person keeps silent, for it is an evil time.”

Amos 5:

21 “I hate, I reject your festivals,
Nor do I [bj]delight in your solemn assemblies.
22 “Even though you offer up to Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings,
I will not accept them;
And I will not even look at the peace offerings of your fatlings.
23 “Take away from Me the noise of your songs;
I will not even listen to the sound of your harps.
24 “But let justice roll down like waters
And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Amos 6:

Those who recline on beds of ivory
And sprawl on their couches,
And eat lambs from the flock
And calves from the midst of the stall,
Who improvise to the sound of the harp,
And like David have [bp]composed songs for themselves,
Who drink wine from [bq]sacrificial bowls
While they anoint themselves with the finest of oils,
Yet they have not grieved over the ruin of Joseph.
Therefore, they will now go into exile at the head of the exiles,
And the sprawlers’ [br]banqueting will [bs]pass away.

Amos 8: Hear this, you who [da]trample the needy, to do away with the humble of the land, saying,

“When will the new moon [db]be over,
So that we may sell grain,
And the sabbath, that we may open the wheat market,
To make the [dc]bushel smaller and the shekel bigger,
And to cheat with [dd]dishonest scales,
So as to buy the helpless for [de]money
And the needy for a pair of sandals,
And that we may sell the refuse of the wheat?”

I have cited all these passages to show the sins of Israel and their religious hypocrisy. It scares me to see America committing similar sins. We have such a luxurious lifestyle even though everyone complains about their financial situation. Compared to the 3rd world countries, almost everyone in the U.S. is well off. Yet the average church going Christian gives 2-3% of his income to any kind of charity or church. In the meantime, most of us have nice houses, even a vacation house added to that, nice cars, eat out a lot at nice restaurants, take nice expensive vacations, etc. But we continue with our nice churches with multi-million dollar buildings and well paid professional church staffs. Churches spend most of their contributions on themselves and very little for helping the people of the world whom God would want us to focus on.

The last half of the book consists of visions of the judgment of Israel that Amos sees: a locust swarm (that God actually changes His mind and doesn’t send), a fire (He changes His mind and doesn’t send that either), a plumb line (like that used by builders to lay straight block) that shows that Israel is not obeying God like it should be, and a basket of overripe summer fruit (getting spoiled and ready to dispose of ).

As bad as all that sounds, Amos closes with a prediction of hope for Israel. There will be no return from Assyrian captivity as their was with Judah returning from Babylonian captivity, so Amos did not predict a return from captivity. Instead, he made a Messianic prediction:

Amos 9:

11 “In that day I will raise up the fallen [dl]booth of David,
And wall up its breaches;
I will also raise up its ruins
And rebuild it as in the days of old;
12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom
And all the [dm]nations who are called by My name,”
Declares the Lord who does this.

13 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“When the plowman will overtake the reaper
And the treader of grapes him who sows seed;
When the mountains will drip sweet wine
And all the hills will be dissolved.
14 “Also I will restore the [dn]captivity of My people Israel,
And they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them;
They will also plant vineyards and drink their wine,
And make gardens and eat their fruit.
15 “I will also plant them on their land,
And they will not again be rooted out from their land
Which I have given them,”
Says the Lord your God.

I know this is Messianic because James quoted this passage in Amos 9 when, in the Jerusalem council, he was showing that the Gentiles had been added to the Jewish church at the time he was speaking.

Acts 15:13 After they had stopped speaking, [e]James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. 15 With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written,

16 ‘After these things I will return,
And I will rebuild the [f]tabernacle of David which has fallen,
And I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will restore it,
17 So that the rest of [g]mankind may seek the Lord,
And all the Gentiles [h]who are called by My name,’
18 Says the Lord, who [i]makes these things known from long ago.

You seldom hear this prophesy from Amos discussed but it is extremely important. James’ citation in Acts 15 shows that the “fallen tabernacle of David” had been restored as he spoke, in about 50 AD. That shows that it is figurative language referring to the church that Jesus established that began in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost in 30 AD with the first 3,000 souls who were saved and added to the church. That shows that the Gentile believers were added on an equal basis to that church along with Jewish believers, which is why James quoted Amos 9. It also shows the use of figurative language by the prophets in describing the future church. An image of reapers walking right behind the sowers gathering the fruit immediately from seeds just sowed (obviously impossible), of mountains dripping sweet wine (I’ve seen little water falls coming out of mountains, but not wine), of Israel being restored to their land never to be plucked up again off off it (even that was fulfilled figuratively in the early church and it had nothing to do with actually being restored to the land of Palestine although that is how most interpret it). None of these Messianic predictions were to be fulfilled literally. David’s tabernacle was not to be restored with some physical structure like the OT tabernacle.

But in conclusion, one of the things that stands out about Amos is his very common background. A shepherd and caretaker of trees who did not attend the school of prophets as was common during his time. A common man who was called by God to go condemn Israel (and other nations). Even his language throughout the book is the language used by commoners.

Amos 3:

Does a lion roar in the forest when he has no prey?
Does a young lion [ae]growl from his den unless he has captured something?
Does a bird fall into a trap on the ground when there is no [af]bait in it?
Does a trap spring up from the earth when it captures nothing at all?

