The Annotated Bible*
[*Minor Prophets only]
The Holy Scriptures Analysed and Annotated
A. C. GAEBELEIN, D.D.
Editor of “OUR HOPE”
The Prophet Hosea
The Minor Prophets begin with the Book of Hosea. There are twelve of these books which are called by the name “minor prophets” not because their contents are of less authority than the preceding prophetic books, but on account of their size. The Jews considered them one book and the Talmud says of them, “our fathers made them one book, that they might not perish on account of their littleness.” The term “minor prophets” was used by the church in early days. Augustinus states: “The prophet Isaiah is not in the books of the twelve prophets who are therefore called minor, because their discourses are brief in comparison with those who are called ‘greater’ because they composed considerable volumes.” Jewish tradition claims that the present arrangement was made by the great synagogue formed by Ezra. This arrangement is not chronological. Joel precedes Hosea, while Hosea, Amos and Jonah were nearly contemporary; Obadiah is difficult to place. The introduction to the book enters into the question of date. Micah, the Morasthite, ministered between the years 757 and 699 B. C. Nahum, the complement and counterpart of the book of Jonah, also prophesied during the period of Isaiah. Habakkuk is later than the preceding prophets. He speaks of the invasion of the land by the Chaldeans as imminent; his prophetic office was probably exercised during the second half of Manasseh’s reign. Zephaniah prophesied under the reign of Josiah, between 642 and 611 B. C. Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi are post-exilic.
HOSEA AND HIS TIMES
The first verse of
the book determines the period of Hosea.
He prophesied while Uzziah was reigning in Judah and Jeroboam II in
The religious conditions
were still worse. Nearly all these usurpers had made alliances with foreign powers which resulted in the introduction of the immoral, corrupt Phoenician
and Syrian idolatry. The first
Jeroboam had set up a rival worship so that the people would not go to
THE MESSAGE OF HOSEA
Like the message of other prophets Hosea’s message is one of
judgment and future mercy. He announced
the coming judgment as certain and irreversible. They were to be led away into captivity. His sons and daughters born to him by Gomer,
the daughter of Diblaim, expressed this coming judgment in their names which
were given to them by divine direction. “Lo-Ruhamah” - I will have no mercy; and “Lo-Ammi” - not my people. Then he announced in the name of the Lord, “I will cause
the kingdom of the house of
But there is also the message of mercy, which is found in the very beginning of the book. Here are a few of these comforting words, which still await their fulfilment in the day when they shall “seek the Lord their God, and David their King ([and] the Messiah); and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days” (3: 5):- “I will betroth her to me forever;” - “They shall fear the Lord and His goodness;” – “He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight;” – “Till He come and rain righteousness upon you;” – “I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from death;” – “I will heal their back-sliding;” - “I will be as the dew unto Israel, He shall grow as the lily, and cast forth its roots as Lebanon.”
“It belongs to the mournful solemnity of Hosea’s prophecy that
he scarcely speaks to the people in his own person. The ten chapters, which form the centre of
the prophecy, are almost wholly one long dirge of woe, in which the prophet
rehearses the guilt and the punishment of his people. If the people are addressed, it is, with very
few exceptions, God Himself, not the Prophet, Who speaks to them; and God
speaks to them as their judge. Once only
does the prophet use the form so common in other prophets “saith the
Lord.” As in the three first chapters, the prophet,
in relation to his wife, represented the relation of God to His people, so, in
these ten chapters, after the first words of the fourth and fifth chapters;- “Hear the word of the Lord, for the Lord has a controversy
with the inhabitants of the land;” - “Hear ye
this, 0 priests;” - whenever the prophet uses the first person, he uses
it not of himself, but of God. “I,” –
“My,” - are not Hosea, and the things of Hosea, but God and what
belongs to God. God addresses the
prophet in the second person. In four
verses only of these chapters does the prophet himself apparently address His
* Dr. Pusey on Hosea.
We learn then from the message of this book, what is so
largely written in all the prophets, that their
is a glorious future in store for all
The conditions in
The Division of Hosea
Hosea (meaning Salvation) in his style is abrupt and
sententious. As already stated in the
introduction he is the prophet of the ten tribes, though
The main portion of the book begins with the fourth
chapter. This part begins with “Hear the Word of the Lord.” In this section their religious and moral
degradation through the priests and their coming ruin is announced. Then follows a description of the judgment
which was to come upon Ephraim (the house of
1. THE REJECTION OF
2. THE MESSAGES OF EXPOSTULATION, JUDGMENT AND MERCY. Chapters 4- 14.
There are different subdivisions which will be pointed out and followed in the analysis and annotations.
The Book of Hosea is quoted a number of times in the New Testament. See Matt. 2: 15, 9: 13, 12: 7; Rom. 9: 25, 26; 1 Cor. 15: 55; 1 Peter 2: 5, 10.
Analysis and Annotations
1. THE REJECTION OF
Chapters 1 - 3.
1. The Introduction. 1.
2. The Prophet's Marriage and Birth of Jemeel. 2-5.
3. The Birth of Lo-Ruhamah. 6-7.
4. The Birth of Lo-Ammi. 8-9.
5. The Future Restoration. 10-11.
1. The Introduction: Verse 1.
This superscription gives the period of Hosea’s ministry. First stands the statement that the word of
the Lord came to him. Hosea means
salvation; his father’s name, Beeri, means “my well.” Both are typical names. Critics have pointed out that Hosea was
undoubtedly a resident of the northern kingdom of
2. The Prophet’s Marriage and Birth of Jezreel: Verses 2-5.
In the beginning of his ministry, when Hosea was a young man, the Lord commanded him to take unto him a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms, and that for the reason, because the land hath committed great whoredoms, departing from the Lord. This command was at once executed by the prophet; he took to wife Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim.
We, are confronted with an interesting question. What is the nature of these
transactions? Were they real events,
that Hosea literally took this woman and had children by her, or were they
nothing but pictorial, visionary illustrations of the spiritual adultery and
“We must not imagine things to be unworthy of God, because they do not commend themselves to us. God does not dispense with the moral law, because the moral law has its source in the mind of God Himself. To dispense with it would mean to contradict Himself. But God, who is absolute Lord of all things which He made, may, at His sovereign will, dispose of the lives or things which He created. Thus, as sovereign Judge, He commanded the lives of the Canaanites to be taken by Israel, as, in His ordinary providence, He has ordained that the magistrate should not bear the sword in vain, but has made him His minister, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. So, again, He, whose are all things, willed to repay to the Israelites their hard and unjust servitude by commanding them to spoil the Egyptians. He, who created marriage, commanded to Hosea whom he should marry. The prophet was not defiled by taking as his lawful wife, at God’s bidding, one defiled, however hard a thing this was.”*
* Pusey on Hosea.
This is the strongest defence of the literal interpretation of
this incident. But there is another
interpretation possible, which we believe is the correct one. As the context shows the symbolical meaning
of Hosea’s marriage is to illustrate
Gomer was called “a wife of whoredoms” by the omniscient Lord, in anticipation of her future conduct. She fell and became immoral after her union with Hosea, and not before. In this way she became a symbol of
Then she bore him a son. Expositors have stated, “The children were not the prophet’s own but born of adultery and presented to him as his.” But that can not be the meaning in view of the plain statement “she conceived and hare him a son.”
The Lord commands him to call this son “Jezreel.”
Jezreel has likewise a symbolical meaning. It means “God shall
scatter” (Jer. 31: 10); but it also
means “God shall sow” (Zech.
10: 9). Thus
3. The Birth of Lo-ruhamah: Verses 6-7.
Next a daughter is born.
Here “bare him” as found in verse 3 is
omitted. The prophet receives a name for
her – Lo-ruhamah, which means “not having obtained
mercy.” Interesting are the two
renderings of the Holy Spirit of this passage in the New Testament. In Romans 9: 25
it is rendered “not beloved” and in 1 Peter 2: 10, “hath not
obtained mercy.” Love and mercy were now to he withdrawn from
Then the house of
4. The Birth of Lo-Ammi: Verses 8-9.
Another son is born and “God said,
Call his name Lo-Ammi, for ye are not my people and I am not your God.”
Lo-Ammi means “not my people.” Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi are symbolical of
5. The Future Restoration: Verses 10-11.
Abruptly we are transported from the
present into the distant future, and a prophetic utterance of great depth
follows. The tenth
verse is quoted by the Holy Spirit in Romans
9 and gives full light on the meaning of the passage here. God’s
sovereignty is the theme of the ninth chapter of Romans: “And that He
might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He has
afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom He hath called, not of the Jews only,
but also of the Gentiles. As He saith
also in Osee (Greek
form of Hosea), I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved,
which was not beloved. And it shall come
to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people,
there shall they be called the children of the living God” (Rom. 9: 23-26). Here is the commentary to Hosea 1:10.
It means first that
The eleventh verse is a great prophecy and remains still unfulfilled.
Some expositors claim that it was fulfilled in the return of the remnant
of Jews under Zerubbabel. But the Babylonian captivity is not in view
here at all. The great day of Jezreel
will come, when King Messiah, our Lord returns. Then shall
APPEAL AND PUNISHMENT FOR UNFAITHFULNESS
THE RESUMED RELATIONSHIP
1. The Appeal and Complaint. 1-5.
2. The Punishment for Unfaithfulness. 6-13.
3. The Resumed Relationship and its Great Blessing. 14-23.
1. The Appeal and the Complaint: Verses 1-5.
Who is addressed in the first verse of this chapter? Some think the children of the prophet are
meant. The godly in
2. The Punishment for Unfaithfulness: Verses 6-13.
Her way is to be hedged up with thorns; a wall of separation
is to be raised and to keep her from her lovers. And if she follow after them and make a
sinful alliance with them (symbolical of the idol worship of heathens which
3. The Resumed Relationship and its Great Blessing: Verses 14-23.
Immediately after the announcement of her punishment follows
the assurance of future mercy.
But greater blessing will be connected with that coming day of
In that day all the
great covenant blessings will return to
1. The Past. 1-3.
2. The Present. 4.
3. The Future. 5.
1. The Past: Verses 1-3.
The command here is not that the Prophet should enter into
relation with another woman, but it concerns the same Gomer, the unfaithful
wife. It seems she left the Prophet and
lived in adultery with another man. “And Jehovah
said unto me, Go again, love a wife, who is beloved of her friend and who is an
adulteress; just as Jehovah loves the children of Israel, who have turned
towards other gods, and love raisin cakes”* (correct translation). She is not called “thy wife,” simply “a wife”; yet the Prophet is told to love the
adulterous wife. This woman, whom the
Lord commands Hosea to love, he had loved before her fall; he was now to love
her after her fall, and while in that condition, in order to save her from
abiding in it. It was for her sake that
she might be won back to him. Such is
the love of Jehovah for
* Used in the idolatrous worship.
He bought the adulteress for half of the price of a common
slave (see Exod. 21: 32); it denotes her
worthlessness. The measure of barley
mentioned reminds of the offering of one accused of adultery, and, being the
food of animals, shows her degradation likewise. He thus was to buy her back, not to live with
him as his wife, but that she might sit as a widow, not running after others,
but wait for him during an undefined, but long season, until he would come and
take her to himself. While she was not
to belong to another man, he, her legitimate husband, would be her guardian.
2. The Present: Verse 4.
Here we have direct prophecy, a very
remarkable one, as to
3. The Future: Verse 5.
Afterward - in the latter
days. These two statements open and
end the prophecy concerning their future. The “afterward” is not yet; the latter days are still
to come. Their future is returning and
seeking the Lord, their God and David their king. This is [David
the 2nd king of
[* See Jer. 30: 9: “they will serve the Lord their God and David their king;” it is not “the Lord their God” who is “David their king”! ‘David their king,’ after his resurrection (Acts 2: 34), will rule with Jesus his ‘Lord’ during the millennium. Rev. 20: 6; Luke 13: 28; 22: 28, 29.]
** The Targum of Jonathan says on Hosea 3: 5: “This is the King Messiah; whether he be from among the living or from the dead. His name is Messiah. The same explanation is given by the mystical books Zohar, Midrash Shemuel and Tanchuma. The greatest authorities among the Jews are one in declaring that “the last days” mean the days of the Messiah; we have reference to Kimchi, Abarbanel, Moses Ben Nacham and many others.
2. THE MESSAGE OF EXPOSTULATION
JUDGMENT AND MERCY
Chapters 4- 14
THE LORD’S CONTROVERSY WITH HIS PEOPLE
1. The Condition of the People. 1-5.
2. The Loss of Their Priestly Relation. 6-11.
1. The Condition of the People: Verses 1‑5.
This chapter begins with a terse description of the condition
of the professing people of God. First,
we have the negative side - no truth, no mercy, no knowledge of God. And there was no truth, because they had
rejected the Word of the Lord, hence the result no mercy and no knowledge of
God. It is so still whenever and
wherever the Word of God is set aside.
Then follows the positive evil which was so prominent in their
midst: Swearing, lying, killing,
stealing, committing adultery, and abundant shedding of blood. Such was the continued moral condition of the
2. The Loss of Their Priestly Relation: Verses 6-11.
The people were destroyed for lack of knowledge, the knowledge of God and His truth. They had lost their place of nearness to the Lord, their priestly character into which the Lord had called the nation (Exod. 19). Therefore they would be rejected to be no longer in priestly relationship to Jehovah. And the priestly class was as corrupt as the people – “like people like priests.” They were to be punished for their ways and their doings.
Having left Jehovah they had turned to idols, asked counsel of a piece of wood and practised divination. This abominable idol worship was practised upon the tops of mountains. There, under trees, they gave themselves over to the vile rites of Baal-peor and Ashtaroth, both men and women abandoned themselves to the grossest sins of the flesh. And the Lord threatens that He would leave them alone in their vileness and not correct them, that they might be brought back. The first chapter of Romans is illustrated by verse 14; they glorified not God, became idolaters and then God gave them up to their vile affections.
Then there is a warning to the house of
“Ephraim (the ten tribes) is joined to idols; let him alone.” Ephraim was too far gone; further remonstrance’s would not help, and so the evil is permitted to go unchecked, to run its full course.
CHAPTER 5 - 6: 3
THE MESSAGE TO THE PRIESTS, THE PEOPLE AND THE ROYAL HOUSE. JUDGMENT, AFFLICTION AND THE FUTURE RETURN
1. The Message of Rebuke. 1-7.
2. The Judgment Announced. 8-15.
3 The Future Return and the Messing. 6: 1-3.
1. The Message of Rebuke: Verses 1‑7.
The first verse shows who is
addressed: the Priests, the house of
* We give the passage we quote in a better and more literal rendering. The authorized version is frequently incorrect.
2. The Judgment Announced: Verses 8‑15.
Then follows a vision of judgment. The judgment is seen as having already fallen
upon the guilty nation. The horn
(Shophar) is blown in Gibeah and the trumpet in Ramah; the alarm is
sounded. Gibeah and Ramah were situated
on the northern boundary of Benjamin.
The enemy was behind Benjamin pursuing.
There will be no remedy and no escape (verse
9). “The princes
The last verse of this chapter has a wider meaning than the past
judgment which came upon the house of
3. The Future Return and the Blessing: Chapter 6: 1-3.
The division of the chapter at this point is unfortunate. The three verses of chapter
6 must not be detached from the previous chapter. Here we have the future repentance of the
[* See, - 1 Thess. 4: 16; Luke 14: 14; 20: 35; Psa. 31: 17. cf. Acts 2: 35; Matt. 16: 18. cf. John 3: 13; 14: 3; 2 Tim. 3: 18, etc.]
CHAPTER 6: 4-11
DIVINE MOURNING OVER EPHRAIM AND JUDAH
1. What Shall I do to Thee? 4-6.
2. Their Transgression. 7-11.
1. What Shall I do to Thee? Verses 4‑6.
The Lord grieves and mourns over the condition of the people whom He loves. After the brief glimpse given of their great future of glory we are brought back into the days of Moses. The Lord grieves and mourns over His people whom He loves, who today are still beloved for the Father’s sake (Rom. 9). But while He loved them, their love was like the morning cloud, like the dew, vanishing soon away. The morning cloud looks beautiful, gilded by the rays of the rising sun, but it quickly disappears through the heat of the sun; the dew glitters in the early morning, but soon it is gone. Thus was their love, fluctuating and changing. How often is the love of His heavenly people like the morning cloud and the dew! Thank God that His love never changes! The Prophets He had sent to them came, therefore, with words of condemnation, instead of words of comfort and cheer. They came to hew, as stone or wood is hewn, and the message of judgment they proclaimed condemned them; this is the meaning of the sentence, “I have slain them by the words of my mouth.”
