sexta-feira, 30 de setembro de 2011

The Prophet Obadiah

Study By: Imanuel Christian

I. Introduction

Please look to your right under Assuntos to find more Minor Prophets:

Stoke Poges is a small village in England not too far from Windsor Castle.278 One of the most famous cemeteries of the world is located in this village, where the well-known poet Thomas Gray penned his famous Elegy written in a Country Churchyard. Those who have gone through the American school system have, I am sure, studied it, or, at least, read this poem at one time or the other during the course of their studies. I came to know about it only recently when I wrote a commentary on the First Letter of Peter and was reading

Warren Wiersbe's commentary on that book.Wiersbe quotes these words from that poem:

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,

And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,

Awaits alike the inevitable hour,

The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,” and “… there was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:2; 2:11). Those who find their safety and security in the things under the sun will finally be destroyed, along with the things in which they trusted. But those who find their safety and security in the Eternal God will never be shaken. This is the central message of the Bible so clearly presented in the little book penned by an ancient prophet named Obadiah.

The shortest book in the Old Testament and among all the writing prophets, Obadiah provides an overview of the message presented in each of the writing prophets: God's judgment on the unbelieving Gentiles who opposed God's chosen people Israel, and God's grace and ultimate deliverance of the believing Israel. This double thread is woven throughout every prophetic book in the Old Testament.

I I. The Author

Obadiah literally means “Servant of the Lord.” This was one of the most common names in the Hebrew Bible. There are 12 other men with this same name in the Old Testament, none of whom can be identified with the author of this book. We do not know anything about this man except that he must have lived in Judah since he prophesies in relation to Jerusalem.

I I I. Historical Context

From the historical references in the book, we can locate Obadiah’s ministry in Judah during the reign of Jehoram (848-841 B. C.), son of Jehoshaphat. Edom is indicted because of his violence against his brother Jacob: “On the day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them …” (11-14).

Both 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles tell of the war and rebellion of Edom in the days of Jehoram when Edom, after a fierce struggle, threw off the yoke of Judah (2 Kings 8:20-22; 2 Chronicles 21:8-10). Shortly after that revolt of Edom, according to 2 Chronicles 21:16ff, the Philistines and Arabians broke into Judah and,

They attacked Judah, invaded it and carried off all the goods found in the king’s palace, together with his sons and wives. Not a son was left to him except Ahaziah (Jehoahaz), the youngest (2 Chronicles 21:17).

This best fits the statements in Obadiah, chapters 11-14. When the Philistines, Arabians, and Edomites entered Jerusalem, they cast lots to decide which portions of the city would be granted to each contingent for the purpose of plunder.

I V. The Literal Theme of the Book

The animosity between Edom and the Israelites, and Edom’s punishment because of that, is the literal theme of the Book of Obadiah. The animosity between the Edomites and the Israelites is one of the oldest examples of a discord in human relationships. It began even before their ancestors, Esau and Jacob, were born: “The babies jostled each other within her,” in the womb of their mother Rebekah (Genesis 25:22). Then, for a bowl of red stew, Esau readily traded his birthright to his younger brother Jacob (Genesis 25:29-34). Later Jacob stole the blessing to which Esau said, “Isn't he rightly named Jacob?

He has deceived me these two times: he took my birthright, and now he has taken my blessing!” And so, Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob” (Genesis27:36, 41). Then Esau moved to the land of Seir (Genesis 36:8-9), the red sandstone area southeast of the Dead Sea.

Later, Edom refused to let the Israelites pass through their land when the Israelites were on the way to the Promised Land, and the Edomites “… came out against them with a large and powerful army” (Numbers 20:14, 21). Even then, God told Israel, “Do not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother” (Deuteronomy 23:7). However, the animosity continued for centuries, and the Edomites harbored hostility against Israel (Ezekial. 35:5). Saul (1 Samuel 4:47), David (2 Samuel 8:13-14), Joab (1 Kings 11:16), and Solomon (1 Kings 11:17-22) all had problems with the Edomites.

The enmity between the seed of Jacob and the seed of Esau is seen even in the New Testament incident. Edom was later controlled by Assyria and Babylon, and in the Fifth century B. C., they were forced by the Nabateans to leave their territory and move to the area of southern Palestine, where they became known as Idumeans. Herod the Great, an Idumean, became the King of Judea under Rome in 37 B. C. This was the king who attempted to murder Jesus by ordering that all the babies under two years of age be killed.

Obadiah, the oldest of all the writing prophets, takes up here the topic of the doom of Edom. After him, almost all prophets have made Edom an object of the Lord’s wrath and destruction, and more than any other nation mentioned in the Old Testament, Edom is the supreme object of God's wrath.

V. The Cause for God’s Wrath

What was so wrong about Edom that God was so upset with him and made him the object of His supreme wrath? The basic reasons were his pride and self-sufficiency. The book gives five reasons for this pride and self-sufficiency:

1. Pride because of their safety and security.

Obadiah writes:

The pride of your heart had deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, “Who can bring me down to the ground?” Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars … (verses 3-4).

Edom’s imposing capital city of Petra was impregnable and virtually inaccessible. Edom found her security in the clefts and the rocks. Some of the peaks reached as high as 5,700’ and surrounded her like fortresses. The deep terrifying gorges kept the enemy away. Edom found her safety and security in her surroundings.

However, there is something more involved in the high peaks and lofty clefts. The prophet speaks about her soaring like the eagle and making her nest among the stars. That reminds us of someone else who thought to himself:

I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; will make myself like the Most High (Isaiah 14:13-14).

Edom in her pride had lifted her head against God, just like Satan.

2. Pride because of her hidden treasures. 

Obadiah talks about Edom's hidden treasures (verses 5-6), for which Edom was proud.

3. Pride because of her allies. 

Edom was proud of her allies and friends and their political alliances (verse 7).

4. Pride because of wisdom and wise men. 

Obadiah talks about “the wise men of Edom, men of understanding in the mountains of Esau” (verse 8). Edom was known for her wise men and sages. Her location on a major highway provided intellectual exchange with distant nations.

5. Pride because of her military power. 

Obadiah talks about her warriors, her military power for which Edom was proud. All these things for which Edom is proud, the prophet tells her, will be taken away. From her lofty heights, she will be brought down on the ground (verse 4). She will be ransacked and her hidden treasures pillaged (verse 6). All her allies will deceive and overpower her and set a trap for her (verse 7). The wise men will be destroyed (verse 8). The warriors will be terrified and will be cut down in the slaughter (verse 9).

Anything and everything that man trusts and relies upon will be taken away. These things will be taken away not because they are evil in and of themselves, but because they take the place of God. Man trusting in these things makes himself God and does not see any need for God. He raises his fist against God and says, “I don't care for you; I don't need you.”

Edom is a symbol of human philosophy that has no place for God. Strangely enough, if there is any nation on the face of the earth today who can boast of these things listed about Edom, it is the United States of America. Where has all the prosperity, military power, and prominent place in world politics brought us today?

6. Pride against God expressed in persecuting God’s people. 

Edom, and any nation’s or people’s pride and haughty attitude against God, is expressed in various ways. One of the ways is persecuting God’s people, which Obadiah describes about Edom.

The major reason for the judgment of Edom is: “Because of the violence against your brother Jacob, you will be covered with shame; you will be destroyed forever” (verse 10). The details of the violence against his brother are given in the next four verses:

a. They stood withholding assistance (verse 11).

b. They rejoiced over Judah’s downfall (verse 12).

c. They plundered the city, Jerusalem (verse 13).

d. They prevented the escape of Judah’s fugitives (verse 14).

Behind every persecution of God’s people, there is pride and rebellion against God. Jesus said:

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me (John 15:18-21).

V I. The Ultimate Outcome – The Day of the Lord

Speaking about the judgment of Edom because of his violence against his brother Jacob, Obadiah turns to speak to all nations who have turned their back to God and talks about their final judgment in terms of the Day of the Lord: “The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head” (verse 16). On the other hand, “But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and the house of Jacob will possess its inheritance” (verse 17).

A. There are two major aspects of the Day of the Lord.

5. 1. Judgment. The first major aspect of the Day of the Lord will be judgment upon the nations who did not obey God. The wicked nations will drink the cup of God’s wrath: “ … so all the nations will drink continually; they will drink and drink and be as if they had never been” (verse 16). As the psalmist describes God’s wrath: “In the hand of the Lord is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs” (Psalm 75:8). Isaiah declares in God’s words: “I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end of the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless” (Isaiah 13:11).

Those who trust in things will be destroyed, along with the things in which they trusted.

6. 2. Deliverance. The other major aspect of the Day of the Lord is the final deliverance of those who trust God, and the Lord's eternal Kingdom, as noted above: “But on Mount Zion will be deliverance; it will be holy, and the house of Jacob will possess its inheritance” (verse 17).

