Janurary 2018

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Prophet Nahum

 

The Hebrew name “Nahum” means “comfort” or “consolation.” The theme of the prophecy is the fate and destruction of Nineveh, the one-time capital city of the mighty Assyrian empire, which had destroyed Israel and taken many inhabitants of the land captive. The message was proclaimed to Judah (Nahum 1:15) and not to the 10 tribes of Israel who were already in captivity. Nahum’s announcement was a “comfort” and a “consolation” to the inhabitants of Judah, as it predicted the down fall of Assyria a savage and cruel enemy of Israel and Judah.

The book of Jonah records Nineveh’s absolution, Nahum predicts its destruction. Assyriah was the adversary of Israel and Judah. It was used by God to punish the inhabitants of Israel who had turned to idol worship and other evil practices. Nahum shows that despite the unjust and lawless nature of a nation, God is slow to anger (1:3), but He will not always delay His intervention and punishment. God had judged Israel and Judah for their appalling wickedness, and now He was to judge the Assyrians. Assyria had reached the height of its power, and its downfall probably appeared impossible to many.

Nineveh, at the time Nahum predicted its downfall, was at the heart of a gigantic, powerful empire – the commercial center of the world. However, its wealth was not the result of trade alone, but also came through the practice of deceit and the ravaging of neighboring nations. As Nahum writes: “Woe to the bloody city it is all full of lies and robbery” (3:1). Nineveh’s revolting methods are compared to a pride of ravaging lions tearing apart their prey. As Nahum puts it, Nineveh was a lion who “filled his caves with prey, and his dens with flesh” (2:12). God made it clear that this was certainly not the way nations should gather wealth!

Within the space of about 20 years of Nahum’s prophecy, an army of Babylonians and Medes closed in on the city and ambush it. The prediction was that a sudden rise in the level of the Tigres River would cause a breach in the walls (2:6), and that the invading armies would sweep into the city, stealing and destroying it. Nahum, in vivid detail, describes the battle scenes and pursuing destruction (2:1-4; 3:1-7). Heaps of human bodies would be piled up in the streets (3:3), including children dashed to pieces (3:10). Survivors would be lead away into captivity (verse 10). This all came to pass exactly as Nahum had predicted.

Nahum further predicts that the city would not rise again to prominence (3:19), and apparently that it would be difficult to locate (3:11). Yes indeed, for many years the existence of Nineveh was uncertain, even regarded as a myth. Yet all along the city lay buried under layers of earth until the 1800s when archaeologists uncovered the ruins. Today archaeologists are able to confirm with certainty that Nineveh existed, proving the authenticity of the city Jonah and Nahum were told to prophesy against.

Most people are interested in the future. People in general want to know whether world leaders will find peace or if our modern weapons of mass destruction will wipe all life from the earth. Jesus Christ predicted that humanity would self-destruct in He did not intervene in the affairs of mankind (Matthew 24:22). Can we really be confident that the UN (United Nations) or some other power will have the capability to bring about world peace and prosperity? The Bible states that humanity does not know the way to peace and that without God’s help we can not succeed (Isaiah 59:8-10). Yet the Bible is a book of hope for the future when the “Prince of Peace” will achieve lasting peace among all peoples and nations (Isaiah 9: 6-7). Nahum also predicted a time of peace beyond this troubled world.

Here are a couple of scriptures in Nahum that refer to the end of time events:
Nahum 1:12
12 Thus says the Lord, ‘Though they are at full strength and many, they will be cut off and pass away. Though I have afflicted you, I will afflict you no more.
This refers to a time when God says His people will no longer be afflicted, and enemies will not be allowed to pass through their land

Nahum 1: 15
15 Look! On the mountains the feet of one who brings good tidings, who proclaims peace! Celebrate your festivals, O Judah, fulfill your vows, for never again shall the wicked invade you; they are utterly cut off.
This verse is similar to Isaiah 52:7, which in context is pointing forward to the time when the Kingdom of God will be established on the earth.