2. Their Transgression: Verses 7-11.
“Yet they like Adam have transgressed
the covenant; they have dealt treacherously against Me.”
As God had made known His covenant to Adam, given him a commandment, so
He had made a covenant with them and made known unto them His will. Like Adam they had transgressed the
covenant. Adam had been called into
relationship with His Creator and a place of blessing and favour in
has been called to an important distinction.
Man is called a sinner. The
Gentiles as such are never called transgressors. We read in the New Testament of sinners of
the Gentiles’ but never “transgressors” of the
Gentiles. Adam was under a law, which he
broke and by it he became a transgressor.
** Note correct translation: “Upon the way they murder (those who go) to Shechem” (verse 9).
The horrible thing was that
MORAL DEPRAVITY OF
1. Their Moral Depravity. 1-7.
2. Mingling With Heathen Nations. 8-16.
1. Their Moral Depravity: Verses 1‑7.
All the gracious efforts of the Lord to heal
Such was the moral depravity of a people with whom the Lord
had entered into covenant, the favoured nation.
The source of it was unbelief and the rejection of His Word. The
sad history of
1. Mingling with Heathen Nations: Verses 8-16.
The Lord called
CHAPTER 8 - 9: 9.
THE APOSTASY IS FOLLOWED BY JUDGMENT
1. The Judgment Announced. 1-7.
2. The Apostasy Which Resulted in Judgment. 8-14.
3. Warning Against Self-Security. Chapter 9: 1-9.
1. The Judgment Announced: Verses 1-7.
The Prophet is commanded to sound the alarm of the impending
judgment. The message is that the enemy
will come swift as an eagle upon house of the Lord, which here does not mean
the temple (which was in connection with
2. The Apostasy which Resulted in Judgment: Verses 8-14.
3. Warning Against Self-Security: Chapter 9: 1-9.
Under the reign of Jeroboam II Israel enjoyed great
prosperity. It seems they had a
bountiful harvest, corn and wine was in abundance. They gave themselves over to feasting and
rejoicing. It was at such an occasion
when the Lord sent this warning against their own security. Their captivity is announced where they would
eat things unclean and feast days will no longer be possible. Then the Prophet beholds them as already in
the Assyrian captivity. They went away and
turned towards the South to escape the sure destruction. But “
CHAPTER 9: 10 - 11:11
2. Their Guilt and Punishment. Chapter 10: 1-11.
3. Exhortation and Rebuke. 12-15.
4. The Mercy of a Merciful God. Chapter 11: 1-11.
Like a wayfaring man who finds grapes
and figs in the desert and delights in them, so the Lord found
2. Their Guilt and Punishment: Chapter 10: 1-11.
Here is another retrospect,
Gibeah is mentioned (verse 9). The corruption of Gibeah is also noted in chapter 9: 9.
The horrible abomination of Gibeah is recorded in Judges 19 in consequence of which the tribe of
Benjamin was almost wiped out. And the
people had become as wicked and guilty as Benjamin at Gibeah. The nations are now to be used to punish
3. Exhortation and Rebuke: Verses 12-15.
Here is a break in the judgment message. If they would return to the Lord and would
sow righteousness, they would reap mercy.
But such sowing is impossible unless the fallow ground is broken up,
that is, true repentance and a heart return unto the Lord. “For it is time to seek the Lord,
until He come and rain righteousness upon you.”
In what infinite patience He waited for the repentance of His
people! But while He would save them,
they would not! Still God’s gifts and
calling are without repentance and the day will come when a remnant of
How different was their condition! The Lord rebukes them, for they had ploughed
wickedness, and reaped iniquity. The
noise of war is now heard; Shalman (a contracted form of Skalmanezer, the King
of Assyria) is advancing and shall destroy all their fortresses as he destroyed
Beth-arbel. (There is no further record
of Beth-arbel and its destruction.) And
who was responsible for all this havoc and the impending calamity? “Thus has
4. The Mercy of a Merciful God: Chapter 11: 1-11.
This chapter starts with a beautiful allusion to
But while the Son of God, the true
“How should I give you up, Ephraim?
shall I surrender thee,
How should I make thee Like Admah?
Or set thee like Zeboim?
My heart is turned within me;
My repentings are kindled together.”
It is the same Lord who speaks here, who centuries later stood
before the city and broke out in loud weeping when He beheld the city: “If thou hadst
known, even thou, at least in this thy day the things which belong unto thy
peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes” (Luke 19:
42). “0 Jerusalem,
Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto
thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen
gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you
desolate. For I say unto you, ye shall
not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name
of the Lord” (Matt. 23: 37).
How He loves His people! And
though He has punished them, He does not forsake them; He will not be angry
forever; He is a covenant keeping God, “For I am God and not man” (verse 9). “For I am the Lord, I change not;
therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal. 3:
6). And so here, this chapter of
Jehovah’s mercy ends with the assurance of their future restoration and
blessing. “They will follow the
Lord.” That will be “when like a lion He roars.”
That is the day when He appears again as “The lion of the tribe of
CHAPTER 11: 12 - 12
1. Ephraim’s Indictment. Chapter 11:12 – 12: 2.
2. Remembrance of the Past. 3-6.
1. Ephraim’s Indictment: Chapter 11: 12 – 12: 2.
Lying and deceit
had been Ephraim’s course towards Jehovah; instead of trusting Him and
following Him faithfully they had attached themselves to idols, while
2. Remembrance of the Past: Verses 3-6.
Jacob’s sons are now reminded of Jacob’s experience. Though he was so weak and sinful yet the Lord
in marvellous grace met him. The
experience at Peniel is recalled. “Yea, he had power
over the angel, and prevailed; he wept and made supplication unto Him.”
There he learned the sufficiency of grace and his strength was made
perfect in weakness. The angel who
appeared unto him that night was none other than the Son of God. What a reminder it was to them. “He found him (Jacob) in
The Lord calls apostate
Some day it will be different through the grace and mercy of
the never-changing Lord. He is the
Jehovah who delivered them out of
EPHRAIM’S RUIN AND JUDGMENT
1. Ruin and Judgment. 1-8.
2. It is Thy Destruction, 0
3. Mercy to Follow Wrath. 19-14.
4. The Desolation of the Nearing Judgment. 15-16.
1. Ruin and Judgment: Verses 1-8.
In the beginning Ephraim was humble, and knowing his
dependence, he spoke with trembling.
Then he became puffed up, exalted himself in
Then they went from sinning to sinning, from bad to worse, just as in our own days, the apostates in
Christendom go from bad to worse in fulfilment of 2
Timothy 3: 13. “But evil men and seducers shall
wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.” Idolatry flourished on all sides. They added idol images in Gilgal and
Then the Lord reminds them of their former relationship and that He is the true God, “and there is no Saviour beside Me.” In the land of the wilderness He knew them and there He cared for them and provided all their needs. But instead of acknowledging Him, they became full; self-exaltation followed, and then they forgot Him. Throughout the Word of God self-exaltation, pride is always given as the starting point of departure from God and the consequent ruin.
Verses 7-8 are interesting. They are to be rent by wild beasts, which, symbolically, represent the Gentiles. The ten tribes were carried away by the Assyrian, while later, when Judah met its judgment, the whole land was devastated by the lion-empire (Babylonia); by the bear (Medo-Persia); by the leopard (the Graeco-Macedonia; and finally by the dreadful beast, “the beast of the field shall tear them,” the Roman power.
2. It is Thy Destruction, 0
“It is thy destruction, 0
3. Mercy to Follow Wrath: Verses 12-14.
Ephraim deliberately held on to his sin. Their iniquity was bound up; it was laid by
in store. The reference is to the
Oriental custom of tying up money and other valuables into a bundle and hiding
it somewhere. It was done for
security. So the Lord would see to it
that their sins and iniquity would not be forgotten; all their sins were
preserved for punishment (see Deut. 32: 34).
Sorrow and great trouble should come upon them. It has been thus in the past, it will be so
in the future, in the time of “Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:
4). When that time conies, when
all their hope and strength is gone (Deut. 32:
36-43) then He will deliver. Then
all the enemies will be put down.
Redemption from death and the plagues will come; they will be ransomed from the power of Sheol (not
[* NOTE. The passage above most certainly ‘has nothing to do with the wicked dead’; but has everything to do with the righteous and holy dead at the Second Advent of Christ / Messiah: and also points to the time of their Resurrection ‘out from the dead’. Phil. 3: 11; Luke 14: 14; 20: 35; Heb. 11: 35, etc.]
3. The Desolation of the Nearing Judgment: Verses 15-16.
These verses describe the horrors of the coming judgment by the Assyrians (see 2 Kings 8: 12, 15: 16, and Amos 1: 13).
THE RETURN AND THE GLORIOUS REDEMPTION
1. The Exhortation to Return. 1-3.
2. The Glorious Redemption. 4-9.
1. The Exhortation to Return: Verses 1-3.
This chapter is a wonderful finale to the messages of Hosea. What tender entreaties! What gracious assurance! What glorious promises of a future redemption! It is Jehovah beseeching His people, those who had forsaken Him, outraged His character of holiness and who had despised Him. First is the call to return. God’s hands are tied [relative to blessing and protecting them from the enemy] as long as His people stay away from Him and do not return to Him in true repentance. No true [future] salvation and deliverance for His people is possible without a true heart return unto Him. It is this for which He looks and waits.
Then the Lord Himself puts His word and a prayer into their
mouth. He loves to provide all. “Take with you words and turn to
Jehovah and say unto Him, Forgive all iniquity, and receive us graciously, so
will we render the calves of our lips.” Could their
poor, darkened and mistrusting hearts ever even have imagined to ask thus of
Him? Their consciences were defiled; the
burden of guilt was upon them. But
Jehovah does not mention their sins and their guilt, but tells them just to
pray for forgiveness and for a gracious reception. And He
who tells His wayward people to pray, to turn to Him, to pray for forgiveness,
He who assures them that He hears, assures them of a gracious receiving, will
never fail. How full of comfort
these few sentences are to all His people at all times! We can imagine that in Hosea’s day there were
individual Israelites who took these words to heart. After them generations of Jews read them and
turned individually to the Lord, found forgiveness and became the objects of
His grace. And we too, as His [redeemed] people,
when we have gone back in our spiritual life, can find our comfort here, and
appropriate all this in faith as we act
upon His Word. In the future the
“So will we render the calves of our
lips.” Literally rendered it is “we will pay
as young oxen our lips,” i.e., present the prayers of our lips as a thank-offering; we will be
worshippers. Such is the result of a
real return unto the Lord with sins forgiven and restored to His
fellowship. The days of singing are
2. The Glorious Redemption: Verses 5-9.
His gracious answer to such repentance follows. Three times Jehovah speaks “I will.”
This is the word of Sovereign grace (see Annotations on Ezekiel, page
315). The three “I wills” are: (1) I will heal their backslidings; (2) I will love
them freely; (3) I will be a dew unto
Beautiful is verse
8. “Ephraim (shall say), What have I to do any more
with idols? I hear and I look upon Him;
I am like a green fir tree. From Me is
thy fruit found.” Ephraim, the cake half turned, Ephraim, of
whom it was said, he is joined to idols, leave him alone, now repudiates the
idols. And why? I hear and I look upon Him! The vision of the Lord turned the stubborn
heart. It is so still; the great power
is to hear Him, to look upon Him. In that day
* * *
The Prophet Joel
Joel means “Jehovah is God.” This name occurs frequently in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 8: 2; 1 Chronicles 4: 35, 5: 4, 8: 12, etc.). The Prophet Joel was the son of Pethuel. Numerous guesses have been made about his personality. A tradition states that he was from Bethom in the tribe of Reuben. In 1 Chronicles 24: 16 a man by name of Pethaliah is mentioned. Some have connected him with the father of Joel, Pethuel, claiming upon this that Joel belonged to a priestly family; but this, as well as other claims cannot be confirmed. Jewish expositors make the statement that Pethuel was Samuel, because Samuel had a son by name of Joel; but, inasmuch as the sons of Samuel were evildoers this is incorrect. The book itself does not give even a single hint as to his personal history.
WHEN AND WHERE JOEL LIVED
As to the time and place, when and where he exercised his
prophetic office, we are not left in doubt.
He prophesied not like Hosea among the ten tribes, but he was a prophet of
The best Jewish and Christian scholarship has maintained a
very early date of Joel. When the editor
published his larger work on Joel, in which he puts the date between 860 and
850 B. C., Professor H. A. Sayce of
There is nothing mentioned in Joel of the Assyrian period 800-650, nor is there anything said of the Babylonian period 650-538, hence Joel must have prophesied before the Assyrian period, that is in the ninth century B. C., or he must have lived after the exile. The latter is excluded, therefore Joel exercised his office as prophet in Judah during the middle of the ninth century, as stated above, about 860-850 B. C. This view is abundantly verified by different facts found in the book itself.
Now, the date of Amos is generally accepted as being in the middle of the 8th century before Christ. In the first chapter of the Book of Amos there is an undoubted quotation from the Book of Joel. (See Joel 3: 16 and Amos 1: 2). Dr. Pusey makes the following argument out of this fact:
“Amos quoting Joel attests two things. (1) That Joel’s prophecy must, at the time when Amos wrote, have become a part of Holy Scriptures, and its authority must have been acknowledged; (2) That its authority must have been acknowledged by, and it must have been in circulation among, those to whom Amos prophesied; otherwise he would not have prefixed to his book those words of Joel. For the whole force of the words, as employed by Amos, depends on being recognized by his bearers, as a renewal of the prophecy of Joel. Certainly bad men jeered at Amos, as though this threatening would not be fulfilled.”
The seven strongest reasons for the early date of Joel are the following:
1. Joel charges the Philistines with having invaded
2. The Phoenicians, i.e., those of
3. The Edomites (3: 19),
are ranked among the enemies of
4. The fact that no mention is made of the invasion by the Syrians of Damascus proves that Joel was one of the early prophets. This occurred in the latter part of the reign of Josiah, B. C. 850-840.
5. The high antiquity of JoeI is proved by the fact that he makes no reference to the Assyrian invasion of the two Jewish kingdoms in B. C. 790. On the other hand, Amos clearly alludes to it (6:14).
6. Another proof is derived from the relation between Joel and Amos. The latter was certainly well acquainted with the writings of the former.
7. The mention of the
On these grounds we conclude that in fixing the time of this prophet, we cannot take for our terminus a quo an earlier date than B. C. 890, nor for our terminus ad quem a later one than 840. It most probably falls between B. C. 800-850. Joel therefore is probably the oldest of the Minor Prophets.
THE PROPHECY OF JOEL
The prophecy of Joel is one which extends from his own time to
the time of
He may well be called “The Prophet of
the Lord’s Day.” Five times he
mentions this day. Chapters 1: 15, 2:1-12, 10-11, 30-31, and 3: 15-16. The
great theme then is “The Day of
the Lord,” that coming day, when the Lord is
manifested, when the enemies of
The occasion of the book and prophecy of Joel was a dreadful
scourge which swept over the
But few Christians have ever given much heed to this prophetic book. There are many important truths in this book. A great deal of confusion might have been avoided if more attention had been given to the setting in which the prediction of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh is found. The Pentecostal delusion is built up mostly upon the wrong interpretations of this prophecy.
THE DIVISIONS OF JOEL
The divisions of the prophecy of Joel, as found in our English version, cannot be improved upon. We follow it in our analysis and annotations.
The Book of Joel
A METRIC VERSION
1. The Word of Jehovah which came to Joel, the Son of Pethuel.
2. Hear this, ye aged men
And open the ear ye inhabitants of the land!
Hath this happened in your days,
Or even in the days of your fathers?
3. Relate it to your children
And your children to their children,
And their children to another generation.
4. What the Gazam* left, the Arbeh hath devoured
And what the Arbeh left, the Jelek hath devoured
And what the Jelek left, the Chasel hath devoured.
* We left these four words un-translated for reasons which will be given in the exposition.