B. Mount Zion. 

1. Jerusalem will be the capital of the Kingdom of God as noted in verse 17 above. 

Isaiah notes:

In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it… . The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:2-3).

The moon will be abased, the sun ashamed; for the Lord Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously (Isaiah 24:23).

2. Israel will fully possess the Promised Land verses 18-20.

3. The people of God will rule with the King 

As it says in verse 21: “Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau.”

4. The Lord’s eternal Kingdom will be established: 

“And the kingdom will be the Lord’s” verse 21b. And, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” Revelation 11:15.

Obadiah, the first of the writing prophets, provides the overview of the kingdom message that becomes one of the major theses of all the rest of the prophets.

5. Obadiah does not talk about the “cross;” but about the “crown":

Obadiah does not talk about the “cross;” he only talks about the “crown.” David had already prophesied:

Psalm 2:1-12,  Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.“Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.  Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; You will dash them to pieces like pottery.” Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him

Those who rebel against God, trusting in themselves, will finally be destroyed. Those who trust in the Lord will finally be delivered for eternity.

To whom do you think Obadiah is talking? To Edom? No, the prophet is not talking to Edom; he is talking about Edom to his own people.

Remember the situation in Judah during Obadiah’s time? In northern Israel, Ahab-Jezebel ruled with all their wickedness 1 Kings 16-22.

In Judah, Asa begins well 2 Chronicles 14, 15, but ends in disgrace 2 Chronicles 16. Asa’s son Jehoshaphat, like his father, began well: “The Lord was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed … ” 2 Chronicles 17:3-6, but later allied himself with Ahab 2 Chronicles 18:1; 19:1-2; 20:37. Jehoshaphat’s son Jehoram from the beginning “walked in the ways of the kings of Israel,” and “He did evil in the eyes of the Lord” 2 Chronicles 21:6.

During this time, Obadiah brings the message to the faithful in Judah – a message of doom to those who trust in their own evil practices and wickedness – and a message of comfort and peace to those who continue to trust the Lord in spite of the wickedness around them.

V I I. We see three applications to us today in the Book of Obadiah:

A. God keeps His promises. 

God had promised Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:3). He had promised Jacob, through Isaac’s blessing; “May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed” (Genesis 27:29b). God kept those promises.

Similarly, God kept His promise to Edom too: “Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother” (Genesis 27:39-40).

One of the most striking statements of God’s faithfulness in the Bible comes from the mouth of a heathen prophet. When the Moabite king Balak saw the hordes of Israelites camped along the Jordan across from Jericho, he was filled with dread, and he summoned Balaam to curse the Israelites. However, Balaam was not successful in cursing the Israelites, and when the Moabite king Balak kept forcing him, he said:

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19).

What he was saying is that God is faithful in keeping His promises, and no one can revoke the promises that He has given.

B. God makes His own choices. 

Not only does God keep His promises, He also makes His own choices. Obadiah speaks of the final doom of Edom and the final deliverance and blessing of Israel. However, God had already made His choice between Esau and Jacob, even before they were born. As Malachi later notes:

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” the Lord says, “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals” (Malachi 1:2-3).

Paul, commenting on this, notes,

Not only that, but Rebekah’s children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Romans 9:10-13).

C. We are responsible for the choices we make. 

Edom made his choice, and he suffered the consequences. Moab (Lot) made his choices, and his descendants suffered the consequences. The people of the world make their own choices, and they will suffer the consequences.

1 Peter 4:5. “They will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead”       

We too will have to stand before the Lord to give account of our choices. We will not be condemned like the unbelievers Romans 8:1. However, we will have to give an account to the Lord of how we spend our life, how we use our resources that He has given us as His stewards, how we decide our priorities and goals, and where our heart is set. “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” 1 Corinthians 10:11.

Those who trust in the things under the sun will be destroyed along with those things. But those who trust in the Lord will finally be delivered and enjoy His blessing.

Psalm 20:7-8. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, But we trust in the Name of the Lord our God. They are brought to their knees and fall, But we rise up and stand firm”

1 John 2:17 The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power, all that beauty all that wealth e’er gave, awaits alike the inevitable hour, Paths of glory lead but to the grave … but the man who does the will of God lives forever”

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The Prophet Jonah


Jonah’s declaration

In what would appear to be a singularly strange reaction God’s successful prophet Jonah complained bitterly to the Lord: “Oh, LORD, “This is just what I thought would happen when I was in my own country. This is what I tried to prevent by attempting to escape to Tarshish!Because I knew that you are gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in mercy, and one who relents concerning threatened judgment” Jonah 4:2.1

Jonah’s declaration would also appear to be at variance with a sometimes- popular conception that the presentation of the God of the Old Testament, unlike the One of the New Testament, is that of a stern figure who unwaveringly demanded total submission to His will on penalty of severe judgment. Jonah obviously held a different view.

If one should inquire as to how Jonah came to believe this, the answer is readily at hand. For Jonah was the recipient of a long chain of revealed scriptural truth, which demonstrated that Yahweh is not only a God who equitably administers the world in holiness and justice, but is also One whose grace and tender compassion are accompanied by a patient and forgiving nature. Accordingly, He reaches out to a needy mankind with a desire for man’s best. Thus Jonah could understand and react to that which had been revealed earlier.

Jonah’s case underscores the fact that biblical writers utilized earlier biblical authors and texts. Such is, of course, an established fact. For example, this has been abundantly exhibited in the New Testament writer’s use of Old Testament passages, as illustrated recently in a voluminous commentary detailing New Testament texts, which contain, allude to, or are related to Old Testament texts.2

I. Author and Book:

 Jonah is one of the most ridiculed books by liberal scholars. The story of a fish swallowing a man and the man living sounds impossible, and since most liberal scholars deny the possibility of the supernatural, they reject the book of Jonah as anything but a fairy tale. I’ve heard people tell a story from the time that such an event actually occurred about a hundred years ago when whaling was popular, but I also heard somewhere that the story was fabricated to try to lend credibility to the book of Jonah. So, we will just have to believe Jonah is true because God says it is true.

Jonah is different than the other prophets because it is not full of prophecies by the prophet, it is instead, about the life of the prophet. Little attention is given to what he actually said. But it does start off the same way the other prophetic books do because we see the phrase, “And the word of the Lord came to Jonah, son of Amittai, saying.”

While most of the other prophets prophesied to Israel and Judah, Jonah’s task was to go to Ninevah and prophesy to them.

I I. Date:

It is difficult to pinpoint when the author of the book actually put the story on paper. It could have been written soon after the events or long after the events. Some date the writing of the book in the Persian period because of certain literary features, vocabulary, etc.

What is clear is that the events of the book took place while Ninevah was capitol of Assyria. At the risk of giving away the plot, the Assyrians repent in the story, and so I would place the events at the beginning of the era when prophets prophesied of the coming destruction by Assyria (eighth century).

This would give the Assyrians time to respond to Jonah’s message, for a new generation or two to come along, who would decline spiritually, and become bad guys again and a threat to Israel

I I I. Content of the Book

A. Jonah disobeying

1. God's Command 1:1-2

God commanded Jonah to go to Ninevah and preach to them about their sinfulness and call them to repentance. This is the only time in the OT where Israel is commanded to actively pursue the Gentiles. God’s Covenant with Abraham mentioned that through Abraham’s descendants God would bless the nations, but no Israelite is ever commanded to go to the nations and tell them about God.

They were to have a passive witness. The Gentiles were supposed to see the difference between their society and Israel’s and be attracted to it. The OT is full of examples of Gentiles who became Jewish proselytes and worshipped Yahweh - Ruth, Jael, Shamgar, the woman at Jericho, etc.

2. Jonah's Disobedience (1-3)

What is Jonah’s reaction to God’s command? He refused. He didn’t say anything. He just left town. Notice the route he took: He went down to Joppa. Found a ship going down to Tarshish, so he went down into the boat. If God is up then down is bad. Every thing Jonah did took him further from God.

3. God's Discipline (1:4-9)

This section emphasizes God’s sovereignty over nature. He sent the wind and caused the sea to heave.
It is the heathen sailors who feared and are praying while the man of God is complacently sleeping below. The sailors were praying to the wrong gods, but they were convicted by the events at sea. Jonah’s lack of reaction is significant. Sin hardens the heart and makes us insensitive. Here we see that Jonah is insensitive to what God is doing.

And we see the first of many contrasts between the heathens and Jonah. Jonah is insensitive, but the heathens are aware that something out of the ordinary is going on and they are praying to their gods.
Jonah’s statement in 1:9 is the exact opposite of what his actions show. He does not fear God. If he did, he would have obeyed the first time, and at the least, been praying because of the storm.

