Minor Prophets Part 2 – Joel

Prophet Joel, Russian icon from first quarter ...

Prophet Joel, Russian icon from first quarter of 18th cen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We should mention that, just as the Books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel and Daniel are referred to as the “major prophets” because of their length – not as an indication of importance, the same is true of the so-called “minor prophets.” The Book of Joel, for example, is only three chapters. But do not be misled, Joel is a powerful and important book of prophecy.

There is no definitive evidence from the text as to when the book was written. Guess-timates vary greatly, and there is little agreement between scholars. Just as many can be found to date the book after the Babylonian captivity as before. This blogger believes it to have been written before the captivity. Many Hebrew scholars believe Joel  prophesied under Manasseh, which would place him in most likely the late 7th century B.C. (Manasseh began his reign as co-regent with his father, Hezekiah, in about 696 B.C., and his reign ended with his death in about 642 B.C.). This was just over 20 years after the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom and deported most of its population.

Verse one of chapter one tells us that Joel (whose name means “Yahweh is God”) was the son of Pethuel (whose name means “mouth of God”). We do not know much else about him. Certainly, Joel’s message is to the Southern Kingdom, and his references to Jerusalem and knowledge of the priests and the temple suggest that he may himself have been from Jerusalem. The obvious theme of the book is “the day of the Lord.” The phrase is repeated over and over throughout the book.

English: The Captivity of Judah, as in 2 Chron...

English: The Captivity of Judah, as in 2 Chronicles 36:11-21, illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The setting of the book is a time of great spiritual indifference, but also of great devastation from a locust invasion that has laid the land to waste, and has affected every aspect of their lives. But Joel’s message is that the coming “day of the Lord” will make this look like nothing! The only way to avoid the coming judgment, he tells them, is to truly repent.

As we have noted is the case with this phrase in other passages in the scriptures, “the day of the Lord” simply refers to a time when God will take some sort of decisive action. It does not always, as many make the mistake of assuming, refer to the final day of judgment. In the case of this book, it appears to refer to the judgment of Judah to come (at the hands of the Babylonians), as well as to the judgment that will come to Israel in A.D. 70. Peter, on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:16-21, refers to Joel 2:28-32, as he preaches about the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the prophesying, and other signs of the new age of Christians. The first part of this in Joel begins:

“And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit.”

Destruction of Jerusalem under the Babylonian ...

Destruction of Jerusalem under the Babylonian rule. Illustration from the Nuremberg Chronicle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The second part of the passage, also referred to by Peter, is the same as some of the warning Jesus gave of the signs for Christians to look for when they should leave Jerusalem before its A.D. 70 destruction (Matthew 24:29-30).  Indeed, we will no doubt deal more in depth with this subject in another blog, as we discuss some of the secular evidence of the signs Jesus gave in the preceding verses of Matthew 24, which resulted in many Christians becoming the “survivors” that Joel speaks of in the second part of the passage:

“And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls.”

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Proverbs 21 – Finding Life, Righteousness, and Honor

The truths proclaimed in the proverbs often can be found in other scriptures, sometimes worded perhaps a little differently, but with the same meaning. That’s the thing about truth – it is consistently true. What a blessing it is that we can depend on God’s word to always be so consistent for the same reasons! Consider verse 21 of this chapter in the Book of Proverbs:

Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness
will find life, righteousness, and honor

Church of the Beatitudes, located on one traditional site where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.

Church of the Beatitudes, located on one traditional site where Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.

Sound familiar? It should. Jesus said it again a bit differently in what we call the Beatitudes – Matthew 5:6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” Like the Beatitudes, The Book of Proverbs gives us wonderful truths and great instructions for how to navigate through life in a fallen world.

Notice that the verse above includes kindness with righteousness. Jesus spoke of both, but he made it clear that each of them of a necessity includes the other. We were brought into this world to serve – to serve God and to serve each other. There are many such passages that tell us so. One of them is found in Galatians 5:13: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” We are blessed in so many ways, only one of which is that we have a God – a God who knows what is best for us, and what will bring us true happiness.

