Today's Bible Commentary
Minor Prophets
Daily * Scriptures,
* Commentaries
with * Time Period
* Major-Minor Prophet Timeline
* Bible Dictionary* Chronological

Dec 10-12 Hosea, 13 Joel, 14-15 Amos, 16 Obadiah & Jonah, 17-18 Micah, 19 Nahum,
20 Habakkuk, 20-21   Zephaniah, 21 Haggai, 22-24 Zechariah, 25 Malachi  

BOOKS from on Amos,
Habakkuk, Haggai, Hosea, Joel, Jonah, Malachi,
Micah, Nahum, Obadiah, Zechariah, and Zephaniah

DIG DEEPER - Online Book Studies on:

Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

DateScripturesDaily devotional commentary Prophecy InfoCurrent King
Dec 4-9: Daniel
Dec 10:Hosea 1-5* Hear and See O IsraelIsrael - 30 yrs to exileJeroboam II-end
Dec 11:Hosea 6-9* Where Is Your Pride?8th century BC"
Dec 12:Hosea 10-14* Punished For Sin, Then What?""
Dec 13:Joel 1-3* Disasters Get AttentionJudah, 9th century BC?Joash early years?
Dec 14:Amos 1-4* Problems With JusticeIn Judah, 8th centuryUzziah
Dec 15:Amos 5-9* Judgment: GuiltyFor IsraelJeroboam II
Dec 16:Obadiah 1 + Jonah 1-4* Treatment of Non-BelieversFor Edom, For Nineveh9th cent, 8th cent
Dec 17:Micah 1-4* God's Promises: Unconditional?In Judah, 8th centuryJotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah
Dec 18:Micah 5-7* The Lord's Requirementscountry prophet"
Dec 19:Nahum 1-3* The Lord's FAQ for GentilesIn Judah, to NinevehJosiah
Dec 20:Habakkuk 1-3 + Zephaniah 1* The Lord's Punishment and AngerJudah, around 600 BC Josiah (Habakkuk)
Dec 21:Zephaniah 2-3 + Haggai 1-2* Warning! Warning!Z-Judah, ca 630 BCH-After exile, ca 520 BC
Dec 22:Zechariah 1-4* Special Offer: New BeginningAfter exile, 520-470 BC Rebuilding the Temple
Dec 23:Zechariah 5-9* Connections""
Dec 24:Zechariah 10-14* What Will Happen To Israel?""
Dec 25:Malachi 1-4* Warning: Respect the LordAfter exile, 430-420 BC""
Dec 26-31: Romans

Hear - And See - O Israel
Dec 10 reading
Hosea 1-5
Introduction to HOSEA,
Dictionary and Books
* Background of Osee (Hosea),
Catholic Encyclopedia
"My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge" (4:6a)
"A people without understanding will come to ruin." (4:14b)
"Among the tribes of Israel I proclaim what is certain." (5:9b)
Just as prophesy is not given in chronological order, neither are the books of the Bible. According to Frank DeRemer's NKJ One-Year Parallel Chronological Bible,
"Although some of Hosea’s message came in Hezekiah’s time (Ho 1:1), or at least, he lived into that time, the content of his prophesies seem to fit best the reigns of Pekah and Hoshea even though he does not mention these evil kings of Israel." See chronological Hosea placement PDF file.

Back To The Bible shows Hosea (aka Osee) was written after 2 Kings 18:1-8 and 2 Chronicles 29-31 and Psalms 48, and before Isaiah.

The prophet Hosea of Israel was a contemporary with the prophet Micah of Judah. Israel preceeded Judah into exile, and never returned as a separate country. Those returning to the promised land from the Babylonian exile took the name Israel.

Talk show host Rush Limbaugh has a "put down" expression "For those of you in Rio Linda, that means ...." and then explains a word with a simpler synonym. This is the sense I get of why God was having Hosea explain and demonstrate to Israel in even simpler language that their unfaithfulness to Him was like a wife being unfaithful to her husband.

Israel had taken the fork in the road to follow sensual immorality -- "If it feels good, do it!" Easy going partiers, they liked being drunk or high, had no qualms about sexual freedom, and had turned the celebrations God had given them into social happenings. They were neither hungry for God, nor did they think about asking Him for help or guidance as they wandered off to ask idols (like a ouija board?) or Assyria.

Is there any hope for people like that? What would it take to change their ways?

Also see: The Book of Hosea in Light of Assyrian Research,
The Jewish Quarterly Review(1889)
Location emphasis and Timeline of Major and Minor Prophets

Where Is Your Pride?
Dec 11 reading
Hosea 6-9
Introduction to HOSEA,
Dictionary and Books
* John Calvin,
"Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him." (6:3a)
God presented the case of infidelity against Israel through His prophet Hosea. Having rejected and avoided God, Israel thought they had found a better way to live - like partnering with the growing local power, Assyria. If remorse and repentance would have followed disobeying and ignoring God, He would have responded. But Israel didn't see their life styles as wrong at all. With some people, punishment might get their attention. But His people had their stubborn pride.