4. Sailor's prayer (1:10-14)

What stand’s out in this section?

They would eventually learn that Jonah’s God was the true God.

1:10 shows that the men were amazed that Jonah would do something to displease his God. They spent their life in fear of their gods, trying to please and pacify them. It is ironic and sad that those who worship the true God - the only God worth fearing - and experience His grace, take advantage of His grace and do not live their life in an effort to please Him.

1:13 shows that the heathen sailors had more compassion than Jonah. They did not want to throw him overboard and tried desperately to get to land without doing that. They begged Jonah’s God’s pardon for what they had to do. This is also a contrast with the man of God who had no compassion on the people of Ninevah.

5. God's Answer (1:15-16)

God responded by calming the sea .

The sailors recognize that the true God is Jonah’s God, so they pray to Yahweh. And after the sea calms, we see that they feared Yahweh and offered sacrifices to Him and made vows. They were probably vows that they would follow and obey Him. This is in contrast to Jonah who disobeyed God.
More Discipline (1:17)

God is not through with Jonah. A great fish comes along and swallows him. There is more irony here. If you remember, Jonah went down, down, down in the first few verses. Now God is sending Jonah down to the depths of Sheol (2:2). At least that is what it felt like to Jonah.

6. Jonah 's Prayer (2:1-9)

Jonah finally prays and thanks God for his deliverance even before he is delivered. This shows that he is convinced God answers prayer.

Some think that at this point Jonah is repenting, especially since he now goes and preaches to Ninevah. But let’s look at his prayer:

Nowhere in his prayer did he mention his own rebellion and sin, so there is no real confession going on here.

He piously considered himself better than the pagans (cf. vs 8-9). What is ironic and sad is that we have already seen that the sailor’s came out looking better than Jonah.

I think Jonah is making a big assumption here that God would deliver him. He certainly didn’t deserve it.

We will see by Jonah’s actions in chapter 4: that he didn’t really repent here.

Feinberg points out that the life of Jonah parallels the history of the nation of Israel, and the phrase, “Salvation is from the Lord” is a key ingredient in that parallel. Like Jonah, Israel was chosen. Like Jonah, Israel rebelled. Like Jonah, Israel received discipline (dispersion and abuse by other nations up to the present day).

Israel looks to military alliances and national defense as the solution but until Israel recognizes that Salvation is from the Lord, there can be no ultimate deliverance. (Charles L. Feinberg, The Minor Prophets, p. 141-43).
I think the life of every individual is also parallel to Jonah’s experience. God calls us, but we rebell. We search for life in everything else but God until we come to a point in our life where we are so low that we finally recognize our inability and come to the conclusion that Salvation is from the Lord.

7. God's Answer (2:10)

God is gracious and He does answer Jonah’s prayer and the fish delivers Jonah to the beach outside of Ninevah.

B. Jonah Obeying (chapter 3)

1. God's Command (3:1-2)

God repeated his command to Jonah to go to Ninevah. I think it shows the grace of God that He gave Jonah a second chance.

2. Jonah's Obedience (3:3-4)

This time Jonah obeys. It seems that there was no complaint this time. God had gotten Jonah's attention.
Jonah's message is a simple one - “In forty days Ninevah will be destroyed!” There wasn't a lot of persuasion. I don't think Jonah tried very hard to persuade them. He would have gone into town, said his piece and left saying something like, “Well, I told them. It's their own fault now when God destroys them.” I think this also shows that Jonah hasn’t really changed his attitude. It seems to me he is obeying, but grudgingly.

3. Ninevah's prayer (3:5-9)

But the people of Ninevah heard him and believed him and repented. And this was a thorough repentance. Everyone from the king down to the cows were crying out. I'm sure the animals were just hungry, but it probably seemed like they were repenting too.

4. God's Answer (3:10)

God is gracious and does not destroy the city.

C. Jonah Learning (Chapter 4)

1. Jonah's Anger (4:1-4)

Jonah is furious when he sees the people's repentance. He knows now that God is not going to destroy them. Here we also see his true heart and further proof that he did not repent in chapter 2. The truth comes out about Jonah's fleeing from God in the beginning. He knew God would forgive them if they repented, but Jonah hated the Assyrians so much he didn't want to even give them the chance to repent.
Why did he hate them? The Assyrians were a dominant world power during this time and had even defeated Israel in a few battles and exacted tribute from Israel. Assyria wasn't just a non-hostile Gentile nation. It was an active enemy of Israel.
2. Jonah's Lesson (4:5-8)

So Jonah goes out of the city to pout and see if maybe God will destroy them. It is hot so God causes a plant to grow and give Jonah shade. The text says Jonah was “extremely happy about the plant.” Then, when the plant withers, Jonah wants to die. Doesn't it seem a little odd that Jonah would be so happy about the plant and so distraught over a plant’s death? I think the author is trying to make a point to us about how Jonah is all mixed up in his priorities.
3. God's question (4:9-11)

God's question brings the point home. If Jonah is so upset about the death of a plant, which he didn't even plant, How much more should God be concerned about the death of human beings. 

I V. Lessons  from this Book

1. We learn about the character of God.

2. We see his omnipotence as he controls the wind, the sea, the fish and the plant. And all of his power is directed toward a single goal - the reclamation of sinful humans - both Jonah and the Ninevites. (Chisholm, Interpreting The Minor Prophets, p. 129)

3. We see his love and compassion as he gives Jonah a second chance and as he forgives the Ninevites.

4. We see that God answers prayer. He answered the sailors' prayers, Jonah's prayer and the Ninevites' prayers.

5. I think it ironic that God would spare the Assyrians so that they could destroy the Northern kingdom of Israel only a few decades later.

6. I think this book shows that Jonah knew a lot about God. He presumed on God's grace and assumed his deliverance while still in the fish. He knew God was compassionate and gracious and would not destroy the

Assyrians if they repented. So, although Jonah knew about God, he did not want to obey him. It could even be said that Jonah disobeyed in the name of justice. (Chisholm, Interpreting The Minor Prophets, p. 130)

The Assyrians certainly had committed enough atrocities that they deserved judgment, and Jonah wanted them to get their due. But he was ignoring the sovereignty of God and disobeying God. He also was displaying a double standard. He was forgetting that Israel had been forgiven many times for her sins and that he himself had just been forgiven for his disobedience. He was a walking contradiction. I think we need to be careful that we do not fall into the same trap.

V. Jonah and the law of love:

I think Jonah gives us a negative illustration of love. I see Jonah as a good example of how we tend to judge others and consider ourselves to be better than others. I mentioned at the beginning of the series that the prophets were more concerned about the present failings of the people to follow the law than with future predictions. Jonah’s life illustrates this failure.

Jesus summed up the whole law in one phrase, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jonah definitely illustrates not loving one’s neighbor. Loving involves forgiveness. Jonah would not forgive the Assyrians for their evil. Instead, he clung with pride to his heritage as a Jew, the chosen people of God, and he condemned the Assyrians.

I think Jonah mistakenly thought that he deserved the favor of God. I think his prayer in chapter 2 demonstrates that. He called on God for deliverance without repenting of his evil. Why did God choose Israel? Because they were the biggest nation? Because they were more spiritual than the rest? No. He chose them out of grace.

If you read Eze 16, you will see a good description of what Israel was like and what God did for them. It also describes how they became proud and forsook God. They certainly did not deserve the special relationship with God.

Jonah forgot that. If he had recognized his evil, he would have seen that he was just as bad as the Ninevites.

This reminds me of the parable of the unforgiving servant, who was forgiven an enormous debt by the king.

He in turn refused to forgive a fellow slave a small debt. When the king found out, the unforgiving servant was handed over to the torturers until he could repay the debt. I think God was torturing Jonah to try to make him see his evil, so he would repent and so he would recognize that he was no better than the Assyrians. He should have forgiven them and gone to help them.

The message of the unforgiving servant is that we should forgive, because we have been forgiven. Jonah was forgiven and delivered from the fish, but he did not see it that way.

When I read Larry Crabb and Dan Allender’s books, they say that love means moving into another person’s life to build them up, to help them see their evil so they will repent. It usually involves sacrifice on our part and forgiveness for the harm they do to us. I see Jonah as failing to do this. He failed to forgive and therefore was unwilling to move toward the Ninevites to help them see their evil so they could repent and have a relationship with God. He failed to love.

V I. Conclusion and Applications

The book of Jonah and many other prophet's message, strongly suggest that the divine revelation of God’s character in Exodus 34:6-7 and Deuteronomy 32:4 became foundational to future settings where these particular qualities could be applied, elaborated upon, and celebrated.

