Amos – Introduction (Article One)

The prophecy of Amos should simplify the choices in our lives. Instead of choosing between prayer and service, the book of Amos teaches us that both are essential. God has called Christians not only to be in relationship with Him but also to be in relationships with others. For those Christians whose tendency has been to focus more on the invisible God than on His visible creation, Amos pulls us back toward the center, where both the physical and the spiritual needs of people matter in God’s scheme of justice – Chuck Swindoll

It is seldom that uses a quote from someone else to introduce a new series of chapter-by-chapter book studies, but Chuck Swindoll says is so well. Seldom does one seriously consider a balanced service and prayer life outside of church attendance, perhaps a mid-week bible study and prayer at church or for one’s dinner. Our prayer lives suffer intimacy with God. In ignorance we pray for God to “be with us” (or so-in-so) even though both the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 36:6 and the New Testament in Hebrews 13:5 state God IS with us and will not forsake his followers. That is rote (preconditioned) prayer, not intimacy with God. Amos points this out to the northern ten tribes of Israel. It certainly applies to too many of us here and now.

Amos, an older contemporary of Hosea (and Isaiah), took a different prophetic approach to the very same sins Hosea prophesied against, but included seven other neighboring kingdoms. Amos was from the southern kingdom of Judah while Hosea was a member of the northern kingdom of Israel. We will see in Amos chapter 7 that he determines he is neither a son of a prophet nor “graduate” from their School of Prophecy. One might legitimately say that he is a layman minister; i.e. not a son of a preacher nor a product of some denominational seminary. It is not unusual for a prophet to first identify himself as to who, what and the where of his very being. In a sense, they source themselves for the sake of legitimacy that can be verified. Amos is a bit odd in that he is not quoted in any other book of the Bible. Many other prophets are quoted, paraphrased, or identified within text of other scripture.

Over and over again many commentaries and articles mention that this is “two years BEFORE the famous Amos earthquake. What earthquake? We refer you to the earthquake most likely to be the one to which Amos refers [next page]. Amazingly, this is evidence of both Amos and of his ministry since this earthquake is a benchmark in history. Keep it in mind that this website does not distinguish between histories of scripture and secular. They are within each other; the same history content but under differing contexts. Bible history and secular history are HIS-story after creation in Genesis 1.

The picture to the left is of Israel. The Amos earthquake occurred in or around 750 B.C. Researchers and archeologist “diggers” place this earthquake at or around a mid-8 seismic event. Isaiah, Zechariah, and Joel mention the damage and reference this quake. Isaiah and Zechariah come shortly after Amos in His-story.

During this time, 780 B.C. to around 740 B.C. Jeroboam II of the northern kingdom of Israel had defeated and conquered portions of Syria, Moab and Ammon. An interesting historical fact is that these territories had been the possession of the “east of Jordan Tribes of Manasseh, Gad, and Rueben”. They did not want to cross the Jordan during the time of Joshua as the pasture lands were very good to the east of the Jordan River. However, as we will point out in a later Amos article, they did send their troops across the Jordan to help their “cousins” conquer the Canaanites.

JIV NOTE: National Geographic 2017 DNA samplings have discovered that by far most of Lebanon is where the Canaanites moved after warring with Joshua and the Israelites.

Amos did not travel throughout the Northern Kingdom with his message to the Kingdom of Israel. He spent most of his time in and around Bethel, just north of his own home town in Tekoa, Judah. Bethel was one of two worship centers for the northern Tribes of Israel. The other was in Dan. Dan was to the northern sector of Israel and Bethel to the southern. Both were established to deter the members of the ten northern tribes from going to Jerusalem and the Temple in Judah to worship; even on festival days.

 Chuck Swindoll puts it this way in defining the Book of Amos and the man himself.

“Amos was fed up. While most of the prophets interspersed redemption and restoration in their prophecies against Israel and Judah, Amos devoted only the final five verses of his prophecy for such consolation. Prior to that, God’s word through Amos was directed against the privileged people of Israel, a people who had no love for their neighbor, who took advantage of others, and who only looked out for their own concerns.”

As we will read in a later article, Amos was personally “invited” to leave the northern kingdom and return to his home in Tekoa of the southern kingdom. The elite did not wish him well and the fact that he was pointing out that there was a growing wealth gap between the haves and the have-nots in the kingdom of Israel. PLUS, he notes in his book several visions he has regarding this northern territory of Israelites. We will be able to see in this series on the Book of Amos and by using just a little insight, how the message Amos leaves with Israel and God’s frustration with what was once a nation under God parallels America today (2020).