In a few weeks, some of us will be thinking about New Year's resolutions. Do you ever choose a Bible verse or section to use all year through? Today's reading offers some resolutions to learn and do:
"Come, let us return to the LORD." (Hosea 6:1)
"Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him." (6:3a)
Hosea shows this takes more than words.
"Israel's arrogance testifies against him, but despite all this he does not return to the Lord his God or search for Him." (7:10)

Or maybe we want to get to know God better throughout the coming year. What do these verses mean to you?
"For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." (6:6)
(God says) "I long to redeem them but they speak lies against me. They do not cry out to me from their hearts, but wail upon their beds." (7:13b-14a)
"They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind." (8:7)
"Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac." (9:7b)

Punished For Sin, Then What?
Dec 12 reading
Hosea 10-14
Introduction to HOSEA,
Dictionary and Books
* Messianic Prophecy,
in Hosea
"Since the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, O Israel, and there you have remained." (10:9)
"The guilt of Ephraim is stored up, his sins are kept on record." (13:12)
A hate crime that God would not forget had happened years before Hosea, in the town of Gibeah (10:9), where the tribe of Benjamin lived, in Samaria north of Jerusalem. The crime had many parts. Wicked local men, according to Judges 19:22, demanded an old man send out the Levite lodging at his house overnight. The men, homosexual rapists, were somewhat appeased when the Levite sent his woman out to them instead. They spent the night raping and doing other things to her. When it began to get light, they left her. She made it back to the house where the Levite was sleeping, and died outside the door.

The Levite took her body home to Jerusalem with him, then cut it up into 12 pieces as evidence, and sent one part to each head of the 12 tribes of Israel. The tribal leaders gathered together at Mizpah to hear the Levite's testimony and ask God what He wanted done. The Levite testified that the men wanted to kill him, but instead raped his woman and she died. Israel unanomously agreed to call up an army against Gibeah. Before fighting each day for three days, the Israelites inquired of God at the Ark of the Covenant what He wanted them to do, and did it. The first two days, they lost both battles. The Benjaminites were valiant fighters. The third day, God gave the Israelites victory. After the war, only 600 Benjamites survived, men only. The Israelites asked God for a plan to find wives for the survivors, so the tribe would not cease to exist. (see (Judges 19-21) This is only one example of all the sins that angered the Lord. "Your sins have been your downfall." (14:1b)

They gave credit for good crops to things, not God. "as his fruit increased, he built more altars" thanking idols (10:1)
Ephraim boasts about their wealth, thinking money hides iniquity and sin. (12:8)
"When they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot Me." (13:6b)
"You are destroyed, O Israel, because you are against me, against your helper." (13:9)
"The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God." (13:16)

When you really mean it, take God's 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.
(Other countries, like) Assyria, cannot save us; we will not mount war-horses.
We will never again say "Our gods" to what our own hands have made,
for in You the fatherless find compassion." (14:2-3)

Disasters Get Attention
Dec 13 reading
Joel 1-3
Introduction to JOEL,
Dictionary and Books
* Introduction to Joel,
Today's Bible
"'Even now,' declares the LORD, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." 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." (2:12-13)
is one of the prophetic books the disciples of Jesus read and prayed during the days between His resurrection, assension, and Pentecost. They realized that parts of scriptural prophecies from centuries before were actually happening.

What gets the attention of God's people? Natural disasters, like this devastating locust swarm during Joel's time, are talked about for generations after they occur. (Ever hear of the grasshoppers of 1874 or blizzards of 1888 on the Great Plains and the East Coast?) Joel compares the locusts to a nation invading his land. (So future generations will still talk about 9-11, 2001 and the hurricane Katrina in 2005 - with comments on USA society.)

God knows that disasters get everyone's attention. Drunkards notice, irritated that their wine supply is cut off. God's people notice, and are called together to cry out to the Lord. But He also wants us to know that these disasters are to remind us that "the day of the LORD", the ultimate judgment day and ultimate battle on Earth, is promised and is coming.

As the people in Joel's time, we have suffered a disaster, and we mourn. Remember what Hosea said about crying? (Hosea 7:14) Joel says instead of crying because we are hurt by lost possessions or lost loves, God calls His people with broken hearts to mourn the closeness they have lost with God. Something changes in our heart, and we choose to fast, weep, and mourn, not because we've been hurt, but because our sin hurts God.

Don't miss how important it is for God's people to join together to repent and get right with God. From old folks to nursing babies, from priests and pastors to newly weds - come! This is important work to do! "Spare your people, O LORD." And with His answer, continue with Him. "Be glad, O people of Zion, rejoice in the Lord your God" (2:23) Check out the wonders God has worked in Israel, and watch for more.

There will be a division in the decisions people make about God. Some, both Jews and Gentiles, will call on God's name, and be saved. Others will hate Jews, treating them as possessions to throw away - or at least trade for something more valuable to rely on, like prostitutes and wine. There will be war, worse than anything like it before. People who have taken refuge in God are protected. Countries that have done violence to Israel will be wiped out. And God will forgive the previously unforgiven bloodguilt of Israel.

Problems With Justice
Dec 14 reading
Amos 1-4
Introduction to AMOS,
Dictionary and Books
* Cows of Bashan
"Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, 'Bring us some drinks!' The Sovereign LORD has sworn by His holiness: 'The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks. You will each go straight out through breaks in the wall, and you will be cast out toward Harmon' (or O mountain of oppression), declares the LORD." (4:1-3)
Although there are some similarities between why God punishes countries other than Israel, the differences are personal. God had offered Israel something unique among countries. He offered them the covenant agreement to be His people, and seeing the benefits, they had accepted. Later as sons and daughters of the living God, they began to expect parental leniency. They broke the agreement.

This on-line sermon on Amos "To Act Justly" by Scott Hoezee addresses God's problem with Israel over justice:

"What is justice? First, justice is seeing the vulnerable, the poor, and the marginalized not as people we simply cannot understand, not as the enemy, and not as fiscal losers but as brothers and sisters who may need our help. Justice calls us to try to identify with the down-and-outters, to try to look them in the eye instead of observing them only from some great height of supposed superiority.