5. Awake, ye drunkards and weep!
And howl all ye drinkers of wine
Because of the sweet wine,
For it is taken away from your mouth.
6. For a nation has come up upon my land
Mighty and without number –
His teeth – lion’s teeth -
The jaw teeth, that of a lioness.
7. He hath made my vine for a desolation
And my fig tree broken off;
Peeled off completely and cast it away;
Its branches are made white.
8. Lament like a virgin!
Girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.
9. Cut off is the meat and drink offering from the house of Jehovah.
The priests mourn, the servants of Jehovah.
10. “Wasted is the field
Mourning is the land -
For wasted is the corn
The new wine is dried up
The oil faileth.”
11. Be ashamed, husbandmen!
Howl - vine dressers!
For the wheat and the barley.
Because the harvest of the field is lost.
12. The vine is dried up
And the fig tree faileth
The pomegranate, also the palm and the apple tree.
All the trees of the field are withered.
Gone is joy from the children of men.
13. Gird yourselves and lament, 0 ye priests,
Howl, ministers of the altar;
Come lie down in sackcloth all night
Ye ministers of my God.
For withholden from the house of your God
Are the meat offering and the drink offering.
14. Sanctify a fast.
Call a solemn gathering.
Bring together the Elders
All the inhabitants of the land
In the house of Jehovah your God
And cry unto Jehovah
15. Woe! For the Day!
Because near is the day of Jehovah
Even like destruction from Shaddai* it comes.
* The only time Shaddai (Almighty) is used in Joel. In the Hebrew there is a resemblance of sound between “destruction” and “Shaddai.”
16. Is not the food cut off before our eyes?
From the house of our God joy and gladness.
17. The seeds have perished under their clods.
The garners become desolate
The storehouses are broken down
For withered is the corn.
18. Hear the cattle groan!
The herds of cattle are bewildered,
For there is no feeding place for them.
For the fire has consumed the goodly places of the desert
Also the flocks of sheep are made to suffer.*
* The Hebrew word, which we translate “made to suffer” means in its root “to be guilty.” The form of the verb used here would best be translated by the German “bussen.”
19. To Thee, Jehovah, I cry,
For the fire has consumed the goodly places of the desert
And a flame hath burned all the trees of the field.
20. Also the cattle of the field look up* unto Thee
For the streams of water are dried up,
And a fire hath consumed the goodly places of the desert.
* Another word different from the 19th verse is used, though nearly all translators use “cry.” It is more a groaning, desirous looking up.
Blow the trumpet in
Sound an alarm in the mount of my holiness.
Let all the dwellers of the land tremble,
For the day of Jehovah cometh,
For it is near at hand.
2. A day of darkness and gloom
A day of clouds and thick darkness,
Like the dawn spread upon the mountains, -
A people numerous and strong!
Never hath there been the like before,
Neither shall the like come again,
In the years of many generations.
3. A fire devoureth before them,
And behind them a flame burneth;
Before them the land is as the garden of Eden,
And behind them a desolate wilderness,
Yea, and nothing can escape them.
4. Their appearance is like the appearance of horses,
And like the horsemen shall they run.
5. Like the noise of chariots,
On the mountain tops, they shall leap,
Like the crackling of a flame of fire devouring the stubble,
Like a strong people set in battle array.
6. Before them the peoples are in distress
All faces turn to paleness.
7. They run like mighty men
They climb the wall like men of war;
And they march each one in his ways,
And they turn not aside from their ranks.
8. Nor doth one press upon another.
A mighty one* marches in the high road.
They fall upon the dart, but are not wounded.
* This is the literal meaning.
9. They spread themselves in the city,
They run along upon the wall,
They climb up into the houses,
They enter in by the windows like a thief.
10. The earth trembleth before them,
The heavens shake,
The sun and the moon are darkened,
And the stars withdraw their shining.
11. And Jehovah uttereth His voice before his army
For very great is His host,
For He that executeth His Word is mighty;
For great is the day of Jehovah and very terrible,
And who can stand it?
12. Yet even now, saith Jehovah,
Return unto me with all your heart,
With fasting and with weeping and with mourning.
13. And rend your heart and not your garments.
And return unto Jehovah your God,
For He is gracious and merciful,
Slow to anger and of great loving kindness
And repenteth Him of the evil.
14. Who knoweth He may return and repent
And leave a blessing behind,
An oblation and a drink offering
For Jehovah your God.
Blow the trumpet in
Sanctify a fast.
16. Call out a solemn assembly,
Gather the people.
Sanctify a congregation.
Assemble the old men.
Gather the children,
And those that suck the breasts;
Let the bridegroom leave his chamber
And the bride her closet;
17. Let the priests, the ministers of Jebovah,
Weep between the porch and the altar,
And let them say
“Spare Thy people, 0 Jehovah,
And give not thine heritage to reproach
That the nations should rule over them*.
Wherefore should they say among the peoples
Where is their God?”
* Or, “they that should be a byword of the nations.”
18. Then Jehovah will be jealous for His land,
And will have pity on His people.
19. And Jehovah will answer and say to His people:
Behold I am sending to you the corn,
The new wine and the oil;
And ye shall be satisfied therewith,
And I will no longer make you
For a reproach among the nations.
20. And I will remove afar from you the One from the North
And will drive him into a dry and desolate land,
His face toward the Eastern sea
His rear toward the Western sea
And his stench shall arise
And his ill odour shall ascend,
For he hath lifted himself up to do great things.
21. Fear not, 0 Land Be glad and rejoice,
For Jehovah doeth great things.
22. Fear not, ye beasts of the field!
For the pastures of the desert spring forth,
The tree beareth her fruit
The fig tree and the vine give their strength.
23. Ye children of
In Jehovah your God;
For He giveth you the early rain in righteousness,
He causeth to descend for you the showers
The early and the latter rain as before.
24. And the floors shall be full of corn.
And the vats shall overflow with new wine and oil.
25. And I will restore to you the years,
Which the Arbeth bath eaten.
The Jekel, the Chasel and the Gazam,
My great army, which I sent among you.
26. Then ye shall be in abundance, and be satisfied
And praise the name of Jehovah your God,
Who has dealt wondrously with you,
And my people shall never be ashamed.
27. And ye shall know
that I am in the midst of
And that I Jehovah am your God, and none else.
And my people shall never be ashamed.
28. And it shall come to pass afterwards,
I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy;
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29. Yea, even upon the men servants and the maid servants,
In those days will I pour out my Spirit.
30. And I will give wonders in the heaven and on earth.
Blood, and fire and pillars of smoke.
31. The sun shall be turned to darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come.
32. And it shall come to pass
Whosoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be saved
As Jehovah hath said,
Even for the remnant whom Jehovah shall call.
1. For behold in those days and in that time,
When I shall bring back the
2. I will also bring together all nations,
And will bring down
And there will I judge them on account of my people,
And my heritage
And they divided my land.
3. And they cast lots for my people,
They gave a boy for a harlot,
And sold a girl for wine and drank it.
Yea also, what have ye to do with me, 0
And all the borders of
Would you requite me with retaliation?
If your retaliate
Swiftly and speedily will I bring your recompense
Upon your own head.
5. Because ye have taken my silver and gold,
And have brought into your temples my very best things
And the children of
Ye sold to the children of the Greeks,
That ye might remove them far from their border.
7. Behold I will raise them up out of the place whither ye sold them,
And I will return the retaliation upon your own head.
8. And I will sell your sons and your daughters
Into the hands of the sons
And they shall sell them to the Sabeans to a far off nation.
For Jehovah hath spoken it.
9. Proclaim this among the nations:
Declare a war!
Arouse the mighty ones!
Let all the men of war draw near, let them come up!
10. Beat your ploughshares into swords,
And your pruning hooks into spears.
Let the weak say, I am strong.
11. Come together,
All ye nations round about
Gather yourselves together.
Thither cause thy mighty ones to come down,
12. Let the nations arise and come up
For there will I sit to judge all the nations round about.
13. Put in the sickle
For the harvest is ripe;
For the wine-press is full,
The vats overflow;
For their wickedness is great.
14. Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of Jehovah is at hand in the valley of decision.
15. The sun and the moon are darkened
And the stars withdraw their shining.
16. And Jehovah shall
And send forth His voice
And the heavens and the earth shall shake;
But Jehovah will be a refuge for His people
And a fortress for the sons
17. And ye shall know that I, Jehovah, your God,
And strangers shall no more pass through her.
18. And it shall come to pass in that day
That the mountains shall drop down new wine,
And the hills shall flow with milk,
And all the river beds of
And a fountain shall come forth from the house of Jehovah,
And shall water the
For their violence against
the children of
Because they shed innocent blood in their land.
21. And I will purge them from the blood
From which I had not purged them.
And Jehovah will dwell in
Analysis and Annotations
1. THE PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS.
2. THE COMING DAY OF THE LORD; THE RUIN,
THE REPENTANCE AND THE RESTORATION.
THE EVENTS OF THE DAY OF THE
THE KINGDOM ESTABLISHED.
THE PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS
1. The Prophet’s Appeal. 1-4.
2. The Call to the Drunkards. 5-7.
3. The Call to the People and the Priests. 8-14.
4. The Day of the Lord; the
5. The Prayer of the Prophet. 19-20.
1. The Prophet’s Appeal: Verses 1-4.
The Prophet announces that it is the Word of Jehovah he utters, which came to him. Verses 2 and 3 are an introduction to the description which follows the great calamity which had befallen the land. It is in the form of an appeal. What had happened to the land is of such a fearful character that it is unprecedented. The visitation of the land by the locust plague is to be related to future generations, because there is a great prophetic meaning as to the future attached to the locusts, which will be pointed out later. The fourth verse we render in a way our own, leaving the words of the destroying insects un-translated.
What the Gazam left, the Arbeh hath devoured;
And what the Arbeh left, the Jelek hath devoured;
And what the Jelek left, the Chasel hath devoured.
We left the Hebrew words un-translated because they do not express insects of different species; they are one insect, the locust, in a fourfold stage. Gazam means “to gnaw off;” Arbeh is “to be many”; this is the common name of the locusts on account of their migratory habits. Jelek is “to lick off,” and Chasel means “to devour or consume.” The locust passes through a fourfold stage in its development to full growth. First, it is the gnawing locust, when first hatched; then it gets its wings and flies about; after that it starts in its destructive work by licking off whatever it finds, and, finally, it reaches its full growth and devours everything in its path. For a full description of the locusts, their habits, their awful work of destruction in Oriental countries see our commentary on Joel, pages 33-39 and in Appendix B.*
* Many foolish applications have been made of these locusts. One of the most ridiculous is the one made by a certain woman-healer in her book “Lost and Restored.”
The locust plague which laid
But these literal locusts, which fell literally upon the land
and destroyed in a short time all vegetation, are symbolic of other agencies
which were to be used later in
2. The Call to the Drunkards: Verses 5-7.
The first swarm had probably appeared in the fall; only the
vineyards had not yet been harvested.
They attacked the vineyards and speedily the vines and the grapes
disappeared under the onslaught. The
drinkers of wine were therefore to suffer first. That there was much drunkenness among the
3. The Call to the People and to the Priests: Verses 8-14.
On account of the great disaster the people are called to
mourn and put on sackcloth. “Lament like a
virgin, girded with sackcloth, for the husband of her youth.”
This is a significant expression.
Wasted is the field,
Mourning is the land,
For wasted is the corn,
The new vine is dried up,
The oil faileth.
This is followed by the call to lament for the husbandmen and vinedressers. The whole harvest was gone, and besides the failure of the vine, the fig tree the other trees are also mentioned, yea, “all the trees of the field are withered!” On account of the severity of this visitation joy had left the children of men.
Then comes the definite call to the priests to lament and cry
unto Jehovah and to sanctify a fast (verses 13-14). But there is no record of a response. At the close of this chapter the Prophet
alone raises his voice to Jehovah. We
shall learn in the second chapter of the time of the national repentance of
The Day of the Lord. The
For the first time we meet the day of the Lord (Yom Jehovah), that phrase used so frequently in all the prophetic books. The 15th verse is an exclamation of the Prophet as before his vision that day appears. In the midst of the weird description of the calamity, present in Joel’s day, he beholds a greater judgment approaching. It is the same day he beholds which the other prophets mention; each time Joel uses this expression it means the coming day of the Lord, still approaching. It may be noticed that the five passages in Joel in which “the day of the Lord” is mentioned are progressive.
For a comparative study of this important phrase we quote the leading passage of the different prophets.
Isaiah. The phrase “in that day” is found many times in his book. We mention 2: 2-5, 10-22, 26; 4; 11; 13: 6-13. The great glory predictions of Isaiah 54, 60, 61 and 62 are all related to this day.
Jeremiah. He also speaks of that day (chapters 25: 30-33; 30: 18-24).
Ezekiel. Chapters 7 and 8. From chapters 27- 48 we have the record of great events both of judgment and blessing which will come to pass in connection with that day. While Daniel does not use in his book the phrase “day of the Lord” nearly all his great prophecies are connected with that day. It is the day in which the stone smites the great image, representing the times of the Gentiles, and demolishes it; the day on which “the Son of Man” comes in the clouds of heaven to receive the kingdom. Hosea points to that day in chapters 2 and 3, as well as in the closing chapter. Amos witnesses to it in chapters 1: 2; 6: 3, 9: 2, 15. Obadiah, who lived about the same time as Joel, speaks of the day in verse 15 of his brief prophecy. Micah in his prophecy refers to it in chapter 5: 15. In Nahum the day is described in which the Lord will deal in judgment with the wicked world cities (see chapter 1: 1-9). The third chapter of Habakkuk reveals that day. Zephaniah has a great deal more to say about that day than the preceding prophetic books (see chapters 1:14-18; 2 and 3). Haggai bears witness to it in chapter 2: 6-7. (Compare with Heb. 12: 26-29). Zechariah uses the phrase “in that day” many times, especially in the last three chapters. Malachi reveals the day in chapters 3: 1-3 and 4: 1-3).
We learn from all this what a prominent place the day of the Lord occupies in the prophecies. It must be so, for it is the day of manifestation and consummation. Joel beheld here for the first time this day.
Then follows an additional description of the great calamity which had come upon the land in Joel’s day (verses 16-18).
5. The Prayer of the Prophet: Verses 19-20.
Joel was, like all the other prophets, a man of prayer. No other mention is made by the Prophet concerning himself, but this brief word is sufficient to give us a glimpse of his inner life and his trust in the Lord. He cried to Jehovah in the great distress.
2. THE COMING DAY OF THE LORD.
REPENTANCE AND RESTORATION OF
1. The Alarm Sounded; the Day at Hand. 1-2.
2. The Invading Army from the North. 3-11.
3. The Repentance of the People and Cry for Help. 10-17.
4. “Then.” The Great Change. 18.
5. Promises of Restoration. The Early and Latter Rain. 19-27.
6. The Outpouring of the Spirit upon all Flesh. 28-31.
7. Deliverance in
1. The Alarm Sounded; the Day at Hand: Verses 1-2.
With this chapter we reach the heart of the prophecy of
Joel. The description of the literal
locust plague is now no longer continued.
As we have shown the literal locusts in their different stages were
symbolical of nations laying waste the land as the locusts had done. Dispensationally the first chapter stands for
the entire times of the Gentiles, which began with Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 2: 36-38), and they continue till the time
comes when the God of heaven sets up a kingdom that cannot be destroyed. The
second chapter takes us at once to the end of the times of the Gentiles, when
the day of the Lord is to be enacted.
Before the Lord appears in that day, the greatest distress will be upon
the land and the people; there will be a great time of trouble such as never
was before (Matt. 24: 21). The remnant of His people will cry to the
Lord for intervention and for deliverance, and the Lord will answer their cry
and deliver them. Then their land becomes once more like the garden of Eden, there will
be a great outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh and from
This whole chapter as
well as the next one is therefore unfulfilled.
Nothing of it has been fulfilled. Before it can be fulfilled a part of
The chapter begins with the sounding of the alarm for “the Day of Jehovah cometh, for it is near at hand.” The last prophetic week of Daniel is now in process of fulfilment and near its end (see annotations on Dan. 9). A part of the people are back in the land, having returned there in unbelief, just as we see it today in the Zionistic movement. But in their midst will also be found a God-fearing remnant.
