“For behold, He who forms mountains and creates the wind and declares to man what are His thoughts, He who makes dawn into darkness and treads on the high places of the earth, the Lord God of hosts is His name.” – Amos 4:13 (NASB)
Before Amos began prophesying, he had been one of the “shepherds” of Tekoa, a town in the hill country of Judah about. It was the Northern Kingdom of Israel, to whom Amos’ message was directed. Amos, was called to prophesy in Israel and the message God gave him was primarily one of judgment, though it ended with words of hope. Like Israel in In the middle of the 8th century B.C., we must meet our God in judgment; but if we try to face God upon our good deeds, we shall not be able to stand before Him. If we would prepare to meet our God, we must now meet him in Christ Jesus, the eternal Son of the Father, who came to save lost sinners. We must seek Him while he is to be found. Our verse reveals the God whom we must be prepared to face. He is the Lord God Almighty. Our Sovereign God who holds all things together (Colossians 1:17), who created the mountains and the winds and who can turn the dawn back to darkness, this eternal omnipotent God is who only Jesus can prepare us to stand before Him (Jude 1:24-25).
“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.” – Joel 2:28 (ESV)
One thing to know is that we don’t know the time that things will happen – speaking now about prophecy. Prophecies are promises of either blessings or warning. But we DO know with certainty that these promises will happen and they will happen in God’s timing. This prophetic promise in Joel is part of a promised visitation by locusts and it’s a warning. Chapter 1 is describing an actual invasion of locusts that will devastate the Land. Chapter 2 increases the intensity of that promised plague with specific detail. Our verse is a promise of an abundance of material blessings that will be followed by the outpouring of spiritual blessings. The phrases in the passage “in those days” (Joel 2: 29) and “before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes” (Joel 2:31)), point to a time frame for a fulfillment of the promised Second Coming of Jesus. The fulfillment began on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, and it continued with the saving grace and miraculous gifts manifested in both Jews and Gentiles. We’re still waiting for the complete fulfillment of this promise which is included in Joel 2:15-32.
“Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the Lord are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.” – Hosea 14:9 (ESV)
For those who need a promise from God that will help them in their daily here’s one found in the book of Hosea. He was the last to prophesy before Israel’s northern kingdom fell to Assyria. In the last verse in the book we find a promise. Like other promises it has consequences or blessings. Many of the promises God gives us in the Bible are instructions regarding how we respond to the wisdom. Hosea cautions us with the this thought, the wise can understand and the discerning can know that whatever the Lord does is right. When we learn from reading or preaching what the Lord wants and promises us, we can know it is right for God does not instruct us to do what is wrong, He cannot. So the conclusion is this: faith believers are upright in their belief and so they guide their lives by God’s instructions. However not all peoples are upright and obedient. Some go their own way plotting their own course and the result is a life of stumbling over the will of God. Why? Because in their refusal and rebellion they fail to understand God’s promises and fail to be discerning.
“Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding.” – Daniel 2:20-21 (NASB)
As we continue seeking and finding promises from God in each book of the Bible, we come to Daniel. Daniel was one of the young men who were taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. One night the king of Babylon had a disturbing dream he couldn’t remember. His own council of wise men failed to tell him the dream or its meaning. Daniel was called upon for the task. God revealed to Daniel both the king’s dream and its meaning. Daniel didn’t claim any credit for he believed in God in heaven could reveal this mystery (Daniel 2:28). We find a promise for all and all time in these words by Daniel to the king. God is absolutely sovereign over all people and all things. We sometimes hear “times have changed” as an excuse for our thought and behavior. Yes times change but God never changes nor does His Word. When times change it is God who allows them to be changed or changes them. All wisdom, knowledge, and understanding comes from our Lord God. God removes and sets up the world leaders, even those who despise God. Nothing that is has ever surprised God.
“Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?” – Ezekiel 33:11 (ESV)
Although often misunderstood therefore rejected by many, there is a consequence to inaction regarding our eternal state. A careful reading of our Scriptures reveals the consequences of no repentance due to unbelief. The Lord God declares that He has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Why? Because God knows that death for those who reject God’s offer of salvation by His grace through faith in Jesus means an eternity separated from God and all others. So the Lord calls for all to a repentance of sin. Repentance is an act of turning around and away from the ways which lead to eternal death and receive from God the free gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23). The Israelites who were exiled to Babylon had lost hope and reasoned that if they were liable to death in judgment that was inevitable, they were in a hopeless condition and had no future. God replied that He had no pleasure in seeing the wicked go into death for their sin, but desires them to repent and live. This is true of all God has called (2 Peter 3:9). He calls us to “Repent and be saved!” for there is no other way.
