February 28, 2011

Minor Prophets XXVI: Restoration

After all the previous passages of judgment in Joel and Hosea we begin to see a break from it in the content in Joel 2:18-27. It is a slight reprieve but a reprieve none the less. We begin to see a time of forgiveness and restoration. This is also a turning point in the argument of the Book of Joel. Joel is looking past the invasion to a time when the Lord would restore His people and restore the blessing to His people. This would be in response to their genuine repentance. The items destroyed by the locust plague would be restored including their dignity. “I am sending you grain, new wine and olive oil, enough to satisfy you fully; never again will I make you an object of scorn to the nations. Just like God will have driven the locusts to drown in the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea so too He would drive out the invading horde. In one night God destroyed 185,000 Assyrian troops and Sennacherib was sent home in sound defeat (Wiersbe 337).

“He will not enter this city or shoot an arrow here. He will not come before it with shield or build a siege ramp against it. By the way that he came he will return; he will not enter this city, declares the LORD. I will defend this city and save it, for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’ That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.” 2 Kings 19:32b-36

Judah is told not to be afraid which is to say they are to trust in the Lord for He has done great things. This also includes the animals which would’ve been so badly hammered by a famine after locusts had wiped out vegetation disrupting the food chain-ecosystem. In addition to the damaged ecosystem we see subsequent allusions to “green” pastures, trees “bearing” fruit, fig trees and vines yielding “riches”, etc. There will be no droughts (v.23). Along with no locust plague this would mean abundant grain, wine, oil, etc.

February 27, 2011

Minor Prophets XXV: True Belief Requires Repentance

Joel 2:17 shows a proposition put forward by Joel. What is the nature of Joel's "argument" with God specifically in this verse?

"Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Joel 2:17

Joel (God) posits that it should be the priests and ministers that should lead a call to repentance and they are to do so between the portico and altar (where all could see). It was on their watch that Judah slid away from God into apostasy. The priest’s and minster’s were spiritually negligent. They should’ve been the main line of defense against this happening because they are charged with the spiritual well-being of the people and are the mediators to God for the people. But all must meet with God and listen to His commandments and act on them. They were to beg God to spare them for their own good but also so God’s name would not become a mockery among the nations and peoples because of His people being idiots. We in this day in age as Christians could stand to learn a lot from Joel’s argument. Our behavior as Christians has a direct bearing on how non-Christians view God. If today’s examples are any indication, I’d say we are in trouble. True Christians are repentant Christians.

As believers we often fail to understand that everything we do as Christians reflects good or bad on God. Nothing we do goes off radar. If we are to stand as tools of the Living God in the world as beacons of light and hope for an unbelieving word it behooves us to not beckon them into the rocks in the storms of their life. What good is a lighthouse that draws people into shallow treacherous waters littered with obstacles we put there? We are to act as guides to the One True God, not act like hypocritical backsliding imbeciles.

February 26, 2011

For The Love of God's Word

April 2010

I received this quote from my neighbor. It is true to its very core. He and I bear witness to its truth as do my wife and his also. Only the Holy Spirit could cause me to love something this much.

"Effectiveness in teaching the Bible is purchased at the price of much study, some of it lonely, all of it tiring. If you are not a student of the Word, you are not called to be a teacher of the Word."
D.A. Carson
The nature of Ezra’s task could easily be taken as a model of the privileges and responsibilities of all whose duty it is to teach the Word of God to the people of God.

At the very center of my heart I am a scribe like Ezra. I know it without a doubt. I love God's word and it loves me. I am not fully happy outside of fellowship with my family or the church unless I have revealed what the word and the Spirit wanted me to find. It is labor of love and I often break a sweat doing it. I wouldn't give it up for the world.

Ancient Wax Tablet
Approx. 1st Century A.D.
“For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel” Ezra 7:10

Minor Prophets XXIV: God Wants Whole Hearts Not Torn Clothes

Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the LORD your God. Joel 2:13-14

The theology of Joel 2 verse 13 and 14 are relevant to our day and should be noted.

“Rend your heart” is an imperative to truly mourn or lament with one’s heart. To understand and accept that one is wrong or depraved. God did not want torn clothes any more than He wanted roasted calves, goats or lambs in the Levitical sacrificial system…he wanted/wants changed hearts. Repentant hearts and changed people not window dressing and lip service. They are to return to the Lord. The second portion of verse 13 mentions God’s love, grace, compassion and the fact that He is slow to anger. This of course can be viewed as the recurrent theme of mercy and grace throughout the Bible. Man has done nothing and can do nothing to warrant God’s forgiveness but God offers it to the repentant and obedient out of love because he is abounding in grace and mercy. This is a part of the immutable characteristics of a holy God, a characteristic that stays the same throughout Scripture. For a depraved sinner or hopeless case which all of us are, this is reassuring. We may change but He does not. He is the anchor to holiness and the harbor in the tempest of a sinful world. Joel then goes on to hope that the people would again have offerings to bring to the Lord (their sacrifices and themselves)-not food for their own tables (food shortage from plague or analogy of spiritual starvation?).

In light of this passage we see the modern Christian in an act of repentance or seeking forgiveness. We need to repent now because we do not know when judgment comes…but it will come because God is just and He must judge sin. The entire last Book of the Bible: Revelation, is a prophecy of Jesus Christ and His imminent return. It is not to scare the pants off of people as many TV evangelists would have us believe, but it is an attempt to assure that people have turned to or turned back to God with the correct heart. We see this same exact parallel in Joel. Doom is only guaranteed for the unrepentant and willfully sinful which don’t seek to get their hearts and minds right with God. Peace, abundance and glory for those that obey. Judgment, destruction and doom for the foolish that do not obey. Judgment lies at our doorstep and it is not too late to repent and seek forgiveness from and ever-patient and loving God.

God wants whole hearts not broken hearts and torn clothes. He wants blessed and whole lives not cursed and broken people.

February 25, 2011

Minor Prophets XXIII: Squadron of Locusts

In Joel 2 we see the culmination of something. Something that starts in verse 1. The entire unit stretches from 1-11. We see an army. We see God. We see God's army and the army will be on an unstoppable march. We see God's army and it comes in the form of Assyrians. Instead of killing people indirectly by killing vegetation, Assyria will abuse and kill people outright. Just like the locust they are inhumane. They are merciless. They are relentless and systematic on their path of annihilation "like dawn spreading across the mountains". The Assyrians would have a "scorched earth" policy (kill one and ten will take its place). They will devour and destroy all. Can you hear their marching feet like hard-soled jackboots on gravel and stone? Can you hear their movement like the drone of looming aircraft engines as they approach?

It is the Day of The Lord. Verses 10 and 11 are the fourth or last of four strophes in v.1-11. Although they are not exactly a chiastic they appear to have the rudimentary features of small chiastic structure. All four deal with an attribute or description of the Lord’s army that will come on The Day of the Lord. The last of which that includes v.11 being the end deals with the invincibility or insurmountably of the Lord’s army as illustrated by the words“who can endure it?” This one is attached to the previous by the words in verse 10 “before them…the earth quakes, heavens tremble” and verse 11’s “before his army”. Before what? The coming army. Who’s army? God’s. When? On the Day of the Lord. Joel describes the Lord’s army and at its head is God Himself. God and His army move before the enemy. There will be signs: shaking of earth and heaven and the objects in heaven will be darkened. This will occur after the preceding locusts described in Joel 1 and nothing will stop it.