The blowing of the trumpet shows that they have revived their
ancient custom (see Num. 10: 1, 2, 9). We also mention that trumpets are often
connected with the appearing of the Lord and the restoration of
2. The Invading Army from the North: Verses 3-11.
Many armies in past history have occupied the
* We refer the reader to our larger works on Daniel, Joel and the Harmony of the Prophetic Word. In the exposition of Joel a full explanation of this invading army is given on pages 91-104.
This army of
Before them the land is as the garden of Eden,
And behind them a desolate wilderness,
Yea, and nothing can escape them.
The Lord uses these destructive hosts to humble His people, to show them that He is their help, when this great calamity is upon them. The symbolical language here is characteristic of other prophecies.
The earth trembleth before them;
The heavens shake,
The sun and the moon are darkened,
And the stars withdraw their shining
* * * * * * * *
For the Day of the Lord is great and very terrible.
Compare this with the following passages: (Isa. 13:13; Hab. 1: 6, 12; Zech. 14: 3, 4).
3. The Repentance of the People and Cry for Help: Verses 12-17.
Here is the Lord calling to His people to return unto Him with true repentance (compare with Hosea 5:15-6: 1). And during that great tribulation there will be a truly penitent portion of the people who turn to Him in the manner described in this chapter. It is this remnant which will be saved in that day, while the impenitent part will be cut off in judgment. Ezekiel 20: 38 and Zech. 13: 8-9 speak of this. What Moses spoke long ago now takes place (Deut. 30: 1-4). The many prophetic prayers recorded in the Psalms, as pointed out in the annotations of that book, will then be offered up by this godly waiting remnant (Psa. 44: 13-14, 115: 23, 79: 9-10, etc.). This mourning and prayer for deliverance precedes the visible manifestation of the Lord in the day of His Coming. When at last deliverance has come there will be another lamentation. This is found in Zech. 12: 9-14 and in Rev. 1: 7.
4. “Then” The Great Change: Verses 18.
“Then Jehovah will be jealous for His
land and will have pity on His people.” Here is the
great change. Up to this point we have
seen nothing but calamity and judgments.
Literal locusts had devoured the land - the types of nations which would
prey upon the land. They came, and
The Lord’s personal manifestation is not mentioned here. The deliverance does not come apart from the
second Coming of our Lord. The entire
prophetic Word bears witness to this. “Then shall
the Lord go forth and fight against those nations as He fought in the day of
battle. And His feet shall stand in that
day upon the mount of Olives, which is before
5. Promises of Restoration. The Early and Latter Rain: Verses 19-27.
Here is His gracious answer. He will bless their land and make it fruitful once more, as it used to be, the land flowing with milk and honey. It is foolish to spiritualize the terms corn, new wine and oil. Yet it has been done. One of the older commentators of this book says on this verse about the corn, wine and oil, that it has been fulfilled in the church. The corn he applies to the body of Christ, the wine to the blood of Christ, and the oil to the Spirit. Earthly blessings, such as belong to His earthly people are exclusively in view. Then they shall be no longer a reproach among the nations. Inasmuch as they are still a reproach we know that this promise is still future in its fulfilment. The One from the North will be overthrown and pass away forever. That all this cannot mean the Babylonian captivity and the small remnant which returned to the land may be learned from the statement “no longer” a reproach.
Because the Lord does all this they are commanded to rejoice,
the children of
Nowhere in the Bible is there warrant for us to believe that “the early and latter rain” has a spiritual significance. To say that the early rain and the latter rain typify blessings and manifestations of the Spirit of God, peculiar to the opening of this present age and to its close is extremely fanciful and cannot be verified by the Scriptures. It is strange that even men who seem to possess considerable light have endorsed this kind of exposition, which has worked such harm among so many Christian people. There is absolutely no prediction anywhere in the New Testament that the present age is to close with “a latter rain” experience, a time when the Holy Spirit is poured out and that in greater measure. This age, according to divine revelation, ends in apostasy and complete departure from God and His truth (2 Thess. 2: 3-12). After the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, for the formation of the church, the body of Christ, there is nowhere to be found a promise in the church epistles that another outpouring is to take place, by which a part of the church is to get into possession again of the different sign gifts. The enemy of souls has made good use of these distorted teachings to bring in his most subtle delusions.
The rain has altogether a literal meaning. Read carefully the following passages for a confirmation: Lev. 36: 4; Deut. 11: 14-17; 1 Kings 8: 33-35 and Jer. 3: 5.
Then all the harm done by the locusts, the army the Lord used in judging His people, will be restored. “And My people shall never be ashamed” (verse 27). This again is sufficient proof that all this remains unfulfilled.
6. The Outpouring of the Spirit Upon All Flesh: Verses 28-32.
This interesting passage invites our closest attention. The almost general interpretation of this prophecy has been that it found its fulfilment on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured forth. Most expositors confine the fulfilment to that event while others claim that Pentecost was only the beginning of the fulfilment and that the event which occurred once continues to occur throughout this Christian age. We quote from one of the best commentaries. “But however certain it may be that the fulfilment took place at the first Christian feast of Pentecost, we must not stop at this one Pentecostal miracle. The address of the Apostle Peter by no means requires this limitation, but rather contains distinct indications that Peter himself saw nothing more therein than the commencement of the fulfilment, but a commencement indeed, which embraced the ultimate fulfilment, as the germ enfolds the tree; for if not only the children of the apostles’ contemporaries but also those that were afar off - i.e., not foreign Jews, but the far off heathen, were to participate in the gift of the Holy Spirit, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which commenced on Pentecost must continue as long as the Lord shall receive into His Kingdom those that are still standing afar, i.e., until the fulness of the Gentiles shall have entered the kingdom of God.”
There is, however, no Scriptural foundation for the statement
that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit commenced on Pentecost must continue
throughout this present age. The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost.
He was poured out once, and nowhere in the New Testament is there a
continued or repeated outpouring of the Holy Spirit promised. The difficulty with interpreting this great
prophecy of Joel of having been fulfilled on Pentecost and being fulfilled
throughout this age is that which follows in the next two verses. Wonders in heaven and on earth, fire, pillars
of smoke, a darkened sun and a blood-red moon are mentioned, and that in
connection with the day of Jehovah, which, as we have seen is the great theme
of Joel’s vision. These words have been
generally applied to the destruction of
It is strange that all these expositors use the word “fulfilment” in connection with this prophecy, saying, that Peter said that the day of Pentecost was the fulfilment of what is written by Joel. But the Holy Spirit did not use the word “fulfilment” at all. He purposely avoided such a statement. In so many passages in the New Testament we find the phrase “that it might be fulfilled,” but in making use of the prophecy in Acts, chapter 2, this phrase is not used and instead of it we read that Peter said, “But this is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel” (Acts 2: 16). There is a great difference between this word and an out and out declaration of the fulfilment of that passage. Peter’s words call the attention to the fact that something like that which took place on the day of Pentecost had been predicted by Joel, but his words do not claim that Joel’s prophecy was there and then fulfilled. Nor does He hint at a continued fulfilment or coming fulfilment during this present age. The chief purpose of the quotation of that prophecy on the day of Pentecost was to point out to the Jews, many of whom were scoffing, that the miraculous thing which had happened so suddenly in their midst was fully confirmed by what Joel had foretold would be the effect of the outpouring of the Spirit. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit had taken place, but not in the full sense as given in the Prophecy of Joel. He came for a special purpose, which was the formation of the Church and for this purpose He is still on earth.
Without following the events on Pentecost and their meaning it
is evident from the entire prophecy, which precedes this prediction of the
outpouring of the Spirit, that these words have never been fulfilled. We might
briefly ask, What is necessary according to the contents of this second chapter
in Joel, before this prophecy can be accomplished? We just mention what we have already learned
before in our exposition. The people
Israel must be partly restored to their land, that great invasion from the
North, bringing such trouble to the land must have taken place, then there must
also have come the intervention of the Lord and He must be jealous for His land
and pity His people, then at that time
this great outpouring of the Spirit of God will take place. It stands in the closest connection with the
The word “afterwards” with which this prophecy is introduced refers to the same period of time as the phrase “in the latter days,” that is, the days when the Lord will redeem His earthly people and be merciful to His land.
Therefore when the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost it was not in fulfilment of Joel’s prophecy. This prophecy has never been fulfilled nor will it be fulfilled during this present age, in which the Church is being formed, which is the body of the Lord Jesus Christ. After this is accomplished the Lord will begin His relationship with His earthly people, when He appears in His day then they will experience the fulfilment of this great prediction.
There are numerous passages in the Old Testament which shed interesting light upon this future outpouring of the Spirit (see Isa. 32: 15, 44: 3-4, 59: 19-21; Ezek. 36: 27-28, 37: 14, 39: 29).
7. Deliverance in
The great coming outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh will result in salvation. It is blessedly true now that “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved,” but it will be also true in that day. The word our Lord spoke, “Salvation is of the Jews” will find its largest fulfilment. The nations will then he joined to the Lord in the kingdom (Zech. 2: 11).
3. THE EVENTS OF THE DAY OF THE LORD;
1. The Judgment of the Nations. 1-8.
2. The Preceding Warfare of the Nations and How it Ends. 9-16.
3. Jehovah in the Midst of His People. 17-21.
1. The Judgment of the Nations: Verses 1-8.
The first verse specifies the time when Jehovah will do what
He announces in the two verses which follow.
It will be in those days, in that time, when the captivity of
It is Jehovah Himself who speaks, what He is going to do in
that day, when He arises and has mercy on
In 2 Chronicles 20 we read
the account of King Jehoshaphat’s victory over hostile nations. But the place where this took place is not
The great sin of the nations, the Gentile world-powers, is the
In Joel’s day such wickedness as described here of casting
lots for His people and selling boys and girls was partially known. The Philistines had done this, as well as
2. The Preceding Warfare of the Nations and How it Ends: Verses 9-16.
This is a prophecy showing what precedes the judgment of these nations. The judgment hosts of the Lord, the angels, are seen coming down, then He appears in all His majesty, while sun and moon are darkened. It is a great dramatic scene which the Spirit of God unfolds. We arrange it, adding the different speakers, to bring out its full value:
The Lord speaking:
Proclaim this among the nations:
Declare a war,
Arouse the mighty ones,
Let all the men of war draw near, let them come up!
Beat your ploughshares into swords,
And your pruning hooks into spears.
Let the weak say, I am strong.
Come together All ye nations round about
Gather yourselves together.
The Prayer of the Prophet:
Thither cause thy mighty ones to come down,
The Lord speaking:
Let the nations arise and come up
For there will I sit to judge all the nations round about.
The Lord to His Judgment hosts:
Put in the sickle,
For the harvest is ripe;
For the wine-press is full,
The vats overflow;
For their wickedness is great.
The Prophet beholding the gathering:
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of Jehovah is at hand in the valley of decision.
The sun and the moon are darkened
And the stars withdraw their shining.
And Jehovah shall roar from
And send forth His voice
And the heavens and the earth shall shake;
But Jehovah will be a refuge for His people
And a fortress for the sons
Throughout the prophetic Word we read that great nations
confederated will oppose God and His purposes when this age closes. There will be a great Western confederacy,
3. Jehovah in the midst of His People: Verses 17-21.
Like nearly all the
other prophetic books Joel ends with the vision of the kingdom and the Lord
dwelling in the midst of His people. He will appear in all
His Glory. Jehovah will be a refuge for
His people. Then they will come to that
knowledge which they so long refused, that the delivering Jehovah is their
God. But the Jehovah who appears there is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ,
the one who was in their midst and who was delivered by the people to be
crucified. What a day it will be
when “They will look upon Him whom they have pierced and mourn for
Him” (Zech. 12: 10).
He will dwell in Zion, the
mountain of Glory. The Glory from above will find a resting
place on that holy hill. There He will
be enthroned as King (Psa. 2: 6). From
there the glory will be spread over all (Isa. 4:
5-6; Psa. 68: 16). “For the Lord
Joel speaks also of the judgment which will fall upon
* * *
Have you ever seen the care lines on a Jewish woman’s face,
Finely marked there by a subtle, unseen hand?
Have you ever read the story of her persecuted race?
Then you will not wonder as you understand.
And you probably will gather from the furrows on her brow,
(Age-long tyrannies have concentrated there),
She has come through heinous pogroms, and her bitter tears still flow,
O’er the ghastly crimes her dearest would not spare.
You will learn that through the centuries the insults hurled at them,
Were inflicted in the name of Christ, our Lord.
Do you wonder that they hate Him and His followers condemn,
Why the Gospel seems a gross, colossal fraud?
Oh, they cannot know He loves them till they see His love in you,
Neither understand how tenderly He longs
Just to take from them their sorrows, all their problems, old and new,
And to give instead glad, everlasting songs.
They have brought to men the Saviour, the rejected Nazarene,
Does not all that makes life noble spring from Him!
They gave prophets and apostles, who have written all they’ve seen
In the Scriptures, where His light grows never dim.
If you really would repay them for the gifts they brought to you,
Show the kindness of the Saviour to their race.
Send to them the blest Evangel with a love that’s ringing true,
And endeavour past injustice to efface.
PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF
AND FOR THE SALVATION OF THE JEWS.
Dr. H. A. Ironside sums up
[* That is, at the end of this evil age.]
* * *
The Prophet Amos
A few years before
the Prophet Hosea, began to witness
against the apostasy of the house of
THE TIME OF HIS PROPHECY
There is no difficulty connected with the age in which he
prophesied. This is stated in the
opening verse of the book. “In the days
of Uzziah, King of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, King
of Israel, two years before the earthquake.”
Jeroboam II became king in
the fifteenth year of the reign of Amaziah,
King of Judah. Jeroboam reigned forty-one years.
As Amaziah reigned over
THE CHARACTERISTICS OF HIS TIMES
Under the reign of Jeroboam
II the northern kingdom of
THE STYLE OF AMOS
Attention has been called to the fact that the prophet’s style and composition shows the former herdsman in the use of certain words and in many figures and similes drawn from nature and rural life. But he also shows a very close acquaintance with the Mosiac law and the history of the people to whom he belonged. The style also shows great rhetorical power, great depths of thought, and truly poetic expressions.
“Amos expressed his thoughts in words taken from the great picture book of nature, which, being also written by the hand of God, so wonderfully expresses the things of God. Scarcely any prophet is more glowing in style, or combines more wonderfully the natural and the moral world, the Omnipotence and Omniscience of God” (Dr. Pusey). Augustinus selected Amos as an illustration of unadorned eloquence. And another learned scholar speaks of him thus, “Let any fair judge read his writings, thinking not who wrote them, but what he wrote, and he will come to the conclusion that this herdsman is in no wise behind the very chiefest prophets; in the loftiness of his thoughts and the magnificence of his spirit, nearly equal to the highest; and in the splendour of his diction and the elegance of the composition scarcely inferior to any” (Bishop Lowth, “De Poesi Sacra”).
He gives us a splendid example of inspiration. The Lord called him, gave him the message, filled the simple herdsman with the wisdom from above so that he burst out in these eloquent utterances. At the same time the Lord in using him as His mouthpiece did not set aside his personality, he uses his shepherd idiom, and the Truth of God is expressed through him in the terms of nature, with which he, as a child of nature, was so familiar.
THE MESSAGE OF AMOS
The message concerns chiefly Israel, the ten tribe kingdom,
their spiritual and moral condition, yet Judah is also noticed by him, as well as
the different nations, surrounding Israel, their Gentile enemies. The book consists of the prophecies he
The Division of the Book of Amos
The Book of Amos consists of three parts. The first part comprises the two opening chapters which form the
introduction to the book. In them we
find the judgments announced in store for the nations surrounding
From the third chapter
to the end of the sixth is the
second part. Here are recorded four
prophecies given by the Lord through Amos.
Three of them begin with “Hear this Word” and the last in chapter six begins
with “Woe.” The third part, chapters seven to nine, give the five
visions which Amos had. The first
two judgment visions were not carried out on account of the intercession of the
prophet. The third vision is that of
the plumb-line; the fourth, the vision of the basket with ripe fruit. In the last vision he beheld the Lord
standing alongside of the altar, ready to smite. The
conclusion of the ninth chapter is a prophecy concerning the restoration of
JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS,
2. THE PROPHETIC MESSAGES
UNCOVERING THE CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE. Chapters 3- 6.
