Micah’s warnings address a number of actions of the people where they’ve twisted the intent of God. At times, it’s easy to do. See how it works out:
In VBS we make Jonah a great guy, but he wasn’t. He was grumpy and disobedient pretty much from beginning to end, but God uses him anyway. Here’s how:
Apparently apathy is more offensive to God than even abject defiance. This is what today’s Revelation reading explains. Those who ride the fence and choose not to choose whether or not they will follow God are an affront to God. Unfortunately, this defines the majority of our culture. Let’s not be part of that group.
- 7-9 – A plumb line is used in building to keep things straight. Israel, against the plumb line, is clearly proving to be off the mark.
- 14-16 – It is not clear if Amos is saying he’s still not a prophet or if he’s simply trying to distance himself from all the false prophets. “Prophet” is not always a good thing in Scripture.
- 1-14 – Amos condemns anyone who is unfair towards others in business and those who take advantage of the poor. He explains that there will be an unusual punishment for their behavior. It will be a famine, but not one of physical provisions, but of God’s voice.
- 1-6 – God’s power is established and the fact that it is impossible to hide from his will.
- 13-15 – Once again, the book ends with hope that God will restore and renew.
- 7-13 – The letter to the church at Philadelphia is a positive one because they have remained faithful.
- 14-22 – This may be the harshest indictment on any of the churches addressed. Laodicea’s church is lukewarm, which is viewed more negatively than even being cold towards God. They basically are choosing not to choose. This does not please God.
- We are to humble ourselves and allow God to lift us up when appropriate.
This week we’ll get to read through several of the Minor Prophets. Do you remember Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel? Those were Major Prophets.
As you read through the Minor Prophets, don’t be deceived into thinking that their messages are not as significant to the overall story of the Bible. They’re messages are still given by God, important for our understanding of faith, and crucial to explaining God’s interactions with his people over time. They are simply called minor because they’re shorter. So while we spent the month of September in Isaiah, we’ll spend a day or two in Joel, Obadiah, Habbakuk, etc.
For a one sentence description of each Minor Prophets’ message, check out Bible.org.
There was a book written a while back called “The Five Love Languages”. It narrows showing and receiving love down into five categories and says that we all fall into some combination of them. Our 2 John reading today might disagree slightly because it states that the church can show God love through obedience to his commandments. When we love God, we follow his commands.
- 1-19 – Hosea, the prophet, presents God’s “case” against Israel. This is explaining the different ways they have broken their covenant with God. One major accusation is against the priests.
- 1-15 – This section explains God’s coming punishment on Israel and Judah. In the final verse God promises to still be available when they return to him.
2 John 1-13:
- 1- The “elect lady” is most likely referring to the church.
- 5-6 – The author reminds the church that they have received God’s commandments and can show their love for God by following those commands.
- 4-5 – The psalmist, here, seems to assume that the Israelites will fall in the category of the upright because he is quick to ask for punishment on the wicked and blessing on the righteous.
- 11- Over and over in the proverbs restraint is valued. Wisdom is knowing when to act or speak and when to refrain.
If you want to know just how far God will go to remain faithful to and pursue restoration with us, read Hosea. God is faithful even when we are not.
Today we start Hosea. It is a fascinating book where Hosea is a model of faithfulness to God. Can you imagine being asked to marry someone you knew was going to cheat on you to help God paint a picture? I’m not sure I’m strong enough. But Hosea was faithful even though Gomer would never be. What are the limits to your faithfulness?
- 1-3 – God uses Hosea’s life as a microcosm of how Israel had treated God. Just as Israel was unfaithful to God, Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea.
- 4-9 – The children of Hosea and Gomer also each represented a portion of Israel’s relationship to God.
- 1-15 – This is an explanation of the punishment Israel will receive for its unfaithfulness.
- 16-23 – This section describes how it will be when the Israelites are restored to God.
1 John 5:1-21:
- 3 – This is powerful because often we feel that if we obey God our lives will be boring and lifeless, but this reminds us that following God’s commands is actually beneficial and freeing for us.
- 13-15 – When we believe in Christ, we receive eternal life. We also have a connection with him so that he hears our prayers.