Humanity does not fully understand God’s over whelming desire for all people to experience a glorious happiness, and hope for a prosperous, stable future. The Bible outlines a plan to bring about a time when mankind will want to live the way that leads to peace, happiness, abundance and joyful well-being.

Short outline on Nahum

A. God’s judgment on Nineveh – chapter 1
1. God’s authority and power – 1-7
2. Judgment pronounced – 8-15

B. Siege and capture of Nineveh – chapter 2
1. Siege and capture described – 1-8
2. The city plundered – 9-13

C. Utter ruin of the city – chapter 3
1. Her cruelty, harlotry and witchcraft (demonic worship) – 1-7
2. Perpetual desolation predicted – 8-19.

May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with You

Prophet Joel part 2

Part 2

How are we to understand Joel 2:31, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood”? Some have related this with solar and lunar eclipses and the so-called “blood moon” sometimes seen in a lunar eclipse, it has been an attempt to predict the exact time Christ will return.

The Book of Joel, like many prophecies, sometimes jumped from one period to another. Verse 30 and 31 are clearly “before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord” (verse 31), while the surrounding verses are about the time after Christ’s return. We can find the time setting more clearly explained in Revelation 6:12, which refers to the same incident: “And the moon became like blood.” Since Revelation 6 is recorded in chronological order, it becomes clear that this sixth seal occurs after the five seals listed earlier in Revelation 6 and at the time “a great earthquake” happened. These things have not happened yet.

In the shadow of this destruction and doom, God pleads with the people to humble themselves and seek and worship Him. God said, “Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ So rend your heart, and not your garments” (Joel 2:12-13). He continued: “Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm” (2:13). All important to God in the process of repentance is a humble heart. An outward showing of worship needs to come together with a genuine change of the heart. Gt condemned the religious leaders of His day for having a form or outward show of religion that did not come from the heart: “Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:25-28). He stated that such worship of Him is done in vain (Mark 7:7-9).

Upon repentance, God promises that He “will be zealous for His land, and pity His people” (Joel 2:18). God’s goodness and kindness will be poured out upon the people:
Joel 2: 19,24 – Inhabitants will be satisfied with grain, new wine and oil.
Joel 2:23 – Rain in due season.
Joel 2:26 – Abundance of food for all, “And My people shall never be put to shame.”

Major changes will happen once Jesus Christ returns to govern the entire earth (Revelation 11:15).
Joel 2:27 – He will return to dwell “in the midst of Israel,” and no other false god will ever be worshiped again.
Joel 2:28 – “I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh.” Notice He specifies all peoples and nations.
Joel 2:32 – Those who call upon God will be offered salvation.
Joel 3:17 – God will dwell in Zion, and because He dwells in Jerusalem, the city will be declared “holy” or set apart from other cities. The city shall abide “from generation to generation” (3:20).
Joel 3:18 – Agricultural blessings will abound.
Joel 3:21 – God again emphasizes that He will live in Jerusalem.
These scriptures and prophecies of joyful end time events that have not yet happened.

The apostle Peter stated that “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). We need to acknowledge that the Bible predicts world shaking events for the future. God inspired these prophecies, and they are sure to happen. Yet remember the many prophecies that promise hope, joy and happiness as well.

Jesus Christ desires that we “watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worth to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).