Assumedly, then, they would be well known to Jonah, even though his primary indebtedness is to Exodus 34:6-7. For Jonah, however, God’s known character had proven to be a stumbling block, first to carrying out his commission to warn the Ninevites of their need of changing their ways and then to their positive response to his preaching. “Apparently, Jonah had forgotten how God provided a sea creature to bring him to repentance. Yet Jonah was not willing to grant God the prerogative of accepting the penitence of the Ninevites.

Jonah grieved over a plant that God had provided Jonah 4:6-8 but was unwilling to grant God the privilege of compassion for needy human beings.”29

Did Jonah respond positively to God’s patient correction (vv.9-11) of His prophet?30 Although the text does not plainly say so, it can be hoped that if, as is likely the case, Jonah is the author of the book that bears his name, he penned this full account of his spiritual journey to underscore the need for compassion for the spiritual needs of all people.

Jonah’s odyssey would thus be a story against himself with God being shown as a patient, loving Lord who gently restored him to further service. Such an indication may well lie in the historic account that Jeroboam II “restored the border of Israel from Lebo Hamath to the north to the sea of the Arabah in the south, in accordance with the word of the LORD God of Israel announced through his servant Jonah son of Amittai, the prophet from Gath Hepher” 2 Kings 14:25.

As well, one of the lesson of Jonah and the revelation of God’s person stand as reminders of the need for the Lord’s character qualities to be reflected and reproduced in the lives of His believing people. Micah thus captures well the need of God’s standard of justice as well as His compassion for the believer:

“He has told you, O man, what is good and what the LORD really wants from you: He wants you to promote justice, to be faithful, and to live obediently before your God” Mic. 6:8. As Kaiser remarks, “This passage is more than just an ethical or cultic substitute for inventions of religion posed by mortals. It is duty indeed, but duty grounded in the character and grace of God… . It was … a call for the natural consequences of truly forgiven men and women to demonstrate the reality of their faith by living it out in the marketplace.”31

No less than the case with Jonah the heed for embodying the divine characteristics inherent in Exodus 34:6-7 and Deuteronomy 32:4 remain true for today’s Christians. Thus Paul reminded the Colossian believers to clothe themselves with compassion (or tenderheartedness—Col.3: 12). In keeping with such an appeal is the quality of mercy, a quality that James 3:13-17 stresses is characteristic of true wisdom and that Jesus repeatedly emphasized e.g., Matt 5;7; 9:13; 12:7. In keeping with both character qualities is the need for believers to be gracious both in their actions Lk. 7:42 and their speech Col. 4:6, and to be faithful Matt. 23:23.

Indeed, faithfulness is often urged upon believers e.g., 1 Tim. 3:11 and exemplified by God’s servants e.g., 1 Tim. 1:12. In keeping with this virtue John conveys a challenge to the Christians at Smyrna, “Remain faithful even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown that is life itself” Rev. 2:10. Not only for the difficult times, as was the case at Smyrna, but it is also incumbent upon believers at all times to be faithful to the end, to compete well in the race of life, and to finish the course cf. 1 Cor. 9:24-27—all the while keeping the faith. Such carries the anticipated blessing and reward of the Lord Himself 2 Tim. 4:7-8.

Two of the more difficult character qualities for many Christians center on forgiveness and patience. Yet each is enjoined upon us in God’s Word. Thus Paul writes to the Ephesian Christians, “Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” Eph. 4:32. He also reminds the Colossians to remember just as God has forgiven them, so they are to have a forgiving heart toward others Col. 3:12.

Patience, too, is often difficult for many to achieve. Yet it is a divine quality that is desperately needed by all of us. Because God is long suffering, He bore with a world of total spiritual bankruptcy in the days of Noah 1 Pet. 3:20. Similarly, He yet delays the Great Day of Judgment so as to prolong the day of salvation 2 Pet. 3:15. Indeed, God’s patience ought to bring men to repentance Rom. 2:4; 9:22-24; and surely because God is patient, believers also ought to be patient cf. Matt. 18:21-35. Every Christian should be marked by godly patience toward all 1 Thess. 5:14.

Indeed, patience makes us worthy to walk in our calling Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12 and helps reproduce the same performance of faith in other believers Heb. 6:11-12. Perhaps Paul has encapsulated all the needed virtues in writing, “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another” Col. 3:12-13a.

There are other lessons to be learned from journeying with Jonah. Thus like Jonah Christians can be “about the Master’s business” but be “too busy” to spend time with Him or in His Word. Therefore, our spiritual quest becomes sidetracked. Even our worship experience can degenerate into a mere routine, as was the case too often in ancient Israel.32 There is therefore the need for each of us not only to be submissive to the standards of God in His Word, but to love Him supremely and to be in daily fellowship with Him.

As well, a missionary imperative springs out of Jonah’s experience. It is all too easy to criticize Jonah for his attitude with regard to the Ninevites, but a similar disregard or disdain for enemy nations, terrorists, or “unlovely” people can too often stand in the way of our extending the Gospel message of God’s saving forgiveness in Christ to them.

“Jonah’s story thus reminds us of the need for sharing the Word of God with an unbelieving world and for praying for all people everywhere cf. 1 Tim. 2:1-6. The desperate condition of the lost and the urgency of the times demand that as unrepentant generation be confronted with the lesson of Nineveh: “Someone greater than Jonah is here” Matt 12:41.”33

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quarta-feira, 28 de setembro de 2011

The Prophet Micah

Study By: Hampton Keathley IV

I. Introduction

A. Author

The author of the book is “Micah of Moresheth” 1:1. The word “micah” means “Who is like Yahweh?” Micah's hometown of Moresheth is probably the same town identified later as Moresheth-gath in the Shephelah (rolling hills) of Judah. This village was one of many that was captured by Sennacherib in his attack on Judah in 701 BC. (cf. Micah 1:14). Moresheth was an important city which guarded a key route into the hill country of Judah south of Jerusalem.

Because of its importance it was fortified by Rehoboam as a defensive center 2Ch 11:5-12. Nothing else is known about Micah, but we can surmise that Micah may have actually prophesied during the invasion and witnessed the destruction of his own hometown by Sennecharib. He probably saw his relatives killed and hauled off into slavery.

B. Date

Micah prophesied during “the days of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah” 1:1. We know that Jotham began a co-regency with his father Uzziah (Azariah) in 750 B.C. and he assumed sole authority when his father died in 739 B.C. (The year Isaiah was called as a prophet). Hezekiah began ruling with his father Ahaz in 735 B.C. and he assumed sole authority when his father died in 715 B.C. Hezekiah continued his reign until 686 B.C.

Thus Micah's ministry extended no longer than 750-686 B.C. The time can possibly be narrowed a little more because of the internal chronological markers.

First, the fact that Micah did not mention Uzziah would imply that he had already died and that Jotham was ruling alone as king. This would place Micah after 739 B.C.

Second, he began prophesying before the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C. because at one point he pictured Samaria's future fall 1:6-7.

Third, Micah's prophecies extended to Assyria's invasion of Judah in 701 B.C. because he recorded the distress accompanying that invasion 1:10-16;5:6.

Fourth, Micah also intimated that Judah would go into exile in Babylon, Merodach-baladan in 701 B.C. 4:10;cf. Isa 39:1-8

Thus Micah's ministry could be assigned generally to a time between 735 and 700 B.C.

C. Historical Setting

Micah prophesied during a period of upheaval and crisis. The reign of Ahaz brought spiritual lethargy, apostasy and hypocrisy. The people still worshipped Yahweh, but it was ritual without life-changing reality. Their treatment of fellow Israelites violated the basic tenants of the Mosaic covenant as they failed to practice justice, or covenant loyalty-love and their pursuit of idolatry revealed their failure to walk humbly before Yahweh.

Ahaz's reign also brought subjection to Assyria-the rising power in the east. To protect himself against the combined attack of the Israelites and the Arameans, Ahaz entered into a treaty with Assyria and made Judah a vassal to the Assyrians (2Ki 16:5-9). Assyria's hold on Judah was strengthened when it captured and destroyed Aram and Israel.

When Sennacherib became king of Assyria in 705 B.C., Hezekiah and a number of other vassal states tried to break away from the yoke of Assyrian bondage. Sennacherib secured his throne at home and subdued the rebellious states to his south, but in 701 B.C. he marched west to subdue Judah and the other rebellious nations. Judah was decimated a Sennacherib captured 46 of his (Hezediah's) strong cities, walled forts and countless small villages in their vicinity...”

He also captured “200,150 people, young and old, male and female, horses, mules, donkeys, camels, big and small cattle beyond counting ...” The two pronged attack against Judah and Jerusalem focused on the two strategic approaches into the hill country of Judah and its capital. The first side of this prong attacked north of Jerusalem against the cities on the Central Benjamin Plateau, the main entry to Jerusalem along the north (cf Isa 10:28-32). The second side of the prong swept through the Shephelah of Judah capturing the approaches into the hill country to the south of Jerusalem Micah 1:10-15.