For the sake of identifying bible persons, places and things, understand that Syria at that time was NOT Assyria. They were enemies of each other.  It was a physical buffer zone between northern Israel and Assyria. Syria is often referred to as Aram. They are one and the same. Damascus was once what is called a city-state; a government to itself; i.e. Aram/Syria/Damascus; one and the same.

For a great summary of Amos and his prophetic mission, click the link below.

Rev. Dr. Jstark

Hosea – Article #16

Chapter 14

Spurgeon and Suffering - CultureWatch“This is a wonderful chapter to be at the end of such a book. I had never expected from such a prickly shrub to gather so fair a flower, so sweet a fruit; but so it is: where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound. No chapter in the Bible can be more rich in mercy than this last of Hosea; and yet no chapter in the Bible might, in the natural order of things, have been more terrible in judgment. Where we looked for the blackness of darkness, behold a noontide of light!” (Charles Spurgeon)

This insight from the great Bible student and preacher Chas. Spurgeon [1834-1892] is a great capsulizing of this last chapter in Hosea. However, Hosea 14 is conditional. This is another wonderful example of how God works yesterday, today, and future. It is of the mentioned statement or declaration in of the way God works

_you_, then I will ___” There is not one single covenant or promise made by God to man that is not contingent to this statement “if you ___ then I will ___.” Go ahead and search the Bible and discover this for yourself. The societal church has made God to fit our desires instead of us fitting his. Here is what Hosea says about this in chapter 14.

  1. Repent
  2. Renouncing every species [or type] of idolatry and image-worship
  3. Then God will reward and bless abundantly

These three points are what Spurgeon is referencing. Go back to Article #4 and review the quote from Hosea 2:17.  It helps us to understand when this will occur with the Hosea conveyed condemnation of Israelites.

“For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more.”

Note in this verse the use of the word “Baal.” It is plural. We often read the name Baal as a single unholy idol-deity of times past. Not so! Baal represents any and all things that draw us away from God First. If these sins of life will be remembered no more, we are likely talking about a time called the Millennial Reign of Christ. This gives us a setting for the context of Hosea 14.

 Hosea 14:1 is a plea for Israel to return to their God. It does not read “the God Jehovah.” It does read “YOUR God Jehovah.” How much more specific can one get?

Bring words with you” [Hosea 14:2]. To explain this let’s glance at Isaiah 1:11 then Matthew 9:13.

Isaiah 1:11“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the Lord; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.” Examine this verse with personal honesty. In a sense we sacrifice some of our income when we tithe. If we think this plus our weekly attendance, a sacrifice of our time, does it for God to be accepting, read again and out loud Isaiah 1:11. Replace the “YOUR with “MY” and read it again.

Matthew 9:13 “Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”  God desires mercy and not sacrifice? In short this is saying if one already thinks him or herself as righteous, we will see if that is good enough. God prefers a confessing TONGUE (words) above any type of sacrifice. A sacrifice is depending on one’s effort to offer the sacrifice and the sacrifice itself to be a redeeming plan of action. Very similar to attending church without fail, tossing in a weekly tithe, sitting on a church board, working the sound system, sweeping up after church, or things like helping during spring clean-up on weekends… all in an attempt to get us in the good graces and mercy of God.

Now back to Hosea 14:2…bring words and a heart of true confession then follow God’s plan for Christian living. One may ask ‘how am I to know the plan?’ Have you or someone you know tried to put something with many parts together without reading and following the step-by-step instructions? Our instructions come from the Bible. It is not the preacher’s job to read them for us. We must gain instruction and study the word of God ourselves. Proverbs 20:15 is but one great example…”Gold is there and rubies are abundant, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel.” Without knowledge there can be no understanding. Without understanding there can be no desire. Without desire can be no plan of action!

Take words of confession and praise with us to God in the form of confession and worship. All else is but demonstration to him.

Hosea 14:3 uses a symbolic name, Assyria, to represent any help from outside. This is the state of the State of Israel in End Time. No help is coming from outside. They MUST depend on God and God alone.. Verse 4 “…for my anger has turned away from them.” Recall in a previous article that God has left the Northern Kingdom of Israel to their devices. He has turned his back on them. This passage in chapter 14 tells us that God will forgive and return to his children. They will know, understand, and desire HE be their one and only God. How many times is it written in scripture…”THEN THEY WILL KNOW THAT I AM THEIR GOD.”