February 24, 2011

SoulJournaler Forewarning


If you attempt to post heretical comments in the comments section just so you can hawk or promote heretical books, DVD's, CD's or any other media....you will be deleted and permanently banned from SoulJournaler.

Even if you are not promoting something I will delete your posts if they are heretical, apostate or false teaching.

I will not have wolves creeping in among the sheep on this site. I peruse SoulJournaler's comments section daily and purge people's comments that are either deliberately false teaching or unwittingly false. Either way, if it isn't biblical, don't post it. The last post I deleted from the comments section of one of my posts...well...frankly I do not even think they realized they were apostate.

Any other posts are accepted, even one's critical of my opinions in posts. I would not be intellectually and spiritually honest if I did not allow them.

Good day!

Minor Prophets XXII: Lamentation Wear

In light of this crisis in verse Joel 1:1-6 what is Joel's message to the nation in Joel 1:13-14?

He tells all of Judah or the community around Jerusalem to lament and wail (sackcloth being the preferred unfashionable attire for such). Specifically he tells priest and ministers first because they were to be the spiritual leadership. They are the ones charged with keeping the people in fellowship with God, the mediators between His holy nation and Himself and this mediation is clearly is not happening. Spiritual leadership is the last vanguard against total apostasy…even after the civil authorities and the laity mentioned later in this passage. The priests and ministers are exceptionally guilty as they should’ve seen the wrong in what they and the people were doing, yet they sat idle or actually participated in the guilty actions. Later in this unit the “elders” and all the inhabitants of the land are given the imperative to “cry out to the Lord”. I have to assume for forgiveness and to plead for restoration. A cry of intercession on their own behalf (Myers 80)

Myers, Jacob Martin. "Joel: The Effect of The Plague." The Book of Hosea ; The Book of Joel ; The Book of Amos ; The Book of Obadiah ; The Book of Jonah . Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1978. 80. Print.

February 23, 2011

Minor Prophets XXI: Bugs and Booze

Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors? Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation. What the locust swarm has left the great locusts have eaten; what the great locusts have left the young locusts have eaten; what the young locusts have left other locusts have eaten. Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips. A nation has invaded my land, a mighty army without number; it has the teeth of a lion, the fangs of a lioness. Joel 1:2-6

So we move on having completed one of the twelve minor prophets. We have arrived at Joel 1. Joel utilizes a whole host of styles delivering his prophecy and many are on display in the very opening of his book. He does this first to communicate the severity of the locust plague in verses 2-6. As with many prophets, Joel uses many rhetorical devices and vivid imagery to get is point across. We must remember that he was trying to reach people already beginning to apostatize or people that already had apostatized. People who's mind had already began the long slow separation from God. Kind of like us today in the United States and other countries worldwide. Replacing Him with monetary, material and sensual concerns. We would be well advised to take heed to this prophecy even though it was not specifically written for us.

Joel 1 shows prophecy as an instructional account in poetry form which also shows hints of parallelism and meter. Verse 1-6 six unfold the account and it is littered with imperatives such as: Hear this, give ear, tell your children, let your children tell their children and their children to another generation and awake. It is clear in the prophet uses hyperbole when asking the rhetorical question, “Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your ancestors? This question is directed at the elders. This tells me this is being direct at least to the leadership. Asking this rhetorical questions tells me that nothing had happened like this before to this severity or more specifically, Joel was trying to drive home his point...things are bad, you should take heed to my warning!

He then goes on to emphasize how bad the recent plague was by stating that they should pass it down generation to generation. Ironically Joel then uses a parallel image for the insects themselves in verse 4. We see a step-down of entomological generations: What the locust swarm left…great locusts have eaten…what they left…the young locusts have eaten, and so on. There are four different Hebrew terms used here for locusts. There appears to be a focal point of time involved here or an image of successive waves of destruction over time, a natural disaster that incapacitates the entire society (Chisholm 54-55). Within this passage we see locusts as metaphor / analogy for punishment and judgment. A locust plague would be a sobering thought for drunks because locusts would eradicate the vegetation setting off a chain reaction leading to starvation and disease. These happened often in Joel’s time.

The shifted imagery to drunkards who have their booze taken from them because of the destruction of vineyards/vegetation shows the predicted aftermath of drunks caught off guard by plague due to their mental acuity being dulled by booze. There is then another metaphor of a lion/lioness which is analogous of an army armed with weaponry (fangs, teeth). I tell you something, if I had been on a month long bender and I saw a swarm of Biblical proportion bearing down on me I certainly would've either sobered up quick or wondered what was really in the liqueur I was drinking.

Chisholm, Robert B.. "Joel." Interpreting the Minor Prophets . Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House, 1990. 54-55. Print

McComiskey, Thomas Edward. "Joel: Locust Plague." The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2009. 253-259. Print.

February 22, 2011

Minor Prophets XX: A Conditional Promise and Wisdom

God makes a promise to Israel...

“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down his roots; his young shoots will grow. His splendor will be like an olive tree, his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. People will dwell again in his shade; they will flourish like the grain, they will blossom like the vine— Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols? I will answer him and care for him. I am like a flourishing juniper; your fruitfulness comes from me.” Hosea 14:4-8

If Israel repents, God will heal His people’s faithlessness (apostasy) and love them freely since He will turn away His anger. The Lord’s blessing will return to Israel and it will blossom like a lily and like a cedar of Lebanon. These cedars are massive compared to surrounding foliage and shrubbery. In a semi-arid environment there root systems would’ve needed to have been extensive and extremely deep to sustain such a massive tree. Trees normally will not grow in a survival state but will stay the same and survive. These verses speak of a cedar that will have growing “shoots”. Israel will be healthy, prosperous and attractive. They will be olive tree that give sustenance and there will be the aroma of the cedar which is appealing. There will be security in the shade of his branches. The people will flourish so much that they will actually blossom like the vine and be famed even to surrounding areas. What they need to realize though is that their prosperity and flourishing is of the Lord and is dependent on their obedience.

The book of Hosea ends with a wisdom statement.

Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them. Hosea 14:9

If you are wise or discerning you will learn multiple lessons from this prophet/prophecy. Verse 9 is the underlying theme of Hosea and an exhortation to do what the prophet says.

1. The ways of the Lord (covenant/statutes) are always right. I would go as far as to say they are perfect. If you have discerned this much then…
2. You will have enough sense to obey them or “walk in them”
3. Conversely, if you rebel against God and His ways His ways will “trip you up”.
4. The actual broken commandments/covenants become the reason for the downfall
5. So those that read Hosea should obey the words contained therein.