The chief city in the Shephelah was Lachish—a city second in importance only to Jerusalem in the kingdom of Judah. Sennacherib captured Lachish; and this event was so significant to him that he commissioned a relief to be made of the battle which adorned the walls of his palace in Nineveh. The relief included graphic pictures of people impaled on poles, being skinned alive, beheaded. An Assyrian relief shoed the Jews going into captivity.

Michah's hometown of Moresheth was also destroyed by Sennacherib at this time, and its people were killed or deported as slaves.

Micah and Isaiah were contemporaries, and their books parallel one another in several ways. One possible difference (apart from the geographical and social background of each prophet) is the general emphasis of each book. Isaiah's prophecies were directed more to the royal household and the people of Jerusalem, while Micah's prophecies were directed more to the “common people” of the land.

D. Purpose of the book

Micah's purpose in writing was to show Judah that a necessary product of her covenant relationship to God was to be justice and holiness. His focus on God's justice was to remind the people that God would judge them for their sin and disobedience (chaps 1-3) but that he would ultimately establish a kingdom whose king would reign in righteousness (chaps 4-5). He convicts Israel and Judah of their sin (in the lawsuit 6-7) and sentences them to judgment

Assyrian Reliefs: Pictures of siege ramps from Assyria, attack on Lachish - pictures of cutting off heads, impaling people on poles. Maps of attack routes. Slides of Shepelah.

The trade routes were in the valleys. A city on a hill could guard the trade routes. That's where Moresheth was. Lachish was the largest city in the area. When Senacharib attacked, he captured Lachish but could not take Jerusalem. When he went home, he made reliefs of the battle with stone throwers, slings, ramps, battering rams, etc.

When Micah preached, much of his message was probably warning to Israel, but when he wrote his book, Israel was destroyed so most of the book is written to Judah.

I I. Imminent Judgment of God’s People 1:2-3:12

A. The Coming of the Lord 1:2-5

1. The Witness of the Lord 1:2

Notice in verse 2 that the Lord is in His holy temple. Where was God when Isaiah began his ministry? Isaiah 6: God was in his temple.

2. The Arrival of the Lord 1:3

But God's not staying in His temple. He is coming down to the earth. It is not a walk of joy. It is to bring judgment. “God will tread...” His steps will be like an earthquake bringing judgment.

It says God will tread on the high places. The high places were where the Israelites were forbidden to set up altars and where they did just that to worship other gods. What is the high place of Judah in verse 5? It was Jerusalem. Jerusalem is actually on a hill. The reason it is referred to as a high place is because it had ceased to be the place where they worshipped Yahweh. It is pictured as a pagan high place.

3. The Respone of Nature to the Lord 1:4

4. The Cause for the Manifestation of the Lord 1:5

The sin of Samaria - Israel
The Sin of Jerusalem - Judah

B. The Condemnation of the Lord 1:6-16

1. The Condemnation of Samaria 1:6-9

In verses 6-7 Micah tells of the judgment on Israel and then the rest of the book deals with Judah.

1. The results of God's condemnation 1:6-7a

When the Assyrians destroyed Israel and Samaria in 722 BC they actually took the stones of the city and threw them into the valley.

2. The reason for God's condemnation 1:7b

The Israelites had degenerated so far that they had temple prostitutes in Samaria. Cf. Hosea. Baal worship had become the national god of Israel. When the soldiers came in and looted the city, they used the money to pay for prostitutes. That's what soldiers typically do. It was a sort of poetic justice.

3. The prophet's response to God's condemnation 1:8-9

Mourning for Samaria's fall 1:8
Mourning for the effect of Samaria's fall on Jerusalem 1:9
1:9 The “her” refers to Samaria. The wound of Samaria - i.e. the sin of Samaria had come to Judah. That sin was Baal worship.

4. The Condemnation of Jerusalem 1:10-16

The approaching disaster 1:10-15
Beginning in verse 10 Micah starts a series of puns to explain what will happen to various cities. He takes the name of the city and uses another word which sounds like the city name or is derived from the city name to describe its downfall and the judgment coming on them.1

1:10a. Tell it not in Gath was a saying that meant, “Don't let my enemies know what has happened to us.” 2 Sam 1: Saul had just died and David composed a song of lament and began the song with this phrase. It became a proverb still used today in Israel.

1:10b. “At Beth-le-aphrah” ( B=b?t l=u^p=r*h u*p*r) (the house of dust), roll yourself in dust - part of the mourning process. You people in the house of dust better start rolling in the dust. You better start mourning, because you are going to be taken away in captivity.

When they excavated Lachish, they found altars to the sun god and signs of Baal worship.
Isaiah 10 and Micah 1 give the battle plan that Sennecharib used to attack Jerusalem. You can only approach Jerusalem from the north or south. Sennacharib sent part of his army from the north (cf Isa 10:) and part of his army came up through the Shepelah from the south.

The only thing which spared Jerusalem was the Angel of the Lord. Sennacharib records that he took 46 strong walled cities, and countless unwalled cities which really left only Jerusalem. He took 200,000 captives. Mysteriously 185,000 Assyrians were killed and they fled home and there is no record of that in Sennecherib's chronicles.

The lamentation 1:16

C. The Complaint of the Lord 2:1-3:12

1. Against greedy people 2:1-13

The crime and its results 2:1-5
The people's greed 2:1-2. The people are so evil they have trouble falling asleep at night because they are lying awake scheming of ways to steal from others the next day. cf vs 2

God's judgment 2:3-5. Here we have the results of their wickedness. Just as they laid awake at night planning evil, and just like they took things away from the helpless, God was planning against them and was going to have a stronger nation come in and do the same to them.

Notice verse 4. Their bitter lamentation would be like crying, “No fair!” The punishment fits the crime.

The rejection of the truth because of greed 2:6-11
2:6-7. Why did they not believe Micah? Because for every Micah, there were many more that were saying that things would be fine.

This reminds me of what is going on today. Take the media for example. For every Rush Limbaugh, Tom Donohue and Chuck Harter speaking out against the economic, social and moral evils of our government, there are hundreds of liberal media people spreading the “politically correct” dogma.

Most churches of our day don't believe in the final judgment and eternal damnation. For every one that does there are dozens of others teaching a health and wealth, properity gospel. They are focusing on healing, emotionalism, etc. This is not to mention the cults and false religions.

2:8. Look who they took advantage of: The strangers passing through the land, the wounded soldiers who returned from war, the women, and children.

This happens in our country. I remember recently seeing a 60 minutes or 20/20 show about telephone con men who take advantage of older people who are from an age when people were typically honest and they get them to send $100's and $1000's of dollars for “investments” or “shipping fees” or “processing fees” required before the con men can send them their prizes. And then they send them junk or nothing at all.

Think about the tele-evangelists who take advantage of people by promising them health, wealth and prayer if they send him $1000.

2:11 shows what kind of prophet the people wanted to listen to. One that promised lots of beer and wine and prosperity. Does that sound like our society. Robert Tilton ... Bill Clinton ... Promise them what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. Clinton supporters were proud of the fact that he was able to lie well enough to get elected. It was necessary to win the election and the end justified the means.

The promise of ultimate regathering and deliverance 2:12-13
This is probably a major break in the section. Now we have a promise of restoration. Because of the mention of the “remnant in verse 12 and the “Lord at their head” in verse 13, the breaker is probably the Lord. So here, in the midst of this terrible message of judgment, we have a section of hope inserted for the faithful remnant, promising them restoration and ultimate deliverance. God will gather the remnant and break away their trouble.

2. Against unjust rulers 3:1-4, 9

The job of leaders in society was and is to provide justice for all. But what were these leaders doing?

Their sin 3:1-3
These leaders were saying to the people, “If you want justice, it's going to cost you.” When it says they were tearing off the skin of the people, he is picturing it metaphorically and it is the same as we would say, they were skinning them alive. They were ripping them off. The people cried out for justice and the leaders ignored them. All they were concerned about was money and the power it brought them. Notice 3:11a.

Again, doesn't this remind you of our leaders in the white house and congress. Also, in our society, the only ones who get “justice” or should I say, the only ones who win court battles are those who can afford the best lawyers. There is little justice in our courts.

Their judgment 3:4
The punishment fits the crime. There will come a time when they will cry out to God and God will ignore them.

3. Against False Prophets 3:5-8

Their sin 3:5
They would prophesy peace if they were paid well and if they were not paid they would prophesy doom. They acted like they could control and manipulate God. “If you don't pay me, I'm going to sic God on you.” What was their role supposed to be? They were God's link to man. They were supposed to be serving God and giving God's message to men.

Application: This is just like the tele-evangelists today. If you don't give your money to them they tell you you will not prosper. If you give lots of money, they tell you that you will prosper. They are teaching that you can manipulate God.