Amos 5:

18 Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord,
For what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you?
It will be darkness and not light;
19 As when a man flees from a lion
And a bear meets him,
[bi]Or goes home, leans his hand against the wall
And a snake bites him.

These passages are examples taken from everyday life of common people. We live in a world of professional preachers and clergy. Often we think that system is essential for the church business and big, stable churches that we have developed. I guess that it is if that is the system of churches that you want to develop. But, in my opinion, the professional preacher/clergy system has done more harm than good. I have seen churches with multiple, common men who could speak the word of God on Sundays to the flock (preferable men who were elders) and use all that money that we pay staff to drill wells for people in 3rd world countries, take care of AIDS orphans, or print Bibles in foreign languages to teach them about Jesus and His church. Often it is professional preachers/clergy who lead the flock astray, using their influence to teach false doctrine (like preachers who advocate homosexuality and homosexual marriages). Often it is professional preachers/clergy who cause multiple splits over minor doctrines in the church. We have many common men with common jobs who can teach and speak the words of God as well as any professional. Let’s build our churches around common men like Amos.

Hosea and Spiritual Adultery

The prophet Hosea was a contemporary with Isaiah, Amos, and Jonah. He prophesied during the reign of Kings Uzziah and Hezekiah of Judah, and King Jereboam II of Israel. That would be in the 790-750 BC time period.

The story of Hosea is most unusual. Imagine this scenario. You are the local preacher at a church. God tells you to go marry a prostitute and have 3 children by her. Imagine what the people will think if you do this. You are shocked at such a command, but He tells you that this has a spiritual parallel with the spiritual harlotry of the Israelites you are preaching to, so you do it. The names of each of the 3 children have a meaning that applies to the Israelites also. It must be hard for you to love your wife, Gomer, since this is like an arranged marriage. But you make the best of it, and then Gomer leaves you and the children and goes back into harlotry. You probably figure that you are just as well off with her being gone. Then you find out that she is on the auction block, just like the human traffickers do with prostitutes today. Then God gives you the 2nd shocking command. He tells you to go buy her off the auction block and love her. So you do because this also has a spiritual parallel with Israel, and this parallel is Messianic in nature to be fulfilled 700 years in the future. Hosea 3: For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or [af]household idols. Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.” That phrase “last days” is the time period from 30 AD to 70 AD, the last days of the Jewish Age. Joel 2 predicted that the Spirit would be poured out miraculously on the remnant in the last day. Peter in Acts 2 said that prediction began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in 30 AD and would last until the “terrible judgment day of the Lord”. That judgment day was the judgement of the Jews in 70 AD and the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem by Titus and the Romans. Also Hosea 3:5 predicts that David will be Israel’s king in the last days. This is symbolic and refers to Jesus, the Branch of David as He is called by the prophets. Several prophets predicted that David would be the king, prince, and priest of Israel in the Messianic kingdom. But this prophecy does not apply to the whole nation of Israel as many say it does. It only applies to the remnant of Israel during those “last days” who believed in Jesus as the Messiah and became the Jewish Christian church. As Hosea predicted, after many days without a king (the last king of Judah was in 586 BC), the remnant would be gathered and Jesus (David) would be their king. The remnant would like Hosea’s wife who went back into harlotry, but God would redeem her (“buy her back”) and love her again. I wonder what Hosea’s marriage was like after he bought her off the auction block. Did she appreciate Hosea’s love? The Jewish remnant church certainly appreciated God’s saving love in the first century AD. Did she understand at all the spiritual parallel that her marriage was to Israel? Did that satisfy her need for love and keep her from ever leaving Hosea and the kids again? Unfortunately, we don’t know the answers to those questions.

Hosea then condemns Israel of spiritual harlotry because they went after other lovers, i.e. the pagan gods of the nations around them. Hosea 4:

11 Harlotry, wine and new wine take away the [an]understanding.
12 My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviner’s wand informs them;
For a spirit of harlotry has led them astray,
And they have played the harlot, departing [ao]from their God.
13 They offer sacrifices on the tops of the mountains
And [ap]burn incense on the hills,
Under oak, poplar and terebinth,
Because their shade is pleasant.
Therefore your daughters play the harlot
And your [aq]brides commit adultery.
14 I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot
Or your [ar]brides when they commit adultery,
For the men themselves go apart with harlots
And offer sacrifices with temple prostitutes;
So the people without understanding are [as]ruined.
18 Their liquor gone,
They play the harlot continually;
Their [au]rulers dearly love shame.
19 The wind wraps them in its wings,
And they will be ashamed because of their sacrifices.”

Hosea 5: I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me;
For now, O Ephraim, you have played the harlot,
Israel has defiled itself.
Their deeds will not allow them
To return to their God.
For a spirit of harlotry is within them,
And they do not know the Lord.”

Hosea 9:1 Do not rejoice, O Israel, [ca]with exultation like the [cb]nations!
For you have played the harlot, [cc]forsaking your God.
You have loved harlots’ earnings on [cd]every threshing floor.”