3. THE FIVE VISIONS OF THE PROPHET. Chapters 7 - 9.
Analysis and Annotations
1. JUDGMENT ANNOUNCED AGAINST THE NATIONS,
1. The Introduction. 1-2.
6. Ammon. 13-15.
1. The Introduction.
It has been pointed out that Amos does not say like so many of the other prophets, “the Word of the Lord which came unto me,” but he begins his prophecy with the statement “the words of Amos.” The fact of divine inspiration, however, is expressed in the next words, “which he saw.” His messages, like the messages of all the prophets, were given to him in vision. As stated in the general introduction to this book, this first verse determines the exact time when the herdsman of Tekoa appeared with his message. The earthquake mentioned must have been a disastrous one, for there was a great flight of people (see Zech. 14: 5).
Then follows his first utterance which Joel recorded in his
prophecy, “the Lord roars out of
Six nations are mentioned against
which judgment is announced, five in this chapter and
Philistia is represented by
Tyrus, the capital of
6. Ammon: Verses 13-15.
Wicked Ammon had tried to exterminate the people for selfish reasons “to enlarge their border.” What horrible deeds to rip open women with child! Nor is this confined to the barbarous warfare of 3,000 years ago; the same was done in other wars down to our own days. Judgment would overtake them also.
In meditating on these terse judgment messages we must remember while these nations of the past have ceased existing as nations, and the predicted judgment came long ago, that these nations are typical of the other nations, who also sin against Israel and whose judgment will come “in that day.”
So fierce was the hatred of
While the measure was full of these nations, who had heaped
transgressions upon transgressions,
Inasmuch as Amos was sent to
Then the Lord reminds them of all His mercies and loving kindness in the past. He destroyed the Amorite; He led them through the wilderness to possess the land. He instituted the Nazarite. In spite of all these manifold mercies they continued in their evil ways, grinding the poor, defying God and His law and in their moral depravity
“Behold, I will press you down
As the full cart presses the sheaves.
Then shall flight be lost to the swift,
And the strong shall not confirm his strength,
And the hero shall not save his life.”
2. THE PROPHETIC MESSAGES UNCOVERING
THE CONDITION OF THE PEOPLE
Chapters 3 - 6
The First Discourse
1. There is Cause for Judgment. 1-8.
2. The Coming Judgment Visitation. 9-15.
1. There is Cause for Judgment: Verses 1‑8.
“Hear this word that the Lord hath
spoken against you, 0 children of Israel, against the whole family which I
brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You have I only known of all the
families of the earth, therefore will I punish you for all your iniquities.”
This is the solemn beginning of the special messages addressed to the
nation by the humble herdsman of Tekoa.
The Lord had singled them out from the other nations. He had separated them unto Himself. With His mighty power and outstretched arm He
had delivered them from the house of bondage and brought them to the land
promised unto their fathers. He had
revealed Himself and made known His will to them exclusively. He had entered with them into covenant and
called them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exod. 19: 6).
Hence their responsibility was
very great, for the degree of relationship is always the degree of
responsibility. The divine election
of the twelve tribes does not insure against punishment, but that intimate relationship into which the
Lord had entered with Israel broken and violated by sin, demanded a
correspondingly great punishment. To whomsoever much is given of him shall
much he required. Our Lord expressed
the same truth in Matthew 11 when he
denounced the cities in which great miracles had been done and they believed
not and declared that it shall be more tolerable for
To demonstrate the rightful cause of judgment Amos speaks now in a number of brief similes. There are six of them in the form of questions. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Fellowship is only possible on the ground of separation; a holy God demands a holy people. In their state of licentious idolatry and gross injustice the Lord could not own them. Then follow brief questions indicating that which would happen to them. Like a roaring lion, or a young lion, the Lord would come upon them. They will be caught in a snare and a trap. The blowing of the trumpet denotes that evil was to come upon them. “Shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord has not done it?” It is hard to believe that certain men have taken this statement and teach on account of it that God is the author of moral evil - of sin. The context shows that this is not in view here at all. A holy God who cannot be tempted with evil, who is light and in whom there is no darkness at all, does not put moral evil in the world. The evil is of a punitive character such as invasion by hostile forces, the sword, the famine and the pestilence.
And the Lord Jehovah will do nothing, but He revealeth His secrets unto His servants, the prophets. These secrets are made known to us in the prophetic Word and not, as some claim, in special visions. The [Holy] Spirit of God, the author of the Word, shows to God’s people in His Word things to come (John 15: 15; 1 Cor. 2: 10-16). The result of such knowledge of the secrets of the Lord concerning the future is stated in 2 Peter 3: 17, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (see also 2 Peter 3: 14).
2. The Coming Judgment Visitation: Verses 9-15.
This paragraph begins with a striking call. The speaker is the Lord and He addresses the
prophets and commands them to cry in the palaces of
The Second Discourse
1. Divine Threatening and Irony. 1-5.
2. Yet Have Ye Not Returned Unto Me. 6-11.
3. Prepare to Meet Thy God. 12-13.
1. Divine Threatening and Irony: Verses 1-5.
The prophet addresses them as “kine of Bashan, that are in
Then follows a statement of bitter irony. “Go to
2. Yet Have Ye Not Returned unto Me: Verses 6‑11.
The Lord had sent different chastisements upon them at different times. There had been famines, drought; yea, it had rained here and there, while plots of ground received rain others remained parched, so that they might recognize in it the hand of God. He smote them with mildew and blasting; the locusts came and devoured vegetation; there were frightful pestilences and other judgments, but they did not return unto Him. Five times in this paragraph we find the same statement, “Yet have ye not returned unto Me.” They were an impenitent nation and hardened their hearts as Pharaoh did. They were incorrigible, though they knew that through His mercy they were “as a firebrand plucked out of the burning.”
In the book of Revelation we read of a similar condition in the coming days when the Lord deals with the earth in the decreed and revealed judgments. It is written that the inhibiters of the earth, in spite of these judgments falling upon the earth, do not repent of their sins.
4. Prepare to Meet Thy God: Verses 12-13.
And now they were to come face to face with Himself as the Judge.
The Third Discourse
1. The Lamentation. 1-3.
2. Seek the Lord and Ye Shall Live. 4-15.
3. The Wailing. 16-20.
4. The Captivity Announced. 21-27.
1. The Lamentation: Verses 1-3.
This chapter begins with a lamentation over the fallen
2. Seek the Lord and Ye Shall Live: Verses 4-15.
Here the Lord entreats
Verses 10-13 give a description of the moral condition of
Still there was hope, for the Lord is merciful and slow to anger. Judgment is His strange work. Therefore once more we hear His pleadings, “Seek good and not evil that ye may live, and so the Lord God of hosts shall be with you, as ye have spoken.” “Hate evil and love good!”
3. The Wailing: Verses 16-20.
As judgment comes there shall be wailing in the streets,
wailing with the husbandman, and there will be wailing in all vineyards as the
Lord passes through in His judgment. “For I will pass
through thee” reminds us of
And still another evil was in their midst. Some of them brazenly desired the announced “Day of the Lord,” the day of His
manifestation to come. It originated
in their false boast that they are the covenant people. They
knew from the former prophets that the day of the Lord would rid them of their
4. The Captivity Announced: Verse 21‑27.
The Lord despised their outward worship; their feast days and different offerings were not well pleasing in His sight. It was all a hollow pretence of honouring Him, and all their songs were hateful to Him.
But this departure from Him was not a new thing in their
history. They were always a stiff-necked
people. Even in the wilderness did they
not bring Him sacrifices and offerings, but instead they bore the tabernacle of
Moloch and Chium (or the booth of your king and the pedestal of your images,
the star of your gods). Then follows the
verdict, “Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond
The Fourth Discourse
1. Woe to Them That Are at Ease in
2. The Punishment Announced. 7-14.
1. Woe to Them That Are at Ease in
This woe concerns the great men, the chiefs of the nation, who
were sunk into a godless self-security, and dreamt on in their darkness, while
the clouds of judgment were gathering above them. They were to go from Calneh to Hamath and
then down to
While some desired the day of the Lord others put it far off,
they refused to believe that judgment was impending. It was so in Ezekiel’s time when the people
said “The days are prolonged and every vision faileth” (Ezekiel
12: 22). So it is in
Christendom. The evil servant (Matthew 24) says “My Lord delayeth his coming,” and as a result he acts
outrageously. What were the results in
2. The Punishment announced: Verse 7-14.
They were now to go away as captives. There should be utter desolation. There would be a multitude of dead, so that they could not follow their ancient custom in burying them; they would have to burn them. Then the one who bums the corpses asks the last person in the house whether there is any one still with him, and the answer is No, but keep silence! For the name of the Lord is not to be invoked. It means that the speaker fears that the other one might mention the name of the Lord and in doing so bring down upon himself an additional judgment. Everything is to be smitten. What they had done could no more secure blessing and salvation than horses could run upon a rock and one plowing upon a rock with oxen. The nation which is announced in the last verse is the Assyrian.
3. THE FIVE VISIONS OF THE PROPHET.
Three Visions and the Opposition Against Amos
1. The Vision of Locusts. 1-3.
2. The Vision Concerning the Fire. 4-6.
3. The Vision of the Plumbline. 7-9.
4. Opposition Against Amos. 10-17.
1. The Vision of Locusts: Verse 1-3.
In the first vision Amos saw how the Lord prepared locusts (not grasshoppers as in the A. V). They started in with their destructive work, just as they did in the days of Joel. Then Amos interceded in behalf of the sinful nation, “0 Lord, God, forgive, I beseech Thee, by whom shall Jacob rise for he is small?” He confessed and pleaded forgiveness, acknowledging their helplessness. With such a spirit the Lord is well pleased and the praying prophet received the answer from the Lord, “It shall not be.”
2. The Vision Concerning the Fire: Verse 4-6.
He beheld a furious fire sweeping everything before itself so that it even devoured the great deep, the floods of water. This represents a more severe judgment than the previous one. This judgment also was kept back by the intercession of the prophet. But when the time came for judgment by the Assyrian, symbolized by the locusts and the fire, no intercession could change it. Tiglath-Pileser and Shalamaneser finally made an end of the sinful ten tribe kingdom.
3. The Vision of the Plumb line: Verse 7-9.
He saw the Lord standing upon a wall with the plumb line to
see if the wall was straight. The test
by God’s Word and God’s holy law shows that all is crooked and must be
condemned. Therefore, the announcement, “I shall pass
by it no more. And the high places of
Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of
4. Opposition Against Amos: Verse 10-17.
This is an interesting and instructive occurrence. Amaziah, the apostate priest at
The insinuation was that Amos prophesied for the sake of a living. Amos refutes the false charge and then announced the doom of the false priest and the doom of his family.
The Fourth Vision; The Basket With Summer Fruit
1. The Vision. 1-3.
3. The Coming Days of Famine. 11-14.
1. The Vision: Verse 1-3.
In his fourth vision the prophet beholds a basket of summer
fruit. The Hebrew shows that it was a
basket filled with ripe fruit. The ripe
fruit is a symbol that
Once more the wealthy and prosperous portion of the nation is addressed, their sinful practices are exposed and it is shown that they were ripe for judgment. The rich oppressed the poor; they took away from the poor what belonged rightfully to them. They cheated by making the measure small and increased the price. They were the profiteers of that time. They also used false balances. Then they sold the refuse of the wheat. All may be compared with James 5: 1-6 where the same conditions are pictured, prevailing in Christendom, before the Lord comes. For all this they did the land would have to tremble and every one mourn.
“And it shall come to pass in that
day, saith the Lord God, that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I
will darken the earth in the clear day.” Much nonsense
has been written on this verse especially from the side of the Adventists, as
if there has been at a certain time “a dark day” in fulfilment of this prophecy. Some expositors have made of it a mere
eclipse of the sun. The verse, while it has a certain application to that generation, whose
glory should end like the sun going down at noon, has its final meaning in the
coming day of the Lord, which all the prophets announced. It is the same our Lord predicts in Matthew 24: 29-30. For
3. The Coming Days of Famine: Verse 11-14.
A great famine is announced. It is not to be a famine for bread, or thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. His word and the light of His revelation is to be completely withdrawn from them. The Word of the Lord which they despised they would then desire to seek in vain. They will wander hither and thither from sea to sea, from the north to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord and shall not find it. Such was the case with them when the cruel Assyrian power took hold on them and carried them away. Such a judgment too is fast approaching for Christendom which in its apostasy rejects the Word of the Lord, turns to fables, till the day comes when the Spirit will leave and as a result there will be a famine of the Word, no comfort and no help for those who are ripe for judgment.
The Passing of a Kingdom and the Coming of the Kingdom
1. The Fifth Vision. The Passing of a Kingdom. 1-10.
2. The Coming of the Kingdom. 11-15.
1. The Fifth Vision. The Passing of a Kingdom: Verses 1-10.
In his fifth vision the prophet saw the Lord standing by the altar. He utters His word. The description of what is to take place is very vivid. He stands by the altar and the people are assembled before Him. He smites the lintel of the door, so that everything trembles and the building falls upon them, cutting all of them in the head and none can escape. Even if they break into sheol (not hell, but the [under]world of spirits [and of disembodied souls] in the unknown regions [in ‘the heart of the earth,’ Matt. 12: 40. cf. Gen. 37: 35; Ps. 16: 10. = Gk.‘Hades’ Acts 2: 27; Rev. 6: 9-11, etc. ]), from thence His hand will take them; if they climb into heaven, He would bring them down. [Ps. 139: 8.] If they hide themselves on the top of Carmel He would search for them and take them out. If they conceal themselves from His sight in the bottom of the sea, He would command the serpent to bite them. It is to be an all consuming judgment with no possibility of escape.
Even as they went into captivity the sword of judgment would
follow them. “Thence will I
command the sword, and it shall slay them; and I will set mine eyes upon them
for evil, and not for good.” He is the Lord who has
all power to do this (verses 5-6). They had degraded themselves down to the
level of the heathen nations, hence they were unto Him like the
Ethiopians. Then He calls them “the sinful
kingdom.” This kingdom is to pass away from the face of
the earth; there is no hope for its restoration. But the Lord in mercy promises that the house
of Jacob is not utterly to be destroyed.
In His own time He will assemble the outcasts of
2. The Coming of the Kingdom: Verses 11-15.
While the sinful kingdom, the ten tribe
This is seen here in the passage before us. Verse 12
tells us that when the tabernacle of David is raised up, when “that day” has
come, His people restored and saved will possess the remnant of
* * *
THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH
There was little in the Church in its appearance, to be exact, that was terrifying or alarming to its enemies. Yet, at its touch crowns tumbled and thrones fell. Senates could not arrest its progress, nor embattled hosts withstand its assaults.
Apostolic Christianity soon caused a dead world to quiver and shake with the
throes of a new birth. Without money,
without learning, without political patronage, in the face of fiery
persecutions, it spread itself over the whole
* “To take such promises of reward and glory as are given to special labour and make them the portion of all believers, however unfaithful to the Lord, is to destroy the power of the promised recompense. God knows our need of the hope of the reward or He would not have said so much about it in His Word. And Satan knows its practical power when fully realised, and has therefore struggled to blind the eyes of the children of God to this doctrine altogether; either mixing it up with [eternal] salvation or filling the mind with mock humility that counts it presumption to strive for the offered crown. The fact of our strivings being all so mixed with sin shall be lost amidst the honours that shall grace the saints in that [millennial] day of glory.” – The Prophetic Digest.
* * *
The Prophet Obadiah
Of Obadiah we know nothing but his name, which means “Servant of Jehovah.” There are numerous men mentioned in the Old Testament by that name, but it is impossible to identify any one of these with Obadiah, or to trace him. “The silence of Holy Scriptures as to the Prophet Obadiah stands in remarkable contrast with the anxiety of men to know something of him. They hoped that Obadiah might prove to have been the faithful protector of the prophets under Ahab; or the son of the Shunamite, whom Elijah called to life, or the Obadiah whom Jehoshaphat sent to teach in the cities of Judah, or the Levite who was selected, with one other, to be the overseer set over the repair of the temple in the reign of Josiah. Fruitless guesses at what God has hidden! God has willed that his name alone and this brief prophecy should be known in this world” (Dr. Pusey).
Inasmuch as nothing is known of this man of God, nor anything
stated under whose reign he uttered his prophecy, the guesses about the time he
lived are numerous and very contradictory.
