Inspiration for Today's World

Category: Prophets (Page 1 of 2)

One of 18 prophets studied in more detail.

The Prophets of the Old Testament

The Old Testament of the Bible contains 39 books. The first five are written by one person, Moses. He introduces us to our Creator. Seventeen prophetic books, almost half of the Old Testament, are written by a group of men known as the Prophets. The prophetic books were written from the days of Elijah (874-853 BC) until the time of Malachi (400 BC). As a group, eighteen prophets represent the largest portion of contributors to our knowledge of God.  Sometimes, the first two, Elijah and Elisha are not counted as prophets. For this study, we will include them. The question that we will pursue, is why the prophets are important today. Moses led God’s people out of bondage to a promised land. God established a Covenant Relationship with His people. Moses, in his five books, taught the people the context of that covenant relationship. God would take care of His people if they obeyed God’s commandments. History shows us the people failed to uphold their end of the bargain. To bring them back into the covenant relationship with God, He sent prophets. Their purpose was to bring people of their time as well as future generations back to God. Secondarily, they were to reveal the consequences of not following their end of the covenant relationship. Remember, a covenant is a binding contract between two parties.

Our world is lost. Division and hatred are not only tolerated but rewarded. People choose leaders who mock God, enrich themselves at the expense of human life, and sacrifice the innocent without accountability. Godlessness has become a way of life for many today. Our world has been here before. Only the foolish would ignore history. Our God, our Creator, has never tolerated this before. It is time to search the words of God’s prophets to see what could be in store for us.

Over the next few months, we will look at this period of history, spanning about 450 years. A time when perversions were great, disobedience paramount, and God’s warnings and punishments clear. Just keep in mind that one generation of humans is about 20 to 30 years. Our God has amazing patience!  Dating prophetic writings is difficult and often controversial. Instead of dates, we will concern ourselves more about the order that they came and the content of their messages. It is also important to know what God’s people were doing to necessitate God sending a prophet. We will focus on how God communicates with us. How patient is our God? To what extent will God go to keep His end of the covenant relationship with us? Don’t worry about the terms “major” and “minor” prophets. They have no bearing on the importance of their prophetic messages, just the size of their contribution to our Bible. In this study series, all prophets will be treated equally. God’s prophets all had the unique skill to see humanity as God sees us.

The list below is our lesson plan. The date ranges are not necessarily when they lived but cover the period of their influence and prophecies.  Each week, we will take a prophet, in the probable order of their contributions, and publish a study.  At the end of our series, we will set up a separate study section on the Prophets of God for your permanent reference. Elijah is first and he comes next week.

  • Elijah – (870 BC to 845 BC)
  • Elisha – (845 BC to 800 BC)
  • Joel – (835 BC – 796 BC)
  • Jonah – (785 BC to 760 BC)
  • Amos – (760 BC to 753 BC)
  • Hosea – (755 BC to 725 BC)
  • Isaiah – 740 BC to 701 BC
  • Micah – (735 BC to 700 BC)
  • Nahum – (663 BC to 612 BC)
  • Zephaniah – (635 BC to 625 BC)
  • Jeremiah – (627 BC to 586 BC) 
  • Habakkuk – (610 BC to 605 BC)
  • Daniel – (604 BC to 532 BC)
  • Ezekiel – (593 BC to 571 BC)
  • Obadiah – (586 BC and 553 BC)
  • Haggai – (520 BC)
  • Zechariah – (520 BC to 470 BC)
  • Malachi – (445 BC)

Prophecy, itself, is a gift of the Holy Spirit. God chose His prophets even before they were formed in the womb. It is God who ordained them for their ministry. It is also God who gave each prophet their wisdom.

(Jeremiah 1:5)1NIV New International Version Translations – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

(Numbers 12:6) – “he said, ‘Listen to my words: When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams.’”

The value of a prophet is that they are God’s messenger, speaking the voice of God to His people. As we get to know our prophets better, we will see that God’s plan of salvation, Jesus Christ, is foretold through their messages. In the end, all prophets will lead us to Jesus. While their styles may be repetitive, and not always easy to understand, they tell important stories, not about the future, but about judgment, punishment, and restoration of our covenant relationship with God. Prophets reinforce the importance of repentance and obedience. God’s judgment of His people in the time of the prophets meant the people lost their land and their freedom. We are subject to the same judgment from God today. No one can claim to be part of the people of God while participating in an unrepentant rebellion against His commands. Not following God’s Truth has consequences!

Walking with the prophets of the Old Testament will help us understand that we struggle with the same sins and are subject to the same judgment, but we also share the same hope for restoration and renewal. The people of the prophets’ day looked into the future, placing all their hopes on the Messiah who would come. Christ came, Christ rose, and now we find our hope in Jesus Christ who is here with us today!


  • How do you use the Old Testament in your study of God’s Word?
    • Ideas to Explore: History, getting to know our, God, and creation story? The story of our salvation and hope? Understanding the causes and effects of human behavior?
  • Why do you think God used “prophets,” ordinary men to interact with His people?
    • Ideas to Explore: God had tried to do it directly with Moses but that didn’t work well. Maybe ordinary people would respond to ordinary men better?
  • How would the human perspective of sin and repentance differ from God’s perspective?
    • Ideas to Explore: God is patient but not necessarily accommodating of sin. God’s expectations are firm and consistent over time. Biblically, our world ends with two groups of people, those with God and those separated from God – Can humankind ever see this Truth?
  • Most prophets were disappointed in their people’s response to God’s messages that they shared. Did that matter to them?
    • Ideas to Explore: Is it good to know your faults? Does Godly advice still mean something even today? How do we feel when we see society abandon God?
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    NIV New International Version Translations


Elijah’s time as a prophet came about 100 years after King David’s reign. He was our first prophet. King David had set a high standard for faithfulness and integrity as he served God. Now a king named Ahab ruled Israel. The date was around 870 BC. You can find a complete study on King Ahab at Who was Ahab.

(1 Kings 16:33)1NIV New International Version Translations – “Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.”

It was not just that Ahab was bad, but his evil behavior filtered into the population. Most of the people had yielded to Satan through their worship of the Canaanite gods Baal and Ashtoreth. King Ahab failed at his principal role as a leader, to guide his nation closer to God. Instead, he guided his people away from God, to the false gods of the day. Ahab broke all the rules and is known to history as the worst king to ever rule. God had tried to send warnings earlier, waiting patiently for His people to separate themselves from the pagan influences surrounding them. All God wanted was for His people to return to true worship (1 Kings 14:6-16). Now God was going to bring severe judgment on the nation. Elijah is first mentioned in Scripture when he declares to King Ahab that a severe drought would begin immediately. “Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word” (1 Kings 17:1).

Withholding rain for 3½ years was the first punishment God administered through Elijah. This brought severe famine throughout the kingdom. The purpose of this punishment was to bring the nation to repentance for its idolatry. Although unpleasant at the time, Elijah understood the potentially good effects of such punishment if Israel would just repent of its sins. The question, however, would be whether the king and the people of Israel could ever understand the purpose behind the economic disaster that was upon them. Satan had prophets too! The prophets of Baal were humiliated since they couldn’t invoke their pagan god to end the drought and bring the needed rain. They were angry.

King Ahab and his officials blamed Elijah stating that he was the cause of the suffering in Israel. This is often the case, those at fault blame others for the distress they have caused. The king’s response was to relentlessly hunt for Elijah far into foreign lands (1 Kings 18:10) seeking nothing more than revenge. In both Hebrew and Greek, the words “vengeance,” “revenge,” and “avenge” have as their root meaning the idea of punishment. “It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them” (Deuteronomy 32:35). Unlike humans, God never takes vengeance for impure motives. God’s vengeance is to punish those who have offended and rejected Him.

Elijah the Tishbite, of Gilead, was an ordinary human being just like us. He had his hopes and dreams, weaknesses, and shortcomings. What separated him from others was that he was also a man of deep faith in God. Elijah’s style was to be a bold, direct-to-the-point prophet of God. This style made him many enemies, but his enemies never could stop him. God was on his side!

(James 5:17-18) – “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”

Like many of the prophets to come, Elijah did not seek to be one of God’s messengers. Instead, God chose him. Once called, however, Elijah didn’t hesitate to take on his mission despite the risks to his life. After confronting King Ahab, God directed Elijah into hiding (1 Kings 17:7-15; 1 Kings 18:1). God even fed him during his hiding by the Brook Cherith, a small stream west of Jericho. God eventually told Elijah, “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” (1 Kings 17:9). Elijah was surprised by this since Sidon was a Baal-worshipping area, and because Elijah was hated by another woman from Sidon, Queen Jezebel. God was quite aware that a remnant, 7,000 persons in Israel, did not worship Baal. Elijah’s mission was to help the widow by multiplying what food she had and resurrecting her son (1 Kings 17:10-24). She had been a faithful servant of God. After his time in Sidon, the prophet was directed by God to appear before King Ahab again.