This introduces a term, “spiritual adultery” that we need to discuss. The church is the bride of Christ. Jesus loves his bride and wants His bride to love Him and Him only, and to be faithful to Him. Paul said it like this in 2 Corinthians 11: For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” We understand what adultery is in a marriage. A husband or wife starts being attracted to another male or female, which leads to an affair and adultery. Every husband or wife wants his mate to put him or her first in their affections and love. When we start putting money, or possessions, or careers, or hobbies, or anything ahead of our affection for Jesus, then we are flirting with “spiritual adultery”. Too often we think of Christianity as obeying Jesus as Lord of our lives, and that is indeed a correct concept. But Jesus is more than just our Lord, or king. He is our husband in a very intimate personal relationship. It might help us to think our our relationship with Jesus in this husband/wife figure. Think how it would make your mate to find out you had an affair. Think how it makes God feel when we commit spiritual adultery. It makes our little love affairs with worldly things more personal. Several times the Scriptures say that God is a “jealous” God, and now you can see why. James 4: You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture speaks to no purpose: “[e]He [f]jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us”?

Hosea condemns them from not being “loyal” to God. Hosea 6:

What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
For your [be]loyalty is like a morning cloud
And like the dew which goes away early.
For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

The Hebrew word translated “loyal” here can be translated as “mercy, loving-kindness, or faithfulness”. Some translations say, “I delight in mercy rather than sacrifice”. It seems that in Hosea 6:6 that the idea is that the bride of God should be faithful to Him, just like a wife should be faithful to her husband. Of course, that faithfulness to one’s mate, and to God, is because of the love a husband or wife has for his/her mate, or love to God. Part of the idea might be that you feel compassion for your mate in that you would not want to hurt them by having other lovers. Again, our relationship with Jesus as His bride is very personal, like with your mate. Imagine a husband who commits adultery on his wife, but has no feelings of guilt when his wife breaks down crying in hurt and anguish. So God desires us to feel and extend love and compassion for His desires, just as He is jealous for our love and loyalty. Jesus cites this verse, and the NASB uses the Greek word “compassion” instead of loyalty: Matthew 9: 13 But go and learn [g]what this means: ‘I desire [h]compassion, [i]and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” In that context, the Pharisees had no love for the sinners Jesus was eating with. If they had felt love for God, they would have felt love for the people God loves, but they did not. They put the emphasis on sacrifices and tithing.

Hosea condemns many of the sins of Israel and Judah but I think the main point in the book is the spiritual harlotry idea. I hope this article will help you personalize your relationship with Jesus as in a marriage relationship. In whatever you do, think of it in that way. Would it make my wife jealous if she saw me doing this? Am I starting to feel more affection for worldly things than I do for my spiritual husband Jesus? I don’t believe in the idea of women becoming nuns, but it is interesting that nuns considered themselves to be married to Jesus, and thus did not need husbands.

Isaiah Highlights! Part 1

I did an article on the Messianic prophecies in Isaiah. But there is a lot more than that in Isaiah. I will focus on some of the great lessons and verses in Isaiah in this article.

1:11 “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?”
Says the Lord.
“I [d]have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of fed cattle;
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.
12 “When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires [e]of you this trampling of My courts?
13 “Bring your worthless offerings no longer,
Incense is an abomination to Me.
New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly.
14 “I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts,
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 “So when you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are [f]covered with blood.

16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.
Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
[g]Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow. 18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are as scarlet,
They will be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They will be like wool.
19 “If you consent and obey,
You will eat the best of the land;
20 “But if you refuse and rebel,
You will be devoured by the sword.”
Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

21 How the faithful city has become a harlot,
She who was full of justice!
Righteousness once lodged in her,
But now murderers.
22 Your silver has become dross,
Your drink diluted with water.
23 Your rulers are rebels
And companions of thieves;
Everyone loves a bribe
And chases after rewards.
They do not [h]defend the [i]orphan,
Nor does the widow’s plea come before them.

This passage speaks for itself against hypocritical religion. They were offering sacrifices, praying, and keeping the sabbath, but they were oppressing or neglecting the poor, the widows, and the orphans. They were not treating people fairly and the land was full of violence. The acid test of true Christianity is not how many times we go to church or how much money we put in the collection plate. It is how we treat our fellow man, how we take care of the poor, the widows, and the orphans. It is how we try to stop the ruthless who are oppressing others. As James 1:27 says, “pure and undefiled religion is to visit the widows and orphans in their distress”.

3:16 Moreover, the Lord said, “Because the daughters of Zion are proud
And walk with [am]heads held high and seductive eyes,
And go along with mincing steps
And tinkle the bangles on their feet,
17 Therefore the Lord will afflict the scalp of the daughters of Zion with scabs,
And the Lord will make their foreheads bare.”

18 In that day the Lord will take away the beauty of their anklets, headbands, crescent ornaments, 19 dangling earrings, bracelets, veils, 20 headdresses, ankle chains, sashes, perfume boxes, amulets, 21 [an]finger rings, nose rings, 22 festal robes, outer tunics, cloaks, money purses, 23 hand mirrors, undergarments, turbans and veils.

24 Now it will come about that instead of [ao]sweet perfume there will be putrefaction;
Instead of a belt, a rope;
Instead of well-set hair, a plucked-out scalp;
Instead of fine clothes, a donning of sackcloth;
And branding instead of beauty.
25 Your men will fall by the sword
And your [ap]mighty ones in battle.
26 And her [aq]gates will lament and mourn,
And deserted she will sit on the ground.