“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.” – Lamentations 3:21-25 (ESV)
At Christmas time we might hear and say much about “peace” and “joy” and experience great happiness. But not always. Not for everyone. Christmas time can also be a very difficult time for many. Who we celebrate and what we remember at Christmas is the birth of Jesus who was born in Bethlehem and lived there for maybe two years or more. The birth of Jesus, who is the Christ (Messiah) was the fulfillment of prophecies given by God to prophets, whose stories are written in the books of the Old Testament. Jeremiah was one of those prophets. Today’s verse, found right in the middle of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. He states clearly his reason for hope in the middle of his sorrow over the destruction, captivity, and exile of Judah. He calls to mind the lovingkindness, the mercies, the faithfulness of God. He declares that God is enough – his portion – and the reason for Jeremiah’s hope. Then the promise for us, that the LORD, is good to those who wait and seek him. Today, whatever our circumstances or memories, let’s seek Him while we wait and find in His word His goodness. It will give us hope also.
“‘Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, the Lord Our Righteousness’” – Jeremiah 23:5-6 (NASB)
Although God had promised that the line of King David would last forever, there was a time when this seemed to be not possible. For the line of David through King Jehoiachin had been “cut off.” However, God’s promises will all be fulfilled and He promised to raise up to David another King who would be a righteous Branch, that is, another member of the Davidic line. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this prediction and as such He was born in that line both physically and legally. As King, Jesus will one day reign wisely and will do what is just and right. Though Christ offered Himself as Israel’s Messiah at His First Advent, the final fulfillment of this prophecy will come at His Second Advent immediately before His millennial reign. At that time the Southern Kingdom (Judah) and the Northern Kingdom (Israel) will again be delivered (Romans. 11:26) from oppression and reunited as a single nation and unlike today’s conditions, Israel will live in safety (Ezekiel. 37:15–28). The name of this coming King will be the “LORD Our Righteousness” (Yahweh ṣiḏqēnû). Unlike Zedekiah, “my righteousness is Yahweh,” this promised King will live up to His name as Israel’s righteous God.
Charles H. Dyer, The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, 1985, 1, 1158.
“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6 (NASB)
The book named after the prophet Isaiah is packed with promises from our sovereign God. Today we are familiar and know the true reason we celebrate December 25 as Christmas. No, it isn’t the loveable fat old man called Santa Claus – a name derived from Saint Nicholas. Nicholas was a real person between the years 220 A.D. and 343 A.D. He was a Christian bishop during the time of the Roman Empire. Many far-reaching, even dark legends developed around that name. But there’s a name, Immanuel, connected to December 25, that is not legend. It’s the real story of a man who’s birth was prophesied centuries before His birth. In Isaiah 7:14 is a promise of the birth of a son named Immanuel to a young girl who was yet a virgin. Today’s verse elaborates on the name Immanuel. Wonderful Counselor. This King will implement supernatural wisdom in discharging His office; Mighty God. As a powerful warrior, He will accomplish the military exploits mentioned in 9:3–5; Eternal Father. The Messiah will be a Father to His people eternally; Prince of Peace. The government of Immanuel will bring and perpetuate peace among the nations of the world.
“He has brought me to his banquet hall, And his banner over me is love.” – Song of Solomon 2:4 (NASB)
Not the easiest book for us to understand or even agree on but one that shows God’s intention for a holy marriage of one man and one woman. It has been recognized by the Jews as a part of their sacred writings. With Ruth, Esther, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations, it is included among the Old Testament books of the Megilloth or “five scrolls.” It is often read at Passover. No formal theological themes emerge. In contrast to the two distorted extremes of ascetic abstinence and lustful perversion outside of marriage, Solomon’s ancient love song exalts the purity of marital affection and romance. A satisfying way to approach Solomon’s Song is to take it at face value and interpret it in the normal historical sense, understanding the frequent use of poetic imagery to depict reality. To do so understands that Solomon recounts 1) his own days of courtship, 2) the early days of his first marriage, followed by 3) the maturing of this royal couple through the good and bad days of life. It is given to us by God to demonstrate His intention for the romance and loveliness of marriage, the most precious of human relations and “the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7).
Surprisingly, God is not mentioned explicitly except possibly in 8:6. No formal theological themes emerge. The New Testament never quotes Solomon’s Song directly (nor Esther, Obadiah, and Nahum).
John F. MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur Study Bible: New American Standard Bible., (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2006), Ec 12:13.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” – Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NASB)
Do we ever wonder about the BIG WHY? Why did God put us where we are in this life? Is there some great significance that we are destined to do or be? Everything: Every activity or event for which a culmination point may be fixed. Has been made beautiful. Another translation uses the word ‘appropriate’ and the same word in Ecclesiastes 5:18 is translated ‘proper.’ This is reflects the statement in Genesis 1 “God saw … it was good.” Even in our world cursed and weakened by sin, our activity should not be meaningless. It is our fickle hearts and corrupt gratification that results in the failure to trust the wisdom and sovereignty of God. God, in His plans, has providential control and has made an appropriate time for every activity. Solomon acknowledged that God placed a sense of eternity in the hearts of men. We each have a longing or desire to know the significance of our existence and purpose for our deeds or activities. But Solomon also declared that people cannot know the works of God … from beginning to end, that is, we cannot fully know the sovereign, eternal plan of God while on this earth.