"Second, justice tries to create as level a "playing field" as possible such that if a given person wants to try to make a living, he or she will have a good chance to do so. Third (and conversely), justice is rooting out those things that stack the deck in favor of some but not others. Clearly illegal practices like price-gouging would qualify but maybe there are perfectly legal things that happen all the time that serve to prevent folks from getting daily necessities. For instance, do we know how difficult it can be for people without a car to get around town? Can we begin to sense how frightening it must be to have a sick child but no health insurance? Are we aware of such things? Can we become more aware of them?

"Fourth, in a world that has in some ways become a kind of global community, God's desire for everyone to help take care of everyone else becomes at once a much broader phenomenon and a more complex one, too. We end up confronting problems of poverty, hunger, and disease far from this place. For instance, I read recently that in sub-Saharan Africa, the AIDS epidemic is so rampant as to defy comprehension. Of the nearly 17 million people who have died of AIDS since 1993, 14 million of them have been from Africa alone. Really to help stem this deadly tide with available drugs requires billions of dollars annually, yet that kind of money is available if other nations pool their resources. The question is whether we are willing to help these sick people in other lands. As it stands, however, a couple of years ago donor nations came up with only $150 million dollars total for the year. It cost more than that just to make the new Star Wars movie that is coming out next month. These are not easy things to think about, yet justice calls us to weigh such matters carefully.

"For most of us, though, the everyday situations where we encounter the possibility to act justly or not are not this staggering. The question we confront is whether we are able to see the people around us as worthy of help or not. Because if we lack a sense for God's kind of justice, if we lack God's vision of community sharing, fairness, generosity, compassion, and love, we won't be on the lookout to give any help in the first place.

"The society of ancient Israel and our current society are not theological equivalents. Too much has changed to make neat and tidy transfers from then to now. However, what has not changed is the overarching idea that the marketplace, our view of money, and our treatment of neighbors are all areas of divine interest and concern. As in Amos 8, so perhaps even today: what we may regard as a wonderful sign of fruitfulness may look to God like the beginning of the end. Ultimately, Old Testament-style justice challenges us to get away from selfishness to ponder not just how we are doing but how everyone is doing."

Judgment: Guilty - Get Your Affairs In Order
Dec 15 reading
Amos 5-9
Introduction to AMOS
Dictionary and Books
* At Ease in Zion,
David Legge
"Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him... I hate, I despise your religious feasts; I cannot stand your assemblies. Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them." (5:18-19,21-22a)
Special thanks to our guest commentator today, Greg Burnett, who writes Greg Burnett Web Log
What a sobering exchange between God and His people Israel occurs in the book of Amos! For at that time the symptoms of complacency became prevalent among the people: a lack of concern for the poor, as well as ritual in place of a sincere and primary regard for God. This spiritual disease was vast in its effect and God's response was striking for Amos was speaking to the nation during the same years as did Isaiah, Hosea and Joel. If two witnesses can bring a case against an offender, how much more so can four witnesses who are prophets hearing directly from heaven? God's chastisement was coming and He was telling them clearly and repetitively why it was so.

Understanding the judgment God renders in these scriptures is tremendously important. For to perceive God's judgment as mean or extreme is to harbor great misunderstanding of His character. It was actually His kindness through the prophets to first give the nation clear understanding of its transgression: the people of Israel are deeply self-serving in their vertical relationship (with God) and in their horizontal relationships (with fellow men). The time has come for this evil to be rooted out by the wise administration of His judgment. The Lord does not over-react nor does He respond unjustly. His intention is clear: to bring them to right relationship with Himself.

In regards to this relationship, an overarching theme that is clear in the book of Amos concerns the issue of worship:

Amos 5: 23 - "Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps."
Amos 6:5 - "You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments."

In Amos' day the temple and its procedures were in fine form yet, in terms of what the nation truly admired most, God was not first. This was a profound tragedy, a people who did not enjoy their unique position before the Lord and avail themselves of His promise to be near. But as Amos concludes God's warning, a promise of astounding proportions is given:

Amos 9:11 - "In that day I will restore David's fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be..."

This very promise is reiterated through the apostle James in Acts 15:16ff. and is significant to Christians today. This is because "David's tent" was the place where the shepherd king (David) gathered the people to sing and pray to God continually. Singers were trained and deployed in such a way that there was never a moment for several decades when gratefulness and adoration or intercession were not being expressed to God around the ark of the covenant. It was the commitment of this lovesick worshipper, a man grateful to God and longing to know Him better. It is apt to say that the Sovereign Lord was even then looking ahead to the time when the hearts of his people would be rooted and grounded in a love for Him.

Treatment Of Non-Believers
Dec 16 reading
Obadiah 1
and Jonah 1-4
Introduction to OBADIAH
Dictionary and Books
Introduction to JONAH
Dictionary and Books
* Obadiah, David Legge
* Jonah's Homepage, Pajusoo
"You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble." (Obadiah v 12) "As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head." (Obadiah v 15b)
In chronological order, 2 Chronicles 19-23 preceeds Obadiah, followed by 2 Kings 1-13, 2 Chronicles 24, 2 Kings 14, 2 Chronicles 25, and then Jonah.
So, no, the enemy of Jerusalem here is not Saddam Hussein of Iraq, but the people of Edom, decendants of Esau the brother of Jacob of Israel. It was Edom, not Saddam, who was deceived by the pride of his heart. But God through Obadiah tells us that their gloating over violence against Israel will not bring Edom an advantage or victory, but shame and destruction. "You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble." (v 12) "As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head." (v 15b)

The story of Jonah sent to Nineveh gives us insight into God's attention to people who weren't Jews (ie., who were Gentiles). The sailors on the ship Jonah used for running away from God were Gentiles. But they had heard of Jonah's God, and they prayed to him before throwing Jonah overboard. Then the sailors worshipped the Lord and made vows to Him.