(1 Kings 18:17-19) – “When he saw Elijah, he said to him, ‘Is that you, you troubler of Israel?’ ‘I have not made trouble for Israel,’ Elijah replied. ‘But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.’”

This would become one of history’s most exciting showdowns, Elijah, and God against the prophets of Baal. There would be a contest with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah on Mount Carmel. Elijah invited these false prophets and all of Israel to witness a demonstration showing that Baal had no power at all against the God of Israel (1 Kings 18:19-40).

Elijah’s greatest public miracle involved a contest to show God’s power. Elijah told a large crowd, “I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets.” (1 Kings 18:22). Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). God would give convincing proof that day that He was Israel’s only true God. An animal sacrifice was placed on an altar. Baal would go first and demonstrate their power by consuming the sacrifice. By the end of the day, nothing had happened. Then Elijah called on Israel’s God to send fire to swallow up the sacrifice prepared for Him. God responded to Elijah’s prayer. In a moment, thousands witnessed the fire from heaven consume the carcass, all the water in the trench surrounding the altar, and all the wet wood, burning up even the stones! Elijah then ordered that the false prophets be executed (1 Kings 18:36-40). Elijah prayed for rain thus ending the drought (1 Kings 18:42-45).

So, what happened next? The poor leadership ruling over the people responded as they always do. Elijah was hated even more and immediately came under a death threat by Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab. As Israel’s queen, she was the one who brought the worship of her god Baal into the nation, influencing King Ahab to worship Baal and to set up idols in Israel (1 Kings 16:31; 1 Kings 21:25-26). Her name would forevermore become synonymous with the definition of an impudent, shameless, or morally unrestrained woman. Jezebel and the false prophets of Baal spared no effort to capture him. Yes, Elijah the prophet was discouraged. But God sent him back again to face King Ahab and deliver one last sobering message. Ahab and Jezebel would both die a humiliating death because they sin against God and refuse to repent (1 Kings 21:20-24).

Despite Elijah’s efforts, the world still has its idol worshipers. We can see the shrines of paganism everywhere around us. They are not carved statues but are found in the pursuit of riches, fame, power worldly pleasure, and live in the hearts of those who despise God’s Truth. God would use Elijah to train his successor, Elisha (1 Kings 19:19-20). And then, in a moment, took Elijah away with a chariot of fire (2 Kings 2:8-11).


  • Do you think if God sent a prophet like Elijah today, it would make any difference to the people?
    • Ideas to Explore: Does common sense help understand a message from God? Why do people ignore good, sound advice? Whom would you believe today?
  • Why do people give up on the one and only God?
    • Ideas to Explore: Don’t get what they want. Don’t hear what they want. What they want conflicts with God’s plans.
  • Who is the greatest influence on the morality of our nation today?
    • Ideas to Explore: Churches, family, government, Internet, Media, Cable News, social media?
  • If you had to change one thing in our nation today, what would it be?
    • Ideas to Explore: Whom would people listen to? Who is held in high respect these days? Whom do people follow today?
  • What would you change to lead our nation back to God?
    • Ideas to Explore: Family structure, educational systems, churches, etc.
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    NIV New International Version Translations


God had directed Elijah to do some succession planning and find his replacement. That replacement would be Elisha. All we know about Elisha is that he was the son of Shaphat. Elisha, whose name means “God is salvation,” was mentored by Elijah to be the second prophet in Israel (1 Kings 19:16, 19–21; 2 Kings 5:8). Elisha’s role was to follow Elijah (1 Kings 19:19) as his protégé until Elijah was taken into heaven. Elisha’s ministry lasted about 60 years. His life spanned the reigns of kings Jehoram, Jehu, Jehoahaz, and Joash. A study of the life of Elisha reveals the prophet’s humility (2 Kings 2:9; 3:11), his love for the people of Israel (2 Kings 8:11—12), and his faithfulness. Elisha was immediately obedient to God’s call to him. He learned from and followed Elijah eagerly and faithfully. Elisha knew that God trusted Him. Elisha did not wait for God, instead, Elisha sought after God. This should be the template for all people today as we establish our faith walk through this world!

Before Elisha settled in Samaria, he spent some time on Mount Carmel. He would, from 892 BC until 832 BC, be an advisor to the third through the eighth kings of Judah, holding the office of “prophet in Israel“. Elisha is called a patriot because of his help to both soldiers and kings. When he was first called to be a prophet, Elisha was plowing a field with a pair of oxen. Elijah put his cloak around Elisha as a sign that Elijah’s responsibilities would fall on Elisha. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after the prophet. Elisha asked only to say goodbye to his family and then would return to Elijah. Elisha went back, slaughtered his oxen, burnt his equipment, gave the meat to the people, and followed Elijah as his servant. Elisha completely removed himself from his former life and left himself no option on returning to his oxen (1 Kings 19:21). Elisha’s ministry would be driven by the power of God. He would perform more miracles than any other individual in the Bible except for Jesus.

Elisha loved Elijah like a father. He refused to leave Elijah before Elijah was taken into heaven. When Elijah asked what he could do for his protégé before he left, Elisha requested a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. God would grant Elisha’s request. During Elisha’s ministry, organized Baal worship was eradicated (2 Kings 10:28). In his ministry Elisha traveled widely and served as an adviser to kings, a companion of the common people, and a friend of both Israelites and foreigners.

There are many well-known accounts of Elisha’s service as Israel’s prophet. He healed the waters of Jericho (2 Kings 2:19–21). Yet, he was jeered by youths who were taunting him because he was bald. This type of discrimination still goes on today. We learn that picking on one of God’s prophets is not a good idea. Elisha called a curse on them resulting in their death by mauling bears (2 Kings 2:23–25). Elisha multiplied a widow’s oil supply (2 Kings 4:1–7) so she could pay off a debt. He prophesied a son for a wealthy Shunammite family who hosted him and later resurrected that same son (2 Kings 4:8–37). Elisha also removed poison from a pot of stew (2 Kings 4:38–41) and multiplied twenty barley loaves to feed one hundred men (2 Kings 4:42–44). Elisha cured Naaman of leprosy (2 Kings 5) and made a borrowed ax head that was lost in the Jordan river float to the surface (2 Kings 6:1–7). The miracles Elisha performed are, for the most part, acts of helpfulness and blessing. Some resemble some of the miracles of Christ, such as the multiplying of food (Matthew 16:9–10) and the healing of lepers (Luke 17:11–19).

Elisha is not as well-known as Elijah. Perhaps it is because his character wasn’t as brash or outspoken as Elijah’s. But Elisha had a very important ministry advising four different kings. He was a light for God when Israel was in a very dark period. His miracles proved to the people and their leaders that Yahweh was their one true God. His ministry came at a time when the people were in danger of completely abandoning God and following Baal. Elisha’s miracles serve as an eternal reminder of God’s power. Elisha’s life portrays God’s love for both the common people (the family with the new son, and the widow with debts) and the rich (Naaman). His name is mentioned fifty-nine times in the Bible. He is one of the most well-known prophets. His life provides us with many important and practical lessons on living.

During his term as Israel’s head prophet, he ran a school of prophets (2 Kings 4:38-44, 2 Kings 6:1-7). The idea of passing on one’s beliefs and knowledge about God is not some new concept. We need to keep doing just that even today. Concerning Elisha’s death, 2 Kings 13:20 simply says, “Elisha died and was buried.” But the passage goes on to tell us that once when marauding criminals went to dispose of a body, they threw that body into Elisha’s tomb. When a dead man’s body touched Elisha’s bones, the man came to life and stood up on his feet” (2 Kings 13:21). It seems that God chose to demonstrate His power through the prophet even after his death.

What were Elisha’s special traits? Elisha was bald (2 Kings 2:23). In society at that time, that was not necessarily a benefit. He stood out and was mocked by his peers. Despite his looks, Elisha was different, not divisive but inclusive in his style. He had a home, and Elisha was not just a wandering prophet (2 Kings 6:32). He took the role of adviser to the kings, working within the political system in place at that time. Although there were times he incurred the anger of Israel’s leaders, they still sought out his counsel (2 Kings 3:1-19, 8:1-6). King Joash was sorry to see him die (2 Kings 13:14). To Elisha’s credit, his ministry reached out to all classes of people, poor and rich, noble and peasants, Jews, and foreigners. He treated all people as God treats people, equally. Maybe Elisha’s most outstanding trait was that he never took credit for any of his miracles. He recognized that they did not come from his power or ability. He was still a human. Elisha knew he could accomplish nothing and heal no one unless it was by the power of God (2 Kings 4:27). It is important to recognize that when we cannot accomplish something, it is not necessarily caused by sin. All people, including prophets, could only accomplish God’s work through God’s power.

What made Elisha a great prophet of God were his strengths. He was faithful to God. Elisha worked within the system in the society, never compromising, but able to accomplish positive changes. He had courage (2 Kings 6:8-23). Elisha loved the disadvantaged (2 Kings 4:1-7), ministering to anyone and everyone who came to him for help. Elisha dedicated his life and ministry to God (1 Kings 19:19-21). And finally, Elisha was loyal (1 Kings 19:21, 2:2,4,6), loyal to his mentor, Elijah, and, above all, loyal to God.


