Thursday, July 11, 2013

Micah -- Introduction

Micah is identified as a contemporary of other 8th Century BC prophets, Amos, Hosea and Isaiah. What is unique is that Micah is sent to both Samaria and Jerusalem, the capital cities of the two kingdoms. Micah’s message can be summed up in a single phrase: God can be counted on to care. When the people have fallen into corruption or pride, God’s care is shown in punishment; when they are in despair or being overrun by enemies, God’s care is shown in encouragement and restoration. Micah denounces the money-grubbing exploitation of the helpless, dishonesty in business, and sham religion. He also sees a glorious future where Bethlehem is the birthplace of a greater David who will rule over all God’s people.

Micah can be outlined as follows:

·         Micah 1:1-3:12            The rulers of Israel and Judah denounced
·         Micah 4:1-5:15            A contrite people is restored in the Lord’s favor
·         Micah 6:1-16               God accuses a wayward people
·         Micah 7:1-20               Penance and expectation of fulfillment

Key learning: What does God require? God requires us to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. (Micah 6:8)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hosea -- Introduction

Hosea was a contemporary of Isaiah, but unlike Isaiah, who worked in and around Jerusalem, Hosea worked and preached in the northern kingdom of Israel. This book was written in the latter half of the 8th Century BC when Israel was about to be overrun by the Assyrians. Hosea is an emotionally moving book. He interchanges the understanding of adultery with idolatry and uses his own marriage and life experience to dramatize his point. These images are searing and bitter, yet filled with love. Idolatry is spiritual adultery – it is spiritual unfaithfulness. This idolatry has destroyed the moral compass of the northern kingdom. This is evidenced by the fact that after Jeroboam’s death, Israel has six (6) kings in twenty (20) years and four of them were assassinated by their successors.

Hosea can be outlined as follows:

·         Hosea 1:1-3:5              Hosea’s unfaithful wife
·         Hosea 4:1-9:17            God’s case against Israel
·         Hosea 10:1-13:16        Israel’s punishment and restoration
·         Hosea 14:1-9               Repentance, forgiveness, and restoration

Key learning: God’s love is constant and is not changed by our faithfulness or our unfaithfulness.

Isaiah -- Introduction

Isaiah is unique in that it contains material from before the exile, during the exile and the post-exile eras of Israel’s history. Isaiah 1-39 was written before the fall of Jerusalem (742 through 687 BC.) Isaiah 4055 was written from Babylon toward the end of the exile (587-539 BC). Isaiah 56-66 reflects on the life of Israel following the return from exile (ca 525.) The first section was written by Isaiah of Jerusalem, from whom the book gets its name. Isaiah lived through the lives of four (4) kings and writes during a time of great national distress. During this era the Northern Kingdom (Samaria/Israel) falls to the Assyrians and Jerusalem is threatened on several occasions. Isaiah’s main theme is that these events are in accordance with God’s will and that the people should trust in the Lord and not in political alliances. The well known “call of Isaiah” (Isaiah 6:1-13) is included in this section.
The second section of Isaiah (40-55) is written by an unknown author, but it is important to note that this section has been attached to Isaiah 1-39 from earliest of times and, though the style of writing and language are different, the themes are fairly consistent. This section focuses primarily on the promises of restoration and return to Jerusalem. This section contains the “songs of the suffering servant” of which Isaiah 53 is the best known.  
The third section of Isaiah (56-66) was written as an encouragement for those who were struggling to reestablish their lives in the Promised Land following the return from exile in Babylon.