Jonah was a failure at hiding from God, and it made him so angry he wanted to die. Now God had kept him alive inside a great fish! So Jonah called to the Lord and prayed, acknowledging God's grace. Then like the sailors, Jonah offered a sacrifice to the Lord by singing a song of thanks and promised to fulfill his vow. So the fish vomited Jonah onto the mainland, and he walked to Nineveh. These Gentiles heard, believed, and responded to God's message through Jonah. The king hears the message and repents. "Let everyone call urgently on God," he commands. "Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish." (3:8b-9)

God WAS moved, and told Jonah He wouldn't destroy Nineveh. Irritated, Jonah was sure he had made the trip for nothing at great personal expense, and spoke his mind to God. Jonah found a place to sit overlooking Nineveh, and watched to see what would happen. In a lot of physical and mental discomfort, Jonah really appreciated a vine that grew up and shaded his head. But the next morning the vine was gone, the sun was hot, and Jonah was angry and wanted to die. God pointed out to him that he cared more for the fate of the vine than for the fate of the people of Nineveh with at least 120,000 young children. Jonah didn't like his assignment to wicked Gentiles. Did Jonah have a right to be angry?

God's Promises - Unconditional?
Dec 17 reading
Micah 1-4
Introduction to MICAH
Dictionary and Books
* Micah - Who is like God?
Ray Stedman
PROMISE: "In the last days the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.' The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide." (4:1-3a)
In Judah, before the northern kingdom of Israel had fallen to Assyria, Micah, Isaiah, and Hosea were all prophesying to their countrymen. But there were other men claiming to speak for God. They told people like Micah to stop prophesying, because no way would Israel ever be disgraced. (2:6) They believed the Lord was among them to prevent disaster in Israel no matter what. They didn't believe their way of life was an issue. (3:11)

God took exception to these other prophets. Look at Micah. He was already moaning and weeping about what he saw coming for Judah. (1:8-9) Meanwhile, the other prophets were planning how to take personal advantage of current events. Leaders like judges and priests showed how much they despised justice by distorting what was right. (3:9) For a bribe they would rule in your favor, or teach Scripture for a price, claiming the Lord approved. (3:11) Theft and robbery, plus lies and deceits, were defiling and ruining the land. (2:8-10) People listening to the prophets for hire were so pleased when the message was about comfort and excess. Their prosperity doctrine measured wine and beer. (2:11) Feed the prophet, and he will proclaim peace. If you won't, watch out! (3:5)

Meanwhile, God encouraged Micah with promises about the future Jewish Messiah, who would break open the Way for Israel. (2:13) Micah heard about the Lord's temple (the one Ezekiel saw?) to be built in the last days. (4:1) One day, the Lord Himself will settle disputes, and then there will be no more war. (4:3-4) One day, Israel will dominate again and have a king. (4:8) But first, they will go into exile at Babylon, defeated by many nations who have no idea what the Lord thinks or has planned. (4:10-12) Repent and endure this because the thougths and plans of the Lord are entrusted to Israel through the prophets. Israel will be strong again, and devote the ill-gotten gains of many nations to the Lord. (4:13)

The Lord's Requirements
Dec 18 reading
Micah 5-7
Introduction to MICAH
Dictionary and Books
* Micah sermons,
Asia-Pacific Institute of Biblical Studies
PROMISE: "Marshal your troups, O city of troups, for a siege is laid against us. They will strike Israel's ruler on the cheek with a rod. 'But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. (5:1-2)
Comparing what Micah saw in Israel with what I see in the United States today, there is not much difference.
* Israel still waits for the promised ruler "whose origins are from of old, from ancient times". (Messianic prophecy)
* War continues. Military forces are built up along with other strongholds.
* Parts of the remnant of Jacob are still dispersed among many peoples.
* Witchcraft and idols are still consulted.
* Not satisfied with the results of honesty, there are still sins of violence and deceit in business. All the work to deceive their mutual fund customers, all the work to steal secrets from a competitor to win a bid - all such work ends in futility.
* Offerings and sacrifices don't necessarily give the sense that God even notices.
* Terrorism becomes the norm, and the godly become invisible. You can't be sure whom you can trust.
* The Day of the Lord with vengeance, detruction, and cleansing all who haven't obeyed Him, is still to come.

In a world like this, how can anyone make sense of it? Listen -

the Lord is still calling for honesty, and wisdom is fearing His name. (6:9)
"He is lodging a charge against Israel." (6:2b)
"He has showed you, O man, what is good, and what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." (6:8)
"Because I have sinned against Him, I will bear the Lord's wrath, until He pleads my case and establishes my right. He will bring me out into the light; I will see His righteousness." (7:9)

People will mock your belief in God, "Where IS the Lord your God?" But the flock, living separate lives together, will think about this: "Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy." (7:18)

The Lord's FAQ for Gentiles
Dec 19 reading
Nahum 1-3
Introduction to NAHUM
Dictionary and Books
Wrath of God, by * John Gill * Scaer
Judgment by fire: * L Ray Smith
"The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked." (1:3a KJV)
Nahum was another prophet addressing, as was Jonah about 100 years earlier, Nineveh, the capitol city of Assyria. By now (around 663-612 BC) the Assyrians had conquered Israel's northern kingdom, and were occasionally terrorizing Judah. So Nahum's vision includes an FAQ about the Lord God for Gentiles not raised to know Him. * Who is God? * What does God do? * How does God do it? * Why does God do what He does? Whenever you have questions about the Lord, remember to think about this vision of Nahum.