Hosea 14:5-8 are all comparative symbolisms; i.e. metaphors. Ultimately each description puts bountiful beauty into the lives of those God left to their own back in 622 B.C., 2,600 years ago.

We finish this commentary of Hosea with the closing verse Hosea 14:9. It is seldom clearer to the eye that reads, and the mind that listens. “Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right; The righteous walk in them, But transgressors stumble in them.”

Rev Dr Jstark

PS; This remarkable book of Hosea is as if speaking directly to the true bible believing Christian and all those other places who use the name for a 401k or tax deductible institution while being socially good. Recall that the Old Testament is to a nation. The New Testament is to us as individuals, not as an institution called a church. We so often confuse the meaning of the church as a building, denomination, or group setting of good guys with memberships in the institution instead of names written down in glory.

Since Hosea’s contemporary was Amos, we plan to go there next. Keep a learning point in mind. Hosea and Amos speak to the sins and God-issues in the Northern Kingdom of Israel but to somewhat differing sins that God wanted pointed out.

Hosea – Article #15

Hosea Article #15
Chapter 13

Relentless? Has one experienced when another is simply untiring of task, faith, political association, mindset, or goal? Hosea 13 is a distinction of God’s relentlessness on his chosen people. God finally determines that they will not be a people of respect again until the Millennial Reign of Christ. Why? Dan Hubbard of Hubbard Ministries puts it this way regarding Hosea 13:1 & 2:

Viewed together, their sin is a total perversion of values. A craftsman’s work is elevated to divine status; human beings sacrifice their offspring to a metal object from whose lifeless form they also beg help; persons embrace with adulation the images of the very animals that they use for ploughing, threshing and hauling.”

There are consquences to sin.

Hosea 13 is brutal in how it describes the consequences of the sin of the Northern Tribes of Israel and as shepherded by the Tribe of Ephraim. If one’s realities of the actualities Hosea prophesies per Israel are too harsh to stomach, one may wish to skip this article. It is God speaking his judgement words through Hosea. If this chapter does not strike fear in the heart of the half-hearted and insincere Christian at home or in a worship service, it should. Half-hearted believers BEWARE!

Let’s begin with verse 12 then retreat to the beginning of this chapter. “The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is kept in store.” Bound up as in packaged and kept in store to later be retrieved. This is absolute reason for the Northern Kingdom of Israel to fall into great fear of God. No longer will they be appeased, shepherded, guided and protected by the God who made them his chosen through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their sin will be packaged and stored evidence against them. It is wise to remember that Old Testament salvation was to a tribe or nation (ethnos) of people. The New Testament is to individuals. Several times in Old Testament scriptures the people of Israel suffered as a group for the sin of others within that group.

Hosea 13:2 is poignant. Israel sins more and more. It is akin to us today. When we get away with something over and over it becomes what is called our Modus-Operando with no obvious consequences. We got away with it before so why not continue getting away with it? It is as if our continual repetition of sin has become protected by some type of Teflon. “They sin more and more” but seemingly without consequences. How is this so? The Northern Kingdom of Israel has prospered greatly while walking away from God. They think there is to be no consequences.

Human sacrifice on manmade alters and to manmade gods. Recall but a few years earlier Elijah on Mt. Carmel challenged the prophets of Baal and King Ahab along with Queen Jezebel. Life is created by God. Even the life of animals and plants exist only because God spoke them into existence. How does man think he has a greater authority to take the life of an unborn or just born child? They are like the morning mist [13:3b]. They will be swept away. Their judgement is coming.

Hosea 13:4, “besides me [God] there is no savior” has the use of a lower case “s”. It means nothing will save Israel outside of God himself. This is a promise, not just a comment or conjecture. So the word savior (O.T.) and Savior (N.T.) are apparent parallels in this passage of Hosea but have differing context. It also means that the war and treaty pact Israel signed with Assyrian and the bribery of Egypt with shipments of Olive oils will not save them from God’s judgement.

The next verse (6) is what it is like to live for self. People promise anything if hungry but forget the promise once full. This is existential humanism at work. As the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard suggested: the best use of our capacity for making choices is to freely choose to live a fully human life, rooted in a personal search for [personal] values, rather than an external code. An external code refers to another who is attempting authority of you. Once satisfied or gratified, seek the next adventure. This is the Israel of Hosea. Within the next 120 years this will be the Israelites of Judah. F. B. Meyer puts it well…In the wilderness we are thankful enough for His help, but when we reach the land of the vine and olive, we follow the devices and desires of our own hearts. Might this be true of any insincere so-called Christian or many church/denominational perishers? Once satisfied for this week, we retreat to our real lives.

