Micah

Micah
By Christina Dininger

If you are loved, there will be discipline. As children, everyone had times where they were punished by their parents. At the time we think our parents must not love us because they are being ‘mean’ to us. Most of the time, this punishment is for our own good. When we do things wrong, we need someone we can trust to discipline us so that we know not to do it again. God is our father and he needs to discipline us because we are his children. In Deuteronomy 28:1, God promises that if Israel carefully follows all of his commands, he will set them high above all the nations on the Earth. Sounds like a good promise, right? Well, Israel needed to read the fine print. In Deuteronomy 28:58, God also promises that if Israel does not follow the words of the law, he will send fearful plagues, disasters, and illnesses. Israel started worshiping false idols, so they paid the price. It was not only once that this occurred, but many times.

Many non-believers think that our God is terrible because he allows things such as natural disasters, wars, etc. to go on. This is one of the difficult parts to understand in Micah. God allows Israel to be destroyed by the Assyrians and brings judgment upon them. He does this, not because he doesn’t like them or because he wants bad things to happen to them. He does this because he loves them, and they must learn from their mistakes.

Micah 1:5 says, “All this is because of Jacob’s transgression, because of the sins of the people of Israel…” The discipline was a result of Israel’s sins. God did not punish them out of hate, but out of love. He loved them, just as he loves everybody, and if you are loved, there will be discipline.

Advertisements

Jonah

Jonah
By Sami Hoerger

Jonah had tried to run and hide from the Lord. We all know what happened, a big storm came while at sea and Jonah was thrown overboard. He was swallowed by a whale and was in the stomach 3 days and 3 nights. During that time, Jonah prayed to the Lord saying he would make things right, he asked for forgiveness, and offered to make sacrifices in his life because the Lord had saved him from drowning. Then the Lord made the whale vomit Jonah onto dry land.

Now, I know what you are all thinking, yes it is the same story you have probably heard since you were little. But, what you probably didn’t hear was what happened after this.

The Lord told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh and give a message. The message was “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown!” and everyone believed it was a true message from God. Once they heard this, they were ordered to turn from their evil ways and ask God for forgiveness of their sins in hope of God forgiving him and changing their mind.

When God saw this, he decided not to bring the destruction on them. The theme is “Good News for the Enemy?” well, if that was a question someone were asking me, I would say they were not the Enemy anymore when the good news came. God changed his mind because the city of Nineveh realized what they had done wrong and decided to make a change. I think that is the big picture to this story. If we realize what we have done wrong, then God will see that and forgive. If we don’t and keep on making the same mistakes, then nothing is really going to get any better in our life. We all sin, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be forgiven for it.

Who does God love?

Obadiah: Who does God love?
By Rick Phipps
Today’s key verse: 1:15

“The Day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your head.”
Side note: Obadiah’s name means “servant or worshiper of YAHWEH (Lord).
As Jeff wrote about the other day Obadiah is prophecy written to the nation (people of) Edom (descendants of Esau). Who were blood brothers to the Israelites (descendants of Jacob) yet hated them and aided the enemies of Israel. (Israel at this time was split in two…the northern kingdom Israel and the southern kingdom Judah)
Obadiah wrote: vs. 3: The pride of your heart has deceived you.
Edom felt secure and they were proud of their self sufficiency. They had no problem helping the enemies of Israel for they were sure that these enemies could not get at them. For Edom was a mountainous and canyon country. Their capital, Sela, later called Petra, was a city considered impregnable because it was cut into rock cliffs and set in a canyon that could be entered only through a narrow gap. (made me think of the narrow gap the 300 Spartans held if you know your Greek history or seen the movie)
But in verse 10 God condemns them: Because of the violence against your brother Jacob you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever.
The prophecy continues up to verse 15 with a rant against Edom but in verse 15 the prophecy takes a change with the words “for all nations“. God doesn’t play favorites…God is aware of more than just Israel and the nations that surround them. God is aware of every nation, every people group, everybody everywhere. Yes this judgement for sin is not limited by locale. And what sin is He relating to?
The verse continues with: “As you have done, it will be done to you;” Sound familiar? Jesus is quoted in Luke 6 as saying: “Do to others as you would have them do to you”. God’s ways were taught by Jesus as well.
The verse continues still with:”your deeds will return upon your own head.” Or as Paul wrote in Galatians 6:7…”Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”
But for an even bigger picture of how this judgment spoken here as “for all nations” we need to read Matthew 25: 31-46 which is commonly titled in a lot of Bibles as ‘The sheep and the goats’. For here Jesus talks about the final judgment and how every person will be held accountable for their lives actions.
Reading Obadiah it’s easy to see the reality of harsh judgment for harsh actions. God wiped out Edom. And some will say ‘well they deserved what the got’. Proverbs 24:17 says:”Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles”. For no man is without sin; Romans 3:23 says: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.
But when you break down Edom’s actions to everyday people like you and me then it definitely forewarns us to watch what and how we interact with the rest of the world. From fellow Christians to family members to outsiders.
God loves everyone…God loves everyone…God loves everyone…God loves everyone.
Jesus said: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Poetic Justice