True, the people of Nineveh had been called by God through Jonah to repent. Donald Stamps wrote: "The Assyrians were known in the ancient world for their extreme cruelty to people whom they conquered. After attacking a city, they would ruthlessly slaughter hundreds of people and deport the remaining population to other parts of their empire; many more would die as a result of the brutal marches into exile. (cf. 3:3) Leaders of conquered cities and nations were tortured without mercy and finally executed. A century earlier, Jonah had been sent to preach to Assyria's capital city of Nineveh. For a brief time the Assyrians repented of their sins, but sometime thereafter returned to their wicked ways. God used the wicked Assyrians as his instrument of judgment to destroy Israel's capital city of Samaria and to deport the northern kingdom into exile. Now the day of Assyria's own judgment was fast approaching."

"The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished." (1:3) There was someone, a leader or counselor, in Nineveh who was plotting evil against the Lord and counseling wickedness which perhaps stood out in rebellious contrast to mere ignorance of the morality of God. Although Nineveh, the city of blood, appeared to be too strong, well-built and defended for defeat, it was in appearance only. Foundations of evil eventually fall.

A current video, "Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary", records the last interview of Traudi Junge and demonstrates how another evil leader deceived, defiled, deadened, and contaminated those he led before his fall. In current events, how do we respond to evil leaders and other foes of the Lord after He defeats them? Compare Jesus' sadness (not forgiveness) over the choice of the rich young ruler, with God's anger over this leader in Nineveh. Whose side are you on?

"All who see you will flee from you and say, 'Nineveh is in ruins - who will mourn for her?' Where can I find anyone to comfort you?" (3:7) "The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked." (1:3a KJV)

The Lord's Punishment and Anger
Advent stories, * Day 20 * Bibles & Books Store  
Dec 20 reading
Habakkuk 1-3
and Zephaniah 1
Introduction to HABAKKUK
Dictionary and Books
Introduction to ZEPHANIAH
Dictionary and Books
* Majoring on the Minors,
David Legge
PROMISES: "Then the LORD replied: 'Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright - but the righteous will live by his faith -" (Hab 2:1-4)     "At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, 'The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad.'" (Zeph 1:12)
Yesterday we got a glimpse, a vision, of the wrath of God. Today, we are warned that the Earth is not eternal. One day God "will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth". Do you have any experience living and dealing with punishment and anger? Because of the prophets and scripture, Habakkuk along with other righteous and faithful knew what God was doing and going to do in Israel. How does knowing in advance help you face it? Habakkuk trusted God enough to complain to him and ask Him some questions, expecting to be reproved, but needing to find a way to accept and connect with what God was doing. The central issue continues today: What is God doing with Israel?
[Special thanks to guest commentator, Ben, who writes for the Toongabbie Anglican Opinionated blog of the Toongabbie Anglican Church of Sydney, Australia.]
"I finished reading Habakkuk a couple of weeks ago; it's only a short book, and it's on the way towards the end of the Old Testament, so it's one that has been easily bypassed before. However, when I actually ploughed through it, I found that it was a book that answered questions I've had floating around for a long time, or crystallised certain ideas that I wasn't too sure about.

"The first thing that surprised me about this diminuitive prophecy was that the first 'half' chronicles a dialogue between Habakkuk and God, whereby the former is essentially arguing with the latter. While I understand that God is loving and merciful, and wishes to hear what we have to say, the very idea of arguing with God in such plain terms is quite profound. Having read it a few times, I now see that what Habakkuk is doing is not just having a whinge about how terrible his life is, but elucidating his philosophical concerns about his contemporary generation to God in prayer. He is disturbed -- as I am disturbed -- by the prevalence of evil in the world, and by God's apparent decision to stay His hand. I have found myself crying, "How long...must I call for help...or cry, "Violence!"...? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong?" (1:2-3). While broad, they are concerns that I find compelling, because if this is so, then Habakkuk is right in asserting that "...the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails." (1:4).

"God's reply is simple: He is working, and the Babylonians are coming as an instrument of His wrath against those whose own strength is their god. "This poses an interesting question for Habakkuk...." continued...

Warning! Warning!
Advent stories, * Day 21 * Bibles & Books Store  
Dec 21 reading
Zephaniah 2-3 and Haggai 1-2
Introduction to ZEPHANIAH
Dictionary and Books
Introduction to HAGGAI
Dictionary and Books
Lessons on Zephaniah and Haggai
Zephaniah, during King Amon, Judah
Haggai, during 2nd year of Darius, Persia
PROMISES: "Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD's anger." (Zeph 2:3) "Then the word of the LORD came (for Zerubbabel and Joshua) through the prophet Haggai: 'Is it time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house (LORD's temple) remains a ruin?'" (Hag 1:3)
It was popular in Judah to hear the prophets and say, "The LORD will do nothing, either good or bad." (1:12b) So God warned them again, now through Zephaniah, that the great day of the LORD was near and coming quickly.

What is it like, living through the wrath of an angry God? He gave instructions to those who were faithful: "Seek the LORD , all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the LORD's anger." (2:3)

Note that their obedience was not enough to prevent this disaster upon Judah. There would be a humble remnant of shepherds, and "the Lord their GOD will care for them". The proud who insulted and mocked God's people and made threats against their land will be destroyed by God's plan. Countries like Assyria who boasted, "I am, and there is none besides me" will be ruined. (2:15)

At this time, Jerusalem was a city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled, obeying no one, accepting no correction, not trusting in the LORD, or drawing near to Him. (3:1-2) The officials, rulers, prophets, and priests were all battling against righteousness and justice, to lead the people away from God. But the LORD has hidden plans for the people of the whole world, so that all peoples may call on the name of the LORD. (3:8-9) God will remove the haughty and proud from Jerusalem, and save the meek and humble there, who trust in the name of the LORD. They won't be liars or deceivers. There will be a big change in the people left in Jerusalem when the LORD, the King of Israel, eventually takes away their punishment.