“I gave you a king in my anger and took him away in my wrath.” God did not want Israel to be anything but a theocracy. He allowed [king] Saul to go to the throne of Israel. Samuel made it clear that a demand for a king back in the time of the Judges of Israel was not wise, but God allowed it. Hosea 13:11 proves it. God did select King David and Solomon but the existence of a king put a buffer between them and him. For many years both Judah and Israel too often depended on their king to save them, not God. Judah had some good kings who tried to lead as God wanted but even Solomon fell short. The Kingdom of Israel went in the direction of idols and existentialism. Want additional evidence of why God wanted a theocracy, not kingdoms? It was the choice of kings that ultimately divided the United Kingdom (nation) of Israel into two smaller kingdoms…Rehoboam (Judah) and Jeroboam (northern Israel).

Now Hosea 13 gets blunt. I will fall upon them as does a mother bear robbed of her cubs. There is no mercy. To get between a mother bear and her cubs is usually one’s last fatal mistake. God will rip his people apart. This “rip them apart” means more that to separate them geographically. They have suffered traumatic times ever since 722 B.C. and 606 B.C. Even today they are the butt of global hate. There are no or very few logical reasons for this global hate but God ordained it in Hosea so it is as it is.

The golden calf as described in the book of Exodus

Was this the first time God was driven to great anger by Israelis? One great example of another is in Exodus 32. They made a golden calf after Moses seemed to go missing in Mt. Sinai. This is where he was given the Ten Commandments by God’s finger.

“‘I have seen these people,’ the LORD said to Moses, ‘and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you [Moses} into a great nation.'” (Exodus 32:9-10)

Hosea 13:13 has too many differing translations attempting to say the same thing but in so many different ways. Simply put, it means Israel will no longer tarry or remain in the place of the birth of their sons. This separation will be like the birth-pains of a woman. The Assyrians would be very brutal. In ONE example, the captive Israelis of the Northern Kingdom were stripped naked by Assyrian soldiers. They were made to travel without shelter or sandals suffering greatly due to the elements over many weeks of travel other locations. Many thousands were taken to barren lands where mankind had yet to settle, tame, and plow the lands for crops while being exposed to the wild animals of that day…lions, bear, and leopards.

Hosea 13:14 almost seems out of context. God promises to pay their ransom; redeem them from death (End Time); all followed by punishment of dry lands, the dangerous east wind, Samaria [Ephraim/Israel] bearing her guilt, falling by a future sword, infants being slain and women torn asunder. There is nothing here but a nasty future for them, that is, until the millennial reign of Christ.

JIV NOTE: The Apostle Paul quoted the Septuagint translation of Hos_13:14 in describing our triumph over death in our sharing in the resurrection of Jesus: O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? (1Co_15:55) . The Septuagint was ordered written during the time of Ptolemy of Egypt. He inherited a portion of the Alexandrian Empire in the mid-3rd century. The Apostle Paul used the phrasing of this Greek translation over 300 years after it was written.

Rev. Dr. Jstark

Hosea – Article #14

Chapter 12

With all respect for the multiplicity of commentaries and translations, it appears that Hosea 12:1 is misunderstood or at minimum, not well explained. In politics and to the life-long politicians who seek to keep favor with the majority of societal or cultural trends, one “sticks his finger to the wind to test from which direction it is coming.” THIS is Hosea 12:1…

(MKJV) “Ephraim feeds on wind and follows after the east wind. He daily multiplies lies and cruelty. And they make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.”

Feed on the wind: to consider which wind is the prevailing wind direction; i.e. from what neighbor is the better treaty option. None are good choices.

Follows after the east wind: Many commentaries point out the devastation of an easterly-wind. In this case, the Northern Kingdom of Israel is seeking the benefit of having Assyria (to the east) as a treaty (covenant) friend.

Oil (as in olive oils) carried to Egypt: As we studied in Daniel’s (11th chapter) view of prophecy, the King of the North and the King of the South are represented in what Israel is doing to appease both sides; Egypt and Assyria. They put their finger to the air to test from which direction the wind (strength) is blowing.

Hosea 12:2, 3 symbolically do remind us of the issues in the birth of twins Esau and Jacob. MKJV (Modern King James Version) states that from birth to this day the descendants of Jacob and the descendants of Esau were and remain to this day at life and death odds. Hosea continues recapping Jacob’s controversies in 12:4 by reminding the reader that Jacob wrestled with an angel of the Lord in Bethel. It was there Hosea reminds his Northern Kingdom cousins that “God spoke with/to us” through Jacob the father of Israel.