The critics have assigned to Obadiah dates removed from each other by
above 600 years. We quote again from
Pusey’s commentary. “The punishment of
Obadiah does certainly not belong to the Prophets of the
captivity, nor to the post exilic Prophets.
The position given to him in the Hebrew arrangement of the prophetic
books bears witness to that. The
internal evidence shows that he is one of the earliest Prophets, if not the
earliest. If we turn to Jeremiah 49: 7-22 we find a very striking
similarity between the words of Jeremiah and the words of Obadiah concerning
Now, Obadiah in his utterance lays bare the wicked behaviour
Can this historically be located? There can be no question but it must have
reference to the time when the Philistines and the Arabs invaded the city in
the reign of King Jehoram. Then the
Edomites threw off the Judean supremacy (2 Kings 8:
20-22; 2 Chronicles 21: 8-10).
They also planned a great massacre of the Jews who were in the
(In a corrected version).
1. The Vision of Obadiah,
saith the Lord Jehovah concerning
We have beard tidings from Jehovah,
And an ambassador is sent among the nations.
Arise ye! Let, us arise against her to battle!
2. Behold, I have made thee small among the nations;
Greatly art thou despised!
3. The pride of thy heart has deceived thee,
Thou dweller in the clefts of the rock, in lofty habitation;
Who saith in his heart:
Who will bring me down to the ground?
4. Though as high like the eagle,
And though thou hast made thy nest among the stars,
Thence will I bring thee down,
5. If thieves came to thee.
If robbers by night -
How art thou destroyed!
Would they not steal until they had enough?
If grape gatherers had come unto thee,
Would they not leave some?
His hidden things laid bare!
7. Even to the border
Have all the men of the covenant sent thee;
They have deceived thee, prevailed against thee,
Those that were at peace with thee;
Thy bread have they placed as a snare under thee.
There is no understanding in him.
8. Will not I in that day,
Destroy the wise out of
And understanding out of
9. And thy valiant ones, 0 Teman, shall be dismayed,
When every man is cut off
10. For the violence of thy brother Jacob,
Shame shall cover thee,
And thou shalt be cut off forever.
11. In the day that thou stoodest on the other side,
In the day when strangers took captive his army
And foreigners entered his gates,
Thou also wast one of them.
12. And thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother,
On the day of his calamity;
Thou shouldest not have rejoiced over the sons of
In the day of their destruction;
Nor spoken proudly in the day of distress.
13. Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my People
In the day of their ruin.
Thou shouldest not have looked on his misfortune
In the day of his calamity.
And stretched not out thy hand for his possession
In the day of his destruction.
14. And thou shouldest not have stood at the cross-roads
To cut off his fugitives;
Neither shouldest thou have delivered up his remnant
In the day of Distress.
15. For near is the Day of Jehovah upon all nations.
As thou hast done will they do to thee;
Thy reward will be upon thy head.
16. For as ye have drunken on the mountain of my holiness,
All the nations shall drink continually,
And drink and swallow down,
And be as though they had never been.
17. But upon mount
And the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
18. And the house of Jacob shall be afire,
And the house of Joseph a flame,
And the house of Esau for stubble;
And they will kindle upon them and devour them,
And there shall be none remaining of the house of Esau;
For Jehovah has spoken it.
19. And the South country
shall possess the
And the plain the Philistines;
And they shall possess the fields of Ephraim,
And the field of
And Benjamin shall possess
20. And the captives of
this army of the children of
Will possess of the Canaanites as far as Zarepath,
And the captives of
Shall possess the cities of the South.
And Saviours shall go up on
To judge the
And the Kingdom shall be Jehovah’s.
Analysis and Annotations
The brief prophecy of Obadiah is composed of two parts. Verses 1-16
3. The Kingdom and the Restoration of Israel (verses 17-21).
In order to understand Obadiah’s prophecy,
But this does not end the story of
We read of this future judgment upon the country of
“And all the host of heaven shall he
dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll, and all their
hosts shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig
tree. For my sword shall be bathed in
heaven; behold it shall come down upon
Idumea, and upon the people of my curse, to judgment.”
It is unfulfilled to the present time, but it will be fulfilled when “the Lord hath
a sacrifice in Bozrah, and a great
slaughter in the
The Prophecy begins with the announcement that tidings had
come from the Lord which was heard by the Prophet and by the people; an
ambassador is sent forth among the nations to summon them to go up in battle
Her sin of violence against her brother
Jacob comes now in special remembrance.
On account of it shame would cover them and they would be cut off
All this will be repeated once more, when another great
prophecy will be fulfilled and
Then, to show the link of connection between the future and
the past, the Prophet announces the Day of the Lord. “For near is the day of Jehovah upon all
nations.” This day has not yet been. There have been judgments upon nations like
3. The Kingdom and the Restoration of
The final section of Obadiah’s brief prophecy concerns the [millennial] kingdom,
the victory over the enemies and the restoration of His people.
The Saviours mentioned in the last verse of this prophecy (or deliverers) must mean the chosen instruments which go forth to teach all nations and make known the glory of the King in their midst. For “the Kingdom shall be the Lord’s.”
* * *
The Prophet Jonah
The question as to the reality of the person of Jonah is answered by 2 Kings 14: 25. In this passage, we find him mentioned as the Prophet who prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II. His name means “dove,” and his father’s name Amittai means “the Truth of the Lord.” He was from “Gath-Hepher” - the winepress of the well is the meaning of these two words. Thus Jonah also belongs to the earlier Prophets and the book bearing his name, written by himself, occupies the right place in the Old Testament. A Jewish tradition states that Jonah was the son of the widow at Zarephath, whom Elijah raised to life; but this is only an invention with no evidence whatever.
THE BOOK AND EXPERIENCE OF JONAH
The Book of Jonah is of a different nature from the books of the other Minor Prophets; it is more like the history of Elijah and Elisha, these two great Prophets and their personal experiences and activities as reported in the historical books. The book of Jonah has no direct prophecies in it, yet the experience it records is a great prophecy.
We do not give the contents of the book in this introduction, but shall follow all in the annotations. As is well known, the miraculous history of the book of Jonah has been widely attacked by infidelity. When the Old Testament was translated into the Greek (the Septuagint) heathen philosophers and other writers ridiculed it and made sport with the book. Their objections and ridicule are reproduced in the school of the destructive criticism. We hear that men who boast of great scholarship declare that Jonah never lived, that the story of the book of Jonah is an imagination of some great literary genius. Says that arch-critic, Canon F. W. Farrar, in the Expositor’s Bible: “Of Jonah we know nothing more. For it is impossible to see in the book of Jonah much more than a beautiful and edifying story, which may or may not rest on some surviving legends.” But as some one has said, it requires less faith to credit this simple excerpt from Jonah’s history than to believe the numerous hypotheses that have been invented to deprive it of its supernatural character. The great majority of these hypotheses are clumsy and far-fetched, doing violence to the language, and doing despite to the spirit of revelation. These infidel inventions are distinguished by tedious adjustment, laborious combinations, historical conjecture and critical jugglery.
Some critics who do not want to reject altogether the story of Jonah, suppose that it may have had some historical basis, though in the form we have it today is fanciful and mythical. Another critic regards it as a dream Jonah had in the ship. Still another critic views the book as an historical allegory, descriptive of the fate of Manasseh, and Josiah his grandson. What wild fancy this critic indulged in may be seen from the fact that he compared the ship to the Jewish monarchy, while the casting away of Jonah symbolized the temporary captivity of Manasseh!
Many critics treat it as an allegory based upon the Phoenician myth of Hercules and the sea-monster. To quote a few more, simply to show what foolish things the darkened mind of man, who thinks he has attained scholarship, can invent in order to disprove the Truth of God, we mention the theory that when Jonah was thrown into the sea he was picked up by a ship having for a figurehead the head of a great fish. Another one says that probably Jonah took refuge in the interior of a dead whale which was floating about near the spot he was cast overboard.
The great majority of the critics today deny the historicity of the book of Jonah and claim that its material has been derived from popular legends, that it is fiction with a moral design. The moral lessons and its religious meaning have even a wider range than these hypotheses. The theories do not merit a special refutation.
IS IT HISTORY OF MYTH?
There is nothing in the account which would justify any critic to charge it with being allegory. It is cast in the form of a narrative and has all the literary characteristics of a personal experience. The sole reason why the critics have classed it with myths and deny its authenticity is the miraculous element in the book. Any one who believes in an omnipotent God, a God who does wondrous things, will have no difficulty whatever in accepting this book as a true history. We might also add that all the earlier Jewish sources confirm the historicity and literalness of the book of Jonah. Furthermore, the book is very simple and pure Hebrew.
THE HIGHEST EVIDENCE
The highest authority
that Jonah lived, and had the experience recorded in this account is the Lord
Jesus Christ. The
words which He spoke, who is the Truth, are plain and unimpeachable. There
can be no secondary meaning; “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's
belly, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart
of the earth. The men of
Professor A. C. Zenos (in the Standard Bible Dictionary)
says: “The New Testament does not commit Jesus Christ
or its own authors to one or the other of the contending theories.” This is a poor statement. The Lord Jesus did
commit Himself fully to the historicity of Jonah. “The New Century Bible,” a destructive work, makes
the following declaration: “We are not to conclude
that the literal validity of the history of Jonah is established by this
reference” - that is, the words of our Lord in Matthew
12: 40. But the man who wrote
this overlooked the fact that the Lord
in all His allusions to the Old Testament events always speaks of them as
actual, literal events, and, therefore, establishes their literal validity. For instance, “As
Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness” … “As it was in the days of Noah”
... “As it was in the days of
The truth is that the Lord Jesus Christ placed such emphasis upon the book of Jonah because it foreshadowed His own experience as the Redeemer, and because He knew of what apostate Christendom would do with this book and its record. There is no middle ground possible; either this book of Jonah is true, relates the true and miraculous history of this Prophet, or the Lord Jesus Christ is not the infallible Son of God. His Person and His Work [and His interpretations and teachings*] stand and fall together with the authenticity of Jonah.
[* In particular, our Lord’s teachings relative to the intermediate place and state of the dead between the time of Death and Resurrection, (Luke 16: 19-31; Matt. 16: 18; Luke 23: 43; John 20: 17, etc.) See Editor’s footnote.]
“Our Lord singled out this particular miracle about Jonah, which has been thought of great difficulty, and affixes to it His own almighty stamp of truth. Can you not receive the words of the Lord Jesus Christ against all men that ever were? The Lord Jesus has referred to the fact that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish, call it what you will - I am not going to enter into a contest with naturalists, whether it was a Shark, or a sperm-whale or another. This is a matter of very small account. We will leave these men of science to settle the kind (if they can); but the fact itself, the only one of importance to us to affirm, is that it was a great fish that swallowed and afterwards yielded up the Prophet alive. This is all one need to affirm - the literal truth of the fact alleged. There is no need to imagine that a fish was created for that purpose. There are many fishes quite capable of swallowing a man whole. But the fact is not only affirmed in the Old Testament, but reaffirmed by our Lord Himself and applied to Himself. Any man who disputes this must give an account before the judgment seat of Christ” (W. KelIy).
THE TYPICAL - PROPIRETIC MEANING OF JONAH
The typical - prophetic meaning of the story of Jonah is authorized by the words of the Son of God. His experience typifies the death, the burial and the resurrection of our Lord, as well as the Gospel message which goes forth to the Gentiles. Furthermore, Jonah’s experience is prophetic also of the entire nation. The annotations will enter more fully into these interesting and important foreshadowings.
THE DIVISION OF THE BOOK
The division of the book is very simple. We maintain the chapter division as made in the authorized version.
Chapter 1 gives the record of Jonah’s commission, his disobedience and the consequences.
Chapter 2 contains his prayer and his deliverance.
Chapter 3 has the account of his obedience in
Chapter 4 contains the account of Jonah’s discontent and correction.
Analysis and Annotations
THE COMMISSION OF THE PROPHET:
HIS DISOBEDIENCE AND THE CONSEQUENCES
The Commission. 1-2.
The Disobedience. 5.
The Consequences. 4-17.
1. The Commission: Verses 1‑2.
The record begins with the same word with which all historical
books in the Bible begin, like Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, etc. The commission given to Jonah was to go to
2. The Disobedience: Verse 3.
Jonah rose up at once, but instead of going to the east
[* NOTE. ‘Sheol,’ throughout the Old Testament, is always descriptive of is the place of the souls of the dead in the underworld – “in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12: 40). Cf. Psa. 16: 10. = ‘GK. ‘Hades’ (Acts 2: 27, 31, R.V.): and before the time of their Resurrection Matt. 16: 18, 19; Rev. 6: 9-11.]
If we look for a motive of this disobedient prophet we find it
given in the book itself. In chapter 4: 2 we read, “Therefore I
fled before unto Tarshish, for I knew that Thou art a gracious God, and
merciful, and slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest Thee of evil.”
But why should he fear that God might be merciful to
3. The Consequences: Verses 4-17.
No sooner had the ship set sail but a terrible tempest arose, sent by the Lord. The danger of shipwreck was imminent. The heathen mariners became terrified and besides crying each one to their gods, they threw the wares overboard to lighten the ship, so that it might weather the storm. But we do not read anything about Jonah calling on his God. Was it an evil conscience which led him to seek sleep in the sides of the ship? Or did he seek sleep because he was in despair? Or was his action produced by the calmness of faith, that he knew himself in the hands of the Lord? Perhaps his action shows more than anything indifference and an astonishing self-security.
The shipmaster aroused him from his sleep, asking him why he
slept and demanded that he call upon his God.
The lot is cast and it fell upon Jonah.
He might have confessed before but he waited as long as he could. The questions they asked him he answers
readily. He confesses that he is a
Hebrew, that he fears the Lord, the God of heaven, the creator of sea and
land. His confession filled them with fear;
they also knew that he had been disobedient for he told them about it. It was a noble confession and shows that
though he had fled from the presence of the Lord that his heart still clung to
Him. He answered the question, what
shall we do unto thee, that the sea may be calm unto us? by pronouncing his own
sentence. “Take me up, and cast me forth
into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you; for I know that for my sake
this great tempest is upon you.” Again we must say
these are noble words. He is ready to sacrifice himself and trusts the Lord and
His mercy. After the mariners made an
unsuccessful attempt to row the ship to land, and calling upon the Lord not to
lay upon them innocent blood, they cast Jonah into the raging sea, and the sea
became calm. As a result the heathen
sailors feared Jehovah exceedingly, offering a sacrifice unto Him and making
vows, while the Lord prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah, in whose belly
Jonah remained three days and three nights.
Some have stated that the Lord created a special sea-monster for this
purpose, but the Hebrew word does not mean “create”
it means “appoint.” It certainly was not a whale, for whales
rarely ever are seen in the
[* See Footnote]
THE TYPICAL APPLICATION
1. Jonah is a type of the Lord Jesus Christ.
As already pointed out in the introduction the words of our Lord sanction this application. But as He said when He spoke of Solomon “a greater than Solomon is here,” so He also said “a greater than Jonah is here.”
We point out a few of the applications and contrasts. Jonah was sent with a message of judgment; the Son of God came with the message of love and salvation. “For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3: 17).
Jonah was disobedient, acting in self-will, fleeing from the presence of the Lord. The Son of God was obedient; He never did His own will but the will of Him that sent Him. The words He spoke were not His own. “The word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me.” He always had the Father set before Himself and was uninterruptedly in His presence.
Jonah, indifferent and self-secure, was fast asleep in the
ship while the storm raged and the ship was in danger of going down. The Lord Jesus was asleep in the ship on
Jonah bore a faithful witness; but how much greater is His witness. He is called “the faithful Witness” (Rev. 1).
Jonah sacrificed himself in order to save those who were about to perish. But how much greater His sacrifice! Jonah’s fate came upon him on account of his sin and disobedience. The Lord Jesus Christ did not suffer for His sins, for He had none, being the Holy, the Sinless One. He died exclusively for others and died for the ungodly. But did Jonah actually die? Did death fasten upon him? Was his body miraculously preserved so that it did not see corruption? Was it a literal resurrection when the fish vomited him out? Jonah did not die physically. But his experience typifies the death and the burial of Christ, and also His physical resurrection. How could Jonah have prayed and cried to the Lord out of the belly of the fish if his physical life had ceased?* It was a miracle however, that Jonah was kept alive.