  • What, in your experience, does a divisive style, and an aggressive and hostile personality, accomplish?
    • Ideas to Explore: Rate the last 5 presidents, what style were they, and did they do anything that moved people closer to God or farther away? Should we ever appoint or elect a narcissist?
  • How does our world handle people that are different?
    • Ideas to Explore: What is the response within our schools to bullying? How do children pick up the bad habit to pick on those who are different from themselves?
  • To accomplish great things, why does only looking forward to the future work better than retaining a foot in the past?
    • Ideas to Explore: Elisha burned his bridges when he became a prophet. Why is “burn your bridges” a good strategy for success?
  • Elijah did a great job warning the people and their leaders. However, he never persuaded them to change. Why do you think Elisha was so much more successful in getting the people to abandon the false gods and put their faith back into the one real God?
    • Ideas to Explore: Working within the system (political) of the times rather than fighting against it seemed to accomplish more benefits. The people gave up worshipping Baal. Why? Was his focus on the leadership a more effective strategy?


Joel prophesied as one of the early prophets. There were quite a few prophets, possibly as many as fifty. However, not all of them had their prophecies documented. Dating Joel is difficult, but many scholars date Joel about the time of the reign of Joash, king of Judah. That would mean that he was contemporary with and probably knew Elijah and Elisha. The Book of Joel is small, with only three chapters. Although considered a minor prophet, Joel had a lot to say. From his writing, we can see that Joel was acquainted with the land, farming, and geography. It is also clear that he lived and prophesied in Judah since he mentions Judah and Jerusalem. He was thoroughly familiar with the Temple and its ministry. The name Joel means, “The Lord is God.” Nothing is known about his personal life. Twelve other men in the Old Testament have this name, none of whom can be identified as the author of this book. His father, Pethuel, is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible.

What we do know about Joel was that he was called by God to minister to Judah. The Southern Kingdom had been in a state of disarray and decline for years, both economically and spiritually. Rival nations and city-states such as Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia had made frequent incursions into Israel. A recent locust plague and drought devastated Judah’s economy (Joel 1:4). Judah was weak from the inside out. It was a time of national mourning, where Joel writes, “The vine is dried up and the fig tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree— all the trees of the field—are dried up. Surely the people’s joy is withered away” (Joel 1:12). The message of Joel is a doctrine which could be repeated and applied to any age. We could easily apply it to our nation today! Joel’s message was about depending on material prosperity. His message was consistent with the warnings of Moses.

(Deuteronomy 6:10-12)1NIV New International Version Translations – “When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

The nation of Judah was also spending a lot of time numbing themselves from life. There was a lot of drinking going on. Israel had originally hit the jackpot by getting a land of “milk and honey” handed to them by God. It was someone else’s land that already had homes, wells, and farms. All they had to do is enjoy the fruits and be thankful. But they found too many distractions that took them away from the one and only God who had given them everything. One of Joel’s first warnings was, “Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine; wail because of the new wine, for it has been snatched from your lips“ (Joel 1:5).

Israel’s past was prosperous. Their vine vats had been overflowing, their fig trees and the pomegranates and apples, all the fruit trees had always been loaded down with fruit. The land they occupied had been fertile. As a result, the nation had gotten used to barns filled to the brim and olive oil flowing like a river (Joel 1:10, 17). The herds of cattle had always multiplied, and flocks were always plentiful (Joel 1:18). Now, misfortune befell the nation. The good times were gone! Joel would bring a painful warning that the benefits they had enjoyed could soon be taken from them.

Unlike the other prophets, Joel did not condemn Israel for idolatry or worshiping Baal. Yes, that was still wrong. Joel chooses to only mention one sin, the sin of drunkenness. His prophecy begins with a description of a literal plague of locusts. Joel uses that plague of locusts to compare with the future judgments which will come upon this earth. The first chapter is considered a literary gem. It is a remarkable passage of Scripture; unlike anything you will find elsewhere (take time to read Joel 1). The sin was that the excesses of the nation were at the expense of their relationship with God. It is probably worth a moment to document just some of what excessive alcohol and/or drugs can do to a nation. Either mouse over or touch the Bible verses here. You will see the NIV translations of those verses.

Physically: (Job 12:25; Psalms 107:27; Proverbs 23:29; Isaiah 19:14; 28:8; 29:9; Jeremiah 25:16)
Mentally: (Genesis 43:34; Isaiah 28:7; Hosea 4:11)
Prosperity and happiness: (Proverbs 23:29-32; Proverbs 23:21; compare Proverbs 21:17 and Ecclesiastes 19:1; Proverbs 20:1)
Morality: (Proverbs 31:5; Isaiah 5:23; Proverbs 20:1; 23:29; Ecclesiastes 31:26,29; Ephesians 5:18).

The prophet Joel also connects excessive drinking with gambling, promiscuity, and sexual immorality.

(Joel 3:3) – “They cast lots for my people and traded boys for prostitutes; they sold girls for wine to drink.”

Joel’s concerns had to do with a growing national acceptance of immorality to find “Worldly Joy.” Instead, Joel wanted the nation of Israel to be focused on God’s desire that the people know Him (Joel 3:17) and that God fully intended to make His dwelling place about His people through the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32). The prophet’s ministry had a theme, “the day of the LORD.” He makes specific reference to it five times: Joel 1:15; 2:1–2; 2:10–11; 2:30–31; and 3:14–16. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel also refer to the Day of the Lord, sometimes calling it “that day.” Zechariah will particularly emphasize “that day,” the Day of the Lord.” Joel is the first prophet to introduce the Day of the Lord in prophecy.

(Joel 2:1-11) – “Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand—a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness. Like dawn spreading across the mountains a large and mighty army comes, such as never was in ancient times nor ever will be in ages to come. Before them fire devours, behind them a flame blazes. Before them the land is like the garden of Eden, behind them, a desert waste—nothing escapes them. They have the appearance of horses; they gallop along like cavalry. With a noise like that of chariots, they leap over the mountaintops, like a crackling fire consuming stubble, like a mighty army drawn up for battle. At the sight of them, nations are in anguish; every face turns pale. They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers. They all march in line, not swerving from their course. 8 They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead. They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks. They rush upon the city; they run along the wall. They climb into the houses; like thieves they enter through the windows. Before them the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?”

Joel is describing the second coming of Christ. The return of Jesus is to begin during a time of great trouble. It ends with the Jesus putting down all unrighteousness and establishing His eternal Kingdom here on earth. Joel is describing a time when many will turn to God. It will be a time unlike the Church has ever witnessed. Joel is calling on his nation to forsake their sins, calling them to repentance. He promises an outpouring of the Spirit “afterward.

(Joel 2:28–32) – “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.”

It is the prophet Joel who confirms to us that eternal salvation comes to those who call upon Jesus’s name!


  • We are a prosperous nation, filled with many blessings. Why do you think people are giving up on God?
    • Ideas to Explore: The churches are not following God’s Truth? Have the people forgotten their God?
  • We are a nation that consumes a lot of alcohol. We are a nation on its way to legalizing many types of recreational drugs. Where do you think this will lead the nation’s people?
    • Ideas to Explore: Is it rational to decriminalize drugs? How do we reconcile the number of deaths from drugs within our youth? Why do you think people need drugs?
  • The ideas are radically different between capitalism and socialism. Which one do you think can create more Godly people?
    • Ideas to Explore: Do government handouts create a deeper faith in God? Do you think that it even matters?
  • What is the secret to getting our nation to repent?
    • Ideas to Explore: Do you think they need to repent? Of what sins would you accuse our nation first?
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    NIV New International Version Translations

Who was Jonah?

The Old Testament contains several prophetic books, including a group of 12 named after the so-called ”minor prophets.” One of the stranger books and prophets is Jonah. Jonah or Jonas, son of Amittai, is also found in the Quran. He lived in about 8 BC and came from Gath-hepher of the northern kingdom of Israel. Jonah is the central figure of the Book of Jonah, which details his reluctance in delivering God’s judgement on the city of Nineveh. There is no question that Jonah was a historical person. He is mentioned in 2 Kings 14:25, which suggests he was one of the more nationalistic and militaristic prophets.

The story starts with God giving Jonah a mission, to pass a message to the people of Nineveh that they need to repent and change their attitudes toward each other from hatred to love. Jonah does not like the mission and runs away by boarding a ship  to Tarshish, a city in southern Spain that lay geographically in the opposite direction from Nineveh. His getaway is interrupted by a storm. The sailors on the ship eventually figure out that Jonah is the cause of the storm because God is displeased with him. They throw Jonah overboard.  While in the ocean, Jonah is swallowed by a great fish (most probably describing a whale), spends three days and three nights in its belly, and afterward gets regurgitated onto land. Now convinced that God is serious, Jonah heads to Nineveh to complete his mission.