Why does Isaiah attack the women of Judah? That is pretty obvious from reading this section. The women were extremely worldly and excessive in their clothing, accessories, hair, and appearance. No doubt they treated poor women with contempt and took advantage of them. In the mission work I have been involved in, it has always been that the women of the church are the heart and soul of the church. Yes, they can also be the source of slander, gossip, and contention. Paul mentioned 2 women in Philippians 4 who apparently were having conflict. Some of the Corinthian church women were apparently misusing their gifts to try to take over leadership from the men. He tells Timothy to not let the women usurp authority over the men. But in my experience, godly, humble women have always been the heart and soul of the church. The men are often focused on their jobs, as they should be as the main providers in the home. They deal with the stress of the workplace, although more and more women have to deal with that same stress (which btw probably hurts the spirituality of the home and church). It is the older women who are teaching the younger women to love their husbands and children (Titus 2). Paul has some specific instructions about widows and younger women in 1 Timothy 5: A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, 10 having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the [c]saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work. 11 But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, 12 thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous [d]pledge. 13 At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. 14 Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; 15 for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. 16 If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed.” Paul also warns godly women about being too concerned about their clothes and outward appearance in 1 Timothy 2: Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, [g]modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments, 10 but rather by means of good works, as is proper for women making a claim to godliness. Peter has similar comments in 1 Peter 3: Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.” Television ads and women being in the workplace has made many women focus on their appearance and clothing. In the U.S., one study showed that the average women spends $125,000 on clothing, handbags, accessories in her lifetime, and the figure is $200,000 for women under the age of 25. Older women were not raised on the emphasis on appearance that younger women are today. 2 out of every 5 women said they reapply their makeup up to 5 times a day. And yet 3 out of every 5 said they couldn’t find anything suitable to wear in their wardrobe. Another study showed that the average women spends over $300 per month on beauty products, hair treatments, or “beauty experiences” like facials, manicures, tanning, and pedicures. I imagine that amount is the same for church women as well as non-church women. Yes, I want my wife and women in the church to take care of their personal appearance, but aren’t we going to the same extremes as in Isaiah? Yes, I know that men have their bad spending habits and are often overly concerned about their clothing and appearance, but Isaiah focuses on the women in Israel as I am focusing on the women in the church. BTW those surveys I mentioned sound unrealistic but still accurately reflect trends among most women. The godly woman in Proverbs 31 is still the example for all women to follow. Stop and read that chapter again before you read on.

5:Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field,
Until there is no more room,
So that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!
In my ears the Lord of hosts has sworn, “Surely, many houses shall become desolate,
Even great and fine ones, without occupants.
10 “For ten acres of vineyard will yield only one [az]bath of wine,
And a homer of seed will yield but an [ba]ephah of grain.”
11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning that they may pursue strong drink,
Who stay up late in the evening that wine may inflame them!
12 Their banquets are accompanied by lyre and harp, by tambourine and flute, and by wine;
But they do not pay attention to the deeds of the Lord,
Nor do they consider the work of His hands.

13 Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge;
And [bb]their honorable men are famished,
And their multitude is parched with thirst.
14 Therefore Sheol has enlarged its [bc]throat and opened its mouth without measure;
And [bd]Jerusalem’s splendor, her multitude, her din of revelry and the jubilant within her, descend into it.
15 So the common man will be humbled and the man of importance abased,
The eyes of the proud also will be abased.
16 But the Lord of hosts will be exalted in judgment,
And the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness.
17 Then the lambs will graze as in their pasture,
And strangers will eat in the waste places of the [be]wealthy.

18 Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of [bf]falsehood,
And sin as if with cart ropes;
19 Who say, “Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work, that we may see it;
And let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near
And come to pass, that we may know it!”
20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who [bg]substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who [bh]substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
And clever in their own sight!
22 Woe to those who are heroes in drinking wine
And valiant men in mixing strong drink,
23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe,
And take away the [bi]rights of the ones who are in the right!

But Isaiah condemns the men also! Not so much for their spending habits on their looks and concern for personal appearance, but for their greed, banqueting (partying), drinking, pride, and how they treat the poor by bribes. These are all listed in the “woes” in Isaiah 5. My dad was raised in the great depression era and was raised poor. He worked hard his whole life for minimum wages. We lived in very modest houses. He never bought anything that he didn’t really need. He generously helped others with his time and money. He never led a prayer in church but attended and set a godly example for me in his daily life and service to others. He loved his family and cared for them by hard work. He was the type of men Paul described in 1 Thessalonians 4: But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, 12 so that you will [o]behave properly toward outsiders and [p]not be in any need. Or in Ephesians 4:28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with [t]one who has need.” We have this crisis in the welfare system of absentee dads. But we also have a similar crisis among middle and upper class dads. The emphasis is so great on making money, buying expensive houses, buying “man toys” like guns and boats, spending money on sports. Men in the church are just as guilty as non-church men. The average church going man spend 2-3% of their income on charity or church contributions. This emphasis on career and making money also limits the time he actually spends one on one with his children and wife. His children spend hours every day on social networking and just a few minutes at best every day one on one with dad. And then there is the partying and drinking. Need we say more about the drinking habits of American men. In Isaiah’s time, the “heroes” of society were the bullies and wine drinkers. In our times, the heroes are the sports heroes who make millions, or musicians or actors, or super rich business men who started all these businesses that consume our money. Who would consider the simple, godly, conservative living Christian family man to be a hero today? Don’t forget to mention gambling that is ruining the lives of so many men today. Again, these trends probably are the same for church and non-church men to a large degree. What about the addiction to porn among even church going men? Studies show that over 30% of men in church on a given Sunday have viewed porn on the internet within the last month. This country became great because of hard working, godly men, most of whom were also faithful Christians in churches all over America. One French visitor commented that the strength of America was its churches. But has that changed? Do Christian men still go to church, give that 2-3% of their income to the church, etc. and yet they are just as worldly as non Christian, non church going men? You be the judge.