Poetic Justice
By Jeff Dillinger
Obadiah 1, Genesis 25: 19-34

Esau lived for the moment and did not heed any warning that he would lose his life. Even when he freely gave up his birth rights, he did not think that he had actually given anything away. He felt that he could and would trick his brother out of what he had given him. I get the feeling that he looked down on his brother and just about anyone else. He was at the top and no one could reach him to knock him down. He did not think that the rules applied to him or that anything bad could ever happen to him.

The people of Edom, Esau’s decedents, were the same way. They not only watched as Jacob’s people were attacked, but they laughed and handed those who had escaped over to their captives. God gave Obadiah a vision. The vision was about the complete destruction of Edom and Esau’s people.

There are many people that I know who do whatever they want and justify it as long as it benefits them. They do not care who it hurts. Some even laugh at those they have taken advantage of. Their reward will be short lived and your reward in Christ will last forever.

I know that it is very difficult to wait till eternity every time someone wrongs you. It seems like a long time to wait. However, the eternal reward that we will receive for doing as God has asked will be well worth the wait.

Warning

Warning
Amos 4-7
By Kailey Sanford

In the world we live in today, injustice lives everywhere. Not everyone may see it or hear about, but it still happens. Amos was a shepherd in Judah. He wrote this to warn the people of Judah and Israel of what God was planning as a punishment. This was Amos’ last “get out of jail card” for the people. He was pretty much saying that the people needed to stop or they were going to meet their true God but, not in a pretty way.

Amos uses this book to kind of be an example to the others. He goes through all the sins that the Israelites were committing on a daily basis and shows how God puts them through trials. But even though God put them through many tests, the people still wouldn’t come to God. In Amos 4:4-7, Amos talks how Jeroboam had set up a golden calf in the city of Bethel. This became the place with the highest rate of idolatry. He also talks about Gilgal, another huge golden calf worship center. Amos was trying to invite the people to turn back to God and repent. With everything Amos said the people still didn’t turn back to God. And in today’s culture we see something similar. With all the technology that has been placed in our hands, it can almost as if we are worshiping these technological advances. Though it doesn’t seem like it, we become so wrapped up in these things that we turn away from God. He finds a way to warn us and we will sometimes turn down that offer.

The Israelites turned down God’s repentance offer many times. Amos had given them their one last chance before God took it in his own hands. To make the people realize what they were doing God punished them. The people experienced famine, drought, mildew and insects, plague, war, and some divine intervention. Now when we became wrapped up in our things we don’t have any of these things happening, but we could have something life shattering turn us back to God. God uses tactics just like a lot of parents do. They warn their children and if the children don’t listen the intervene and often the children are punished. That’s what God does to us.
Think about this.. Is there something in your life that is taking a higher rank than God?

What would you do if you were warned that you were about to meet your God?
Pray and think about ways you can make God number one in your life!

Injustice

Injustice
Amos 1-3
By: Eric Murphy

In our culture today, it is common to hear someone say “that’s not fair” or complain that life isn’t fair. It is also common to see the same people who use this reasoning try to escape the consequences of their actions, instead of taking responsibility and accepting the punishment that is “fair.” This same pattern of behavior was seen by Amos, and that is why he writes this book to the people of Judah. In our lives there are consequences for the choices that we make, but there is not always punishment. Punishment is a penalty that is given to us for an action by someone over us, Judah is not just recieving the consequences of their actions, they are being punished by God.

Amos was a shepherd, who lived during the reign of Uzziah in Judah. In his book he is inspired by God to warn the people of Judah and Israel of God’s coming punishment. This book is a warning to the people of God and it gives them instructions on what God expects them to do in order to avoid punishment.

God tells the Israelites through Amos that if they do not turn from their evil ways, “the swift will not escape, the strong will not muster their strength, and the warrior will not save his life.” In Amos and in other parts of the Bible God takes his duty to punish his people very seriously. Likewise our parents and those in authority also punish us for our actions because they want what is best for us. While punishment is the best for us, it hurts us to be punished by people that we love. We even become discouraged when the people that we love are disappointed in us. Amos is pleading to the people of Israel to change because God is very serious about his warning to the Israelites.