How you respond to stories like the Book of Jonah can impact your personal beliefs on the entire Bible. It is not good enough to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you want to believe. While the story of survival in the belly of a whale is problematic, our Bible is filled with similar stories. Miracles, raising of the dead, walking on water, feeding 5,000, or Jesus’ own resurrection can all be difficult to understand. How then are we to take this story of Jonah and glean from it the Godly lessons we need to learn? There are arguments that support the theory of a human being able to survive inside a whale. We will not discuss those here. The most common interpretation held today is that the story of the prophet being swallowed and then disgorged by a “great fish” is fiction, intended to teach, a religious point. Think of the story like a super-sized parable. Many of Jesus’ parables were similar in structure, fictional stories of real moral issues. Many other stories were very real. What then are its lessons for us in the Book of Jonah?

(2 Timothy 3:16)1NIV New International Version Translations – “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”

Jonah’s desire to escape from the mission God gave him describes our own mission given to us by Jesus Himself. We are clearly called to share the Gospel’s message with a sinful, Godless world. If we assume that formal religion’s appeal is shrinking in our society (according to studies), we can see a simile, people’s desire to escape from the job of uniting humanity around Christ. Like Jonah, we all have been given an inescapable mission. It is the same mission today as it was in ancient Babylon when Abraham united the Jewish people as a nation. The foundation of God’s mission to His people is based on “love your neighbor as yourself.” We are called to become a positive example of what a connected community looks like, “a light unto the nations.”

The wrong way to look at Jonah is to try to prove it true or false. For example, the word for “belly” in Hebrew is imprecise and does not only mean “stomach.” Jonah may have been in the oral cavity of a large-mouthed whale. A whale, being a mammal, is a warm-blooded air breather that resurfaces for air, so would have provided Jonah with oxygen, while its body heat would have prevented hypothermia. However, the story of being swallowed by a “great fish” is too far-fetched to be believable. A great fish/large whale would not have been found in the eastern Mediterranean. Some even look to Jesus’ reference to Jonah in Matthew 12:39-41 to say that the Book of Jonah was historical. Yet Jesus used many parables meant to teach godly lessons that were fictional stories.

As a parable, what does the Book of Jonah teach?

  • The story of Jonah explains that we need to place the benefit of others ahead of our own. 
  • When people accept Jesus as their Savior, they also accept His mission: Teach the world to love their friends and neighbors as themselves.
  • Jonah did not concern himself with the well-being of the sailors. Furthermore, he was so reluctant to share God’s mercy with the “evil” Ninevites that he ran from God’s mission. He was not the “good guy” in this story but a normal, flawed human being who only did what he was told as a matter of duty, after being given a second chance.
  • We finally find that in the Book of Jonah, God’s grace is available equally and freely to all.

In Jonah’s story, everyone gets a second chance.  You might even call it a story about second chances. Jonah was a legalistic, judgmental Jew, and the lost pagans in Nineveh needed to be reminded of their sins. The happy ending everyone wants can be found here too. Both the sailors and Ninevites not only recognized God but also turned to Him as their Lord.

(Jonah 3:6-9) – ”When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.’”

Jonah, however, had not repented. His heart still needed turning. The prophet did the right things, just as the sailors and Ninevites did, but he did not love the Lord by the end of his book. Jonah got a second chance at recognizing his own depth of depravity, his deep need for mercy. However, he might have squandered it after all. We are missing the rest of his story.

(Jonah 4:1-3) – “But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

Jonah struggled with God’s kindness towards depraved people he believed were unworthy of mercy. He acted like the Pharisees, shocked that Jesus would hang out with sinners. Maybe Jonah thought the evil Ninevites would return to their wickedness and make a fool of the Lord after he left them? Jonah was courageous, loving, and obedient to the Lord. But God rebuked Jonah: “And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh” (Jonah 4:11). Jonah wanted to see God enact justice against non-Jews. But he was blind to the reality that the Ninevites were also God’s children. God had created works, more valuable than the shade plant pitied by Jonah.

(Jonah 4:10) – ” But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight.”

God’s power was already famous. He didn’t need Jonah to spread the good news. Jonah acknowledged as much: “you are a gracious and compassionate God” (Jonah 4:2). Jonah, meanwhile, refused to treat the pagans as human beings created in the image of God. Jonah had enjoyed direct guidance from God, something many of us crave, and yet he rejected it. In summary, the Book of Jonah has very little to do with fish or whales. The story is not about impossible miracles. Jonah’s story is about sharing God with a world filled with depravity, denial, even doubt and about not being judgmental against those who do not share our faith.


  • Who do you put into a group that you would call less deserving of God’s grace?
    • Ideas to Explore: Who are the people you avoid? What groups do you dislike? Are there people whose faith or even lack of faith you dislike?
  • What would be the most effective strategies to reaching people like those in Nineveh?
    • Ideas to Explore: What exactly would a mission trip to Nineveh look like? What are the effective ways to share the Gospel with someone you do not like or trust?
  • Yes, we are called to believe that our God can do the impossible, even keep someone in the belly of a whale alive for three days – But what do you do to sort out the “Story” into history, parable or fiction?
    • Ideas to Explore: Do you first search for science to explain away the miracle? (e.g., Tides divided the Red Sea for Moses in the Book of Exodus) When you cannot rationalize an event based on your own knowledge of the world, where do you go to find peace with your answers? 
  • What does the term “God-Breathed” mean to you when describing the Bible?
    • Ideas to Explore: Can you see the history, the fable, the parable, the Law and command, the advice in God’s Words? All are present. How do you think we should respond to each category?
  • What did you get out of the Book of Jonah?
    • Ideas to Explore: Is the story so strange that it has no meaning? Can you sort out a lesson from God? How would you teach this story to children?
  • Faith is the cornerstone of belief – How does your faith handle the immaculate conception of Mary or the Incarnation of God becoming human?
    • Ideas to Explore: The world uses many tricks to destroy faith. What ones have you seen? How do you keep from becoming a doubtful person?
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    NIV New International Version Translations

Amos the Prophet for Adults

It is amazing that of the over1,000 pages of Lostpine’s website, the most popular Biblical story is the children’s story about the prophet Amos. When you consider that those who wrote the Bible lived at different times, some separated by hundreds of years. In many cases, they were strangers to one another. Some Bible writers were businessmen or traders; others were shepherds, fishermen, soldiers, physicians, preachers, kings, and human beings from all walks of life. They served under different governments and lived within contrasting cultures and systems of philosophy. However, the wonder of it all, the 66 books of the Bible with their 1,189 chapters making up of 31,173 verses (NIV) present a perfect harmony in the message they convey. Yet of the twenty years that this website has been published, a children’s story about a minor prophet is number one! That being the case, maybe there is an adult lesson in Amos too.

After Solomon’s death (930 BC), an open insurrection led to the breaking away of the ten northern tribes and the division of the country into a northern kingdom, Israel, and a southern kingdom, Judah, on the territory of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The Kingdom of Israel, with its capital Samaria, would last more than 200 years under 19 kings, while the Kingdom of Judah, ruled from Jerusalem, would be ruled for 350 years by an equal number of kings from the lineage of David. The expansion of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires would bring war, first to Israel and later, to Judah. Surprisingly, the cause of ancient Israel splitting into two lies at the feet of King Solomon. That is a study for another day. The problem was compounded by the Northern Kingdom’s appointment of terrible kings. Solomon had laid the foundation of sin for the Israelites and the people adopted it well. They enjoyed their sinful lives, and then their enemies came in and finished the job. The Assyrians would eventually enslave them.

Amos was one of the Twelve Minor Prophets, an older contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah, and was active 760–755 BC during the rule of kings Jeroboam II and Uzziah. Amos was a sheep herder and a sycamore fig farmer turned prophet. Not a “professional prophet,” his ministry and prophecies concluded around 762, two years before a great earthquake (Zechariah 14:5). Amos wrote at a time of relative peace and prosperity but also a long period of neglect of God’s laws. He spoke against an increased disparity between the very wealthy and the poor. His message was simple: Amos proclaimed that an ethical God required ethical relations between people to assure God’s divine favor. When one ponders the state of political unrest and division in our country, it is a comparative message for our present time.

Prophets were sent by God because He loved His people and with each prophet, a warning would come forth to direct God’s people to change their behavior. Amos’s lament (Amos 5) and warning were because ten of the tribes (excluding Judah and Benjamin) which had lasted for about 210 years, would be destroyed by Assyria in 722 BC. Amos is instructed by God with this well-known narrative (Amos7:7-8) that includes a reference to a plumb line. However, let us read all the verses, those before and after the ones we typically give to our children:

(Amos 7:1-9)1NIV New International Version Translations – This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: He was preparing swarms of locusts after the king’s share had been harvested and just as the late crops were coming up. When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” So the Lord relented. “This will not happen,” the Lord said. This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: The Sovereign Lord was calling for judgment by fire; it dried up the great deep and devoured the land. Then I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!” So the Lord relented. “This will not happen either,” the Sovereign Lord said. This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the Lord asked me, “What do you see, Amos?” “A plumb line,” I replied. Then the Lord said, “Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer. “The high places of Isaac will be destroyed, and the sanctuaries of Israel will be ruined; with my sword, I will rise against the house of Jeroboam.”