They would go to the priest and say, “Is this Kosher or not?” And the priest would say, “What's it worth to you?” His answer depended on how much they paid him.

Application: Do we do this in the modern church? Do the rich people who give lots of money get special treatment? Do they have a bigger voice in church policy even when their spiritual maturity is in question? Do we avoid confronting them for sinful behavior because we are afraid they will stop giving?

This was a lack of loyalty and love to God and man. They priests only cared about themselves and lining their own pockets.

Their judgment 3:6-7
The reference to night and darkness is a word picture for not being able to see. God would take away their dreams and visions.

Their contrast with Micah who is the true prophet 3:8
Here we have a contrast between Micah and the false prophets. As for me, I'm going to be God's prophet and tell people what they need to hear. This is the attitude that we need to have. There are people around us who succumb to the pressure to tell people what they want to hear and succumb to greed.

4. Against all Jerusalem's hierarchy 3:9-12

Their sin 3:9-11
The priests taught God's principles for a price. If people paid them, they would preach. If they wouldn't pay them, they wouldn't tell them what God's word said. They were in it for the money.

Their judgment 3:12
The temple would become a heap of ruins.

This indictment against the leaders shows that there was no justice - no love for their fellow man and they certainly weren't walking humbly before God. If there is one verse you have heard quoted from Micah it is 6:8 which says....

The first three chapters show the problems and the resulting judgment and set up the readers for the exhortation in 6:8.

Also in this section, I think 3:8 stands out because Micah says, “As for me, I'm going to stand up for what is right and proclaim the truth.” It should be a model for us to follow.

Transition: Remember the pattern we discussed that the prophets followed? Description of sin - resulting judgment and then ultimate restoration? Lest we become too discouraged we now come to a section which promises ultimate deliverance.

I I I. Ultimate Blessing on God’s People 4:1-5:15

After dealing with imminent judgment Micah turns to what God intends to bring about in the future. We have contrast with the previous chapter:

A. The Coming Kingdom 4:1-5:6

1. The characteristics of the kingdom 4:1-8

The elevation of Jerusalem 4:1-5
Jerusalem: The world center on which nations will converge 4:1-2a
Jerusalem: The world center from which God's Word will go forth 4:2b-4
Present response in light of Jerusalem's future glory 4:5

The restoration of the nation 4:6-8
The gathering of the nation 4:6
The transformation of the nation 4:7
The establishment of Jerusalem as the capital of the world 4:8

2. The events preceding the kingdom (Judah's Distress and Deliverance) 4:9-5:6

Judah's Captivity 4:9-10

The captivity in Babylon 4:9-10a

700 BC and Micah is foretelling that Judah would go into captivity in Babylon. This is the same thing Isaiah is predicting.

3. The regathering from Babylon 4:10b

Judah's Enemies 4:11-13
Present gloating of Judah's enemies 4:11
Right now Israel is being put down by other nations,

Future defeat of Judah's enemies 4:12-13
But there will come a day when Israel will rule over the nations.

Judah's Leadership 5:1-6
Present subjection of Judah's kings 5:1

Right now the Gentiles are smashing the rulers of Israel. This could be referring to Hezekiah's humiliation by Assyria or maybe of Zedekiah's defeat by the Babylonians 100 years later. Now, in the imminent part, the Gentiles will rule of Israel.

Future deliverance of Judah's kings 5:2-6
But in the future a king will be born in Bethlehem. The prophecy of Christ that Herod's wise men used to answer Herod's questions.

B. The Characteristics of the Coming Kingdom 5:7-15

1. The blessing on the remnant of Jacob 5:7-9

Israel pictured as a blessing to the other nations like the dew (only precipitation in summer months) and like a lion who is the king of the beasts, they would deserve respect.

Their divine source of existence 5:7
Their irresistible power 5:8
Their divine promise 5:9

2. The purging of Israel 5:10-14

These are the things that Israel had always depended on. God was going to have to take these things away so they would depend on Him.

Removal of human weapons and fortifications 5:10-11
Removal of occultism 5:12
Removal of idolatry 5:13-14

3. The judgment on the nations 5:15

Up to this point we have a typical prophetic outline - The condemnation for their sins, the resulting judgment and then the promise of deliverance. But there are two more chapters. What are they there for?

I V. Present Response of God's People 6:1-7:20

A. God's Lawsuit against Israel 6:1-16

The background for this is the covenant or mosaic law. God had told them exactly what was expected of them and when they violated the law, God took them to court. To really understand the prophets, you must understand the Blessings and Cursings of Deuteronomy.

1. Opening Appeal 6:1-2

Normally you would go to the city gate and have the elders hear the case. But God is going to have the mountains hear the case. They've been around a long time and they've seen what God has done and what Israel has done.

2. Questioning of Motives and Actions 6:3

God asks where he broke his covenant with Israel. What is their answer? There is no answer, because He hadn't broken his side of the covenant. They should be silenced with shame.

3. Specific Charges 6:4-8

God recounts his faithfulness to Israel.

The deliverance from Egypt with all the plagues and crossing the Red Sea.

Remember Balaak (who wanted Balaam to curse Israel so he could defeat them.) and Balaam who blessed Israel instead?

From Shittim to Gilgal >>> Where are these two towns? See map...

In other words, God is referring to the crossing of the Jordan on dry land in the flood season.

Verses 6-7 are probably the people's reply to God. “Okay God, just what do you want? More sacrifices? How many? Do you want more money? They are not repentant. They are basically asking God what His price is. It's like being caught for speeding. What is your attitude? Are you sorry for breaking the law or just sorry for being caught.

And then Micah tells them in verse 8 what God wants. He wants Justice and Mercy to their fellow man and Loyalty to God. This is the theme of the book.

Does this sound familiar. Love your neighbor as your self and love the Lord your God ...

Israel had violated both of these ideals. Because of this God could declare them guilty. And that is what follows.

4. Declaration of Guilt 6:9-12

They had scales that were made to cheat people and if that wasn't good enough, they had bags with weights that were not accurate to cheat them more.

5. Sentence 6:13-16

The curses come straight out of Deut 26 and 28.

Statutes of Omri - Omri was father of Ahab and he set up marriage of Ahab to Jezebel who brought Baal worship to Israel. Therefore the statutes of Omri were statues of Baal.

B. Micah's lament over Israel 7:1-10

1. Her present distress 7:1-6

The moral degeneration of society 7:1-4a
How many people here are right handed?
How many people are left handed?
How many are ambidextrous?

7:3 says that everyone in Israel was ambidextrous. - Both hands did evil equally well.

The coming judgment of God 7:4b

The moral degeneration of personal relationships 7:5-6
Unfortunately this is where our society is heading.

2. Her future deliverance 7:7-10

But as for me... Here we see Micah's response in the midst of these terrible times. This is something we need to keep in balance. Society is bad, but we need to be sure that we are shining bright for God. We need to continue to live godly lives and have hope.

Micah is talking for himself in vs 7 but it is almost like he is taking the place of Israel in verse 8. He is acting as their representative.

God will bring her from darkness to light 7:7-9
One of the purposes for prophecy is to give hope in the midst of bad times. Here we see that Micah can see the “light at the end of the tunnel.”

We don't know if God is going to let our society go down the tubes or if there will be a revival. If He lets our society be destroyed, we know that it is all part of His plan, and He will right all wrongs in the end, so we can rest in that knowledge.

God will punish her enemies 7:10

C. God's Blessing for Israel 7:11-20

1. Israel's Restoration 7:11-13

Expansion of Israel's borders 7:11
Expanded to the originally promised borders.

Movement of people to Israel 7:12

Destruction of Israel's enemies 7:13

2. God's intervention 7:14-15

Israel will be shepherded 7:14
Miracles will be performed 7:15

3. The nation's response 7:16-17

The nations will be ashamed 7:16

The nations will fear the Lord 7:17

Again and again we see that God's ultimate purpose for Israel was to be a witness to the nations. Here we see that in the last days, the nations will turn to God.

4. God's foregiveness 7:18-20

His character 7:18-20
His forgiving nature 7:18a
Micah is awed by the fact that God would forgive their sins and restore them.

His loyalty-love 7:18b

His compassion 7:19a

His conduct 7:19b-20

His victory over sin 7:19b

His faithfulness to His covenant promises 7:20

“Thou wilt be true to Jacob.” Israel's future is wrapped up in God's promises to Abraham. God made a promise to Abraham and He will not break it. That is one reason I'm a premillenial dispensationalist. Because unless you see God breaking His promises to Abraham, you have to look for a time when God fulfill all his promises to Israel.