- 18 – When we accept Christ we are to be transformed, which means we change and leave behind sins and walk towards righteousness. This, of course, is a process.
- 1-8 – The psalmist gives credit to God for protecting the Israelites and realizes that they would not have succeeded without the help of God.
- 6 – This verse depicts the weight of sin and the freedom in righteousness.
Acting on faith, by definition, means we take the step without knowing the result. Today’s section on Hebrews lists a number of people who acted on faith. They couldn’t be certain of the outcome but lived righteously, trusting God to take care of the rest. What are times when you’ve been asked to live righteously when you couldn’t know the outcome?
- 15-24 – God uses Ezekiel’s life, yet again, to serve as a mirror for the Israelites to see what is about to happen to them. Ezekiel’s wife dies and he is not allowed to mourn. The Israelites will also soon lose what is most valuable to them, the temple.
- 1-7 – This is a prophecy against the Ammonites. This, and the condemning prophecies to follow are reminiscent of Jeremiah’s oracles against the nations in chapters 46-51.
- Chapter 11 is often know as the “Hall of Faith”. It is a helpful list of many people in Scripture who acted faithfully because of their faith. We are often asked to take steps/leaps of faith. It is for our good and God’s glory that we are asked to take these steps. They’re scary, but worth it.
- 1 – This helps us define what faith is and what it isn’t. We often want proof in order to have faith, but proof is not required for faith. Faith must come before proof.
- 6 – It is interesting to think that faith is the root of pleasing God. We must have faith in order to please God.
- 13-16 – The folks mentioned in this chapter all died still living faithfully. Each was seeking God’s best for them, a heavenly home, realizing that this life wasn’t all God had in store.
- 4 – Melchizedek was mentioned heavily at the beginning of Hebrews comparing Jesus to Melchizedek.
- Everyone has had a noisy neighbor before. I think we can all agree it’s not a blessing.
We are still hanging out in Jeremiah but will finish it up at the end of this week. Jeremiah is, in some ways, similar to Isaiah. Jeremiah was a prophet who initially fought his calling. He was called to preach destruction and eventual restoration to the Israelites. And he faced opposition as he pursued faithfulness.
One thing to pay close attention to as we read through the prophets is: there is nothing God can’t restore us from. We can so easily get caught up in our pasts and focus on how unworthy we are of God’s grace and redemption. I’ve even heard people say, and mean, that they would get struck by lightening upon entering a church.
The prophets make it abundantly clear, and open the door for Jesus to make it even clearer, that no one is irredeemable.
This week, as you read Jeremiah, hear God’s voice calling you as he explains how he will draw the Israelites out of exile and back to himself.
Today, in both Jeremiah and 2 Thessalonians, we see the need to differentiate between God’s messages and false prophecies. These days, this is still a struggle. False prophecies, messages that will lead us astray, are sneaky and sound helpful, but ultimately they lead us away from God instead of towards him. It is important for us to rely on the Holy Spirit to hear God’s true messages.
- 23-24 – God explains that he is near and sees the actions of people. He is not far away or oblivious to peoples’ actions.
- 28-32 – God makes a clear delineation between the prophets he has given a message to and those who he has not. He does not support the messages of those he has not.
- 33-40 – Asking for a “burden” of the Lord is asking for a prophecy, but this is a play on words so that God flips it around and makes the person the burden.
- 1-10 – The good figs are those who were faithful throughout exile and the bad figs were those who did not repent in exile.
- 1-14 – Jeremiah’s prophecy maps out the details of Judah’s exile and why they’re happening.
- 27 – The prophecy encourages the people to drink of destruction. They’re intended to endure the destruction of their own doing until they can take no more and then God will end it.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-17:
- 1-12 – This warns the Thessalonians not to be deceived by those trying to lead them off course, but to be prepared for the return of Christ.
- 1-4 – This section encompasses the joy and comfort found in the presence of God. All are cared for there, even the seemingly insignificant sparrow.
- 10-12 – There is nothing greater in life than spending time in God’s presence.
- Instead of trying to win battles with power, often we need to use kindness.