When we direct our lives about the business of sowing righteousness and kindness, we will reap exactly those things. Honor comes by itself as a gift without seeking it – a further blessing for simply doing the right thing in all that we do.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 20 – The Lamp of the Lord

Creation07Some of the most obvious external evidences to “see” that God exists are the manifestations of the fact that God created man in His own image. The non-believer who truly believes that man is just chemicals and cells that have magically evolved over time into the intricate and intelligent human beings that we are will never be able to adequately explain these things. But we get the answers over and over again from the Bible; and verse 27 is another such example:

The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord,
searching all his innermost parts

The unbeliever cannot account for the concepts of good and evil, right and wrong, beauty, love, or even how we have a conscience. The knowledge of such things are because of the reflection of our Creator; and along with our eternal souls, they are His gifts to us.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 19 – A Man of Great Wrath

When reading the Book of Proverbs, it is good to remember two useful facts. One of those is that some of the proverbs are often about the way things are – not the way that they should be. Another is that some of them should be considered a general truth, and that there can be exceptions from time to time. Could Proverbs 19:19 be an example of the latter?

A man of great wrath will pay the penalty,
for if you deliver him, you will only have to do it again

The prison, Reading Built in 1844 and immortli...

The prison, Reading Built in 1844 and immortlised by Oscar Wilde in his Ballad of Reading Gaol. He wrote De Profundis whilst incarcerated here from 1895 to 1897. Today it houses young offenders. For more information see the Wikipedia article Reading (HM Prison). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Possibly. Anyone can change. And there is no such thing as impossible where the Lord is concerned. If God is at work in the life of any man (or woman), any sort of turnaround is not only believable, but historically proven. But violent crime often results from anger that becomes outright rage; and very often, those who cannot (or will not) control themselves in one such situation are very likely to not be able to control themselves when they find themselves in that state again.

In an article for “The Telegraph” in the UK, it was reported that more than half a million crimes were committed by repeat offenders in the previous year. Separate figures showed 134 dangerous criminals were suspected of carrying out serious further offences such as murder, rape and other violence despite being monitored by the authorities (Tom Whitehead, 27 Oct 2011, Telegraph Media Group Limited). In a story reported by Samantha Donavan and Simon Lauder for ABC News “The World Today,” an expert is quoted as saying that parole is not appropriate for dangerous repeat offenders (http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2013/s3784879.htm).

Whether it is considered to be for the protection of innocent people in the future and/or for the good of the offender himself, we would do well to note that the proverb does warn us that saving someone from paying the penalty for
such rage does invite a disregard for future consequences.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 18 – A High Wall

English: The photograph image of Nikola Tesla ...

English: The photograph image of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) at age 34. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nikola Tesla was born to Serbian parents in what is now modern-day Croatia. Undoubtedly a genius of a man, he was educated in such places as the Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, Austria, earning top grades. He had an eidetic memory, and spoke 8 languages. But along the way, his heart became ensnared in gambling to such a degree that he lost vast sums, putting himself in financial ruin. Nevertheless, Tesla did finally make it to France, where he began in 1882 working for the Continental Edison Company, transferring to New York City in 1884 to work for Edison himself.

After a falling out with Edison over an alleged broken promise of a $50,000 reward for his improvements to Edison’s motors and generators (Edison reportedly gave him an insulting $10 raise instead), he left to form his own companies, one of which was the Tesla Electric Company – formed with the backing of an attorney and a director of Western Union. Tesla’s inventions, patents, experiments, etc. gained him much wealth, and included such things as pioneering the use of AC current practically, X-ray experimentation, and radio technology (he lost a patent battle with Marconi in 1904). He made many other scientific contributions, and many more are rumored – though some have not yet been substantiated.