Think and pray about… Is God warning you to change your ways before he has to punish you?

What will your reaction be the next time you face punishment?

How will your view of punishment change through the reading of Amos?

A Refuge & Stronghold

By Conner O’Day

Little is known about Joel, but we know he was one of the Twelve Minor Prophets. (Today’s text is Joel 3:1-21) What was God trying to communicate with us through Joel 3:1-21 and especially Joel 3:16?

“The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem. The earth the heavens will tremble, but the Lord will be a refuge for his people and stronghold for the people of Israel.”

God is trying to say in this verse (Joel 3:16) is that even when life gets rough and everything seems to be going bad God will always be there for you. It also says that if you trust God during troubled times he will reward you. In verse 17 “Then you will know that I, the Lord your, God dwell in Zion, my holy hill. Jerusalem will be holy; never again will foreigners invade her.” Also verse 18 “In that day the mountains will drip new wine, and the hills will flow with milk; all the ravines of Judah will run with water. A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house and will water the valley of acacias.” Both of these verses display the rewards that God gives if you put faith in Him. It is very important for us to put out trust in God. But it is also very hard. We all have that mind set of “I can do it on my own,” but we can’t do it alone. In Luke 1:37 it says that “Nothing is impossible with God”. If we put our faith in God we can accomplish anything. So what this text is saying is if we put our faith in God during our times of trouble we will get rewarded for it…

…It may not be a material reward, it may not be immediate, it may not be what we would expect… But God is faithful and promises to be a refuge and a stronghold for His people.

How do I know?

by Andrea Koehler

I have this friend who has what appear to be prophetic dreams. And once? Once she told me she had a dream about me. About my future. She even told me a little of what it portended (which basically means predicted, but in a more mysterious and prophety way so it seems like the right word to use). I suppose a lot of us haven’t had this sort of experience but I can tell you from mine that it’s a bit weird. What am I supposed to do with this information? Do I act on it? Assume that kind of stuff is all made up? Or have faith that it means something? How do I know what’s true?? 

I was thinking about this as I started doing research about Joel to write this post. And here’s what I found out: nobody really knows exactly what’s up with him. There’s very little in the context of the book that helps pinpoint just when Joel lived or whether the book is a continuous prophecy or a collection of fragments. So I found myself again asking questions. What am I supposed to do with this information? Do I need to figure it out to understand what Joel is saying about God? How do I know what’s true??

And then of course it came to me: The Holy Spirit. I think it’s at the root what all of this is about—Joel, what he says about God, and all the sons and daughters of the Lord dreaming dreams, seeing visions, and prophesying. Here’s how I read it.

Up until 2:12, we’ve been treated to a graphic picture of God’s fearsome wrath. Unstoppable locusts devouring the land. The warning against the greater terror of Judgment Day. But then in verse 12 the darkness suddenly breaks as God shows his people another way. “Even now,” he says, “I still want you.” “Return to the Lord your God,” he says, “for he is gracious and compassionate.” God is alwaysseeking a way to bring us back to himself, just as we saw in Hosea. So in 2:12-17 he gives the nation of Judah another chance to repent, promising to be gracious if only they’ll put him first. Then in verse 18, we see how his intense love overwhelms even his wrath. Judah deserved to be punished for disobedience, but instead God “was jealous for his land and took pity on his people.” He promises them bounty, protection, and joy. I love the absolute richness of what God promises in 2:18-27. It’s a picture of everything beautiful, and the complete opposite of the whole locust experience.

And then it all comes together in the last part of the chapter. 

2:28-32 refers again to the coming Day of the Lord, but now God reveals something more. There is talk of smoke and fire and dread. But in the midst of it there is a promise not only of restoration, but of himself. He says, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people.” He has already decided all the way back in the Old Testament that he will continue to restore his people and share himself with them. It’s a theme that comes up again and again in the Old Testament prophecies: God decided from the start that he would be present with us and that he would redeem us and that he would continually reveal his truth to us.

I love the way this plays out in Acts, when Peter quotes this very passage from Joel. It’s just after the Holy Spirit has shown up in a great display of wind and fire and words. Because the disciples all begin speaking in tongues, this huge crowd around in them Jerusalem—all the Jewish people who have gathered for Passover—think they’re probably drunk. But Peter says “No! Listen! We are not drunk. Don’t you see? God has promised this to us and HERE HE IS.” God has promised and he has come through. His word can be trusted. He is moving among us now, calling us back to himself.