[* And how could our Lord have “preached to the spirits in prison” (1 Pet. 3: 19), after “He was put to death in the body” (verse 18), if He did not go to where He said we all must go immediately after death (Luke 16: 23), and there to “wait” (Rev. 6: 11) for the time of Resurrection?]
The three days and three nights have troubled a good many expositors. Not a few teach that in order to bring together the three days and three nights during which our Lord was in the grave, He must have died either on Wednesday or Thursday. The three days and three nights must be interpreted according to Hebrew usage. In Luke 24: 21 we read that the two who met the risen Lord said, “and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done.” That was on the first day of the week. Reckoning back, Saturday would be the second day and Friday the first day, the day on which Christ died.
2. Jonah is a type of the Jewish Nation. In the Jewish synagogical ritual the Book of Jonah is read on the Day of Atonement. The writer is indebted to an old orthodox Jew for the information why this story is read on their great day of fasting and prayer. He said, “We are the Jonah.” Like Jonah the nation was called to bear witness to the Gentiles. And as Jonah did not want the knowledge of Jehovah to go to the Gentiles, so the Jews filled with national pride of being the elect nation opposed God’s purposes. (See Acts 13: 6-12; 44-52; 14: 19-20; 17: 5-9; 18: 12, etc.)
Disobedient as Jonah, the nation left the presence of the Lord. Jonah engaged passage on a merchant-ship, and the Jew became a trafficker. Like as it was with Jonah, storm and disaster came upon the nation after their great act of disobedience, when they rejected Christ, and opposed His purposes. Like Jonah, in the midst of all their troubles they did not deny, nor deny now, their nationality, their faith in God; they also confess in some of their prayers, at least the orthodox Jews, why it is that they are in trouble that they have sinned and turned away from the Lord.
Jonah was cast overboard into the sea. The sea represents the nations; that is where
the Jews were cast. As a result of the
casting away of Jonah the heathen sailors turned to the Lord and sacrificed
unto Him. In Romans 11: 11 we read, “through their fall (the Jews) salvation came to the
Gentiles to provoke them to jealousy.” The belly of the
fish represents the grave of the Jews among the nations. They became nationally and spiritually
dead. But as the fish did not digest
Jonah, so the nations have not digested the Jew. They remain unassimilated, just as Balaam
predicted, “This nation shall dwell alone and not be reckoned among the
nations.” The national preservation of
JONAH’S PRAYER AND DELIVERANCE
1. The Prayer. 1-9.
2. The Deliverance. 10.
1. The Prayer: Verses 1-9.
Some expositors have called attention to the fact that the prayer is not one offered up for deliverance, but it is a thanksgiving for the accomplished deliverance. But this is answered by the opening verse of this chapter, in which we are told that he prayed unto the Lord his God out of the fish’s belly. When he found that he had escaped the death he anticipated and that the power of God kept him alive, he realized that the Lord his God would also deliver him; in faith he praised Jehovah for the coming deliverance. His prayer is composed almost entirely of sentences found in the Psalms. We give the references.
Verse 2 reminds of Psalms 18: 6, 7 and 110: l. The word “hell” is the Hebrew “sheol,” the unknown region [of the dead]. See also Psalm 30: 3. Verse 3 contains a quotation from Psalm 42: 7, “All thy waves and billows passed over me.” In connection with verse 4 consider Psalm 31: 22. Verse 5 is found in Psalm 18: 4, except the seaweed which crowned his head as he went into the deep; also Psalm 69: 2. The thanksgiving in verse 6, “Yet hast Thou brought up my life from the pit, 0 Lord, my God” is closely allied to Psalm 30: 3. The first part of verse 7 is from Psalm 142: 3 (marginal reading) and 143: 4. The second part is found in Psalm 5: 7 and 18: 6. The eighth verse reminds of Psalm 31: 6 and the ninth verse is to be connected with Psalm 42: 4.
The last utterance before the Lord commanded the fish is a triumphant shout, “Salvation is of the Lord,” a truth which many preachers in Christendom do not know.
2. The Deliverance: Verse 10.
The God of creation manifested His power over His creation by impelling the fish to release its prisoner. The place at which the fish vomited out Jonah is not mentioned; it was probably not very far from the seaport Joppa where he embarked.
THE TYPICAL APPLICATION,
1. As to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Lord went into the jaws of death and died the sinner’s death, the substitute of sinners. Most of the passages from the Psalms which Jonah embodied in his prayer are prophetic predictions of the sufferings of Christ. He cried to God for deliverance and was heard. (See Hebrews 5: 7.) The answer was His resurrection. Over His blessed head passed the waves and billows of a Holy God, when as the substitute He hung on the cross. He knew more than Jonah could ever know what it meant, “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.” The 69th Psalm is Messianic and the words Jonah used, “I sink in deep mire where there is no standing; I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me,” tell us of the deep sufferings through which He passed. While Jonah’s head was wound about with the seaweeds of the deep, our Lord bore the crown of thorns, the emblem of the curse, upon His blessed head.
It was on the third day that the fish vomited out Jonah. The third day is marked in the Word of God as the day of resurrection. (See Genesis 1: 11-13; Hosea 6: 1-3.) On the third day our Lord left the grave behind and rose from among the dead [i.e., from ‘Hades’]. We quote a helpful paragraph on the question of the three days and nights: “So our Lord Jesus, though by Jewish reckoning three days and three nights in the grave, literally lay there but the whole of Saturday, the Sabbath, with the part of Friday not yet closed, and before the dawn of Sunday. For we must always remember in these questions the Jews’ method of reckoning. Part of a day regularly counted for the twenty-four hours. The evening and the morning, or any part, counted as a whole day. But the Lord, as we know, was crucified in the afternoon on Friday; His body lay all the Sabbath day in the grave; and He arose early on the Sunday morning. That space was counted three days and three nights, according to sanctioned Biblical reckoning, which no man who bows to Scripture would contest. This was asserted among the Jews, who, fertile as they have been in excuses for unbelief, have never, as far as I am aware, made difficulties on this score. The ignorance of Gentiles has exposed some of them when unfriendly to cavil at the phrase. The Jews found not a few stumbling blocks, but this is not one of them; they may know little of what is infinitely more momentous; but they know their own Bible too well to press an objection which would tell against the Hebrew Scriptures quite as much as the Greek.”
2. As to the Nation.
The prayer for deliverance and Jonah’s deliverance by the power of God
foreshadows the coming experience of the remnant of
1. The Repeated Commission and Jonah’s Obedience. 1-4.
2. The Repentance and Salvation of
1. The Repeated Commission and Jonah’s Obedience: Verses 1-4.
And now after Jonah’s death and life experience the Word of
the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, telling him to arise and go the
2. The Repentance and Salvation of
The people of
THE TYPICAL APPLICATION
1. As to the Lord Jesus.
Jonah who typifies in his experience the death, burial and
resurrection of our Lord, preached the message as one who had been in a grave
and came to life out of that grave. In
Luke 11: 29-30, 32 our Lord makes the application: “For as Jonah
was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall
also the Son of Man be to this generation ... The men of Nineveh shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall
condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and, behold, a greater
than Jonah is here.” Christ was not preached as a
Saviour to the Gentile world till He had died and risen from the dead. The Greeks who inquired after Him (John 12) received no answer. But the Lord spoke of Himself at that time as
the corn of wheat which was to die to bring forth the abundant fruit. Christ died for the sins of His people
2. As to the Nation.
The third day is the day of
And as for repenting Nineveh there came a day of joy and gladness, as animal creation in that city ceased its lowing and groaning, so will come the day of joy and gladness for this poor world, “in that day” when even groaning creation will be delivered of its groans and moans [Rom. 8: 19-22].
JONAH’S DISCONTENT-AND CORRECTION
1. Jonah’s Discontent. 1-3.
2. The Correction. 4-11.
1. Jonah’s Discontent: Verses 1-3.
All that had happened displeased Jonah exceedingly and he was
very angry. Did he feel that he had lost
his prestige as a prophet, having announced the overthrow of
2. The Correction: Verses 4-11.
The Lord God who had been so merciful to
And when God asked him, “Doest thou well to be angry for the
gourd?” the poor
finite creature of the dust answered the Creator, “I do well to
he angry, even unto death.” Then comes the
lesson. Not God, Elohim, the name of Him
as Creator, speaks, but it is Jehovah, the Lord: “Thou hast had pity on the
gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came
up in a night, and perished in a night: and should not I spare Nineveh, that
great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot
discern between their right hand and their left; and also much cattle?”
If Jonah felt pity and was angry because of a small vine he had not
planted nor made to grow, should not God with greater right have mercy upon His
creatures, whom He created and sustained?
Jonah is silenced; he could not reply. The last word belongs to Jehovah,
who thus demonstrated that in His infinite compassion He embraces not
“Most touching and beautiful is the last verse of the book, in which God displays the force and supreme necessity of His love; which (although the threatenings of His justice are heard, and must needs be heard and even executed if man continues in rebellion) abides in the repose of that perfect goodness which nothing can alter, and which seizes the opportunity of displaying itself, whenever man allows Him, so to speak, to bless him - the repose of an affection that nothing can escape, that observes everything, in order to act according to its own undisturbed nature - the repose of God Himself, essential to His perfection, on which depends all our blessing and all our peace.”*
* * *
JONAH AND THE WHALE
By F. C. PAYNE. (‘Seal of God’, pp. 52-54.)
What a noise has been made about this story recorded in the book of Jonah! But the strange thing is that there is nothing incredible about it.
Our Lord Himself put His own seal to it and gave us the real
reason for the incident by showing it to be another of those wonderful types of
Christ, (in this case fore-shadowing His three days and nights in the grip of
Satan.) Matthew 12: 39-41. “An evil and adulterous generation
seeketh after a sign: and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of the
prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s
belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in
the heart of the earth. The men
Note also that Jonah offered his life of his own free will.
Next. Who said it was a whale?
The actual words in Jonah 1: 17 are . . “Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah.” That fact alone should satisfy all critics.
However the word Christ used was ‘keetos’, or ‘sea-monster’, and the translators may have been right in assuming it was a whale, for there is nothing to prevent a large whale from swallowing two, or even three men. The well known author Frank Bullen, F.R.G.S., who has had experience in whaling, records whales up to seventy feet long and even larger ones have since been discovered.
On one occasion a fifteen foot shark was found in a sperm whale, I don’t suppose Jonah was bigger than that shark. Sperm whales often vomit up the contents of their stomachs when dying, which exactly corresponds with the account in Jonah.
There are records moreover of men having been swallowed by whales, the incident following being one of them.
In February of 1891 whilst the whaling ship ‘The Star of the East’ was off the Falkland Islands, a large bull cachalot, (or sperm whale), was sighted and the whale-boats were launched. They succeeded in harpooning the whale but in securing it one of the whale-boats was smashed and Seaman Mr. J.Bartley disappeared, before the whale was killed.
They dismembered the cachalot the following day and Bartley was found alive in the stomach. He was a raving maniac for two weeks but completely recovered eventually except for the bleaching of the exposed parts of his body which had been acted upon by the whale’s gastric juices.
The authority for this account is Sir Francis Fox in the book ‘Sixty three years of engineering’, (James Murray, London, 1924).
Later Mr. J. Bartley himself said that after the initial confusion and the sensation of forward movement, and the sense of great darkness he felt his hands in contact with a slippery substance which seemed to shrink from his touch and when he realised what had happened he was horrified. He could breathe easily enough but the heat and darkness combined with the realisation of his fate caused him to lose consciousness which he did not regain until he came to in the Captain’s cabin.
We know that if a man can breathe he can be unconscious for weeks, and as Jonah’s whale was specifically prepared his position was probably quite comfortable compared with James Bartley’s.
A person must be very hard pressed indeed to use this Bible record as an excuse for doubting God’s Word.
* * *
The Prophet Micah
When the Prophet Jeremiah was in danger of being put to death for his faithful testimony, certain of the elders rose up and said, “Micah the Morashtite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah, King of Judah; and spake to all the people of Judah, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts: Zion shall he plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest” (Jer. 26: 18). This is the testimony of the Book of Jeremiah to Micah, who prophesied under the reign of Hezekiah, as well as Jotham and Ahaz. The first verse of the Book of Micah gives us this information. While Jonah was a Galilean, Micah was a Judean. He came from Moresheth-Gath, which distinguishes him from another prophet of the same name, Micah the son of Imlah (see 1 Kings 22: 8; Micaiah is the same as Micah). The name Micah means “who is like the Lord?”
Prophesying mostly in
The prophetic horizon of Micah is very much restricted. The magnificent sweep of Isaiah, looking forward to the great and glorious consummation in the Kingdom, is lacking in Micah. The question of the exact time when Micah uttered his prophecies, what was spoken during the reign of Jotham, during the reign of Ahaz or Hezekiah, is unessential, and we do not follow it in this introduction.
The Book consists of three great prophetic discourses which all
begin in the same way, with the command to hear. “Hear all ye people,” chapter
1: 2, the first discourse. The
second discourse, chapter 3: 1, “Hear, I pray
you.” The third discourse, chapter
6: 1, “Hear ye now what the Lord saith.”
In the first prophetic message he predicts the destruction of
The third discourse contains a very solemn pleading with His
people. Jehovah tells them again of all His loving kindness. He tells them He has a controversy with them;
He speaks to them of His rightful demands.
It is a most eloquent outburst.
The last part contains an assurance that the Lord will surely have
compassion upon His people, while their enemies will be overthrown to lick the
dust. One of the greatest words of
praise in the Scriptures is found in the last three verses. It contains
The three prophetic discourses of Micah the Morashtite give a progressive message. The Book begins with the threatening judgment; it leads on towards the Messianic salvation and glory, and finally the exhortation and reproof - to return unto Him, to repent, and the assurance of His compassion and forgiveness.
Analysis and Annotations
THE FIRST PROPHETIC MESSAGE
1. The Introduction. 1.
2. Judgment Announced. 2-5.
3. The Destruction of
4. The Lamentation of the Prophet over the Coming Judgment. 8-16.
1. The Introduction: Verse 1.
This introduction tells us two things. In the first place, we learn that this book contains the Word of the Lord that came to Micah, the Morashtite; in the second place, we are told when Micah exercised his office. As stated in the introduction, he was contemporary with Isaiah, probably for about twenty-nine years. Criticism has attacked the authorship of this book also. Since Criticism began, with Ewald, to question the unity of this little book, it has raged with increasing violence, until Professor Cheyne, improving on Robertson Smith in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, concludes: “In no part of chapters 4-7 can we venture to detect the hand of Micah.” There is no need to answer such statements. The unity of the Book of Micah is fully demonstrated by the message it contains. If chapters 4-7 were not written by Micah, will the critics gives us light on who the author is?
2. Judgment Announced: Verses 2-5.
The opening message is sublime. It is an appeal to all the nations, the whole
earth and all that is in it, to listen to the witness of the Lord Jehovah
against them, the witness which comes from His holy temple. The other Micah
(Micaiah, the same as Aficah) the son of
Imlah, uttered similar words (1 Kings 23: 28).
He next describes the Lord coming out of His place, the place where He dwells
in mercy, to come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. He is coming to judge; He is coming in wrath. The nations are to hear it, that the judgment
is for the transgression of Jacob and for the sins of the house of
3. The Destruction of
The sin of
4. The Lamentation of the Prophet Over the Coming Judgment: Verses 8-16.
Here is the lamentation of Micah as directed by the Spirit of
God, not only over the fate of
Verses 10-13 correspond to Isaiah 10: 28-34;
it is a description of the advance of the Assyrian. The coming disaster is not to be published in
The inhabitant of Maroth waited anxiously for good, but evil
came from the Lord unto the gate of
Then follows a call to
In verse 14 the prophet
mentions his home town Moresheth-gath; there is to be a parting gift for she
shall go into captivity. And Achzib will
not keep the invader back; Achzib means a lie - the “Lie-town” shall he a lie to the kings of
The heir who is to possess Mareshah is the Assyrian, and “the glory of
They were now to mourn, expressed in making themselves bald (Job 1: 20; Isa. 15: 5, 22: 12; Jer. 16: 6), for they are gone into captivity.