The problem pointed out here is that those who claim God, live lives that were inconsistent with such a claim. These so-called believers were accused by God of singing idle songs, drinking wine from bowls, and anointing themselves with the finest oils (living the good life). In and of themselves these things (singing, anointing, even drinking) were not the problem. The problem was that these practices were carried on even while “their ship is sinking (their country was in trouble),” and the people simply did not care. The questions that Amos was asking were:

  • How can you feast when some have nothing to eat?
  • How can you anoint yourselves when the least among us have no honor?
  • How can you celebrate as the worlds of so many others are falling apart around them?

God is ANGRY, MAD! Amos is laying it out as clearly as he can. Such behavior, God declares through Amos, is senseless, and this is exactly what the people are doing: “But you have turned justice into poison and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness” (6:12b). God then goes on in chapter 7 where Amos is making an appeal to God, praying on behalf of the people. God is about to send locusts and fire. They were spared because of Amos’s prayers. However, God lays it out quite clearly. He is setting a standard, a plumb line, and will measure His people by this standard. God is not going to let them off the hook. History shows, that people never did measure up.

Why is a plumb line such a perfect metaphor? It is a simple tool, requiring no training to use. It needs no manuals, everyone can be an expert with a plumb line, and even in our high-tech age, no one has ever electrified or computerized, a plumb line. There is no advanced model, no Pro version, and it never needs updating. A plumb line always gives us a perfect vertical to measure against. Now the Israelites failed to grasp this simple concept. The Assyrians would take care of them some 40 years later. But today, we are not quite in that same dilemma. Today, we have Jesus Christ, our perfect plumb line, to measure our own lives and character against. Today we have no excuses.

Before you relax and say things are great, you are saved and hallelujah Jesus, let us reflect on reality. In Jurgen Moltmann’s (famed theologian) book, “The Crucified God,” Moltmann brings forward a wakeup call to everyone that professes Christ as their savior: “Jesus was folly to the wise, a scandal to the devout and a disturber of the peace in the eyes of the mighty. That is why he was crucified. If anyone identifies with him, this world is ‘crucified’ to him, as Paul said. He becomes alienated from the wisdom, religion, and power politics of his society. The crucified Christ became the brother of the despised, abandoned, and oppressed.” So, are you ready to be despised, abandoned, and oppressed? Following Jesus, measuring up against the “plumb line” is not an easy thing to do. Our world is against you! However, God has made it painfully clear, that the people of this world, especially those who call themselves people of God, must be different. They must set standards of compassion and love that this world has never seen. God’s expectations are for His people to be discerning and seek His Truth. The hungry must be fed, the killing of the born and unborn must stop, and divisiveness must make way for progress against the issues in our world that matter most to God.

The story of Amos the shepherd-turned-prophet is much more than a children’s story. It is a contemporary view of our society. It calls out to all of us to re-examine our priorities and to learn to live lives pleasing to God. We have no excuses either. Christ already came, He set the standard for how to live, Christ is with us today to help, and He even gave us simplified instructions:

(John 13:34) – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

It will not be an easy thing to do, but we all must start, one prayer at a time, one charitable act, and one forgiving moment at a time. While the short children’s story about Amos is number one, my prayer for this study would be that this adult story about Amos becomes number two.


  • Do you think that the “ship is sinking,” that our country is in deep trouble and the people don’t care?
    • Ideas to Explore: If we are divided, what does each group represent and believe? Do some people not care about God? What type of national sins do you see? What are the similarities between our country and Northern Israel that caused God to be upset and send Amos? Do we have prophets among us today?
  • Why is it hard to walk with Christ?
    • Ideas to Explore: Are we persecuted? Exactly what is hard? Is being a Christian beneficial in your circle of friends? Are you fearful? What causes you to hesitate on your walk?
  • Why do you think so many people hate Christians?
    • Ideas to Explore: They envy the peace Christ brings to one’s life. They are afraid that you will hold them accountable if you see some immoral act. The truth of Jesus convicts one’s soul – Do you think people like their sinful life and just don’t want to change? Are we too smug about being saved and judgmental or sanctimonious? Do Christians talk too much about their salvation? Is the promise of salvation an excuse to be a lazy Christian?
  • Why if we are hated and persecuted so much should we be open with our testimonies about Christ?
    • Ideas to Explore: What does it mean to be a disciple of Christ? Does it help to learn how to give a testimony? Could God’s plan even work if no one shared their faith? Who wins if all Christians are quiet?
  • How do you get to know Christ well enough to use Him as a plumb line, to guide your own life?
    • Ideas to Explore: What are all the ways one can learn about Christ and how He lived? What impact do prayer and the Holy Spirit have on our faith walk?
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    NIV New International Version Translations


Hosea lived just before the destruction of Israel in 722 BC. His prophecies were directed to the northern kingdom. During Hosea’s ministry, Israel experienced a period of economic prosperity and growth. As you study the prophets, notice the oscillation between prosperity and recession. This is one period where the northern Kingdom was oblivious to their sins. On the inside of the nation, they had become corrupt, morally decrepit, and adulterous. On the other hand, the people thought they were doing well. The Book of Hosea can be divided into two parts:

  1. Hosea 1:1-3:5: a description of an adulterous wife and a faithful husband, symbolic of the unfaithfulness of Israel to God through idolatry, and
  2. Hosea 4:1-14:9: the condemnation of Israel, especially Samaria, for the worship of idols and her eventual restoration.

The major theme Hosea was called to address was that the Israelites had broken their covenant with God. Not only had they given themselves over to idolatry, Hosea writes that they had also “planted wickedness,” “reaped evil,” “eaten the fruit of deception,” and “depended on your own strength” (Hosea 10:13). They had turned to other gods for answers (Hosea 4:12) and other nations for assistance instead of God (Hosea 7:11). Because of this, God chose to intervene, sending Hosea to them with a warning. It would be Hosea’s role to call the people to repentance and extend an invitation to return to their relationship with God. He was to remind them that God was willing and eager to restore their return to a covenant relationship. We will look at Hosea in the context of our society today.

To begin this study is one of the stranger requests that we will hear God make of a prophet. Hosea was commanded to take a wife who would become a prostitute. This was to serve as an example of God’s relationship with Israel. Hosea was to manifest God’s patience and love through his marriage. According to Deuteronomy 22:20, a harlot was supposed to be stoned, not married. This story is found in the opening chapters of the Book of Hosea (Hosea 1:2-3:5). Not only had the people walked away from God, but they had also forgotten Him entirely. They had forgotten God’s faithfulness. They had forgotten the many miracles and how good God had been to them throughout their relationship (Hosea 1:8). They had forgotten His law and instructions. And once separated from God and the knowledge of their love of God, they quickly turned to their own ways, other gods, and other nations (Hosea 8:4) for help. His marriage was to prepare him for teaching the people that only God could satisfy or save them. This is an amazing way to prove a point! The prophet would have to walk the same walk and talk the same talk that God must do with His people. They were undeserving harlots, but God would forgive them and love them still!

(Hosea 7:16)1NIV New International Version Translations – “They do not turn to the Most High; they are like a faulty bow. Their leaders will fall by the sword because of their insolent words. For this they will be ridiculed in the land of Egypt.”

Hosea warned them for almost forty years about their state of spiritual decline leading them to destruction. The people could no longer see the reality of their own demise (Hosea 4:1). Sinful living had them trapped, forgetting their God and His love for them. Hosea writes, Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord.” (Hosea 5:4). Where is our nation today? Are we walking away from God? Have we forgotten Him? What about God’s Laws, God’s Truth? Where does our nation stand today? Israel had been enslaved by Egypt. God freed them! You would have thought history mattered. Soon, the city of Samaria would be besieged by the Assyrians. Many of the people would be taken into captivity or forcibly deported away from their places of origin. Must that happen to our own nation’s future for us to turn to God?

While God was using prophets like Hosea to minister to the people of Israel in the north, the people of the Southern Kingdom were not immune to idolatry and betrayal either. Judah, the southern kingdom, was known to go through periods of revival. The Northern Kingdom’s spiritual sickness was spreading. It would inevitably infect the nation to its south (Hosea 4:15, Hosea 8:14). The lesson is that sin does not stay hidden. Eventually, sins are exposed (Hosea 2:10). A sin, like a virus, spreads. Things we do in secret hurt those closest to us. Hosea’s marriage was an example of this. Hosea’s adulterous wife hurt more than just herself. It hurt Hosea as well. The same is true for God, who sees and feels the things we do in secret (Hosea 7:2).