I guess I should stop here before this article becomes a book, and this looks like a good stopping place. Maybe an Isaiah Highlights 2.

The Prophet Jonah

I encourage you to go to thebibleproject.com right now before you read this article. Go to Old Testament videos and find and watch the Jonah one, about 7 minutes long. Then come back and read this article. It is the best video of all the project videos I have seen and really got me thinking.

Jonah prophesied during the reign of Jereboam II (791-751 BC; a 41 year reign), an evil king of the northern kingdom of Israel (the 14th king of Israel). A short summary is given of his reign. His 41 years were perhaps the most peaceful and prosperous times of the northern kingdom. Apparently Jonah the prophet had predicted that Jereboam II would be successful militarily (he even took Damascus, the capital of Syria) as some sore of savior for Israel to deliver them from their oppression. That was in spite of the idolatry and sinfulness of Jereboam II and Israel, worshipping the goddess Astarte.

newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Jeroboam_II Read this article about Jereboam II. Amos and Hosea denounced Jereboam II for his idolatry and sinfulness, but Jonah appeared to support him. Jereboam II might have paid tribute to Assyria, which might explain why Jonah didn’t want to go preach to the Ninevites, the capital of Assyria. God had told him to go preach to Ninevah that the city would be overthrown soon (40 days after he finally got there). Jonah was afraid they would repent, and He knew that God was a merciful God and might spare them. He would have loved to see Ninevah overthrown so as to make the northern kingdom even more secure and prosperous. Did Jonah just ignore the idolatry of Jereboam II in the sake of national peace and prosperity? Amos and Hosea could not ignore it, and denounced it. So we don’t get an image of a good prophet in Jonah even before we go to the book of Jonah.

The book brings up more questions in my mind than answers. Why would God send Jonah to Ninevah? Did God not know that he would rebel and get on a ship going in the opposite direction to get away from God? Did God know he would do that but wanted to get Jonah to tell the sailors on that ship about the one true God. They ended up fearing Jonah’s god Yahweh after they threw him overboard and the storm calmed. Did those sailors start worshipping the one true god from then on? Will they be in heaven? Was all this God’s plan to save them? He had told them that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, but apparently had not tried to convert them. What made Jonah think that he could run away from God? He told the sailors to throw him overboard to calm the sea. Was that a noble act or just a selfish, desperate way to end it all?

I wonder what Jonah was thinking while he was in the belly of the great fish for 3 days and nights. He repented of refusing to go to Ninevah as he sloshed in the gastric juices and weeds in the fish’s belly. So the Lord caused the fish to vomit him on dry ground. Meanwhile, he has wasted valuable time. When he finally arrived to preach at Ninevah, his message was 8 words: “Yet 40 days and Ninevah will be overthrown”, so Jonah had delayed several days getting is message to Ninevah. Was that all he told them? Did he not tell them that God was a merciful God who might spare them if they would repent? Did he not try to tell them about his one true God Yahweh? Apparently not. Can you picture him walking through this great city that took 3 days to walk through, crying out this message? He obeyed God by preaching to them, but he doesn’t encourage them to repent.

What caused the king to repent and almost force all the people to repent? Did Jonah have any private conversations with him, telling him about the one true God (I don’t think so since he didn’t want them to repent)? Did the king have any prior knowledge of Jonah’s God? Did God know they would repent and this was just an idle threat, or did He not know how they would respond? If they did not repent, how would that have changed history? Ninevah did not fall until 612 BC, so who would have taken the city in the mid 700’s BC? Does their repentance mean they were saved from their sins and could go to heaven if they remained faithful to Yahweh? If not, then what good would this repentance do, just spare them for a few more years. Nahum will come over 100 years later and predict the fall of Ninevah (which happened in 612 BC), so their repentance at the preaching of Jonah was not permanent. But thousands were saved and, I think, will be in heaven if they stayed faithful to Yahweh. How many such dealings did God have with the Gentile pagan nations? We knew about Melchizadek, king of Salem and priest of the Most High God. He worked in Salem, but that is all we know. Did God have priests like him and prophets like Jonah working with the pagan nations all along to try to save them?