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The Prophet Nahum

Study by David Malick

I. Introduction: 

The book is an oracle which concerns Nineveh, a vision which comes from Nahum the Elkoshite 1:1 God Avenges His People: After Yahweh is introduced as a righteous, powerful, angry warrior against whom no one can stand, Nahum asserts that He will protect those who trust in Him and judge their enemy (Nineveh) because it plotted against Him 1:2-11

I I. The Lord’s Appearance against His Enemies

A. The Angry Warrior:

Yahweh is described as a righteous, powerful, angry warrior against Whom no one can stand 1:2-6

1. Jealous, Avenging and Full of Wrath 1:2

2. Powerful, but Slow to Anger 1:3a

3. Punishes the Guilty 1:3b

4. Greater than all of Nature 1:3c-5

The Storm: 1:3c
Waters: 1:4
Mountains: 1:5a
Earth Dwellers: 1:5b

5. Unendurable Wrath/Judgment 1:6 

B. God’s Protection against His People

Announcement of Judgment against Nineveh: God will protect his people who trust in Him judging their enemy (Nineveh) because it plotted against Him 1:7-11

1. God’s Protection of His People: 

Yahweh is good and intimately knows those who take refuge in Him 1:7

2. Announcement of Judgment against Nineveh:

Yahweh will completely judge his enemy (Nineveh) because it plotted against Him 1:8-11

Statement: Yahweh Will Completely Judge His enemies (Nineveh) 1:8
Reason: Nineveh will be destroyed because it plotted against Yahweh 1:9-11

Plottings against Yahweh will not succeed 1:9a

Not another chance (Jonah?), but certain judgment: 1:9b-10
A leader plotted against Yahweh (Judah?) 1:11

I I. Nineveh’s Demise:

Through warnings and prophetic descriptions Nahum urges Nineveh to be ready for battle because destruction and public humiliation are sure as a result of her enormous evil and because Yahweh is going to deliver His people, Judah. 1:12--3:19

A. Introduction

An Announcement of Judah’s Release from Oppression: Yahweh promises to no longer afflict His people as He announces to the King of Assyria that He is going to be destroyed, and urges the people of Judah to celebrate their freedom 1:12-15

1. Announcement of Salvation to Judah:  

Yahweh promises to no longer afflict His people 1:12-13
But Assyrians will be Cut Off: 1:12a
Judah Will Not Be Afflicted by the Lord Anymore: 1:12b
Yahweh Will Set Judah Free from Assyria’s Bondage: 1:13

2. Announcement of Judgment against the King of Assyria:

Yahweh announces to the King of Assyria that He will destroy Him because he is contemptible 1:14

3. A Call for Judah to Celebrate Its Deliverance: 

Micah urges the people of Judah to celebrate with this good new that the Assyrians will no longer will afflict them because they has been completely destroyed 1:15

B. A Call to Alarm

Nineveh Invaded: Nineveh is warned to be ready for battle because Judah is about to be destroyed, that her capture and destruction are imminent 2:1-10

1. Warning for Nineveh to Be Ready Because Judah Is about to Be Restored: 2:1-2

Warning for Nineveh to Be Ready Because Judah Is about to Be Restored: 2:1-2

2. The Capture of the City of Nineveh: 2:3-10

The City Is Broken into by an Enemy: 2:3-6
Equipment for War Ready: 2:3
Confusion in the City: 2:4
City is Stormed and Taken: 2:5-6

Mourning of Women in the City: 2:7 

Plunder of Nineveh: 2:8-10
Everyone is Fleeing: 2:8
Theft of Things of Value: 2:9
People Are Terrified: 2:10

I I I. Taunt and Announcement of Judgment

Opposition to the Assyrian ‘Lion’: Yahweh questions where the mighty “lions” of Assyria are now that He has come in judgment affirming that He will completely destroy Nineveh 2:11-13

A. Taunt: 

Where are the mighty “lions” of Assyria now that judgment has come? 2:11-12

B. Announcement of Judgment: 

Yahweh will judge the “lions” of Nineveh destroying its war machine and influence upon the land 2:13

C. A Woe Oracle: 

Nahum proclaims an oracle of woe upon Assyria because she is full of sin, a violent empire, and seduces others for her own profit 3:1-4

1. Woe to Assyria

Full of Sin: 3:1

2. Woe to Assyria

A Violent Empire: 3:2-3

3. Woe to Assyria 3:4

Who Seduces Other Nations and Royal Families for Personal Profit: 3:4

D. Announcement of Judgment and Taunt

Nineveh’s Humiliation: Yahweh promises to publicly humiliate Nineveh because she is no better than No-amon who appeared strong, but was devastated 3:5-13

1. Announcement of Judgment: 

Yahweh promises to publicly humiliate Nineveh and that there will be no mourners with her demise 3:5-7

A Promise of Public Humiliation: 3:5-6

No Mourners with Destruction: 3:7

2. Taunt: 

Nahum taunts Nineveh that she is no greater than the Egyptian city of No-amon who appeared strong, but was devastated; Nineveh is weak and will be destroyed 3:8-13

Is Nineveh better
Is Nineveh better than the Egyptian city of No-amon (Thebes) who was extremely strong, but was then devastated? 3:8-10

Nineveh like No-amon,
Nineveh like No-amon, will be destroyed because its defenses are very weak

E. Call to Alarm

The Watchman Speaks Again: Once again as a watchman, Nahum urges Nineveh to be ready for the coming siege, even to multiply its forces, but then affirms that they will not help because the city will be destroyed 3:14-17

1. Be Ready for the Coming Siege which Will Destroy Them: 3:14-15a

2. Nineveh Urged to Multiply: 3:15a

3. A Numerous Population Will Not Help: 3:16-17

I V. Conclusion

Assyria’s Victims Celebrate Its Demise: Nahum tells the king of Assyria that his people are not ready for battle, that there will be no relief for them, their destruction is certain, and the people will applaud Nineveh’s destruction 3:18-19

1. The King of Assyria Is Told that His People Are Not Prepared: 3:18

2. Nineveh’s Epitaph--There Is No Relief; Destruction is Sure; the People Will Cheer: 3:19

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The Prophet Habakuk

Study By: Hampton Keathley IV

Have you ever finished watching the evening news with all the violence and injustice in the world and in frustration asked, Why isn’t God doing something? Why do the wicked and the dishonest people prosper. Why do they get elected to the White House? Well, that is not a new feeling. A prophet named Habakkuk felt that way around 620 B.C. and wrote a book about it.

I. The author and the book

Habakkuk’s name means to “embrace” or “wrestle.” As is usually the case, his name has something to do with the message of the book. I think it relates to the fact that he was wrestling with a difficult issue. If God is good, then why is there evil in the world? And if there has to be evil, then why do the evil prosper? What is God doing in the world? We discussed a similar thought coming from the Israelites in Zephaniah 1:12. They said God did not do good or evil. They thought God was not involved and so continued in their sin. Habakkuk is one of the good guys. He fears God and does what is right, but it is getting him no where.

Warren Wiersbe entitles his book on Habakkuk as From Worry to Worship. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones calls his, “From Fear to Faith.” While Habakkuk begins by wondering or worrying about the world around him and God’s seeming indifference, he ends by worshiping God.

When he heard who was coming 3:16 he trembled, but he certainly ends up expressing faith by the end of the book. What they are trying to capture in the titles of their books is the progression Habakkuk makes from questioning God to trusting God. So let’s look at how he made that progression.

I I. Habakkuk’s Question 1:2-4

Habakkuk expresses the attitude that many righteous people have. He is outraged at the violence and injustice in his society. He lists six different problems. His list is repetitious, but it emphasizes just how bad things were.

There was sin, wickedness, destruction and violence, no justice in the courts, and the wicked outnumbered the righteous. Does this sound like our society?

In verse 4 he says, "the law is ignored." God's word was no longer the standard. It is now illegal to have the 10 commandments hang on the wall in a public school, so I think things are even worse in America.

Habakkuk is preaching against it, but he is having little effect. Habakkuk raises a good question. Why does evil go unpunished? Why do the wicked prosper? Why doesn’t God do something?

Look back to verse 2. Habakkuk has been praying. Evidently, he has been praying for a long time because he says, “How long, O Lord, will I call for help, And Thou wilt not hear?” He also thinks God is indifferent and inactive.

Some people think that men of faith never question God. They just sit and wait faithfully and patiently. But one thing we can learn from Habakkuk is that this is a misconception. Those who trust in God can and do question God.

I I I. God’s Answer 1:5-11

God is doing something. He is raising up a foreign nation, the Babylonians, to come and destroy Judah. He tells Habakkuk, “You would not believe if you were told.”

Why? Because they are really wicked. They were worse than the Jews.3 Verses 6-11 describe just how evil they are. The reason for this description is to show that they are so powerful, no one can stop them. They will certainly destroy Judah.