Hosea used a personal approach to teach the people about the faithfulness of God. His life would show them God’s character in ways they could understand. He married knowing his spouse, Gomer, would regularly cheat on him. After bearing him three children, she walked away from Hosea to her lovers. Would you stay in such a relationship just to show those around you the true character of God? That was his point. God had proved Himself to be faithful time and time again. Gracious when it was undeserved. God loved them even when they forgot God. Israel (like Gomer) had proven themselves unfaithful, but God (like Hosea) would demonstrate His love for His bride by remaining faithful even when she (Israel) was not. And what is God’s response to those with the hearts of harlots?

(Hosea 11:9) – “I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I devastate Ephraim2 The name Ephraim not only designates a person but also the tribe he started and their inheritance in the Promised Land (Joshua 16:5 – 9). It is Biblically used for a city and part of a mountain range in the heart of Israel. Additionally, a forest, a gate, and a symbolic reference to the northern ten tribes of Israel also use the name. again. For I am God, and not a man—the Holy One among you. I will not come against their cities.”

In Hosea 4-14 is Hosea’s message of warning to the nation of Israel. There you will find a parallel between the three sections describing Hosea’s marriage and the major sections in the ending part of his writings. Hosea alternates between the listing of sins, the pronouncement of judgment, the call to repentance, and the promise of restoration. Since the beginning of time, God’s ungrateful and undeserving creation has been accepting God’s love, grace, and mercy. Yet God’s creation has been unable to refrain from its wickedness. We call Hosea’s writings prophetic because of verses such as Hosea 2:23.

(Hosea 2:23) – “I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”

We learn that God is to include the Gentiles (non-Jews) as His children as written in Romans 9:25 and 1 Peter 2:10. Gentiles were not originally “God’s people,” but through His mercy and grace, He has provided Jesus Christ, and by faith in Him we are now His people (Romans 11:11-18). As Hosea ends his book, he shows how God’s love once again restores His children as He forgets their sins when they turn back to Him with repentant hearts. This prophetic message of Hosea foretells the coming of Israel’s Messiah 700 years in the future. Hosea is quoted often in the New Testament.

We should not lose sight of how God is dishonored and angered by the actions of His children. How can a child who is given an abundance of love, mercy, and grace treat a Father with so much disrespect? Yet, that is the history of humanity. Look no further than the mirror in front of us to see a reflection of those that Hosea came to warn!


  • What would you tell people today who are abandoning God?
    • Ideas to Explore: Do you agree that there is a problem? Do you regularly share your testimony regarding your faith in Jesus? If people see you, do they know you love God?
  • Do you know what today’s idolatry looks like?
    • Ideas to Explore: Sports, entertainment industry, power, wealth, lifestyle, education, how about cell phones and sneakers? What is on your list?
  • How tolerant have you become with accepting the sin of our society today?
    • Ideas to Explore: Do you pay attention enough to notice sin around you? What is your attitude toward tolerating sins against God’s Truth? What do others think of your faith when they see your actions toward sin?
  • How would you warn those around you that the sins of society are a serious thing to correct?
    • Ideas to Explore: First is family, what are you telling your family? Next, your closest friends. What about the people you encounter every day?
  • Do you believe that we can lose our nation?
    • Ideas to Explore: History says it could happen because it has happened many times before. How does that make you feel? Emboldened and willing to help. Overwhelmed and ready to give up. God does not define a position in between!
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    NIV New International Version Translations
  • 2
    The name Ephraim not only designates a person but also the tribe he started and their inheritance in the Promised Land (Joshua 16:5 – 9). It is Biblically used for a city and part of a mountain range in the heart of Israel. Additionally, a forest, a gate, and a symbolic reference to the northern ten tribes of Israel also use the name.


Isaiah ben Amoz was his full name, a prophet of God. There is extensive evidence that much of the book of Isaiah was composed of two prophets separated by more than a hundred years. The book of Isaiah talks about a day of judgment when all nations will come to the city of Zion (Jerusalem) for sanctuary, as well as the need for the city to be purged of all evil. The prophet Isaiah was referring to the Assyrian expansion, which he said was a warning from God. His warnings can appropriately be applied to the nations of the world today. Will nations be judged by God? Will the sinful greed of one country administer God’s punishment to another nation?

We will look at the Book of Isaiah in three sections:

  • Isaiah 1–39: Proto-Isaiah, containing the words of the original Isaiah (pre-exile days around 740-700 BC);
  • Isaiah 40–55: Deutero-Isaiah, the work of an anonymous author living during the Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile; and
  • Isaiah 56–66: Trito-Isaiah, an anthology or collection of about a dozen passages (post-exile days around 515-480 BC).

His name “Isaiah” means “Yahweh is salvation.” Along with his contemporary, the prophet Micah, Isaiah served the southern kingdom of Judah under the reign of four kings. At the time of Isaiah’s ministry, Judah was a sinful and unjust nation. We know that Isaiah was the son of Amoz, was married, and had sons (Isaiah 1:1; 7:3; 8:3). Isaiah’s ministry is recognized in the books of the Kings and Chronicles. He was probably a priest (Isaiah 6:4). A prophet’s life was never easy. There were many highs and lows in Isaiah’s life. Because of his faithfulness to God, Isaiah was rewarded with some amazing miracles. For example, God responded to Isaiah’s prayer for King Hezekiah, moving the sun back ten steps as a sign to King that God would add a further 15 years to his life (2 Kings 20:8-11; 2 Chronicles 32:24). Yet, on the other hand, Isaiah spent three years stripped naked and barefoot, in obedience to God, as a “sign and wonder” against the Egyptians (Isaiah 20:2-4). Micah did the same (Micah 1:8) but the length of time is unknown.

Isaiah’s ministry best is known for pointing people to God, not to themselves. Despite being reserved, Isaiah’s notoriety is about how his ministry affected the people of Judah. It would be Isaiah’s lifestyle that taught them, God accomplishes a part of His plan through us when we assure that all the glory goes to Him, not us. Isaiah also remained close to other godly men, like Micah and King Hezekiah. His accountable relationships were based on prayers and reliance on the Holy Spirit. He may be best known for his call by God:

(Isaiah 6:8)1NIV New International Version Translations – “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’”

In Isaiah’s writings, he predicted that after the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jewish people exiled, a foreign king named Cyrus would rise to restore the scattered nation and authorize the rebuilding of the Temple. He gave the people the straight facts, there would be a punishment but then left them with the understanding that they should keep their hope in their God. His greatest prophecy came in the foretelling of the coming of the Messiah.

(Isaiah 7:14) – “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel.”

(Isaiah 9:6) – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

(Isaiah 11:2-4) – “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness, he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.”

The story behind the second part of Isaiah (Chapters 40-55) is that it was written during the Babylonian exile. This began in 586 BC. At the start of this section, chapter 40, the unknown Isaiah was to bring people comfort before their return to their homeland. They had been in exile for almost fifty years. Not much is known about the author of the second part of Isaiah. He wrote chapters 40-55 of Isaiah, most likely male, and wrote at the end of exile after the Persian Emperor Cyrus conquered Babylon in 539 BC. Cyrus passed a decree that allowed exiles to return to their homeland in 538 BC. We do know what the other Isaiah believed in. In Isaiah part two, God is the King of all creation, who controls the fates of all nations, even the enemies of Israel and Judah. One major theme is God’s complete control over the earth as the Creator of the universe.

It was during the time of exile that the second Isaiah told the story of the suffering servant. This story is a metaphor for the larger suffering done by those who were exiled. The suffering servant’s message is that they all had to go through this for the greater good that was to come. It was one of Isaiah’s most memorable monologues, as he highlighted that the Israelites were not suffering in vain. During the exile, the second Isaiah prophesized a servant of the people would come. These prophetic messages brought hope to God’s people.

(Isaiah 42:1) – “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.”

In the second passage (Isaiah 49: 1-7), the Servant is called by God, to restore Israel, and make them a “light to the nations”. The third reference to the Servant (Isaiah 50: 1-11) has the Servant calling out the people who mocked God. Finally, the last Servant passage (Isaiah 52:13-15, 53: 1-12) describes the Servant’s suffering as the process of receiving redemption. “The Servant” parallels our Savior, Jesus Christ. As the exile ended and the opportunity to return to their homeland began to unfold. The people were reminded to reject useless idols for God who is all-powerful. God was very clear that He cannot be considered an equal to the powerless works of artists (Isaiah 40:18-20). God tells the Israelites that He alone is God and cannot be compared to the blind, mute, deaf, and helpless idols of Babylon (Isaiah 46:1-9).

The messages in the Book of Isaiah made it clear that the people would first suffer and then be free, and the realization of salvation would be in (539 BC) when Babylon fell to the Persians. King Cyrus came into power in (539 BC) and decreed that the Israelites were free, and the Temple was to be rebuilt. It had been 70 years since the Temple’s destruction, and in (516 BC) the exile officially ended when the Temple finally stood again, marking the beginning of the second Temple period, which would stand for hundreds of years.