Short Outline of Joel

A. The Call to Repentance, Chapters 1:1 – 2:17.

1. By the past scourge of locusts and drought, chapter 1.
2. By the scourge to come, 2:1-17.

B. Israel’s Repentance and Jehovah’s Promised Blessing, 2:18 – 3:21

1. Material blessing 2:18-27
2. In the world Judgment, chapter 3

May the Peace of Jesus Christ be with You

Study Questions Romans Chapter 3

Book of Romans Study Questions
Chapter 3

1. List the advantage of the Jew over the Gentile, since both were sinners. (vs. 1-8)
2. What is the main point in the flow of thought in vss. 1-8?
3. What is the point of the quotations found in vss. 10-18?
4. List three objections that Paul anticipates some might raise to his line of argument?
5. The Jews had the oracle of God. What does the word “oracle” mean? How did such oracles relate to Christ?
6. What is the meaning of the words “faithfulness of God” as in vs. 3?
7. In what sense could God come into judgment? V. 4
8. Who are the “we” and the “they” of vs. 9?
9. Where in the Roman epistle had Paul proven both Jews and Greeks guilty of sin?
10. In what sense is “there none righteous,” v. 10? Page 5 of 20
11. The lack of understanding as in vs. 11a was limited to understanding on what subject?
12. There have been “seekers after God” in all ages and places. In what sense is vs. 11b true?
13. Give the full significance of “apart from the law” (v. 21).
14. Define “righteousness” as used in v. 21. How and when was it manifested? What was its status before the manifesting?
15. What previous passage in Romans does v. 22 have a close resemblance to?
16. Show the two ways in which there “is no distinction.” v. 22.
17. Is there any distinction in v. 22 between the noun “faith” and the verb “believe”? What attitude and response is involved in “faith in Jesus Christ”?
18. What is the “glory” of God, v. 23?
19. What is the meaning of “freely” in v. 24?
20. We are justified “by” and “through” something. Explain.
21. How does v. 24 fit in with the ideas of Eph. 2:8? Discuss the parallel points and any points not in both verses.
22. What does “redemption” mean? v. 24.
23. Define “propitiation.” Are the words “remedy” and “expiation” synonymous, or do these words omit some idea that is connoted by “propitiation”? The word has an Old Testament background. What is it?
24. How does the death of Christ show the righteousness of God?
25. God’s righteousness was shown on the cross concerning “sins done aforetime.” How?
26. Define the word “law” as it is used in v. 27. Why do not its more ordinary meanings fit here?
27. Is there any difference in “by faith” and “through faith” of v. 30?
28. In what sense is the law established through faith?
29. Show how the following qualities of God were manifested on Calvary –a. Mercy, b. Justice, c. Love, d. Wisdom.

Book of Romans Chapter 3 Part 3

Romans 3:27-30
27 Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what law? By that of works? No, but by the law of faith.
28 For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.
29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,
30 since God is one; and he will justify the circumcised on the ground of faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith.

Paul ends chapter 3 with a defense of justification by faith alone. Paul probably more than likely anticipated the negative reaction his message would have with many in his audience, but especially the Jew. Because the Jews had been conditioned to believe that redemption depended on some inherent qualification or status among those who were saved. The same problem still exists today. People still approach this topic with assumptions about what’s required to enter heaven, whether it’s certain works or qualifications.

So Paul launches a preemptive strike here with – where there us boasting? Paul ask is there any room in God’s plan for mans pride or boasting of self? He didn’t say it’s not necessary – it was clearly shut out by God. Paul ask what kind of law can declare men righteous but do so in such a way that it excludes boasting by men? It must be a law or principle other than a law of works – it’s a law of faith. God has established a law that leads men into righteousness, and this law is a law with only one requirement – faith in Christ. And remember that faith is a gift, leaving men nothing to boast about. Now talking to the Jewish foundation and leadership of this church, Paul clearly says that we maintain theat men are justified apart from the works of the Law and only by faith. For God is working in all mankind through the same means.

Romans 3:31
31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

A powerful verse. Did God’s use of a law of faith, nullify – abolished Old Testament bring to an end – the Mosaic Law? No, not at all, on the contrary, we establish it. The Law is to be understood as a picture of God’s righteousness, mainly His plan to redeem men. So as men obey the law of faith and are justified, the Law’s purpose is being met in that moment. Secondly, the Law stands as a model of righteousness lived out. So when we are saved by faith, the law’s two purposes are established; salvation by atonement is accomplished, and righteous living becomes possible. The great connecting tread of the Old Testament vs. New Testament in that the Old Testament demands a solution to sin that only the New Testament can fulfill.