February 21, 2011

Minor Prophets XIX: Grace: Ending On A Positive Note

Return, Israel, to the LORD your God. Your sins have been your downfall! Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses. We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.” Hosea 14:1-3

Hosea’s prophecy ends on a positive note…at least if His people obey Him. We clearly see that repentance will bring blessing. Their sins have clearly been their undoing (v.1). If they seek the Lord and heed the words of His prophet they will be blessed. Deuteronomy 28 (The Law) clearly states the cost of disobedience. Although God’s people turn away from Him, He will not abandon them. Punish them, yes, abandon them, no (2 Timothy 2:13-“if we are faithless, He remains faithful-for He cannot deny himself). He pleads with His people to return to Him and turn their back on sin. They pray that if they return God will receive them even though He has every reason to reject them.

I see a shadow here in light of the other questions raised. We see the shadow of the New Testament fulfillment by Christ. We see the offer of salvation to a people that really do not deserve it but are willing to humble themselves, get their spiritual act together, repent and seek forgiveness. The futility of praying to other gods and or appealing to powers of society and culture does nothing but insure the demise or doom of the people.

February 20, 2011

Stranger At Sixty Stadia

[ Luke 24 ]

A lance pierced man
On yonder nail pronged tree
Thorn crowned king
Legion sneers from scornful eyes 

The sky closed like a door
Forsaken near the moment
The ground gaped like a sore
Showing the blood it ate

I remember a sound of a torn curtain
It ripped inside of me too
Graves creaking open on their hinges
Three days He sat in the earth like a root

Rising He wrenched the earth
Sifting the soil of its dead
The women came with spices
Did our hearts not burn within us?

Minor Prophets XVIII: Mortis Unemploymentus

“I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction? “I will have no compassion...Hosea 13:14

What is the OT fulfillment of v 14? What is the NT fulfillment?

As for the OT fulfillment I would have to say it is in the form of Assyrian conquest for Israel’s refusal to return to God and their subsequent punishment. We must keep in mind that punishment from God is not because He hates His people but it is because He does love them. God’s punishment is a manifestation of God’s love.

There is a problem here if I just go for the easier answer or interpretation of this for the New Testament which would be the salvation paid for by Christ at the cross (v.14a). In context Hosea tone changes dramatically in here between v.14a and v.14b. We see allusion to Jesus (v.14a) and Paul (v.14b) when Paul mocks death in:

1 Corinthians 15:55-57, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In Hosea’s context the last line of Hosea seems to put a kink in this, “I will have no compassion…”. If we read the verse leading up to v.14 we know that Hosea is referring to judgment not victory over an/the enemy (death). So the question is: Does this really get fulfilled in the New Testament? It does if we view the Father punishing the Son which rightfully should’ve been placed on the sinner as a form of love.

Wiersbe, Warren W.. "Hosea: Chapter 3: Love So Amazing." The Bible Exposition Commentary-Old Testament-The Prophets. 1. print. ed. Colorado Springs, Colo.: Victor, 2001. 329. Print.

Minor Prophets XVII: Hebrew Fighting Championship (The HFC)

Ephraim feeds on the wind; he pursues the east wind all day and multiplies lies and violence. He makes a treaty with Assyria and sends olive oil to Egypt. The LORD has a charge to bring against Judah; he will punish Jacob according to his ways and repay him according to his deeds. In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel; as a man he struggled with God. He struggled with the angel and overcame him; he wept and begged for his favor. He found him at Bethel and talked with him there the LORD God Almighty, the LORD is his name! But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always. Hosea 12:1-6

Hosea 12 uses stories from Genesis and Exodus to paint a picture of deception and deceit. We see the pattern of Israel's history firmly rooted in the sins and somewhat poor temperament of their patriarchs.

(v.1-7) Overall we see the sinfulness shown as a pattern throughout Israel’s pattern of history. This is exemplified against the current backdrop of Israel’s condition in Hosea’s time. The first recognizable Pentateuch narrative is Jacob and Esau. It is rather cryptic at first glance until reading further. Jacob/Israel (a name play) took hold of his brother’s heel in the womb. I have to assume this is a desire to be the firstborn based on the commentary referenced (McGee 653). Jacob here is compared to the Israel (geographic) of Hosea’s time. He wrestled at birth? Next we see Jacob going at it again. This time he has bitten off more than he can chew since he is grappling with the Angel of The Lord aggressively pleading favor (blessing) before her would willingly release Him. Did Jacob beat God? Would Jacob have been a great Mixed Martial Arts fighter (MMA)? No! God had Him pinned flat on his back. So how did Jacob win? He surrendered. He was cognizant enough to realize that who he was wrestling with had the power to bless him and willfully submitted to that “Wrestler” by aggressively pleading for blessing. What Hosea is doing is pleading with Israel (geographic) to do the same as Jacob/Israel did…return to God after years of deception and deceit.

The merchant uses dishonest scales and loves to defraud. Ephraim boasts, I am very rich; I have become wealthy. With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin.” “I have been the LORD your God ever since you came out of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of your appointed festivals. I spoke to the prophets, gave them many visions and told parables through them.” Hosea 12:7-10

(v.7-10) The word merchant in (v.7) is actually a liberal interpretation of Canaan/Canaanite. According to the Layman’s Commentary this is meant to reflect the mercantile interests of Israel from as far back as Solomon essentially a merchant king who’s desire to build Israel fiscally extended as far as to make questionable deals and whore himself out spiritually by marrying strategically to build the empire/monarchy. This eventually led to his apostasy.

Is Gilead wicked? Its people are worthless! Do they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal? Their altars will be like piles of stones on a plowed field. Hosea 12:11
(v.12:11) This alludes to the sacrifice of bulls at Gilgal in 1 Samuel. The altars from this time would be leveled to a pile of stones (Hbw: Gallim) in the looming invasion-the high places would be destroyed. Gilgal and Gallim is a poetic alliteration/repetition of sound by Hosea to drive home a point.

Jacob fled to the country of Aram; Israel served to get a wife, and to pay for her he tended sheep. Hosea 12:12
(v.12:12) Another reference to Jacob and his labor tending sheep for Laban to gain Rachel just as his descendants would have to serve Egypt until God gain their freedom from slavery.

HFC 1: God vs. Whoever/Sin...guess who wins?

McGee, J. Vernon. "Chapters 11-12." Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee-Proverbs to Malachi. Nashville: T. Nelson, 1981. 653. Print.

Myers, Jacob Martin. "On The Fatherly Love of God." The Book of Hosea ; The Book of Joel ; The Book of Amos ; The Book of Obadiah ; The Book of Jonah . Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1978. 60-61. Print.