So they repented and God spared them. Jonah becomes angry that God spared them. He prayed, but it was “I knew this might happen and that’s why I didn’t want to come preach to Ninevah. I knew You were slow to anger and merciful (read Exodus 34:1-7 to see these attributes of God as given to Moses), and was afraid they would repent and you would spare them. Just kill me”. How can a prophet talk to God like that? I’m surprised that God didn’t just zap him on the spot. Give him the death he asked for. Instead He asked Jonah if it was good for him to be angry over this, and Jonah did not reply. What could have made Jonah have such an unloving, hateful attitude toward the Ninevites? Is this just the self-righteousness typical of the Jews, thinking they were the chosen race and superior to the pagans? Had Jonah never experienced the saving love of God in his own life that would have motivated him to love his enemies the Ninevites? Or was it his nationalistic loyalty that knew about the horrible cruelty of the Assyrians and just wanted them dead? We tend to think of America’s enemies like that. We just want Isis exterminated and probably spend little time praying for their salvation because we think it is hopeless.

So he goes out of the city and refused to rejoice with the people. He is angry and builds a shelter to shield him from the sun that was bearing down on him. God sends a rapid growing plant to grow and shelter him and he is “extremely happy”. But God sends a worm to eat the plant and he is back in the burning sun, more angry than ever. He again wishes to die. God again asks him if he should be angry. This time, Jonah responded and said that he did have good reason to be angry. God had given him a little visual aid lesson and he refused to accept it. God asks him how he could have compassion on the plant that died and yet not have compassion on the people of Ninevah. In Micah 6:7-8 God calls on Israel to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly. Jonah missed on all 3 points! Does God still work like that, giving us little visual aid lessons to try to get us to change our bad attitudes? What kind of a prophet is this that he has such an unloving attitude? Can you imagine a preacher who has 50 people come forward to be saved and he is angry because they are all from a race or social class that he despises? Balaam became corrupt for the money that Balak the king of Moab gave him in the incident at Peor, but no money seems to be involved in Jonah’s bad attitude- just bias, prejudice, and hate. Have you ever noticed such prejudice in a nice white, middle and upper class, church? Eyebrows get raised when several guys from the local drug recovery ministry visit the Sunday morning service, or when some poor looking different race people visit. Churches tend to have their own little in house ministries that cater mainly to their own members’ needs and wants, built around sermons and speeches and trips to water rafting or eating out places. I’m glad to be a part of a group that serves breakfast and groceries to about 150 poor people of all races every Saturday morning. But there is still that temptation to look down on them because of their social class. James 2 condemned social class prejudice in the church, a rich and poor issue.

What makes you “extremely happy”? Is it, like Jonah, things that make for your personal comfort, or is it letting God use you to help and save others? I love my prius, my recliner, my house, my hobby, my hot water, my AC in the hot summer, etc. But God is thinking about saving those Ninevites in a foreign country. God is thinking about human trafficking, child prostitution, children dying from a lack of health care and clean water, refugees in camps in war torn areas, the aids orphans, children raised in the cycle of welfare and slums, the lost Hindu, Muslim, and atheistic countries. But do I care about those whom God loves? Will I go or send money to help those groups? Do our churches focus on spending contributions to help those groups or to keep the flock comfortable so they will pay off the buildings and pay the staff.

So how does this story and book end? Job had a happy ending. Job repented and God restored his blessings. But Jonah? Nothing. We don’t know if Jonah ever changed his bad attitude. I think it would have been recorded if he did. We don’t know if he just went back to prophesying to Jereboma II but had to tell him that their enemy would not be overthrown after all. Twice he wished to be dead, so maybe he just quit being a prophet and went into a state of depression and anger. Why does the book end in silence? Probably because Jonah left Ninvevah without a response, still angry. But is there a lesson for us? Maybe God wants you to put yourself in Jonah’s place and ask how you would respond under similar circumstances. Has God ever tried to humble you, to give you an attitude adjustment, and yet you just keep resisting? Your pride, bias, lusts, whatever keep you from repenting and changing? You pray wen you get in the belly of a fish, but you don’t change your attitude. Maybe you are at a critical point in your life as you read this article. How will your story end?

Jesus mentioned both Jonah and Ninevah in Matthew 12: 38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a [ak]sign from You.” 39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a [al]sign; and yet no [am]sign will be given to it but the [an]sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” Did this miracle of Jonah in the fish for 3 days really occur? Many say it did not; even some preachers say it did not. But Jesus said that it did and that’s enough for me. The main reason we know stories and miracles in the OT really happened is because Jesus referred to them. The revival in Ninevah would be comparable to the Great Awakening in Europe and America. Jesus said that he would be in the earth for the same 3 days and nights as Jonah was in the fish. Was Jesus in the tomb a full 72 hours? No. But the language loosely applied doesn’t demand that. We might say that we are going to the beach for 3 days, and get charged for 3 nights stay even if we don’t stay the full 72 hours. I wonder if God purposely chose the length of Jonah’s stay in the fish to match the time Jesus spent in the tomb? Did God look that far ahead?

I’m surprised that the Jews collected this book in the OT canon. It casts a bad image on Jonah who apparently was a respected prophet back in Israel. It shows the self-righteousness and unloving attitude of one of their prophets, probably reflective of the attitude of most of the Israelites. But Jonah was accepted as a true prophet and that was the test for adding a book to the canon. It is safe to say that they never doubted the veracity of the story of Jonah in the fish.I wonder who Jonah told about this story. As I said in the beginning of the article, this book brings up a lot of questions that really get me thinking. I hope the book makes me do some soul searching about my own attitudes and actions. How about you?