Isaiah can be outlined as follows:

·         Isaiah 1:1-31   A collection of Speeches from different eras of Isaiah’s life.
·         Isaiah 2:1-5     Announcement of eternal peace
·         Isaiah 2:6-22   The coming day of the Lord
·         Isaiah 3:1-12   A threat of anarchy
·         Isaiah 3:13-15             The Lord’s indictment of the leaders
·         Isaiah 3:16-4:1 Judgment against the women of Jerusalem
·         Isaiah 4:2-6     Promise of Jerusalem’s renewal
·         Isaiah 5:1-7     Parable of the vineyard
·         Isaiah 5:8-30   A series of woe indictments and judgment
·         Isaiah 6:1-13   Isaiah’s call
·         Isaiah 7:1-17   Assurance to Ahaz and the sign of Immanuel
·         Isaiah 7:18-25             Day of the Lord
·         Isaiah 8:1-10   Sign of Maher-shalal-hash-baz and judgments against enemies
·         Isaiah 8:11-22             Role of the prophet among people who will not hear
·         Isaiah 9:1-7     The great light and a new king
·         Isaiah 9:8-10:4            The Lord’s outstretched hand
·         Isaiah 10:5:19             Assyria, rod of God’s anger
·         Isaiah 10:20-27           Remnant shall return; deliverance from Assyria
·         Isaiah 10:28-34           Advance of the Assyrians
·         Isaiah 11:1-9               Appearance of the Davidic king
·         Isaiah 11:10-16           Return of the exiles
·         Isaiah 12:1-6               Two thanksgiving hymns
·         Isaiah 13:1-23:18        Prophecies against foreign nations
·         Isaiah 24:1-27:13        The new age
·         Isaiah 28:1-33:24        Indictments of Israel and Judah
·         Isaiah 34:1-35:10        Edom and Israel
·         Isaiah 36:1-39:8          Historical appendix
·         Isaiah 40:1-11                         The prophet’s commission
·         Isaiah 40:12-31           The majestic creator
·         Isaiah 41:1-29                         The LORD in court
·         Isaiah 42:1-43:7          Israel, the servant of God
·         Isaiah 43:8-44:8          Israel can witness that the LORD is God
·         Isaiah 44:9-20                         Idols and idolaters are ridiculous
·         Isaiah 44:21-45:17      The election of Cyrus
·         Isaiah 45:18-25           Lawsuit against idolaters
·         Isaiah 46:1-13                         The LORD and the gods of Babylon
·         Isaiah 47:1-15                         Funeral song for Babylon
·         Isaiah 48:1-22                         Hear what the LORD will do
·         Isaiah 49:1-6               Second servant song
·         Isaiah 49:7-26                         The glorious return
·         Isaiah 50:1-3               Separation, not divorce
·         Isaiah 50:4-11                         The third servant song
·         Isaiah 51:1-16                         Comfort to Zion
·         Isaiah 51:17-52:2        Awake, Jerusalem
·         Isaiah 52:3-6               Israel sold and ransomed without money
·         Isaiah 52:7-12                         A pilgrim victory hymn
·         Isaiah 52:13-53:12      Fourth servant song
·         Isaiah 54:1-17             Reassurance to Israel
·         Isaiah 55:1-13                         Admonitions and reassurance
·         Isaiah 56:1-66:24        A collection of postexilic poems

A Vital Lesson from Isaiah is that punishment is not abandonment. God sends his people into exile, not because he no longer loves them, but because his love for them is so great he cannot allow them to continue to live idolatrous and unfaithful lives.

Amos -- Introduction

Amos was a layman, a shepherd, and a dresser of fig-trees. His home was about 12 miles south of Jerusalem in the Southern Kingdom of Judah, but God sent him to preach to the Northern Kingdom of Israel. His prophecy is marked by its sternness and a severity not exceeded by the other prophets. Amos’ description of his confrontation with Jeroboam’s priest at Bethel, Amaziah, would suggest a date around 650 BC. The main theme is simple: Israel has abandoned God and has become morally corrupt. If Israel repents and returns to God, the nation might still be saved. If not, they would be destroyed. This destruction comes less than thirty (30) years later by the Assyrians.

Amos can be outlined as follows:

·         Amos 1:1-2:16            Judgment upon Israel and surrounding nations
·         Amos 3:1-6:14            Israel is pronounced guilty
·         Amos 7:1-9:8              Visions foretelling doom upon Israel
·         Amos 9:8-15               Future restoration of Israel

Key Learning: God formed the nation of Israel with a purpose. Because they are in rebellion against that purpose, they will be destroyed. If we are faithful to God’s calling, God will use us; if not, God will use someone else.