February 19, 2011

The Name

A name written in sand
by a child's hand
On a San Quentin prison wall
by an inmate's fingernail;
in blood stains
on doorposts;
in small-print footnotes
in dissertations

A name tattooed on aged skin
adjacent to thorns and blood
Etched in the collective memory
of survivors of the storm

A name spoke over heads
sung over bodies
both dead and alive
or over those immersed in water

A named breathed out
at the moment of death
carried on butterflies wings
to the cusp of paradise

A name on quivering lips
of a shell-shocked combat soldier
alone in a foxhole
while bullets lacerate the air
A name squeezed out in chopping coughs
through clenched and chipped teeth

A name whispered by a widowed woman
Who mourns the loss of her spouse
A name cried in murmured lament
over the pain in a child's death

A name given to
Something that once
had no name

Between desire
Between pain
Between fire
Between blame
Jesus Christ
Paradise regained

The name above all names
echoing in the halls and corridors of eternity

Minor Prophets XVI: History Fulfilled Not Fabricated

“But since my people refuse to return to me, they will return to Egypt and will be forced to serve Assyria. War will swirl through their cities; their enemies will crash through their gates. They will destroy them, trapping them in their own evil plans. For my people are determined to desert me. They call me the Most High, but they don’t truly honor me." Hosea 11:5-7

God historically fulfilled the warnings of Hosea 11:5-7 with real people and real events that are documented in the Bible and outside of it. For those that say this stuff is myth or it didn't really happen, archeology proves for a fact many of these people not only existed but these events came to pass...exactly as the Bible has described and said they would. It isn't like I doubted it but others do and will continue to. Some folks like wallowing in their self-imposed ignorance. Where they cannot ignore something that is clearly outlined in the Bible and shown unequivocally to be true...they will distort or exaggerate the truth just enough to make the truth look absurd. Do your homework correctly and you will find that archaeological evidences have never refuted or contradicted Biblical accounts. If there haven't been archaeological proofs its only because they have not been uncovered yet and remain hidden because of the passage of time. When and if they are found and correctly interpreted, they will corroborate the Bible. I personally guarantee it :).

God’s fatherly and patient loving-kindness is rejected and this will be their reward. They will need to relearn the lessons of their youth in Egypt. Instead of Egypt being Egypt this time “Egypt” will be Assyria who is a brutal regime. Like a sword, they will descend on Israel and crush them. The awful reality of what was coming is spelled out in Israel’s collective memory by mentioning Egypt. In verse 7’s “Even though they call me God Most High…” we see something similar to what Jesus mentions in Matthew 15:8 when we hear Jesus say, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”In a purely secular historical setting Tiglath-Pileser III, Shalmaneser V, Sargon II and Sennacherib all played into the demise of the Northern Kingdom. Sennacherib actually managed to infiltrate Judah and it is only because God intervening that they were spared (McComiskey 188-189).

Longman, Tremper, and David E. Garland. "A Beloved Child." The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Daniel-Malachi . Rev. ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008. 283-287. Print.

McComiskey, Thomas Edward. "Yahweh’s Love For Israel." The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical And Expository Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2009. 188-189. Print.

February 18, 2011

Minor Prophets XV: Out of Egypt

God’s Love for Israel “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. ~Hosea 11:1 

We see this type of word usage in the New Testament? Does this verse mean the same thing or have the same application here in the context of Hosea 11:1-4?

In verse 1 we see the precursor to the striking parallel in the New Testament. The infancy narrative in Matthew. We see Jesus her...and there.

"So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Matthew 2:14-15

In the context of 11:1-4 this passage it appears that God loved Israel but they rebelled against Him. Israel is being ungrateful to God for all the love He has shown them and all the things He has done to their benefit. It is a love that is like a Father’s love for His children. In sympathetic human language we see God described as closely as possible in anthropomorphistic terms to a human parent. When they are called to task by the prophets to come back to covenant obedience…the people reject Him and turn to Baal and burn incense to images. Recalling Israel’s past history, He brought them out of bondage in Egypt and made them His people among all the others. We see a paternal type of relationship here like a father to a son or a Father to a Son. Again we see a paternal “waiting for Ephraim to walk”, and the protective, “I who healed them” showing them affection akin to a loving human relationship, yet they apostatized and fell away from the One True God

On That Eighth Day

On that Eighth Day
of Creation
He stepped forth,
an everlasting Lazarus,
Who, brilliant in renewal,
Came to walk among our death
once again,
Just as unrecognizible in Resurrection
as before
When He deigned to become
enfolded in our shroud of dust

Walking with the blind
He bade the very rocks to silence
their joy
and whispered stillness
to His cavorting creation---
proffering pierced palms,
He plucked darkness from a soul
and stood
as He shall appear

That day His coming shall
quick-catch-snatch away
our blind and dark-glass gropings
as He did before.
But never before
has He been seen as HE is:
King of Kings
Lord of Lords

J. Bancroft

February 17, 2011

Minor Prophets XIV: Sour Grapes

As we have often seen in the Bible God repeats Himself. Not because He has been unclear in the past but because His people or people in general are usually spiritually deaf. We see this all over Hosea and the Minor Prophets. The whole point of a prophet is that of a herald or person the comes for God to pronounce judgement of blessing, one that warns or condemns. Becasue of this is is easy to find other Old Testament references (outside of Hosea) to Israel being described as a "vine" as in Hosea.

"Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself. As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones." Hosea 10:1

The "vine" at first appears to be a positive reference but as we delve into Chapter 10 we see just the opposite and of course this metaphor/symbology surfaces elsewhere due to Israel's constant cycle of apostasy-punishment-repentence-apostasy-punishment-repentence.

The vine is a national symbol of Israel. As we later see in the New Testament it also is symbology/metaphor of Jesus (Myers 54).

Psalms 80:8, 14-16 “You transplanted a vine from Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it.” In later verses in this chapter we see that Israel is either being punished or under judgment (v14-16) “Return to us, God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see!

Watch over this vine, the root your right hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself. Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire…”

Isaiah 5:1-7 Another reference to a vineyard/vine and the fact that the vines only yielded bad fruit. Because of this…judgment was coming, “I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed.” If there is any doubt who this refers to verse 7 clears it up, “The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in.”

Jeremiah 2:21 “I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?” This is self explanatory, no commentary necessary.

Since these passages are rather lengthy I will not quote from them but I will list them here: Ezek 15:1-8, 17:5-10, 19:10-14

After all the disobedience in the Old Testament its almost as if you the reader would like to reach back into the Old Testament yourself and smack them silly to wake them up. But then you realize, "Oh geez, it wasn't just those knuckleheads...its us knuckleheads too!"

Minor Prophets XIII: Baal Perogies?

So...what is "Baal Peor" in Hosea 9:10? If we go back to Israel’s origins with Moses, we see that the Lord took great pleasure and delight in the nation “like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your ancestors, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree." The Lord’s attitude towards them would soon change. When they arrived at Peor they engaged in sexual immorality with Moabite and Midianite women as part of the religious fertility rites associated with the worship of Baal Peor (Numbers 25).

While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate the sacrificial meal and bowed down before these gods. So Israel yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor. And the LORD’s anger burned against them. ~Numbers 25:1-3

So we see a pattern or history of Israel either literally or figuratively “whoring themselves out” to other religions either through idolatry or literal illicit immoral sexual behavior. More than likely “that shameful idol” mentioned that they whored themselves out to was probably a localized version to that area of the Canaanite fertility god Baal (this fake clown was everywhere). Now in Hosea’s time, history was repeating itself. It was like a dormant (or not so dormant) disease that came back to the surface and manifested itself as a monsterous sore.

Dopes. Unfortunately, I see history repeating even today. Man never learns. How typical of a being that is totally depraved.

Chisholm, Robert B.. "Israel's Guilt And Punishment Reiterated." The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition Of The Scriptures. Ed John Walvoord & Roy Zuck. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1985. 1399. Print.