Notice the time factor here. The King of Israel had not yet taken away the people's punishment, and yet Israel, in anticipation, is told to rejoice about this promise and shout aloud with all their heart. (3:14) From God's point of view, past - current - future blend together. Faith is important; the faithful knowing the times and dates the Father has set is not. (Acts 1:7) But know that a remnant of God's chosen people will continue to survive, even to the end of Earth's time. And He has left them this message: "The Lord your GOD is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." (3:17)

To set Haggai in perspective, you might want to review Ezra 3-6 and Israel's return from exile back to Jerusalem. Before the Temple was rebuilt, the results of the people's work was not in sync with their labor. "Give careful thought to your ways," the Lord instructed. According to Stamps, "God explains to the people that whereas holiness could not be transmitted by contact, the corrupting influence of sin could; in other words, living in the holy land would not make them holy, but sin in their lives would defile everything they did, including their worship." (2:10-14)

Here is another example of time from God's view. He said, "Be strong, all you people of the land... and work. For I am with you." "This is what I convenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear." (from 2:4-5) These people had just come out of Persia, not Egypt, and yet they were the people God had brought out of Egypt.

Special Offer: New Beginning
Advent stories, * Day 22 * Bibles & Books Store  
Dec 22 reading
Zechariah 1-4
Introduction to ZECHARIAH
Dictionary and Books
* Sermons on Zechariah 4:6 and 4:10
Charles Spurgeon
" 'Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day. '" (3:8-9)
The LORD had been very angry with His chosen people, forefathers of those who returned to Judah after the Babylonian Persian exile. But according to His promise, God offered them a new beginning. Through the prophet the Lord told His people to return to Him, and He would return to them. Don't be like the Jewish forefathers who heard the prophets say "Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices." They wouldn't listen, and now are gone. The world was now at peace and feeling secure. So God called for His house in Jerusalem to be rebuilt, and He would revive prosperity in Judah.

Zechariah had visions of angels, including the angel of the Lord, showing and explaining what they meant. The Lord revealed more about the coming Messiah and a future Jerusalem. One day the Lord will be the only wall around the city, and will be its light within. (2:5) The remnant of Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem is "the apple of God's eye". (1:18, 2:8) It gets better! The Lord calls for rejoicing, because He is coming to live among God's people. (2:10) In fact, "many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become (His) people." (2:11)

Zechariah's visions include the two men who, according to Ezra 5:2, were rebuilding the Temple. He sees Joshua (Jeshua) standing before the angel of the Lord, accused by Satan. Instead of being condemned, others take off Joshua's filthy clothes and recloth him in clean ones. The Lord promises to remove the sin of Judah like a change of clothes, in a single day. The Lord's word to Zerubbabel, the other builder: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the Lord Almighty. "Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel."

Advent stories, * Day 23 * Bibles & Books Store  
Dec 23 reading
Zechariah 5-9
Introduction to ZECHARIAH
Dictionary and Books
* Jamieson, Fausset, Brown
This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, 'Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.' And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him." This is what the LORD Almighty says: "In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.' " (8:20-23)
After reading this section of Zechariah, I have to admit I don't understand the connections between his visions or what they mean. As in Daniel 10:12-13, what Zechariah is shown seems to connect what's going on in the spiritual realm with what will happen on Earth. There is a connection between the people's behavior and the Lord's judgment. There is a curse on thieves and people who lie under oath, which will destroy them from within their own house. (5:1-4) Why is iniquity and wickedness airlifted to somewhere established for her in Babylonia? (5:5-11) I'm not sure. When the Lord identifies Himself again as Lord of the whole world, He is ready to wage a war for it, starting in the north, west, and south. (6:1-8) There is a relationship between Joshua's and Zerubbabel's small beginnings of building the temple and the Branch who would branch out, build the temple of the Lord, and have a unique harmony between being priest and ruler. (6:9-15)

During exile, some had taken up a time of mourning and fasting. When asked, the Lord wanted His people to obey Him, not stick their fingers in their ears when He talks, and not say they're doing something for Him when it's really for themselves. The Lord looks for those who will diligently obey Him on things like these, from 7:9-10 and 8:16-17

  • administer true justice
  • show mercy and compassion to one another
  • don't oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor
  • in your hearts do not think evil of each other
  • Speak the truth to each other
  • Render true and sound judgment in your courts
  • Do not plot evil against your neighbor
  • Do not love to swear falsely.
  • I get the idea that Zechariah is shown opaque views of Jerusalem like pictures drawn on glass, one right behind the other so you can see Jerusalem without exact times indicated. The Lord will leave, then return to Zion and live in Jerusalem. (8:3) The LORD will bring His people back to Jerusalem from countries of the east and west. (8:4-15) People from around the world will go to Jerusalem for justice, for settling disputes. Jews around the world will be valued because others recognize that God is with them. (8:20-23) One time the promised King comes gently and riding on a donkey. (9:9) Another time He will come as a conquerer. (9:10, 9:14, 9:16) Remembering that the LORD has chosen Judah in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem (2:10-13), let's continue to praise Him and watch for what He's doing in Jerusalem.