You can pull up some good commentaries on the book of Micah, so I won’t try to give a complete commentary on the book. Instead, I want to focus on just a few key sections of the book.

First, Micah condemns the 3 main institutions of the nation: the rulers, the priests, and the prophets. Micah 3:11″Her leaders pronounce judgment for a bribe, Her priests instruct for a price And her prophets divine for money.
Yet they lean on the Lord saying, “Is not the Lord in our midst?Calamity will not come upon us.” He prophesied starting around 735 BC. He predicted the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel, which he calls by its capital, Samaria. Israel did fall to Assyria in 722 BC as he predicted. He also predicts the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah, which he calls by its capital, Jerusalem. Judah would not fall till 586 BC, to the Babylonians. Political corruption was rampant. Priests were to be supported by tithes, but were asking for extra money just to teach the people. Prophets would only prophesy good for someone if they would give them money. Look at our country. The only Christian nation is the church, but our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian values. But we have become a very affluent nation. How much of our government is run by bribes, kickbacks, political deals that guarantee a politician’s job, scandal. Our professional preacher and priest system has become an expensive business. Some preachers are paid big money and yet don’t even preach basic Bible core truths anymore. The preacher system and priesthood of some churches has been filled with sexual scandals. Modern day prophets are making big money as they promote their end time predictions based on faulty interpretation of Bible prophecies. It seems that it is all about money! Just like in Micah’s time.

Second, we look at one of the most famous passages in the Bible: Micah 6:” With what shall I come to the Lord And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves?
Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love [av]kindness,
And to walk [aw]humbly with your God?” Chapter 6 is a dialogue between God and the people. God states that He has a “case” to make against Israel, as in a court case. He tells them to give their defense. He accuses them of sorcery, idolatry, cheating the poor, violence, lying, and other sins. He asks them what He has done to make them turn on Him. Micah 6:”“My people, what have I done to you, And how have I wearied you? Answer Me.” He reminds them of how He brought them out of Egypt to the Promised Land, conquering their enemies along the way.

Their answer comes in Micah 6:6-7. “With what shall I come to the Lord And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? Does the Lord take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” They just don’t get it! Their defense is to ask the Lord if He wants more ritual sacrifices or even the offering of their firstborns. Micah responds to their answer in 6:8. “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love [av]kindness, And to walk [aw]humbly with your God?” Yes, God did require sacrifices for sins but more importantly, He required justice, kindness, and humility in their hearts and daily lives. Stop here and read Leviticus 19 to get a picture of how God required fairness and kindness. They were not to take bribes. They were to be kind to the poor, the handicapped and to strangers. He called them to be humble. 2 Chronicles 7: “14 and My people [a]who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” David said in Psalm 51: “16 For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” Are we guilty of the same kind of thinking that Israel had? We might not be openly guilty of oppressing the poor, but how concerned are we really for social justice, for defending the oppressed, and for helping the poor. What am I as a Christian actually doing to help the poor or oppressed? Do I treat people fairly in all my business and personal dealings? Do I show kindness to everyone I meet? Am I personally involved in helping the handicapped? I might not worship idols like Israel did, but do I have my idols of money, my possessions, my job that are priorities in my life? Am I really humble in heart? Has my money and job made me trust in my riches instead of God? Do I really depend on the Lord in all things? But then when I hear a sermon on these things, my response is religious rituals: go to church more, give more money to salve my conscience, etc., but then I go right back to my daily life of sin and idolatry. The Lord wants us to go to church and to share with others, but more importantly He wants us to practice fairness, mercy, and humility.

Third, I am amazed at how Micah can be condemning Israel’s present sins and then, out of the blue, predict that one day God will send Jesus and will establish His kingdom. Micah 5: “

[an]But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
[ao]His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
Therefore He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has borne a child.
Then the remainder of His brethren
Will return to the sons of Israel.
And He will arise and shepherd His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God.
And they will [ap]remain,
Because [aq]at that time He will be great
To the ends of the earth.
This One will be our peace.

This can only be predicting the future birth of the Messiah to be fulfilled 700 years later. He was to be born in the Bethlehem located in Judea (there was another Bethlehem). When Herod wanted to find and kill the new born king of the Jews that the wise men told him about, the scribes searched the Old Testament scrolls and found this prediction. They told Herod and he proceeded to kill all the children 2 and under in Bethlehem. That tells me that this prediction was not put in Micah’s book “after the fact”. Nor could this prediction be manipulated and made to happen just to fulfill prophecy. It tells me that the Old Testament Messianic predictions like this one were written and collected long before Jesus was born. Of course, we know the circumstances of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary had to go to Bethlehem to register for the census, and Jesus was born while they were there even though he normally would have been born in their home town of Nazareth. There are many Messianic predictions in the OT like this one. The odds of fulfilling every single prediction are extremely low, and yet every prediction about His birth, life, and death came true.