We see in verse 11 that they will be held guilty for their wickedness, but God is going to use them anyway.

Most of us have been praying for the evil in our society hoping for revival. What if God sent the Soviet Union or Sadam Hussein to conquer America, to instill communism or a dictatorship, imprison all the Christians, etc.

What would you think about that answer? Would you say God didn’t answer your prayer?

This points us to another principle we can learn from Habakkuk. God doesn’t always give us the answers we want or expect. We usually have it in our mind how we want God to answer our prayers. When He does it differently, how do you respond?

I V. What is Habakkuk’s response to the answer?

A. Habakkuk’s Response 1:12-2:1

If all we did was read verses 12-13a, it would look like Habakkuk accepted the answer and was content. But 13bf shows that although he accepts the answer, he doesn’t like the answer.

He began in verse 12 by claiming that God is eternal. I think the idea of immutability, that God does not change, is included here. The fact that God does not change is important because it means God keeps His promises and He has made promises to Israel. Habakkuk knows that God will not totally destroy Israel because of his covenantal promises. That is why he says, “We will not die.”

So, he believes God and trusts God, but he still doesn’t fully understand the answer. In 13b Habakkuk knows God hates evil and is amazed that God would use a nation even more wicked than Judah to punish Judah.

After all, even though Judah has her problems, she is still better than the Babylonians. (At least that was true from man’s perspective. If you remember Amos, the whole point of Amos was that Israel was worse than all the rest of the nations because she knew better. She had been given the law while the Gentiles had not. The same would apply to Judah here. They weren’t better in God’s eyes.) And God’s answer indicates that things are going to get worse, not better.

Verse 16 When he says, they offer a sacrifice to their net. The "net" was the war machine or might of Babylon. The Babylonians thought it was their own strength which allowed them to be so successful (cf. 1:11). They gave no credit to God. Habakkuk wonders how God would allow them to continue like this. And he asks the question in verse 17.

B. What can we learn from this section?

When you are talking with someone who has just experienced a tragedy, don’t just tell them “God is good. He loves you and He will work things out for the best and quote Romans 8:28-29.” I think it is okay, maybe even necessary to cry with them, hurt with them, question with them. Help them work through the pain, not ignore it. Of course you don’t want to stay there indefinitely, but it is part of the process.

Too often, Christians think the questioning part of the process is wrong. In fact Martin Lloyd-Jones makes that statement in his commentary on Habakkuk. He says, “There must be no querying, no questioning, no uncertainty about the goodness and the holiness and power of God.”4 I disagree. This is an impossible statement. People have feelings and questions. You either suppress them or express them.

There is a balance between self-pity, hopeless resignation and staying mad at God. As usual, the correct response is somewhere in the middle. I think it was Howard Hendricks whom I once heard say, “Humans only occasionally achieve balance as they are swinging from one extreme to the other.”

Habakkuk has received one answer, and he had more questions. Now 2:1 says he is going to expectantly wait for another answer from God. He is searching for understanding.

V. God’s Answer

A. God's Answer 2:2-20

Basically God's answer is this: Don't worry about the Babylonians, they will get theirs too.

He tells Habakkuk to write this down. What is about to happen is so certain, he should go ahead and record it.5 It may seem to tarry (vs 3) but it will happen.

When justice tarries, we have the feeling that it will never come, but God promises that it will. It is faith in God which makes us believe there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is “the light at the end of the tunnel” which helps us make it through. It is the pregnant lady’s knowledge that the pregnancy will finally end that helps her endure. It is the soldiers hope of escape or rescue that helps him endure as a prisoner of war. It is when there is no hope that people commit suicide.

In 2:4 we have a much quoted verse. God says, "the righteous will live by faith." Some translations have “faithfulness.” Both ideas are involved. You really can’t separate the two. Faith is what you believe. Faithfulness is acting according to what you believe. James deals with this principle in James 2.

You might say faith and faithfulness is not true and perhaps use the illustration of someone who “knows” that smoking is bad for them, but doesn’t stop. If you could really know their heart, you would find that they don’t think anything will happen to them. It is the same syndrome in which people think accidents only happen to other people.

What is the faith? It is trusting God for life. We saw this explained in Hosea.

What does faithfulness look like? It is faithfulness to God's law. It is following the moral standards of the 10 commandments which we can summarize as “loving God” and “loving one’s neighbor.” There were still righteous people in Judah. There is always a remnant and God always preserves them in the midst of his judgment. We see this point repeated in several of the prophets. This verse tells them and Habakkuk what they need to do.

B.  Babylon is compared to a drunkard whose appetite for more wine is never satisfied

2:5. Babylon is compared to a drunkard whose appetite for more wine is never satisfied. In fact, the Babylonians were famous for their drunkenness. It was during one of their drinking parties that the Cyrus and the Persians were able to sneak into the city and defeat the Babylonians.6 The Babylonians were never content with the size of their empire. They tried to conquer more and more. Only a relationship with God can satisfy.

I think there is an important concept to think about in verses 4-5. The proud person puts himself first and goes out using and abusing others. In contrast the righteous have humility and put others before self and do things for the good of others.

V I. Habakkuk gives a series of "Woe" oracles

Next, Habakkuk gives a series of "Woe" oracles to describe how bad Babylon is. But he doesn’t mention Babylon in these descriptions. He may have done that so that they would be taken more as a universal principle or description of evil. We can relate to many of the descriptions that he gives. There is a progression here. I think among the first four one sin leads to the next.

A. Woe to the Proud 2:4-5

The proud person puffed up and thinks they deserve better.

B. Woe to the Greedy 2:6-8

The greedy piles up stolen goods and want he is never satisfied.

C. Woe to the Dishonest 2:9-11

The dishonest build his realm by unjust gain and do anything to get it.

D. Woe to the Violent 2:12-14

The violent built a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime.

E. Woe to the Sensual 2:15-17

The Sensual person is searching for fulfillment through experiences - mainly sexual

F. Woe to the Idolater 2:18-20

The Idolater looks to everything else  except to God to make life work.

These characteristics certainly apply to the 20th century. 2:16-17 show that their time for judgment would come too.

V I I. Habakkuk's Prayer of Praise 3:1-19

In chapter one Habakkuk was low. He was despairing because of the evil around him. In chapter two he goes up to the watchtower to wait for the second answer. Now, in chapter three, we see him praising God and the last phrase of the book is “and makes me walk on my high places.” The book is Habakkuk’s steady progression upwards (spiritually) towards God.

Habakkuk now understands and offers a prayer of praise because God is in control.

He pleads for mercy in the midst of the judgment 1-2.
He praises God's majesty and power 3-15.
He promises to wait on the Lord 16-19.

He is afraid of what is coming. He knows it will be awful. Undoubtedly he will suffer too. Maybe personally, but at least through witnessing the death and destruction of those around him.

What is coming is frightening, but he commits himself to wait and trust in God.

At the beginning of the book I mentioned that Habakkuk’s name meant “embrace” or “wrestle.” We’ve see him wrestle with the tough questions, but what is his final response? To embrace God and trust in Him.

V I I I. Principles:

A. God sometimes seems to be inactive

But He is involved. 1:12 showed that the Babylonians were under God’s control, and He was using them to achieve His purposes.

B. God is holy. 

In 1:13 Habakkuk said that God could not approve evil. This should be a sobering thought to us as we struggle with temptations, sins, bad habits (which is a euphemism for sins), etc.

C. God hears and answers prayers.

God sometimes gives unexpected answers to our prayers. When we pray, we usually have in our minds the way we want God to answer. When He answers differently, we think He hasn’t answered at all.

D. God is Just and God is Good. 

He will judge the wicked and he is concerned for the righteous.

E. The righteous live by faith and faithfulness. 

This means we really believe that God is Good and God is just. And we live accordingly. What are some situations where you might need to do that?

F. Conclusion

In your church? Instead of changing churches when things don’t go your way or there are problems, perhaps you need be faithful to that church and try to minister to them. That may not be the best option, but it needs to be considered.

In your Marriage? If a person is having troubles in marriage the current way of dealing with it is to get a divorce. But the righteous and correct way to deal with the problem is to remain faithful to the spouse and work it out. Even if it is never worked out, you remain faithful to the spouse. (Eg. Hosea.)

In summary, I think the message of Habakkuk is very comforting to us because we live in a wicked society. We can look back at what Habakkuk wrote, see that it came true, that God really is in control, that God did protect the righteous even though they went to Babylon (eg. Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego) and He eventually brought them back to the land. Therefore, my faith in God can be bolstered by the prophecy and historical events that show God’s word is true.

As I’ve said before, prophecy is not just gee whiz information designed to tell us what is going to happen in the future. It is good for my heart because it helps me see that God is in control and God is going to preserve His people. It brings comfort for now and hope for the future.

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