And that brings be back to where I started. How do I know what’s true? It might not always be easy to tell what happened hundreds and hundreds of years ago to the prophet Joel or to anticipate my own future. But it’s clear that right now, at every moment, God wants us to be near him. He wants to show us the truth about who he is and the sort of people he wants us to be. He wants us to put him first. And above all, even now, he will be with us.

__________________________________

Today’s writing is entry #6 of our Minor Prophet series. Join with our study throughout the week, and as we gather on Sundays at 9:15 at The VINE at Chapel Rock to unpack the truth of God’s word together. This week’s study is focusing on the writing of the Prophet Joel.

Today’s reading is Joel 2:12-2:32 and Acts 2:17-21

The Day of the Lord

By Rick Phipps

Today’s Reading: Joel 1:1-2:11

Whereas Hosea (He is my love who is forever faithful) was prophecy to the Northern Kingdom also known as Israel.  Joel (He baptizes us with the Holy Spirit) was given prophecy by God for the Southern Kingdom also known as Judah. But, as with all prophecy, it is always also directed to any of God’s people anywhere and anytime. God’s word is always relevant no matter the peoples or eras in which one is living. Oh, yeah just in case you were wondering, the ‘parenthesis’ words are a short sentence summation of  the book’s contents that was given to me by author unknown but which I find kind of a good way to think about the underlying subject of the book as I read it.

Why is Joel sent to prophecy to Judah?  A biblical commentator writes: “The people of Judah had become prosperous and complacent taking God for granted, they had turned to self-centeredness, idolatry, and sin. Joel (was given the task by God to) warn that this lifestyle would inevitably bring down God’s judgment.” His time frame was approximately 835 to 796 B.C.

Joel 1:1 – 2:11

Joel starts by describing an invasion by locusts. Locusts are a grasshopper like creature that can fly with a good wind a distance of over a 100 miles at a time before landing. They are 2-3 inches long and are on the move their whole lives which its only seemingly purpose is to search for food, eat and reproduce. Their main nourishment is vegetation…generally any kind of plant life. So how are a few little grasshoppers a threat?  Well they have this tendency to swarm, joining together in a group, forming an insect army and moving and working together.  Their swarms can number in the millions of the flying, eating, mating creatures. One swarm, as documented in World Book by the Red Sea, was believed to have covered an area of 2,000 square miles! That’s a lot of bugs!! So when Joel warns in verses 2-4 of the devastation so great the tale will be told for generations…it’s bad.  Three separate swarms attack the crops and plants of Judah as told in verse 4. This locust plague was as devastating as an invading army. How could there be any green living thing left?  Reading on, we find out there wasn’t anything left.

Read the description of how it affects and is felt by the people. Verses 5-7 describes it like an attacking army laying waste to the land. Verses 8-12 starts with the feeling “mourn like a virgin in sackcloth grieving for the husband of her youth,” which describes how devastating this event is to one’s mental state as to the loss of one’s love that was to be their life mate. The description continues…priests not able to minister the sacrifices…farmers not able to bring in any kind of crop to feed or make a living for their families. So devastating is this on the people that in verse 12 it says, “Surely the joy of mankind is withered away.”

Verse 13-14 calls for the putting on of sackcloth which was usually worn when mourning…but at that time they were called to mourn for their sin. Sackcloth…mourn…wail…declare a holy fast…call a sacred assembly…cry out to the Lord. Their sin brought about judgment…the judgment demands an action of repentance; a sincere heart cleansing repentance. Why? Verse 15 says, “Alas for that day! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty”.

How fearful is the day of the Lord? Read verses 16-20 and yet judgment on ‘the day of the Lord’ is far worse! Chapter 2:1-11 speaks of such a terrible invading force, which is like a swarm of locusts, but in verse 11… “The Lord thunders at the head of His army; His forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey His command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?”

So a swarm of locusts in threefold attack cannot measure up to the terror of God’s wrath. The locust swarm is just a picture of what lays in store if sin isn’t repented, lives and hearts aren’t changed, and action is not taken to clean up one’s life. And yet how many ‘locust swarms’ have we endured and in our pride thought if we endured this we can endure anything. The warning was there, the chance was given. So what choice do we leave God but to face ‘the day of the Lord’. I pray that you nor I never allow ourselves to love ourselves so much that we would have to face a ‘locust swarm’ but, if we do, then have the sense and faith enough to repent before we have to face God’s dreadful judgment.

_______________________

Today’s writing is entry #5 of our Minor Prophet series. Join with our study throughout the week, and as we gather on Sundays at 9:15 at The VINE at Chapel Rock to unpack the truth of God’s word together. This week’s study is focusing on the writing of the Prophet Joel.