Then there is the prediction, out of the blue, of a Messianic kingdom to be established in the “last days”. Micah 4:”

1 And it will come about in the last days
That the mountain of the house of the Lord
Will be established [af]as the chief of the mountains.
It will be raised above the hills,
And the peoples will stream to it.
Many nations will come and say,
“Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord
And to the house of the God of Jacob,
That He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For from Zion will go forth the law,
Even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And He will judge between many peoples
And render decisions for mighty, [ag]distant nations.
Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares
And their spears into pruning hooks;
Nation will not lift up sword against nation,
And never again will they [ah]train for war.
Each of them will sit under his vine
And under his fig tree,
With no one to make them afraid,
For the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.”

This prediction was to give future hope for the remnant who were trying to obey God and who were distressed over he sins of Israel. They would not live to see this prediction fulfilled, and yet Micah wanted them to know that one day in the distant future God would establish a Messianic kingdom of justice and peace in which the Jews and Gentiles (the nations) would enjoy. Now when was this fulfilled? They key is the phrase the “last days”. BTW Isaiah has this same almost identical prediction in Isaiah 2. Daniel 2 also predicted that God would establish His eternal kingdom in the days of the Roman Empire. Joel 2:28-32 predicted the pouring out of the miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit in the last days.

28 [p]It will come about after this
That I will pour out My Spirit on all [q]mankind;
And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
Your old men will dream dreams,
Your young men will see visions.
29 “Even on the male and female servants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

30 “I will display wonders in the sky and on the earth,
Blood, fire and columns of smoke.
31 “The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood
Before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes.
32 “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Will be delivered;
For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
There will be those who escape,
As the Lord has said,
Even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.”

So when was Joel’s prophecy fulfilled? Let’s go to Peter’s sermon in Acts 2.

16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘And it shall be in the last days,’ God says,
‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all [q]mankind;
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
And your young men shall see visions,
And your old men shall dream dreams;
18 Even on My bondslaves, both men and women,
I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit
And they shall prophesy.
19 ‘And I will grant wonders in the sky above
And signs on the earth below,
Blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke.
20 ‘The sun will be turned into darkness
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and glorious day of the Lord shall come.
21 ‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

The apostles were speaking in tongue and the people accused them of being drunk. Peter told them that these miraculous gifts of tongues was the beginning of the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy, and the beginning of the “last days”. Many today say that the last days have not even begun yet, but Peter refutes that. But when would the last days end? Many say that the last days will begin at some time in our future and will end with the 2nd coming of Jesus. But look at what Peter said. He said the last days began right there in 30 AD while he was speaking. He said that the last days would be filled with miracles just like the tongues. He said the last days would end at the great and terrible day of the Lord, i.e. some terrible judgment day in his future. But when would that be? Acts 2:40 helps answer that: 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, “[am]Be saved from this perverse generation!” This terrible judgment day was going to happen to that generation of Jews to whom he was speaking. That could only refer to the judgement of the Jews in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD. That day was spoke on as a coming of the Lord in judgement in Matthew 24: 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. verse generation!” Jesus then adds 34 Truly I say to you, this [x]generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

We conclude from this that the last days of Isaiah 2, Joel 2, and Micah 4 began in 30 AD (Acts 2) and ended in 70 AD (the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem). Some might even admit that the last days began in 30 AD but they say we are still living in the last days, i.e. the Messianic Age. But that’s not what Peter said, and he is an inspired apostle. Having established that, was this prediction in Micah 4 fulfilled in the last days? Did God establish a kingdom of justice and peace for all the nations? Yes He did. Jesus said that kingdom was “at hand” even as He spoke in 30 AD. He said that kingdom would come while some to whome he ws speaking would still be alive. Mark 9:And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.” Jesus was saying that God was about to establish His kingdom as predicted by the prophets. And He did. It was not a physical kingdom like Israel was in the Old Testament. It was a spiritual kingdom. John 18: 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom [k]is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not [l]of this realm.” In Matthew 16, we see that this Messianic kingdom was synonymous with the church that Jesus built. 18 I also say to you that you are [l]Peter, and upon this [m]rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth [n]shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth [o]shall have been loosed in heaven.” Peter did indeed use those keys to the kingdom to open the door to getting in the kingdom. How did he do that? In Acts 2 he told the Jews how to be saved, and 3000 were baptized that day, and the Lord added them to His church.

But Micah 4 predicted that in this kingdom that there would be peace, that its inhabitants would turn their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Has that been fulfilled in the church? Absolutely. Not literally, but spiritually. All those in the church are at peace with God, and at peace with one another. Jews and Gentiles, blacks and whites, people of all races who might normally hate one another now love one another. The prophets often used such figurative language to predict the future Messianic kingdom. But again, they key to interpreting this correctly is the phrase “the last days”. Once we establish this refers tothe tiem period from 30-70 AD, then we are forced to conclude that this prediction of Micah 4 involves figurative language, or else he is a false prophet. Many today expect this prophecy to be fulfilled literally in some future kingdom on earth in universal peace of all the nations. The peace predicted by Micah is only for those in the kingdom, i.e. Christians in Jesus’ church.

We are not waiting for some future kingdom to be established. Those of us in the church are enjoying that kingdom right now! This kingdom will give hope to the remnant of the saved today just like it did in Micah’s day. They did not live to see it fulfilled. How blessed we are to be living iin the days of its fulfillment. I hope this article gives you more hope. I hope it helps you focus on what God really requires of us. Let us pray for our leaders in government and religion that they will lead us in the way God wants us to go.