February 16, 2011

Minor Prophets XII: God Watches The Watchman

Yes, God does hold us as believers accountable for the well-being of fellow believers. Ezekiel was responsible for being the watchman for his people (as listed below). We see allusion to the fact that we are indeed "our brother's keeper" in contradiction to Cain's snide reply to God in Genesis. Not only is the familiar passage of Ezekiel 3 paint this picture but so does Hosea.

Outside of Hosea 9:8 we see at least three other references to prophets being called “watchmen”. A watchmen was responsible for warning a city of an approaching enemy from a city wall of hill, just as God’s prophets were to warn God’s people of coming judgment on sin. Because of this parallel it is not surprising to see the comparison between the two.

(1) As mentioned above, the most familiar and obvious to me was where Ezekiel is named God’s watchman to warn Israel of coming judgment. Specifically Ezekiel 3:16-“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me."

(2) God then appoints Ezekiel a second time in Ezekiel 33:1-7 with nearly identical wordage, “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.”

(3) Outside of Ezekiel we see Jeremiah being called to the same type of task for Judah at the time of Jerusalem being under siege, “I appointed watchmen over you and said, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But you said, ‘We will not listen.’ Jeremiah 6:17

(4) We also see a mention of a watchmen on the wall so of Jerusalem in Isaiah: “I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest…” Isaiah 62:6

(5) Depending on which version of the Bible you use you can also find a “watchman” in Isaiah 21:6: (ESV) “for thus the Lord said to me:"Go, set a watchman; let him announce what he sees.”

If Hosea 9:8  is not enough to convince you that we are indeed our brother's keeper, perhaps you should visit this other Scriptural zip codes for further proof?

February 15, 2011


(John 9:25)
Hands touch my lids, my tears;
through blears of hurt and lust
___through aching years of sin-smeared sight
my dim and random life now clears
___to searing light
______and the dark pales
______and pride and fears
______as it were scales
______fall to the dust

Were one to ask of me
what face it is that shimmers like day
___as yet I could not say.
I only know I see

W.R. Mitchell

Minor Prophets XI: Sowing and Reaping Wind

“They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up. Hosea 8:7

So what does the proverb in Hosea 8:7 mean?: "They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind"?

We now start to get into powerful prophetic imagery. We see proverbial sayings mixed with metaphors. We see a nation locked into a vicious cycle of sin and self-destructive futility and the saying, “they sow the wind” means just this. Wind to me represents something that is real but lacks substance and wit...it is worthless. Instead of getting what they really wanted they would instead “reap” an additional portion of what they had sown. Wind=Futility. Wind planted as a seed would grow much larger than the way it was sown and turn into something much larger. It is the nature of sin in man--left unchecked and allowed to grow, it becomes this monstrous twisting destructive force. Everything done with the best intentions under the influence of sin and evil comes out twisted and damaging. In the case of Israel it would be devastating.

February 14, 2011

Minor Prophets VIIa: A Theological Reprise of Chapter 5

Hosea Chapter 5:

What does this chapter tell us in terms of theology? Theology meaning the study and understanding of God Himself. To determine this type of question for any passage in the Bible we have to determine the answer to at least two questions when reviewing Scripture.

What do these passages say about God's character or attributes?
What is reaction or action by God to sin(s)?

In rough outline Hosea 5 breaks out like this:

(v.1a) Priests are not holy: A holy God that hates unholiness and will not look upon it without judging it
(v.1d) God's Justice: A just God that cannot have injustice or allow it without passing judgment
(v.2c) God's Justice: Discipline is coming, we begin to see the outcropping of wrath
(v.3a,b) Israel is not hidden: God's omniscience, omnipresence
(v.4a) Israel's unholy actions-In contrast to God who is holy
(v.5) God is just, man is not
(v.6) A sovereign king, wrath
(v.7) Judgment, Wrath (The wages if Israel's sins: Death & Destruction
(v.9) Judgment, Wrath
(v.10) Wrath
(v.11) Judgment
(v.12) Judgment
(v.14) Judgment, Judgment
(v.15) Expectation of holiness or sanctification after punishment, repentance or "to seek God's face"

Through all of this chapter we see a gradual erosion of God's patience and as we get to verses6-8 the entire tone of Hosea 5 starts to turn a corner towards judgement. God's patience wears thin and His extremely long fuse burns down due to Israel's repeated sins. By verse 10 it disappears totally. When God's patience evaporates so does His restraint of His wrath. God then unloads His wrath like a bomb detonation and He expends His wrath in intensity and measure of sin that He judges.

So man sins...
...and his sin is dropped back on his head in equal measure.

February 12, 2011

A Dead Canary or The Crucifixion

Subtitle: Contented In The Darkness

Suppose a man is stuck in a mine after the opening collapses and he cannot get out. He is stuck in near total darkness in a cold foreboding hole in the ground. Prematurely buried. Dead but alive. If this sounds familiar it should.

Now suppose someone tries to drill down through impenetrable obstacles and barriers to reach this person and save him from a premature grave giving him an avenue of escape. A chance to bring the dead back to life so to speak. He is given an oppurtunity and path to freedom. He is offered life giving sustenance such as water and bread. He is offered light to see in the darkness. He is also promised salvation from what appeared to be a trapped existence, quarentined in this cold dark hell. The obstacles that are piled on top of him are removed and he is given an escape that never seemed possible or seemed too improbable to be true.

He sees a hand reach down into the darkness from the light above to save him...

and he rejects it.

First you hear a cough and then another... and then a raspy voice, "Nah, no thanks, I'm good, but thanks anyway". Then he chooses to sit in the darkness slowly dying of thirst and hunger and continues to wave off any future attempts to rescue him from what is most certainly a self-imposed death sentence. Doesn't make sense does it?

Now imagine that he begins to taunt his rescuer every time he reaches down to offer help.

"You're an idiot!" 
" @#$#%% !!!! "
"If you really cared about me you would've saved me sooner..not interested..jerk!"
"I hate you!"
"How could you let this happen to me!"
"You don't exist, your just a figment of my imagination"
"I can't hear what you're saying la la la la la la la!"

Now lets ratchet up the improbability factor even more...imagine the rescuer with his hand down through the opening is the miner's father. Impossible you say?

Non-believers and people that do not believe in Jesus Christ and what He did for all humanity pretty much do this everyday without pause, regret or reflection. They turn their back on the only hand that reaches down to save them from the encroaching darkness.

And slowly they die in spiritual darkness. They are dead already but just do not realize it. Day after day they reject their salvation as He continues to proffer His hand.

Yeah, it makes no sense to me either.

February 11, 2011

Minor Prophets X: An Infatuation With Gold Cows

"Samaria, throw out your calf-idol! My anger burns against them. How long will they be incapable of purity? Hosea 8:5 

Hmmm? Is this "calf-idol" one of the calf idols established by Jeroboam I at Bethel and Dan in 1 Kings?

Biblical Flashback....

Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.” After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other. Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites. He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made. On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings. 1 Kings 12:26-33

...and why is Hosea so upset?