It would be difficult for people to go back to Jerusalem. They had been living their lives in exile for a long time. The exiled have been forced to live by other values and worship other gods. Children and young adults knew no other life. Many married, made money and even rose to positions of prominence in Babylonian society. The role of the prophets was to help the exiled Jews to understand the importance of going back to Jerusalem. Even in exile, the people were in denial that it was their sinfulness that caused their plight. Most chose to stay at first, but as the situation in Judah continued to improve, eventually, the people began to flow back into their homeland. As they returned, however, they found themselves in conflict with those who had remained in the country and now owned their land. There were further conflicts over what sort of government would be formed and what kind of nation Jerusalem would become.

Chapters 56 to 66 are believed to be written by the same author as the second part of the Book of Isaiah. However, the author was no longer in Babylon but back in Jerusalem. These last chapters are a mixture of prose and poetry, of hope and despair at the same time. The major portion of this section is about the hardships of rebuilding the Temple by Sheshbazzar and the later completion by Zerubbabel. Haggai and Zechariah were now prophets of this period. These chapters are about the exiles who returned to a devastated homeland and undertook the immense task of rebuilding the Temple.

The New Testament Gospels quote more from Isaiah’s writings than any other Old Testament prophets. Both Micah and King Hezekiah, worked together with Isaiah and his protégés to bring a revival to the nation of Judah (2 Kings 19:32-36; 2 Chronicles 32:20-23). It is from Isaiah’s writings that we learn of his faithfulness and his complete humility before God. He also had great respect from King Hezekiah’s court and his peers, which became evident during times of crisis. His grasp of the Hebrew language has been compared to that of Shakespeare’s English. As we read Isaiah, we find some of the most beautiful writings in the Bible. Although the book of Isaiah was written over 2,500 years ago, it is worth reading in its entirety because we see much wisdom that still can be applied to our Christian lives today. The last verse of the Book of Isaiah ends in a chilling reality about the power of our God:

(Isaiah 66:22-24) – “As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me,” declares the Lord, “so will your name and descendants endure. From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. “And they will go out and look on the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.”


  • The people in the southern kingdom, of Judah, were conquered, exiled, and enslaved for almost two generations. When the time came to go back to their God, they were not sure they wanted to. What does this tell you about the character of humanity?
    • Ideas to Explore: Can people recognize their sins? Is humanity always looking for the easy path? Will people give up God for the “good life?” Did they forget their faith and fail to pass it on to their children?
  • God used exile to teach His children a lesson. Why was this the only way to get their attention?
    • Ideas to Explore: Sin must have been fun. Losing freedom is an effective way to get someone’s attention.
  • Do you think that God could take away our freedom today to get our attention to sin?
    • Ideas to Explore: Are we a sinful nation? What does it take to get our attention and focus on God?
  • How do you respond to prophetic statements about our Savior, Jesus?
    • Ideas to Explore: We have the advantage to see the value of the prophets. Do people just exclude the idea of prophecies today?
  • In Isaiah’s final words, we are told emphatically that God WINS! With all the other prophecies proven to be true by history, why should we not believe that God will win in the end?
    • Ideas to Explore: What is it about the character of humanity that it cannot see the power of its Creator? What do you see that convinces you, God wins in the end.
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    NIV New International Version Translations


The name Micah is a shortened form of the Hebrew word “Mikayahu,” which means “who is like the Eternal?” It is considered the sixth book of the Minor Prophets. Micah’s message is one of judgment. God through Micah warns the people of Judah, the king, the priests, and the (false) prophets of a coming judgment for their unfaithfulness and idolatry. Micah was from Moresheth-gath, a small rural town in the kingdom of Judah (Micah 1:1, 14). This town is located a little less than 20 miles southwest of the city of Jerusalem, close to where the prophet Isaiah grew up. He was likely a contemporary of the prophets Amos, Hosea, Jonah, and Isaiah.

Micah’s ministry came during a time (735 BC to 700 BC) when the people of Israel were thriving economically but suffering spiritually. Those with plenty, the upper class, were placing increasing burdens on the lower class. Micah was very concerned with the oppression of the poor by the wealthy. He considered this injustice among Judah and Israel’s greatest sins. If one looks at our nation today, the growing national debt, the increasing regulations, and inflation, we can find numerous parallels between current events and Micah’s ministry. The judgment Micah threatens would soon come through the hands of Assyria and Babylon.

Micah’s background coming from a small town may have given him special sensitivity to the concerns of the poor rural people of the land. Micah is the only book in the Old Testament to name Bethlehem, where the Messiah would be born.

(Micah 5:2)1NIV New International Version Translations – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Micah delivered strong indictments against both Samaria and Jerusalem (Micah 1:5-6). He had personally witnessed idolatry, evil business practices, dishonesty, cheating, bribery, divisiveness, and corruption. His message? Simply that God was not going to allow these sinful practices to continue. Unless the people took heed of his warnings and repented, they would be punished with famine, war, and captivity. The rulers were mostly to blame. Micah was critical of the religious leaders. They were leading the people into sin, despite having full knowledge of God’s Laws. God was greatly displeased with those who were professing allegiance to Him through an outward, hypocritical show of religious devotion and service (Micah 6:6-7). This superficial form of worship was considered worthless by God because it lacked genuine love and concern for God. Jesus agreed with Micah (Matthew 23).

Even today, many nations call themselves “Godly Nations.” There is the general belief that there will be no consequences for their actions. The people living during Micah’s time were deceived into thinking that their artificial spirituality and their false sense of righteousness would save them from punishment, despite their “transgression,” “sin” and “iniquity” (Micah 3:8-10). They were under the misguided impression that because they had God among them, they would escape the penalties of disobedience. The Bible tells us that sin is the breaking of God’s Law (1 John 3:4). The Apostle Paul clearly stated that sin is death (Romans 6:23). This is the only law of God that all humans are subject to! The claim of Godliness must be accompanied by a willingness to live according to the Word of God. Not doing so will most certainly lead a nation away from God.

(Micah 3:8) – “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression, to Israel his sin.”

Micah boldly states that he was qualified to be judgmental in the case of Judah and Israel. He was called and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Micah’s prophecies frequently meander from messages of doom, warning, and despair to ones of hope, deliverance, and peace. His prophecies covered the full spectrum of sins. Everything from a lawless nation deserving punishment from God to restoration as the chosen people of God. At times he gives a message of utter despair, only to follow on with joyful hope. Micah was always clear about God’s promise of an abundant life for all of mankind for those who repented and honored God’s Truth. Micah’s message was directed to the leaders and false prophets of the time.

(Micah 3:1-2, 5) – “Then I said, ‘Listen, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel. Should you not embrace justice, you who hate good and love evil; who tear the skin from my people and the flesh from their bones;’”

(Micah 3:9-11) – “Hear this, you leaders of Jacob, you rulers of Israel, who despise justice and distort all that is right; who build Zion with bloodshed, and Jerusalem with wickedness. Her leaders judge for a bribe, her priests teach for a price, and her prophets tell fortunes for money. Yet they look for the Lord’s support and say, ‘Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.’”

Today’s national leaders have the audacity to constantly ask for our God’s blessings, “May God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America!” You hear it after every political message. The prophet Isaiah, a contemporary of Micah, expressed similar sentiments when speaking about Israel:

(Isaiah 48:1) – “Listen to this, you descendants of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and come from the line of Judah, you who take oaths in the name of the Lord and invoke the God of Israel—but not in truth or righteousness—Who swear by the name of the LORD, and make mention of the God of Israel, but not in truth or in righteousness”.

Micah’s response is numbing. They will not escape God’s punishment. Micah 3:12 records: “Therefore because of you, Zion will be plowed like a field, Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble, the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.” Religiously, economically, and socially, Israel and Judah were in decline. Unfortunately, history shows that the stubbornness of these nations, and their leaders, led in the end, to national captivity and loss of freedom.

A brief outline of the Book of Micah

  • (Micah 1) – Judgment is announced against Israel and Judah.
  • (Micah 2-3) – Micah announces God’s judgment of the false prophets and the rich and powerful for their sins and evil ways.
  • (Micah 4-5 – The millennial reign of Jesus Christ; judgment upon the enemies of Israel.
  • (Micah 6) – God’s case against Israel; impending sorrow and punishment for their sins.
  • (Micah 7) – God’s future forgiveness upon Israel when they confess and forsake their sins.

In what is probably the most popular verses from Micah, we can find the ultimate question answered for humanity. What God, do you want of me?

(Micah 6:6-8) – “With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

  • Burnt offerings are the fatted calf, the best you have to offer God. Does God want your best?
  • A thousand rams? That is probably only the wealthiest could have ever hoped to accumulate. Does God want your worldly wealth, everything?
  • Ten thousand rivers of oil. That is just the impossible, does God want the impossible from us?
  • Your firstborn! This in any family would be the most precious thing you could imagine. Is God asking for the most precious thing in your life that can never be replaced?

Then comes God’s answer: God wants only justice, mercy, and humility. Not FOR you but FROM you. Yes, you are to ACT justly, LOVE mercy, and WALK humbly with your God. It is all about you and how you treat the others around you.