One of the oldest X-Ray photographs known - an X-Ray of Tesla's hand

One of the oldest X-Ray photographs known – an X-Ray of Tesla’s hand

During his glory years, he lived in lavish hotels and celebrated his birthdays by throwing lavish parties to which he invited the press to announce his inventions and experiments – often making what some considered to be wild claims. Tesla had some disturbing views on what he termed “human pity” working against the “ruthless workings of nature,” which compelled him to support “selected breeding” and eugenics. But puzzlingly, some historians have described him as a “humanist!” But the genius innovator-turned-high-roller (who had sold his AC patents) died impoverished at age 84 in his hotel room.

Tesla was wealthy, but his vast intellect was just as much a part of his wealth (and indeed, probably more important to his own mind). But he died alone, broke, and no better off for any of it. Proverbs 18:11-12 read as follows:

A rich man’s wealth is his strong city,
and like a high wall in his imagination.
Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty,
but humility comes before honor

The “high wall” of Tesla’s wealth and intelligence provided him no advantage in the end, nor did his pride. He had tried in vain to lay up his treasures on earth. It reminds us, of course, of the parable Jesus told of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21 (part of which follows below) that tells of a man intent on accumulating wealth and making plans for using it, in which God tells the man:

“Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 17 – Laugh More!

OK, so we know that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived (1 Kings 3:11-12).  So we should not be surprised when something he wrote (or any other scripture, for that matter) is validated by secular science, as is the case with verse 22 of this chapter (“a joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones”).

English: Watching a comedic television show he...

English: Watching a comedic television show helps provoke laughter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As far back as I can remember, my mother was a subscriber to “Reader’s Digest,” and one of my favorite parts was a joke section called “Laughter the Best Medicine.” That saying was always accepted as a general home-spun truism by most people – one of those things that “everybody knows.” But according to the Mayo Clinic (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-relief/SR00034), laughter not only relieves stress, it has positive effects on your physical health in many ways.

According to this staff article, laughter “…enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air, stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles, and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain.” Other benefits include relieving one’s stress response, stimulating circulation and relaxing muscles, improving the immune system, relieving pain, and lessening depression and anxiety, I can vouch for those last two, as I have noticed the positive effects on my anxiety caused by even a single genuine laugh.

The trouble is, when we most need it the most, we often do not feel like laughing. But we should not just toss the thought aside. Next time these troubles threaten to engulf us, let’s try seeking out laughter in some way – whether it is a comedy on TV, a funny movie, a favorite companion, or even simple things like reading jokes somewhere. Give laughter a try – it’s Biblical!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 16 – Steadfast Love and Faithfulness

Albert Barnes commented on the first seven verses of chapter 16, saying that they “have, more than any other group, an especially religious character impressed upon them. The name of Yahweh as Giver, Guide, Ruler, or Judge, meets us in each of them” (Barnes, Albert. “Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament” Kregel Classics; 8th edition (June 30, 1962). And verses 5, 6, and 7, which we will examine here, do indeed refer to God as Ruler, Judge, and as Guide.

Isaac refuses to fight the Philistines for his wells -- Genesis 26:17-33

Isaac refuses to fight the Philistines for his wells — Genesis 26:17-33

In verse 6, Solomon tells us that “by steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.” One must understand that the first clause does not refer to the actions of man. The atonement by sacrifice that is referred to here (just like forgiveness of our sins through the blood of Jesus Christ) comes by the grace of God’s steadfast love for us, and His faithfulness to his promises.

Verse seven points out the truth that “when a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” This does not mean that the righteous will never be harmed by their enemies. But in general, living life according to God’s commands presents a different view to the world, and inspires trust and respect. A good example of this is given to us in Genesis 26:26-28, where Abimelech makes such a covenant Isaac.