It is clear this passage is referring to a cult of some sort and God denounces their idolatry among other things. In verse 11 special attention is given to their calf-idol. According to Robert Chisholm’s “Interpreting the Minor Prophets” the Old Testament makes no reference anywhere else to this idol. So, according to Chisholm the two gold calf idols set up by Jeroboam in Bethel and Dan in the 1 Kings 12 may be in view but this might not be Jeroboam’s two gold calves since its location referred to as “Samaria” (possibly all of Israel en masse). This is in the North but the text doesn’t clear this up. Regardless, if this is not one of the two set up by him then the idolatry initiated by Jeroboam has spread. So when verse 6 states, “This calf—a metalworker has made it; it is not God.” It is a total rejection of Jeroboam’s decree in 1 Kings that, “Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” (Chisholm 37) .

This type of idol worship was rampant and people (God’s people) were expending a lot of energy making chasing after “bovine” idols (Baal). I’m guessing this is exceptionally repulsive to Hosea as it basically returns Israel right back to the sins of the people from the Exodus at the foot of Sinai. The people and priests had build altars but not to God, they had built altars for sinning. Their religious acts would then constitute religious hypocrisy. Sacrifices to God without the “heart” behind them are an offense to God. Egypt in this passage is metaphor or symbolic of a future exile and bondage (Assyria). In their deliverance from Egyptian bondage they had experienced God’s grace. Having rejected grace and basically spit in God’s face they would be returned to bondage as judgment. The unclean condition/status of the altar means that the people won’t even be able to properly offer to God even if they wanted to. In not being able to offer properly they will not be able to participate in the worship of Yahweh.

Chisholm, Robert B. "Hosea." Interpreting the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Pub. House, 1990. 37. Print.

Chisholm, Robert B.. "Israel's Guilt And Punishment ." The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition Of The Scriptures. Ed John Walvoord & Roy Zuck. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1985. 1397. Print.

February 10, 2011

Minor Prophets IX: How Many Times Do I Need To Tell You?

Even after all the patience and mercy from God, Hosea 6:11b-7:16 allludes to the fact that His people cannot and will not receive restoration. We see the reasons why He cannot restore His people in verse 7:1-16?

God’s grace is pretty much there for the taking if it wasn’t for their rebellion (Israel and Judah [v.6:11b]). Judah will also reap the harvest of her iniquity. God wants to show them mercy but they’re idiots. We see the actions committed by Israel (and Judah): (v1) He wants to restore their fortunes and to “heal” them but Ephraim’s sins are exposed as are the crimes of Samaria (v2) They practice deceit and commit evil deeds. (v2) Their sins engulf them; they are always before me. (v3) Their leadership is wicked (v4) They’re adulterers burning like an oven (v5) leadership are drunkards (v6) The sin of the people is voracious and ambitious as it is referred to as burning like and oven (v8) Ephraim mixes with the nations and a flat loaf not turned over (burnt) & (v9) Foreigners sap their strength unwittingly and “Israel’s arrogance testifies against him”. Israel’s sin had so thoroughly taken them over they had become blind and stupid to the fact they were being tapped by foreigners and weakened (v11) forcing them to turn to previous enemies or currently strained relationships for help. Because of their own foolish actions...they would pretty much become toast.

We then see the real reason the sins are being committed. We see the spiritual malady behind the atrocious actions of Israel and Judah (v13) “Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! The farther from God people stray the more they sin and less holy they become. Not only have they strayed they are in outright rebellion against God. They also defame His character. They defame it more by their behavior than anything else. They are God’s chosen and many know this yet they act as unrepentant hedonists like the culture around them. Whoring after the other gods (v14) slashing themselves to reinforce ritualistic prayer to Baal even though the Bible forbid this. They apostatized, so judgment is coming instead of mercy and grace that God would’ve given them had they just turned their hearts to Him.

February 9, 2011

Minor Prophets VIII: Tough Love To Change Hearts

Hosea 6:1-11a

Like a good parent God never gives or passes judgment without some type of statement of restoration after punishment. God takes no pleasure in punishing His children just like human parents who are made in His image take no pleasure in punishing their children. As a parent I take no sadistic pleasure in punishing my children but if I do not show that there is a reaction for bad behavior I am by default showing that is essentially okay to behave poorly by not stopping it and showing them what they did wrong. BUT...I always follow up with encouragement and show them love by a hug and a kiss to let them know I chastise and punish in love. Parents that do not chastise their children or punish them when their actions warrant...don't really love their children.

We see Israel's hope in vv 1-3 and how does God respond to it in vv 4-11a?

In (v. 1 & 2) we see antithetical and contrasting statements, regardless of how God punishes of ravages Israel for their sins and unfaithfulness He immediately promises restoration, “He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us”, “he has injured us” but “he will bind up our wounds”. In verse two we see something really interesting in the statement, “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”

There is then a subtle shift to meager corrective action (mindset) by His people that appears to be either partial obedience or partial repentance, “Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him” the expected reaction from God would be that is a hopeful return by the LORD, “As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”. They have realized they are wrong and respond the way the LORD wants them to. The problem is that this repentance seems “forced” since the exact quote in Hosea 5:15 is, “until they have borne their guilt”. They have not fest-up to their sin(s)

God laments the fact that Israel’s faithfulness is fickle or fleeting. It is temporarily there and then it is gone like the morning mist/dew. “Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.” Therefore, God cut them in pieces with His prophets and killed them with the words of His mouth. These descriptions appear in past tense so the prophets had “cut them down to size with God’s words”. We then see why God reacts this way to v.1-3…For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. God wants a heart change NOT lip service or half-hearted response. You either commit totally to God or go home. He doesn’t want people being namby-pamby. Again we see this reinforce in the next few verses (v.7) they were unfaithful to me, (v.8) Gilead is a city of evildoers, stained with footprints of blood (v.9) they murder on the road to Shechem, carrying out their wicked schemes, (v.10) I have seen a horrible thing in Israel: Ephraim is given to prostitution, Israel is defiled. It reads like a grocery list of half-heart response or outright evil.

Myers, Jacob Martin. "On Defection In High Places." The Book of Hosea ; The Book of Joel ; The Book of Amos ; The Book of Obadiah ; The Book of Jonah . Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1978. 33-36. Print.

February 7, 2011

Minor Prophets VII: Northern and Southern Unfaithfulness

Hosea 5...and just when you thought Judah (the Southern Kingdom) might have been innocent or would get away without indictment we see subtle reference to Israel's (Northern Kingdom) promiscuous and faithless sister Judah. At first the evidence can almost be overlooked but it is there in verses 4-15 for Hosea's words were addressed to both the southern and northern Hebrew kingdoms if one looks closely.

(v.5) straight away Hosea mentions Israel synonymously with Ephraim who shall stumble in his guilt and Judah also shall stumble with them. Interestingly, Hosea refers to the Northern Kingdom in the affectionate manner of Ephraim throughout the book. Hosea also does this with other people’s names that also represent geopolitical realities. In my mind He is drawing out an anthropomorphism to draw the connection between the whoredom of Gomer and the whoredom of Israel (and Judah).

(v.7) Because of their unfaithfulness we see the Lord withdrawn from them. Additionally,we Hosea seems as if he is trying to put a human face on a geographical reality by calling Israel: Ephraim. Even more interesting Hosea shifts gender here to male. It is also interesting to note that in the Old Testament Hebrew genders in these situations (such as anthropomorphism) were often interchangeable or gender neutral or neuter. Could it be that Hosea is alluding to the fact all are guilty regardless of gender, regardless of north or south? All have fallen short of the glory of God and His statutes?