    What Will Happen to Israel?
    Advent stories, * Day 24 * Bibles & Books Store  
    Dec 24 reading
    Zechariah 10-14
    Introduction to ZECHARIAH
    Dictionary and Books
    More information about the Messiah
    chapters 1-10, 11, 12-14
    "The LORD will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem's inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah." (12:7)
    In the conclusion of His prophecy through Zechariah, the Lord continues to weave together information about His plans for the people and leadership of Judah and the future of Jerusalem, the nations, and the physical world, without specifying exact times. The Lord compares the foundation of His temple being built with the foundation of His kingdom, whose cornerstone, tent peg, battle bow, and every ruler will come from Judah. The Lord will strengthen the house of Judah and save the house of Joseph.

    Babylon will not be the last period of exile. When scattered again into distant lands, the people will remember the Lord, survive, and eventually return to the holy land. In fact, they will return in such great number that there won't be enough room for them in Gilead and Lebanon. Coming through the sea of trouble, they will be strengthened in the LORD, and walk in His name. (10:4-12) ["Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit." (4:6)] Lebanon will experience an ecological change along the Jordan River valley, ruining the trees and pastures. (11:1-3)

    Still in war via idol worship, leaders, like uncaring shepherds, will continue to oppress the Lord's people, who will be scattered away from the Holy Land again. But before this scattering, they would have a shepherd who focuses on the oppressed. In general, the flock will detest this shepherd, so the covenant with the Lord as well as the brotherhood of Judah and Israel will be broken. Then the Lord will allow a foolish shepherd to arise "who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hoofs." (11:4-17)

    The time will come when Judah and Jerusalem will be surrounded for battle by all the nations. The Lord, "who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him" knows all this in advance. The world will be amazed that Judah and Jerusalem survive this attack, and the attacking nations are destroyed. (12:1-9)

    Amazingly, the house of David and those living in Jerusalem will receive a spirit of grace and supplication. Amazingly, the Lord himself says, "They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child" or a firstborn son. (12:10) [The change in pronoun here from "me" to "him" is intriguing. What if something like Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion", is shown in Jerusalem at that time, and the current tense "me" talks about the past tense "him"?] However it happens, the response from Jerusalem will be incredible weeping and mourning, with even husbands and wives separating to weep. Perhaps in response to the weeping, or perhaps separately, the fountain spoken of in Daniel will appear in Jerusalem, and will cleanse the inhabitants from sin and impurity. Idols will finally be forgotten. (12:10-13:2)

    When the rejected shepherd was struck down, the sheep scattered. Two-thirds of the people perished, and the remaining third were refined with fire. When they called on the Lord's name, and He answered them, because they are His people and He is their God. (13:7-9)

    Don't be confused by the time Jerusalem is surrounded by all the nations, and the city is captured. This will also happen, and half the people will go into exile. But one day the Lord will fight against these surrounding nations. Standing on the Mount of Olives, the Lord will stand, the mountain will split and move (earthquake?), and the one the Lord calls the Lord my God will come with all the holy ones. That will be a unique day. (14:1-8)

    Finally, the Lord will be king over the whole earth. The city of Jerusalem will survive, and never again be destroyed. Enemies of Jerusalem will rot and panic, as will their animals. A few of the attackers from all the nations will survive. They will return to Jerusalem annually to worship the King, the Lord Almighty and to celebrate the Feast of the Tabernacles. Those choosing not to go to the celebration, will be punished with the plague and no rain. Being holy will no longer be uncommon. (14:9-20)

    Warning: Respect the Lord
    Advent stories, * Day 25 * Bibles & Books Store  
    Dec 25 reading
    Malachi 1-4
    Introduction to MALACHI
    Dictionary and Books
    * Malachi on the Messiah and Faithfulness
    written about 430-420 BC - contemporary of Nehemiah
    "So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me", says the LORD Almighty. (3:5) "Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. But you ask, "How are we to return?" (3:7b)
    Although Malachi was NOT the one who said "God's ways are not man's ways", that truth fits the prophesy he was given. But many of God's chosen people still didn't get it. The prophesy is largely an argument between the Lord and Israel, like:
    "I have loved you," the Lord says.
    "How?" asks Israel
    "I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland.."

    "You have said harsh things against me," says the Lord.
    Like what? asks Israel.
    "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements?
    ... Certainly the evildoers prosper and even those who challenge God escape." (3:13-15)

    What king is pleased with disrespectful citizens? What father wouldn't punish disobedient children? And the Lord is both King and Father.

    The Lord continues his plan to make his Name great among all nations. (1:11) His plan for his people is "the way", and many of the priests had already turned away to do and teach other ways, like being unfaithful. Your faithfulness to your wife effects your faithfulness to God. How you live your life has direct effect upon your life with God. Obey Him; give Him your best in your sacrifices and your whole tithe.

    In this last book of the Jewish Bible, written about 430-420 BC, the Lord gives more details about His long promised messenger of the covenant who, before He comes to His temple, will be announced by another messsenger preparing the way before Him. "Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when He appears?" This will not be an easy process. Faithful Levites, Judah, and Jerusalem will be refined and purified. (3:1-4)

    In conclusion, the day is coming when the arrogant and evildoers will be cut off.
    Remember the law of the Lord's servant Moses.
    Watch for Elijah before the dreadful day of the Lord.
    Either the hearts of fathers will be to their children and vice versa, or the land will be cursed.

