he who forms the mountains and creates the wind,
and declares to man what is his thought,
who makes the morning darkness,
and treads on the heights of the earth—
the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name!
Amos 4:13 (ESV)
July 1 Amos 1-5
July 2 Amos 6-9
July 3 Hosea 1-5
July 4 Hosea 6-9
July 5 Hosea 10-14
July 6 Isaiah 1-4
Great readings this week! Both Amos and Hosea are called “Minor” Prophets, but not because their message is lesser. The Minor Prophets simply have shorter texts. Isaiah is a “Major” Prophet with a longer text. All three men lived during the time of the events in 2 Kings. Hosea was a prophet to Israel; Amos was also called in Israel but his message was intended for both kingdoms; and Isaiah was sent to talk to Judah.
The three men had very dissimilar lives, showing us today that God can call anyone from anywhere. Isaiah (and his wife 8:3) was a professional prophet. Hosea was instructed to marry a prostitute and have children by her as an “action sermon” to show the people how far they had moved from God. Amos was a sheep tender who was ridiculed by the people for not having the equivalent of a seminary degree. All three prophets spoke to the events of their time, but Isaiah’s prophecies are also Messianic and speak to “last days” issues as well.
Hosea – a picture of the people’s worldliness. Israel had intermarried and as a result, they stepped away from worship of God and now worshiped pagan gods (the god Baal required them to “worship” with temple prostitutes and both men and women were provided for their sexual sins). They used the many blessings God gave them to serve their own interests, and in the cases where the worship was meant for God, it was hypocritical – their hearts weren’t in it. When Hosea spoke, the people “repented” but their hearts weren’t in it (6:10). They were more interested in conforming to their world than to God’s mandates and had no remorse (7:2). Aren’t we like that today? We sin and get caught. We tell God that we’re sorry, but it’s not a brokenhearted I’m sorry. It’s more like the 4 year old who is told to say they are sorry. The words are there, but the actions don’t match up.
Back "then", the prophets were speaking for God and created the Old Testament. Today we have the entire Bible to remind us that we are to remain faithful to God.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 1 John 2:15-17 (ESV)
What parts of the world do you need to give up? I had to give up television several years back. God forced me to see how evil entertainment had become. Even my favorite show had adultery (I justified by saying “they don’t show anything”). It was hard for me to turn away from television, but that’s what God wanted me to do. Is God telling you to get rid of something? Hosea shows us that we must listen!
When Israel decided to “repent”, we know that it wasn’t heartfelt. They were shallow!
· Wanted healing without cleansing and wanted it fast (6:2). Their problems didn’t occur overnight, yet they wanted God to fix them right away. They expected forgiveness and restoration as a right as God’s chosen people and not as part of a relationship with God.
· They relied on religious form rather than righteous deeds. (Busted! I’ve been guilty).
Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. 2 Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. Eccl 5:1-2 (ESV)
Israel didn’t choose true repentance, and in 722BC they were invaded by Assyria. The twelve tribes were scattered and remain so today (Isaiah 11:12, John 7:35, James 1:1). Only God knows the location of the tribes, and has promised to seal 144,000 during the time of Tribulation (Revelation 7:1-8).
Hosea reminds us of many facets of God’s love:
· His leading of the people during the Exodus (11:1-2) although Israel was an ungrateful son (Exodus 4:22-23).
· His leading and feeding the people during their wanderings in the wilderness (11:3-4)
· His longsuffering (11:5-7).
· Faithfulness to His promises (11:8-9). God keeps His unconditional covenant with His people (Genesis 12:1-3) even when the people stray.
· Hope of future restoration (11:10-12). God will someday call His people with a roar (Isaiah 31:4; Joel 3:16).
· But – those that God loves are disciplined (12:1-13:6) (see Hebrews 12:6, Proverbs 3:11-12)
· Promises He will not abandon His people (14:1-9) (see 2 Timothy 2:13)
· He will forgive us if we are sincerely repentant (14:2-3) (see Psalm 51:16-17)
· He will restore us (14:4) after we confess our sins (1 John 1:9)
· He will revive us (14:5-9) and bring us new life. Which will you choose, the way of the Lord or the way of the world? He’s given us two roads: life and death, blessing and cursing (Deuteronomy 30:19).
Amos – showing all God’s people that they have sinned. Amos focuses on man’s inhumanity to man. He calls out various cities for their mistreatment of people, their constant anger, and their vicious and brutal conflicts. These sins are present in both kingdoms. Amos warns the people of judgment because of their actions.
Amos chastises the wealthy among people about their injustice and indifference to the poor (4:1, 5:12, 8:4-6). He condemns their fraudulent business practices (5:7, 11, 12; 8:4-6) and their lack of concern for sin and evil (6:4-6). He accuses them of a lack of genuine religious faith (5:21-23).
Amos warns the rich that they will be the first to lose all – not because of their wealth, but because they used their position to oppress the poor and needy. No matter our circumstances, God expects us to help those less fortunate. Will He commend you for your actions toward the less fortunate, or will you be condemned?
Isaiah. In the first four chapters, Isaiah condemns Judah’s wickedness and highlights their hypocritical worship (1:10-20). Like Hosea, Isaiah compares their lack of faithfulness to whoredom (1:20) and promises destruction to the unrepentant (1:26).
It’s interesting how Chapter 2:2-4 echoes Micah 4:1-3:
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, 3 and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4 He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.
Isaiah 2:2-4 (ESV)
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, 2 and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 3 He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore;
Micah 4:1-3 (ESV)
Isaiah warns the people of God’s upcoming judgment – a judgment so severe that there is great depravation (3:1) and removal of responsible leaders (3:2-5). All will be stripped away, even from the women (3:17-4:1).
All is not lost, though. The result of the cutting away of the ungodly will be a beautiful and glorious city where, reminiscent of the leadership during the Exodus, God will cover Mount Zion with a cloud by day and a fire by night.
What benefits have you found from a daily Bible reading? Is your faith strengthened? Do you find the text interesting on most days? Have you learned more about God? About changes you need to make in your life? For me it’s been a desire to delve more deeply into His Word (it’s a challenge to keep my posts under 2,000 words sometimes).
I would love to know how your daily reading impacts your life. Please email me or leave a comment on the blog.
Do you have questions? If you do, you can email me or leave a comment. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll research until I find it!
What insights can you share? The Bible is a living Book and it has so many layers and facets. I would love to know what you’ve seen that I’ve missed!
May God be gracious to you in the coming week. I look forward to hearing from you!