(v8) We see the mention Gibeah later alluded to in the same verse within the land allotted to Benjamin…in the Southern Kingdom (Brisco 74).

(v10) Hosea explicitly mentions the “The princes of Judah” have become like those who move the landmark; upon them I will pour out my wrath like water.

(v.12 & 13) Judah (South) is again mentioned in conjunction with Ephraim (North)

(v.14) God’s judgment is illustrated as a lion to Ephraim and Judah.

Brisco, Thomas. "Sennacherib's Campaign Against Judah." Holman bible atlas: a complete guide to the expansive geography of biblical history. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman, 1999. 74. Print.

February 6, 2011

John 3 - Matthew Brown

night and house
cast in questioning blue.
Cricket's abrasive song
rebirth rebirth rebirth.
I ascended the gravelly stair.
Strange truth
shone in His eyes
when I first saw Him---
different from a different order.
Without greeting
He set before me
the strangest thing...
He spoke of spiritual
labor pains---
the meaning plagues me.
Marvel not
He said,
the body of wind can be had
but must be born.

February 5, 2011

Bludgeoning A Brother & Blogrolls

I have two ways to try and reach the people that I do not agree with in terms of a different worldview (non-christian) or that differ with me theologically.

I can attack or hammer them on the things I do not agree with them on...or I can try to teach them. I can try and show them that their logic is flawed or use presuppositional apologetics that goes to the heart of their misunderstandings and corrects them or I can try to reason with them from the Bible. The latter of the two is the tact I have chosen to take in these latter days. I know many of my brethren have chosen the former. After years of aggressively going after what I deemed inappropriate in people's theology or thought processes I now take a less legalistic, more passive approach through a "passive bludgeoning" or drumming through repeated education. What I do not understand are those (including my brethren) that slam doors in peoples faces.

I guess you could say I got tired of winning the arguments and loosing the people. The way I approach them now allows me to maintain my Scriptural integrity and doctrine but still approach from a solid foundation and so far it is working. I have gotten beat-up a few times about "commercializing my site" or "whoring it out" to secular advertisers (an accusation I still haven't figured out because I only have ads for Westminster, Monergism and a request for donation) but my doctrine is not watered-down and my theology stays Reformed. I just refuse to become purposely and unnecessarily polemic for followers or for high ratings. I refuse to fall into unwarranted traps of legalism. As a matter of fact, this post itself is about as polemic and abrasive as I am willing to be with others in Christ. This post though is done out of frustration due to the antisocial nature of communiques and interactions with others in Christ that are clearly not showing the "mind" or "fruits" of Christ and the Holy Spirit in them. The "This is my toy, don't touch, mine!" is getting old. I have news for people...its God's not yours. You have no authority that is not granted to you by God. If He granted you none...you would have none and would be powerless.

Apparently this is not popular with my fellow bloggers because I have requested adds to other people's blog rolls to help cross-pollinate and I continually confront rejection and legalistic mindsets that do not consider me "as Christian" as they are because I do not subscribe to their methodologies or denominational dogmatism. Because I do not come forward with a specific denominational statement I am in this nebulous no-man's land. I have on the other hand made very clear "statements of faith" through blog posts.

It is frustrating. I thought we were to discern based in core salvational issues not based on denominational differences? Why do I continue to get the theological beat down everytime I deal with discussions on the Assemblies of God and Southern Baptists? Calvinists and Arminians? I thought we were playing on the same team? Do the differences in these different groups warrant intellectual and theological snobbery, arrogance or worse... blatant ignorance? Was Jesus a Southern Baptist? Calvinist? Or was He Jesus?

When we speak and act as Christians we are to speak and act with the mind of Christ. I do not believe Jesus was a hairsplitting legalist. What I do think it that He was perfectly obedient to the will of the Father and perfectly fulfilled the Law. I believe the Father was so pleased by Jesus' actions and words that He was pleased to have His fullness dwell in Him and because of this all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form in Jesus.

When we/I fail to live up to what is expected of us as Christian (which includes not bashing people over the head with legalistic non-salvational issues) we fail to grasp our spiritual fullness in Christ.

Sometimes I feel it is harder to get along with my brethren than it is to get along unbelieving strangers out in the world. The more I come across the legalistic dogma the more aggravating it is becoming. Perhaps this is my burden to carry because I did it to others for so long. My thorn in the flesh?

To the few fellow bloggers that were willing to share "air time" with me to help further each other's ministries I am grateful. To those that would read this and would like to share reciprocal blog space for the purpose of reaching others I am still open.

February 4, 2011

Minor Prophets VI: Punished Exacted In A Prophetic Perfect Tense

In my previous post on Hosea we see a grocery list of covenant infractions against the Lord by Israel. Any one of these sins should meant instant judgment from God but what we see (and we always see it) is mercy, grace and patience first and then judgement that unfolds in Hosea 4. The list of judgments in this chapter shows God warning that He will bring upon Israel (e.g., v 3 a severe drought predominately is portrayed). These are not threats...they are promises of God's justice. It is what should be expected by any sinner including us. God must meter out His judgment as fits the sin.

(v.3) We see the description of a severe drought that would end up killing people.

(v.5-6) Mother’s would be destroyed. Mothers: Those who give birth…the priestly line here would be eliminated. The priests themselves would be removed from office by God. Because the priests ignored God’s Law, God would ignore their children, the children that were born that wouldn’t have been terminated by the destruction of their mothers…they would not inherit the office of their fathers. The interesting thing about these punishments is they seem to be tailored to the crime: Destroyed-Rejected-Ignored-Doomed.

What is particularly interesting in Hosea 4:6 is the word "destroyed". what appears to be a past tense in a present judgement passage...and we see more of these littered all over the Major & Minor Prophets (such as Isaiah 5:13, Isaiah 10:28-32, Jeremiah 23:2, Hosea 6:5, Amos 5:2). These are what is called the "prophetic perfect tense(s)" in the Hebrew which is a verb tense that used by the prophets in the Hebrew Bible. This literary technique refers to future events in the past tense, known as deictic center shift. It shows that God (through His prophets) sees all of time as a present moment. So what appears to be a prediction to humanity (us), is in actually a statement of fact coming from God since He sees all points in time simultaneously. I found this to be really cool. In a subtle shift of terms we see God's omniscience in all its glory.

(v.9-10) Priests fed on the sins of the people in greed receiving a portion of the offerings to themselves. In so doing they would receive in-kind covenant curses. Regardless of plans to accumulate food, food would become scarce because of drought.

(v.16) Rhetorical question: Can Lord now feed Israel? (stubborn heifer) They were being cut off from God.

(v.17) Because of the strong attachment to idolatry Israel (Ephraim) was left to her own which appears to mean she was allowed to go to her doom/demise.

(v.19) A wind has wrapped them in its wings. I am probably reaching on this but it seems as if Ephraim will be swept away like the wind.