Aha Moment

JIV NOTE or AHAMOMENT: There is something that demands a better understanding as to what Hosea is symbolically referencing. Rather than call upon the Lord God for guidance, Israel has called upon its neighbors for strength and protection. 12:2 brings up the name of Jacob. Back in Geneses 32 he wrestled with an angel of the Lord God. This passage states that Jacob claims to have come came face-to-face with God. No man can look upon the face of God and live [Exodus 33:20; Moses]. No space or time to explain this in detail but here is the short of it. was told he could not look upon the face of God yet God put him within the cleft of mountain rocks, passed by the small opening between the rocks, and showed him his continence, his glory as he passed by. One book earlier (Genesis 32) Abraham’s grandson Jacob claims to have seen the face of God when he wrestle with the angel in Bethel. In verse 30 of Genesis 32 we read…”And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel for I have seen God face-to-face…” (KJV). The ahamoment per scripture is not to what face-to-face actually means other than Jacob was confronted and faced up to his weaknesses. The ahamoment is that he named the place PENIEL because he saw the face of God. We as humans have a brain-gland doctors identify as the Pineal Gland. It means “in the mind’s eye where thoughts originate.” So the Hebrew pen-oo-ale’  “a mind’s eye” and the Hebrew for face, pânı̂ym are similar. However, there is doubt that Jacob had a doctors’ dictionary with him. We use the words “in one’s mind or mind’s eye” all of the time. Physicians did not discover this brain gland for hundreds of years after this moment with Jacob and the Angel of the Lord in Peniel (aha!)

Text Box: Mind's eyeIsrael trusted in making deals and payoffs to the surrounding superpowers. It was foolish for them to think that Assyria or Egypt was more powerful or dependable than was God. But, for this foolishness their days were then numbered. Never again until the return of Jesus will they be as a unified people.

Hosea 12:4 also states that Jacob had “prevailed” over the angel of the Lord as he did his brother Esau when he grasped Esau’s heel while being born. The only way we can prevail over God’s intent for our lives is to knowingly submit to his will. To grasp a heel requires one to “attack” from behind. Genesis 49:17 says this about the Tribe of Dan and heels… Dan will be a snake by the roadside, a viper along the path that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward.

Hosea 12:7-9 remind me of the man who came forward in church. He was wrestling with personal family issues seeking guidance as to what to do. The ministered suggested that he and this man pray together right then and there. After a short time the man stopped the minister in the midst of his prayer. He said, (paraphrased) “never mind praying to God. I just figured out what to do on my own.” Oh did he? His solution came during his prayer regarding his family issue. This man gave no credit to the possibility the answer was sent to him because of the pastor’s prayer; in a sense intercession. Hosea points out that Ephraim, the dominant Tribe of the ten Tribes of Israel, sometime the generic name for the Northern Kingdom, was doing the same thing. They *prospered and gave no credit to God for his blessings. Go back and re-read Article 12; chapter 10 for greater details.

*Israel was at the pinnacle of their prosperity at this time.

This is very similar to Frank Sinatra once singing the song, I DID IT MY WAY. Let’s be honest. MY WAY could be to give honor and glory to God. However, that is or was not the intent of Ephraim’s heart. Hosea 12:8 summarizes it well.

(YLT) And Ephraim saith: `Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself. All my labors–they find not against me iniquity that is sin.’  This does not need translating but here it is…I have become rich but I did it my way without the help of anyone or any god. This is blatant rejection of any help from God. Ephraim is correct in suggesting that he got no help from the gods of stone, wood, brick, all manmade but ignores the fact the God of Israel had blessed them in spite of these ten tribes rejecting or treating HIM insincerely.

God points out in verse 12:11 this religiousness of the northern tribes of Israel is nothingness to him…”your altars are as heaps in the open fields”; nothing more and nothing less. Nothing plus nothing is easy math. In the modern church the culture of religiousness is similar. Try going a week without a bulletin if one is used. Worse yet, keep the bulletin but change its formatting.  The congregant words that day and weeks to follow will not be of worship, praise and fellowship!

Whether it be in reference to the Tribe of Ephraim or the peoples of the entirety of the ten northern tribes, the last verse in Hosea 12 is pointed…(ESV) “Ephraim has given bitter provocation; so his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him and will repay him for his disgraceful deeds.”

Rev Dr Jstark
May 2020