    Tomorrow's Reading (Dec 26): Romans 1-2 with Commentaries and Study Guide

    Bright timeline of kings | Timelines
    Timeline #1 of Kings and Prophets of Israel and of Judah:
    800s BC
    Jehoboam 2
    ca 825-784 BC
    -----> Zechariah
            ca 784 BC
    ca 783 BC
    ca 783-773 BC
    ca 772-770? BC
    ca 757-740 BC
    ------>---->   Hoshea
    ---->   (9yrs) ----> to Assyria
    ca 729-722 BC
    Amaziah   ----> Uzziah ----->
    ca 809/8 to 757/6 BC
    -----> -----> -----> -->   Jotham
    -------->   Hezekiah ----->
    ca 727-698 BC
    OBADIAH God's message about Edom following one of 4 destructions of Jerusalem could have been written during the reign of Rehoboam, or Jehoram, or Amaziah, or the Nebuchadnezzar destruction in BC 586. "The problem of the date of Obadiah has not been solved to the satisfaction of Biblical students. Our choice must be between a very early date (circa 845) and a date shortly after 587, with the scales almost evenly balanced." (ISBE 3-5)
    JONAH God's message to Nineveh, Assyria in or before the reign of Jeroboam II (ca 820 BC)

    JOEL God's message for Judah during the reign of Uzziah (ca 800 BC)

    AMOS God's messages from Judah during Uzziah and Jeroboam II reigns to Damascus Syria, to Gaza Palestine, Tyre, Edom, Ammon
    Reigns of Uzziah (779-740 BC) and of Jeroboam II (783-743 BC); Amos wrote about 760 BC per ISBE

    HOSEA God's message for Judah and Israel during the reigns of Jeroboam II and Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah

    ISAIAH, Jerusalem, 8-7th century BC during Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah

            MICAH during reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah about Samaria and Jerusalem

            NAHUM during reigns of Ahaz and Hezekiah re: Ninevah, Assyrian empire

    Timeline #2 of Pre-Exile Kings and Prophets of Judah (aka Israel):
    NOTE: The northern kingdom of Israel went into captivity during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah
    son of Ahaz
    55 yrs
    son of Hezekiah
    ca 698-643BC
    2 yrs
    son of Manasseh
    31 yrs;
    son of Amon
    aka Shallum; 3 mo
    son of Josiah
    aka Eliakim; 11yrs
    son of Josiah
    son of Jehoiakim
    aka Mattaniah; 11yrs
    son of Josiah
    --> Hosea

    (Jos.13th yr)
    ---> edited book in 4th yr -->
    ---> to Egypt
    --> Isaiah

          Daniel --->
    ---> ---> 1st deportation
    ---> to Babylon
    --> Micah


    --> Nahum

    Habakkuk date unk; foresaw future invasion of Judea by the Chaldeans, and their doom

    Ezekiel to Babylon captivity 11 yrs before Jerusalem destruction

    ---> Haggai to Babylon

    Timeline #3 of Exiled Prophets of Judah (aka Israel):
    NOTE: The northern kingdom of Israel went into captivity during the reign of King Hezekiah of Judah
    King Nebuchadnezzar
    et al
    Kings Cyrus - Darius
    Return to JERUSALEM


    Daniel Daniel no






    Jeremiah "was called by the Lord to the office of a prophet while still a youth (1:6) about 20 years of age, in the 13th year of King Josiah (1:2; 25:3), in the year 627 BC, and was active in this capacity from this time on to the destruction of Jerusalem, 586 BC, under kings Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. Even after the fall of the capital city he prophesied in Egypt at least for several years, so that his work extended over a period of about 50 years in all."

    Daniel, "although he is not once spoken of in the Old Testament as a prophet... was probably born in Jerusalem about B.C. 623, during the reign of Josiah. At the first deportation of the Jews by Nebuchadnezzar (the kingdom of Israel had come to an end nearly a century before), or immediately after his victory over the Egyptians at the second battle of Carchemish, in the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim (B.C. 606), Daniel and other three noble youths were carried off to Babylon, along with part of the vessels of the temple.

    Ezekiel was "one of the four greater prophets, was the son of a priest named Buzi, and was taken captive in the captivity of Jehoiachin, eleven years before the destruction of Jerusalem. He was a member of a community of Jewish exiles who settled on the banks of the Chebar, a "river’ or stream of Babylonia..."

    Haggai ".. lived soon after the captivity, being the first of the prophets of the Restoration. From Haggai 2:3 of his prophecies it is inferred by many that he had seen the first temple, which, as we know, was destroyed in 586 BC. If so, he must have prophesied when a comparatively old man, for we know the exact date of his prophecies, 520 BC. According to Ezra 5:1; 6:14, he was a contemporary of Zechariah, and was associated with him in the work of rebuilding the temple.." (ISBE)

    Approximate Years of Jewish Prophets and Middle East Events with Index
    9th century - 835-830? BC: Prophet - Joel - Obadiah | Events

    8th century - 760 BC: Prophets - Amos - Jonah | 740 BC: Prophet - Micah 722 BC: destruction of Israel (northern kingdom) Prophet - Hosea | 715-710 BC: Prophet - Hosea |

    7th century - 630 BC: Prophet: Zephaniah | 612 BC: Assyria conquered by Babylon | 606 BC: Prophet - Habakkuk | 605 BC: Egypt defeated by Babylon at Carchemish | 605 BC: Babylonian army deported some from Jerusalem, including Daniel and his friends |

    6th century - 597 BC: More deported from Jerusalem to Babylon, including Ezekiel | 586 BC: Judah went into exile into Bablyon; Jerusalem and the temple destroyed | 539: Persian empire defeats Babylonian empire | 538 BC: Zerubbabel and Jeshua led 50,000 exiles to Jerusalem | 520 BC: Prophets - Haggai - Zechariah (520-470 BC)

    5th century - 457 BC: Ezra led more Jews back to Israel | 444: Nehemiah led another group back | Prophet - Malachi (430-20) |

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