Verse 5 states that “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” In fact, this very sin is the first in the list given of things that God hates in Proverbs 6:16-19.  This is just one of many examples of consistency in God’s word that exists in detail that is so great and widespread in such a long book. That is just one of many facts that reinforce the Christian’s faith in the Bible as the word of God. Obviously, that is the way God intended it!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 15 – Feeding on Folly

We have said before that one of the main senses in which the Old Testament, and particularly the Book of Proverbs, uses the word “fool” is in reference to someone who is an unbeliever. Other definitions include one who acts unwisely or imprudently, and (our favorite) someone who is incorrigible – which often goes with the unbeliever. It is with these facts in mind that we now turn to the 14th verse of Proverbs 15:

The heart of him who has understanding seeks knowledge,
but the mouths of fools feed on folly

space_003By definition, the one who has understanding has already begun to acquire some measure of wisdom (knowledge). And as Solomon has constantly drove home the point, beginning in Proverbs 1:7, “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” So having gained wisdom, what does the person who fears the Lord continue to do? He continues to seek knowledge. And why is that? It is because he has learned for himself what is told to us in Proverbs 2:10-12:

…for wisdom will come into your heart,
and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul;
discretion will watch over you,
understanding will guard you,
delivering you from the way of evil

But as verse 14 also says, “the mouths of fools feed on folly.” The fool, whose mind is “set on the flesh”, having rejected God – having become hostile to God, and so cannot submit to God’s law (Roman’s 8:7), therefore must feed on folly in order to validate in his own mind that rejection. He will swallow any folly (or even delusion) that feeds that ignorance – from Darwinism to false religions, or even ancient alien ancestors! Anything, in his own mind, is better to the fool than bowing to the authority of the Almighty God.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 14 – The End of Joy May Be Grief

depression_anxiety_003Verse 10 says that “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy.” No matter how close we get to someone, rarely does anyone ever reach the point that we share every detail of the heart. Almost without exception it is just human nature to hold something back – at a minimum, the darkest moments are not shared. By the same token, nobody who is not close truly shares the joy that comes to us at those rare times when fortunes are at their best.

Verse 13 says “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief.” Outward appearances can sometimes be deceptive; and we do not always know what is in another’s heart. Many times, people surround themselves with those they believe will make them happy, hoping the sorrow will go away. But often, the charade ends up leaving them still in need of support.

The answer to these enigmas is prayer. The Lord knows our needs and wants to listen to us when we are in despair. Casting our burdens on him is not simply a good thing to do – it is scriptural; and develops the trust in Him that we need.

Psalm 34:18 – The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 147:3 – He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

1 Peter 5:7 – Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Proverbs 13 – Always Rejoicing

In verses 7-9, the Holy Spirit teaches us that which is of the greatest value in life, yet is seldom seen as such by most people. Nobody begins life as an adult by seeking to be unsuccessful. We get the best education that we can. We try to earn our wages in a field in which we possess some skill; and if possible, we try to put some away for our later years when we are no longer able to work. For some, success at doing these things comes very easily. Others do not always find that to be the case.

early 1890sV. 7
One pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.
V. 8
The ransom of a man’s life is his wealth,
but a poor man hears no threat.
v. 9
The light of the righteous rejoices,
but the lamp of the wicked will be put out

Are the wealthy always so much better off than the poor indeed? The accumulation of such great wealth, though appealing to most of us, does not always result in the best quality of life. Mountains of money and endless possessions did not seem to make life joyous for Howard Hughes. Elvis Presley’s fame and fortune often kept him from going out in public, and he died seemingly “before his time” as did Michael Jackson.

family reunionMy parents were “products” of the Great Depression, and knew first-hand what poverty was like. My father had to leave school in the 8th great to go to work just so the family could survive. They never had much in worldly possessions when they were growing up; and after the Great War, life was still a struggle. We never had great wealth even after I was born, but I and my siblings never knew what it was like to be truly hungry or to do without any of what most people would consider to be the real necessities of life. All the way into my teenage years, I often marveled at the simple life my grandparents still lived in a house no larger in square footage than the game room in my current home.

But who is rich, and who is poor really? My grandparents and their siblings made up a large extended family that was always close through the years before and after the “baby boom.” And though they had little in the way of material wealth, they were incredibly happy because they had been given a precious gift – great love for the Lord, and for each other. and nearly 60 years later, the family reunions have remained large in numbers.

Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 6:8-10 come to mind:

…We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.