This scripture applies as much to present-day Christians as it did to people during Micah’s time. The Old Testament laws continue to be a tool of instruction. It is the Old Testament that shows us God’s ways, and how to “walk in His paths.” Micah 4:7 adds: “I will make the lame my remnant, those driven away a strong nation. The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion from that day and forever.” Micah’s prophecies about the future glory and peace of the earth under Christ’s rule are some of the most encouraging in the Bible.


  • Generally, the rulers of the world are despots and narcissistic. Those who are elected or hold positions by force seem to fit this model. Why?
    • Ideas to Explore: Why do people in free countries continue to elect leaders that strip them of freedoms, waste their money, lie, cheat and steal? These are our choices. Is it that we are easily fooled? Do we pay attention to who they are? Or maybe, our educational systems have left us unable to think? Can you answer the question, why?
  • The leadership void is found whether leaders take their position by force or by vote. How can we do a better job of picking leaders?
    • Ideas to Explore: Would finding Godly people help? Would putting God back into our educational systems help? Do we really spend enough time knowing whom we are electing?
  • How do we solve this issue? It seems that it has been in our world from the beginning of time.
    • Ideas to Explore: History tells us that prosperity and peace come from Godly leadership. What should Godly people do about this?
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    NIV New International Version Translations


Nahum is known for his prophecy about the city of Nineveh. Jonah had been the first prophet to try to help Nineveh. Nineveh was a major city in the empire of Assyria. Unfortunately, its reputation was based on its cruelty. There was no love lost either between the Israelites and Nineveh. The city’s king, Sennacherib, laid siege to Jerusalem in 701 BC (2 Kings 18:13-19:37, Isaiah 36-37). The popular 1960s television crime drama Dragnet began every episode with the words, “This is the city.” The idea of a city has often embodied both the best and worst of humanity. Big cities offer morally contradictive lifestyles. While they often are places of excitement, there is also more of the threat of danger. The Bible notes that the first murderer, Cain, is also the builder of the first city (Genesis 4:17)1A possible reflection of the antiurban bias in Genesis, “The Five Books of Moses”, author Robert Alter, ISBN 0-393-01955-1, 2004.. Nineveh was this type of big city.

Jonah’s message results in the people of Nineveh repenting. The people begin to understand that they should fear God and He spares this great city. Around 100 to 150 years later is where we see Nahum. Although the city of Nineveh had repented, their Godly behavior and fear of the Lord did not last for long. A few generations of people had passed and those in Nineveh were back to their old ways again. This will be one of the things we can learn from Nahum, the importance of passing God on to future generations! To understand Nahum, first, we must understand the people living in Nineveh.

The Assyrians were very powerful during this period and were busy conquering other regions, including Israel. When Nahum issued his prophecy of Nineveh’s doom, there was no hint of its coming destruction. The city was strong, self-confident, and recognized for its splendor by the surrounding nations. Because of its natural defenses, protected by both sides of the Nile River, and surrounded by moats, canals, and water channels, those who occupied Nineveh felt safe from invading armies. Yet most had forgotten that Nineveh had fallen to the Assyrians under Ashurbanipal in 663 BC. Under Assyria’s control, Nineveh had become a corrupt city of blood. Assyria’s cruelty is amply documented through archeology. Assyrian kings boasted of their cruelty. The worst kinds of torture took place for anyone imprisoned there. God considered them cruel and sinful.

Nineveh was also full of temples to other Gods. Their wealth came from the treasures taken from their enemies. Nahum has a vision of the destruction of the city of Nineveh. God then sends him to deliver a message to them, that soon they will face their downfall because of the evil that they have brought to God’s people and other nations around them. Even though Nineveh seems like a power that would last forever, they eventually fall. The prophet Nahum prophesied the destruction of the city because of their people’s evilness. Nahum’s predictions for Nineveh’s destruction came to pass when the Babylonians, Medes, and Scythians sacked the city in 612 BC. It was the largest city in the world for approximately fifty years until its destruction. Nineveh’s walls had been breached by flood waters, allowing their attackers to enter the city. The city’s ruin was ultimately a product of God’s divine wrath.

(Nahum 1:8–10)2NIV New International Version Translations – ‘’but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into the realm of darkness. Whatever they plot against the Lord he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time. They will be entangled among thorns and drunk from their wine; they will be consumed like dry stubble.”

It is interesting to note that Nahum defines further exactly what God considered their worst sins, demanding His judgment. Nahum is listing the murder, inhumane torture of people, the illicit gains taken from others, and that victims of Nineveh’s culture were everywhere. We have a God that cares about His creation!

(Nahum 3:1) – “Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims!”

Nineveh was destroyed because its people and leaders practiced the crimes of religious prostitution and witchcraft. Nahum said, “all because of the wanton lust of a prostitute, alluring, the mistress of sorceries, who enslaved nations by her prostitution and peoples by her witchcraft.” (Nahum 3:4). In a further humiliation, God said, “’I am against you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.I will lift your skirts over your face. I will show the nations your nakedness and the kingdoms your shame. I will pelt you with filth, I will treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle.’” (Nahum 3:5-6). Assyria would parade its captives through the city, sometimes nude, while people pelted them with stones and garbage. Thus, God gave Nineveh the same treatment they gave those they had captured in the past. God would treat them like a naked harlot, fastened to stocks in the public square, and pelted with human excrement. Assyria was disgraced and degraded before the world in the worst kind of humiliation.

Nahum also accused Nineveh as full of “lies and plunder” (Nahum 3:1). Assyria deliberately deceived other nations. They would enter binding treaties that they had no intention of keeping. Once the Assyrians gained the confidence of another nation, they would break their treaty and demand payments from its leaders. Nahum provided a detailed description of Nineveh’s collapse as the Medo-Babylonian coalition attacked the city. In reading Nahum 2-3 the battle is already in progress. As the machinery of war rolls through Nineveh, we are told of the sound of whips cracking, wheels clattering on the stone pavement, horses galloping through the city, and chariots speeding through the streets. The sun’s reflection off the swords and spears strikes terror in the Ninevites as they try in vain to flee. Their slaughter was imminent. The invading army and the people of Nineveh stumble over the thousands of dead that fill the streets during the battle.

Nahum prophecies that Nineveh’s wealth will disappear: “You have increased the number of your merchants till they are more numerous than the stars in the sky, but like locusts, they strip the land and then fly away.” (Nahum 3:16). Nineveh’s traders and merchants were many, like the stars of heaven. Their wealth was enriched by worldwide conquest and trade. Nahum simply prophecies that their wealth would vanish like locusts stripping an area of its vegetation and then quickly flying away.

(Nahum 3:18-19) – “King of Assyria, your shepherd’s slumber; your nobles lie down to rest. Your people are scattered in the mountains with no one to gather them. Nothing can heal you; your wound is fatal. All who hear the news about you clap their hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?”

Nineveh’s leaders would die in the war. Disloyal warriors would run away in the conflict. Nineveh’s people would be scattered and never restored to their land. Their destruction would be a delight to the world. This story is sobering. The city thought itself strong, self-confident and recognized for its splendor by the surrounding nations. No matter what the people did to help their city, whether it was getting water to drink, repairing the city walls, or even increasing the army, nothing saved them. They had gotten rich by plundering others. Their leaders demanded tributes from other nations for “protection.“ Assyria prostituted her values to gain wealth and power. 

Judgment cannot be escaped in this world! Judgment comes because of the character of God. He is in control of both nature and the nations. He used the Babylonians to bring His judgment on the Assyrians. He also used a flood to help the Babylonians. Our hope, however, is that God is just. Punishments, when administered by God are always well deserved. There is a well-quoted set of transitions that most nations move through. Our nation’s journey is no exception:

People begin in bondage, and transition to faith, from faith, comes courage, leading them to be free. It is the freedom that brings abundance, but too often, selfishness follows. Selfishness then breeds complacency which is quickly followed by apathy. Unfortunately, it is the apathy that again spawns bondage. Where is our nation today on this historic circular journey?


  • There are similarities between Nineveh to our nation today – What are they?
    • Ideas to Explore: Who are the victims of our society? Are our leaders treating their enemies with cruelty? How do we treat other nations?
  • What other nations do you see that are like Nineveh?
    • Ideas to Explore: Do you think that God will forget about those nations? Can God use any one of those cruel nations as a judgment and punishment against another nation?
  • How long does a nation typically last?
    • Ideas to Explore: History says about 250 years. What is your guess on our own country?
  • The worst stage for a country to be in is one of apathy-What would the signs be for a country in the “apathy” stage?
    • Ideas to Explore: Working populous is diminishing, voting percentages are low, number of regulations removing freedoms growing, your ideas?
  • Do you see signs of the stage of bondage in our nation?
    • Ideas to Explore: Entitlements, debt, crime, fear of crime, loss of parental rights of children?
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    A possible reflection of the antiurban bias in Genesis, “The Five Books of Moses”, author Robert Alter, ISBN 0-393-01955-1, 2004.
  • 2
    NIV New International Version Translations
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