In Hosea 5 these punishments were targeted on a particularly wicked group that were in twice as guilty as they were entrusted the stewardship of God's people.

Just as in the portion of Chapter 4:4-10, 18 (priests) this prophecy/sermon is primarily directed at the culpable leadership in v.1 & 2 and those that had the welfare of the nation entrusted to them.

(v.1) Priests/priesthood. They are again put in the cross hairs of God’s prophecy. They had encouraged the people to participate in false worship in places like Mizpah and Tabor. If this is a reference to Mizpah of Benjamin then this has further implications as it would draw in people of the Southern Kingdom also. Regardless, the false worship had permeated the land.

(v.1) The house of the king

(v.3) Here we see a subtle shift back to Israel proper who are “not hidden” from Yahweh. Their sunken/sinful state though was allowed to fester because of the leadership.

McComiskey, Thomas Edward. "An Oracle Addressed to Various Levels of Israelite Society." The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical And Expository Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2009. 75-76. Print.
Walvoord, John F., and Roy B. Zuck. "Hosea's Message: God's Judgment and Restoration of Israel." The Bible knowledge commentary: an exposition of the scriptures. Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1985. 1388-1390. Print.

February 3, 2011

Minor Prophets V: Guilty On Call Counts

In Hosea 4 we see a list of "charges" or "indictments" that God brings against Israel in this chapter (e.g., v 1 no faithfulness or love or acknowledge of God). We can look closely at these a Americans, Brits, Aussies, etc and see dark but recognizable reflects in the sinful cesspool of history. Are we really so differnet from these Israeli people of the 8th Century B.C.?

These all appear to be a lack of what one should consider “covenant” virtues or behaviors that would be attached to people adhering to God’s covenant. What is here in abundance is what one would consider are not behaviors you would expect-vices.

What is lacking (Hubbard 97):
(1.) (v.1) There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.

(1a) The end results of this are instability, infidelity and unreliability.
(1b) There is no kindness or concern for those that need help
(1c) There is no knowledge of God which is the whole point of a covenant “relationship”, what He has done for His covenant people. The appropriate response to God for what He has done for His people should’ve been at least worship, instead He is ignored.

What is present in abundance (Hubbard 97):

(2) (v.2) There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.

(2a) Swearing or inappropriate use of the divine name by damning other using Yahweh’s name attached to a curse.
(2b) Lying which pretty much is either destruction of self-character or someone else’s or murder which is taking of a life without regards for the Law.
(2c) Stealing: taking/appropriating items of someone else.
(2d) Adultery: Sexual immorality which appears to represent the spiritual and physical promiscuity of Israel
(2e) Break all bounds seems to be attached to the final “bloodshed” so appears to be excessive or wanton bloodshed or savage violation of divine law.
(3) Referring directly to the priest/priesthood of the cults and their failure to be leaders and keepers of God’s covenant (v.4-19) (Hubbard 99)

(3a) (v.6) Failure to teach the Law
(3b) (v.7-10) Selfish use of the position of the priesthood
Indictments widened to include priest and people

(3c) (v.12) Practicing divination
(3d) (v.13a) Offering sacrifices on the High Places
(3e) (v.13b-14) Ritual orgies
(3f) (v. 17-19) Drunken stupidity in connection with idol worship

**List of indictments continues into Chap 5 (But I didn’t)
Hubbard, David Allan. "Hosea's Messages:Part One." Hosea: an introduction and commentary. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1989. 95-99. Print.

February 2, 2011

Minor Prophets IV: Punishing Prostitutes

In Hosea 4 we see a list of the "charges" or indictments that God brings against Israel in this chapter and many are not pretty, some are downright nasty and I for one would not want to be accused of them.

These all appear to be a lack of what one should consider “covenant” virtues or behaviors that would be attached to people adhering to God’s covenant. What is here in abundance is what one would consider are not behaviors you would expect-vices.

What is lacking (Hubbard 97):

(1) There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.
(1a) The end results of this are instability, infidelity and unreliability.
(1b) There is no kindness or concern for those that need help
(1c) There is no knowledge of God which is the whole point of a covenant “relationship”, what He has done for His covenant people. The appropriate response to God for what He has done for His people should’ve been at least worship, instead He is ignored.

What is present in abundance (Hubbard 97):

(2) There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
(2a) Swearing or inappropriate use of the divine name by damning other using Yahweh’s name attached to a curse.
(2b) Lying which pretty much is either destruction of self-character or someone else’s or murder which is taking of a life without regards for the Law.
(2c) Stealing: taking/appropriating items of someone else.
(2d) Adultery: Sexual immorality which appears to represent the spiritual and physical promiscuity of Israel
(2e) Break all bounds seems to be attached to the final “bloodshed” so appears to be excessive or wanton bloodshed or savage violation of divine law.

Referring directly to the priest/priesthood of the cults and their failure to be leaders and keepers of God’s covenant (v.4-19) (Hubbard 99)

(v.6) Failure to teach the Law
(v.7-10) Selfish use of the position of the priesthood
(v.12) Practicing divination
(v.13a) Offering sacrifices on the High Places
(v.13b-14) Ritual orgies
(v. 17-19) Drunken stupidity in connection with idol worship

**List of indictments continues into Chap 5 (But I won’t for the sake of )

Hubbard, David Allan. "Hosea's Messages:Part One." Hosea: an introduction and commentary. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1989. 95-99. Print.

February 1, 2011

Minor Prophets III: One Seriously Expensive Whore

Let us examine the apparent circumstances and value of Gomer's purchase price in verse 2.

“So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver” (if a shekel is 1/3 of an ounce then we are talking about 5 oz. of silver) “and about a homer and a lethek of barley” (10 bushels of barley). The barley would’ve been worth an additional 15 shekels. Fifteen shekels is the approximate value of a slave at the time (McComiskey 51).

Hosea paid twice what Gomer was worth as a slave. What is interesting though is in (v.1) Hosea is commanded by God to “go love your wife again” as if it is something that needs to be commanded of Hosea because he will not do it of his own accord. This combined with the need to “buy” back his wife gives the impression the love “costs” something or a “price needs to be paid” (for sin & for love) even in this situation for a second time. In Hebrew the word for bought [karah] appears to also mean that Hosea had to bargain for Gomer-to me this reads like Hosea was haggling a price like someone would do for a used car. He had to be told to go love her or keep on loving, pay to get her back and then had to haggled for the cost to redeem her out of her bondage/slavery to prostitution (or perhaps her clients/lovers?) which ended up being a rather exorbitant price to pay for "love" (McComiskey 51).

It truly shows how degraded Gomer’s condition had become because of sin. This is analogous to Israel. In return she was “not to play the harlot”. Strangely, during this entire “transaction”, other than a command to love from God, there appears to be little emotion and compassion. It seems as if this is purely a business or legal transaction to make Gomer become Hosea’s wife legally (Myers 20).

McComiskey, Thomas Edward. "III Hosea Reclaims His Wayward Wife." The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical And Expository Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2009. 49-51. Print.
Myers, Jacob Martin. "The Lesson of Hosea" The Book of Hosea ; The Book of Joel ; The Book of Amos ; The Book of Obadiah ; The Book of Jonah . Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1978. 19-20. Print.
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