1. The Guilt and Punishment
2. The Future Restoration. 12-13.
1. The Guilt and Punishment of
In the first two verses the special sins of
Then comes a passionate appeal: “0, thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of the Lord straitened? Are these His doings? Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?” He still appeals to their consciences. The Spirit of God does not change, nor was it His doings, when the nation drifted into idolatry and judgment was impending. Still, if they but walked uprightly His words would surely do them good. But they had risen as an enemy against Him; and yet the Lord, in spite of all, called them “My people.”
2. The Future Restoration: Verses 12-13.
In this prophecy Christ is announced
as the Breaker, the One who goes before them, clears the way, and removes every
obstacle out of the way. In verse 10 we read, “Arise ye, and depart; for this
is not your rest.” The true rest for His people
THE SECOND PROPHETIC MESSAGE
1. Address to the Godless Princes and Judges. 1-4.
2. Address to the False Prophets. 5-8.
3. The Verdict of Judgment. 9-12.
1. Address to the Godless Princes and Judges: Verses 1-4.
The second prophetic message of Micah contains the great Messianic prophecies. But first the prophet gives a description of the degradation of the nation, the moral corruption of the leaders and judges, as well as the false prophets. It is all summed up in one sentence, “who hate the good, and love the evil.” The princes and judges robbed the people, treated them like cattle (verse 3). For these unjust deeds the Lord would not hear them when they cried in the hour of their need, and would hide His face from them.
2. Address to the False Prophets: Verses 5-8.
The false prophets were mostly responsible for these abominations, just as today the false in Christendom, the deniers of the faith, destructive critics and others, are responsible for the conditions in the professing Church. They make the people err. While they bite with their teeth, that is, being fed, they cried “Peace” to their patrons; and those who did not support them, by putting food in their mouths, they fought and denounced. There would be night for them, with no vision; darkness would come upon them. They would be ashamed and confounded; the covering of the lips was a sign and emblem of mourning and silence. Such will be the fate of all, false prophets and teachers.
The eighth verse is a
magnificent outburst of God’s true prophet, Micah’s confession. As the true prophet he was full of power by
the Spirit of the Lord, and thus filled he declared unto Jacob his
transgression and to
3. The Verdict of Judgment: Verses 9-12.
What Micah had announced in the preceding verse he does
now. He tells the heads and rulers that
1. The Future of Glory. 1-5.
2. The Restoration and the Final Victory. 6-13.
1. The Future of Glory: Verses 1-5.
The last verse predicted the long desolation and ruin of
The nation will he
judged and rebuked by Him whose glorious throne will be established in
2. The Restoration and the Final Victory: Verses 6-13.
The re-gathering of all
All this is preceded by her sorrow and captivity. It must be noticed that verse 10 goes beyond the Babylonian captivity, for
it could not be said that the Lord redeemed in that past captivity
1. The Siege and the Smitten Judge. 1.
2. The Smitten Judge: Who he is. 2.
3. The Events of the Future. 3.
4. The Rejected One, The Shepherd of
5. The Remnant of Jacob and The Kingdom. 7-15.
1. The Siege and the Smitten Judge: Verse 1.
This interesting chapter presents difficulties, but they all
vanish if we view all in the light of the future as revealed in the prophetic
Word. Here it is necessary to divide the
Word of Truth rightly, or we shall never find our way through this great
Messianic chapter. The daughter of
troops gathers herself in troops to besiege
2. The Smitten Judge, who He is: Verse 2.
This great verse is a parenthetical statement, giving a
description of the Judge of Israel. It
shows forth Him who is to be the Ruler and the Judge, the Redeemer and the
King. It is the passage which the chief
priests and the scribes quoted to wicked Herod, when he demanded to know where
Christ should be born (Matt. 2: 4-6). This great prophecy was therefore known when
our Lord was born to predict the birth of the Messiah, in fact, the Jews always
believed this. But after He was born and
lived among them and was rejected by them they attempted deliberately to
explain it away, and invented fables to accomplish this. It was Tertullian,
and other prominent teachers of the early Church, who argued with the Jews,
that if Jesus was not the promised Messiah, the prophecy given by Micah could
never be fulfilled, for none of David’s descendants was left in
But here is more than an announcement of the birthplace of
Christ. We have a wonderful description
of His Person. He is to be the Son of
David, coming out of David’s city,
destined to be the Ruler in
Here we have His Deity fully revealed as well as His humanity; He is the God-Man. In this passage Micah’s testimony harmonizes with Isaiah’s in chapter 9: 6, 7.
3. The Events of the Future: Verse 3.
The meaning of this
verse becomes plain if we connect it with the first verse and treat the second
verse as a parenthesis. They smote the
Judge of Israel upon the cheek, they rejected the Lord of Glory, and as a
result God gave them up. “Therefore
will He give them up, until the time when she that travaileth hath brought
forth; then the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of
4. The Rejected One, the Shepherd of
This refers to His second coming. He will stand and feed in the strength of
Jehovah, for He is the Lord; and they (saved
How beautiful is the opening sentence of the fifth verse! “This Man shall be peace (or our peace).” Of Him Isaiah spoke, too, as “the Prince of Peace,” and that “of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end.” David in his great prophetic psalm (72: 7) concerning these coming days speaks of “abundance of peace.” Zechariah likewise in predicting the future says, “He shall speak peace to the nations” (Zech. 9: 10). He made peace in the blood of His Cross and for all who trust in Him He is peace, “for He is our Peace.”
Here it concerns the peace He has and gives to His restored
5. The Remnant of Jacob and the Kingdom: Verses 7-15.
The restored and blessed remnant of Jacob will possess a
double character. They will be used in
blessing and refreshing among the nations, “as dew from the Lord, as the showers
upon the grass.” On the other hand, they will be in the midst
of many people as a lion and as a young lion, to avenge unrighteousness and
opposition. All the adversaries and
THE THIRD PROPHETIC DISCOURSE
1. The Words of Jehovah to His People. 1-5.
3. The Moral Demands of Jehovah. 8.
4. The Lord Must Judge Them. 9-16.
1. The Words of Jehovah to His People: Verses 1-5.
This chapter is cast in the form of a controversy. The utterance has been called by some the most important in the prophetic literature. It is hardly this, nor is, as critics claim, the eighth verse a definition of religion, “the greatest saying in the Old Testament.”
The beginning is sublime, “Hear ye now what Jehovah saith!”
The Prophet is to arise and contend before the mountains so that the
hills may hear his voice. The mountains and
the enduring foundations of the earth are to hear the controversy the Lord has
with His people and how He pleads with
Then follows the tender loving pleading of Jehovah, who still loves His people, in spite of their wickedness, “0 my people, what have I done to thee?” What matchless condescension! The Lord whom they had rejected, from whom they had turned away, does not denounce them for their sins, nor does He enumerate them, but He asks whether He had been at fault. Had He done anything amiss towards them? Had He wearied His people? He is willing that they should testify against Him. Had He done anything that they should get tired of Him? We may imagine a pause here, as if He were waiting for an answer. But there is no answer.
He continues to speak.
He had brought them out of
Here the people speak, but it is significant that they do not address the Lord, who had spoken to them by the prophet. They knew themselves guilty and condemned. So they address the prophet and ask what to do. “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousand rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” For generations they had brought burnt offerings, thousands of rams and rivers of oil. But it was nothing but an outward worship; inwardly they remained the same. But they were willing to do more in this outward service, even to the sacrifice of the firstborn. Isaiah 1: 10-18 is an interesting commentary to these questions, showing how the Lord despised these ceremonies of a people who were evil doers and corrupters (see also Psalm 1: 7-23).
3. The Moral Demands of Jehovah: Verse 8.
The prophet gives
the answer of Jehovah. “We hath showed
thee, 0 man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do
justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Where has God made the demand?
In the Law. There is no more
deadly error than to hold up this verse as the essence of the Gospel and the
one true, saving religion. Yet this we
hear today on all sides. But the most
loud-mouthed advocates of this “saving religion”
practise what the Lord demands the least.
And there is a good reason for it.
4. The Lord Must Judge Them: Verses 9-16.
The Lord speaks again and puts before them once more their moral degeneration. Wicked balances, deceitful weights, the deeds of unrighteousness. They were destitute of mercy, for they were full of violence, lies and deceit. Therefore judgment must now fall upon them.
1. The Prophet’s Complaint. 1-6.
2. Confession, Prayer and Thanksgiving. 7-20.
1. The Prophet’s Complaint: Verses 1-6.
It is the prophet’s voice complaining over the conditions of
the people. But he is also the typical
representative of the remnant during the time of travail in
2. The Conclusion: Verses 7-20.
It is a willing submission to the chastisement of the Lord expressed in verse 9; they acknowledge theirs sins and once more declare, “He will bring me forth to light, and I shall behold his righteousness.”
This is followed by a prophetic declaration. The day is coming when her walls will be
built again, and in that day shall the decree be far removed. The latter statement may mean the same which
the Prophet Jeremiah reveals in chapter 31: 31
to the end of the chapter. The old
decree, or law, will end, and there will be the new covenant into which
In the meantime the land will be desolate, as it is now, the fruit of their evil doings, till the day comes when the wilderness will be a fruitful field (Isa. 32: 16) when the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose (Isa. 35: l).
Once more the prophet’s voice is heard in supplication. The prayer in verse
14 is answered by the Lord in verses 15-17. The Lord will show again in that day the
marvellous things as He did in their past redemption out of
The three concluding verses belong to the greatest in the Old Testament Scriptures. Here we listen to a great praise and outburst of adoration. “Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger forever, because He delighted in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Thou will perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.”
Such will be the future praise of the remnant of His heritage,
when the Deliverer comes to Zion and turns away ungodliness from Jacob, when
the covenant with them will be consummated and their sins will be taken away (Rom. 11: 26, 27).
Once a year orthodox Jews go to a running stream and scatter into it
bits of paper and small articles, repeating while they do it these three verses
(the so-called Tashlik ceremony). It
is but an outward act, yet testifying that there is still faith in
* * *
The Prophet Nahum
Nahum’s history is unknown.
All we know of him is that he was an Elkoshite. His name means “Comforter.” Some have identified Elkosh with a village of
similar name which is in existence today, not far from the site of ancient
THE DATE OF NAHUM
The opening verse does not give a hint as to the time Nahum
lived and prophesied. Critics, on
account of some Assyrian expressions found in the book have put the date
later. From internal evidences we can
ascertain the date without difficulty.
There is an interesting link between Jonah, Micah and
Nahum. Jonah, was sent with the message
A knowledge of Assyrian history, and its great capital
Hezekiah, the king of Judah, under whom Nahum as well as
Isaiah and Micah prophesied, had paid tribute for many years to
THE MESSAGE OF NAHUM
His prophetic message concerns exclusively
THE DIVISION OF NAHUM
The three chapters of which Nahum is composed give us the
correct division of his prophecy. In the
first chapter we find the purpose of God in dealing in judgment with the
Analysis and Annotations
THE PURPOSE OF GOD IN DEALING
WITH THE ASSYRIAN OPPRESSOR
1. The Superscription. 1.
2. Jehovah’s Majesty in Judgment. 9-6.
3. His People Comforted and Assured. 7-13.
4. The Judgment of
1. The Superscription: Verse 1.
The burden of Nineveh; if means that there is to follow a weighty prophetic oracle concerning the great world city of Nineveh, whose dimensions are given by Jonah, which have been confirmed by the excavations. The next sentence gives us the definite information that what follows in the book is the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.
2. Jehovah’s Majesty in Judgment: Verses 2-6.
It is a sublime description. God is a jealous God. The jealousy of God has for its source the love for His elect people (see Zech. 1). “For thou shalt worship no other god; for the Lord, whose name is jealous, is a jealous God.” He is jealous over His people lest they serve other gods. And because He is a jealous God, a holy, a sin-hating God, He must be an avenger of what is against His character. He will take vengeance on His adversaries and reserveth wrath for His enemies. Destructive criticism has invented an infidel theory as if the God of wrath and vengeance were the product of the mind of man, and that Jehovah is some tribal deity, corresponding to the tribal gods of the surrounding heathen nations. Thus criticism rejects the Jehovah of the Bible and invents its own god, rejecting the threatenings of coming wrath and judgment as taught in the Old Testament and in the New in connection with the Coming of the Lord, branding these revelations the result of the false apocalyptic teachings of the Jews. God is the God of Love, as much as He is the God of Wrath. He must be that or He would not be the God of Light and Holiness. He cannot afford to let evil go on forever. He is the Lord slow to anger. His patience is great, but He will not acquit the guilty, who continue in sin and do evil. Verses 2 and 3 describe His righteous government. Then follows a beautiful poetic description of His majesty, a description suited to the finite mind of man.
“In whirlwind and storm is His way,
And clouds are the dust of His feet.
He rebuketh the sea and drieth it up
And empties all the rivers.
And the Flower of Lebanon languisheth.
Mountains quake before Him
And all the hills melt away;
And the earth is consumed in His presence,
The world and all that dwell therein.
Before His indignation who can stand?
And who can abide His fierce anger?
His fury is poured out like fire,
And the rocks are thrown down by Him.”
What to the mind of man is more imposing than the towering storm-clouds, and what more terrifying than the onrushing whirlwind, which lays low the forest? Man, the creature of the dust, steps upon the dust of the earth to which man returns in the hour of death. But Jehovah has the clouds as the dust of His feet. If He arises in His righteous wrath all will he swept before Him, and the mountains, symbolical of the kingdoms of the earth, will quake before Him, and the pride of man will be humbled in the dust (see Isa. 2).
3. His People Comforted and Assured: Verses 7-13.
While in the foregoing section He speaks of His own character
in dealing with evil, He now gives comfort and assurance to those who trust in
Him, that is, to His people. He knoweth
them, the comfort all His people have at all times, the Lord knoweth them that
are His, and as our Lord said, “I know my sheep.”
For such the Lord is good and a stronghold in the day of trouble. But
His enemies will feel His wrath. “But with an
overrunning flood He will make an utter end of the place thereof (
In the prophetic application we must look beyond the horizon
of Nahum’s time and the judgment of
On the ninth verse many
expositors have erred in their interpretation.
It is also addressed to
Then a description of the Assyrian in verse
10. They are entangled like
thorns, so that they will find no escape when the judgment overtakes them,
while they are drunk with wine in their carousings. Like the dry stubble are they to be
devoured. Rab-shakeh, as mentioned in
our introduction, is the one who came out of Assyria against
The second half of the twelfth
verse concerns His people. “Though I have
afflicted thee, I will afflict thee no more.”
One can see at once that the “no more” demands a future fulfilment. For, while it is true, the Assyrian did no
4. The Judgment of the Assyrian and the Result: Verses 14-15.
The fourteenth verse gives
the judgment commandment as to Assyria and
The result is stated in the last verse of this chapter. “Behold, upon the mountains the feet
of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! 0
We must not overlook the similar passage in Isaiah 52: 7.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that
bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of
good, that publisheth salvation, that saith unto
OVERTHROW, PLUNDERING AND DESTRUCTION OF
1. The Capture of
2. The Completeness of the Judgment. 11-13.
1. The Capture of
This great prophecy was literally fulfilled some ninety years after
Nahum had spoken. When these words were
The prophet in the beginning of this chapter addresses
We have heard even reputable Bible teachers make the statement
that Nahum predicted the automobiles racing along our streets. Such fanciful, far-fetched and arbitrary
applications of the Word of God do immense harm. Nahum does not anticipate the automobile, but
gives a picture of the besiegers of
In verse 5 the Assyrian
king is seen turning to his army, as he sees the chariots dashing along the
highways and broadways which lead to the city; he counts his worthies, his
generals and captains. And the army
suddenly called, in making haste stumbled along in disorder and made haste to
reach the walls. As stated above, the sixth verse
was fulfilled when the river became a flood and undermined the foundations of
the walls, so that the besiegers could enter in. And when
The word “Huzzab” in the seventh verse has led to a great deal of discussion. Some claim that it is the name of the Queen of Nineveh; others that it is a symbolical name of the city; archaeology throws no light upon its meaning. We believe the word “Huzzab” should be translated, “It is determined.” Then the sentence reads, “It is determined; she is made bare and led away captive; and her maids moan like the doves, smiting upon their breasts.”
The flight of the population of
In the next two verses the plundering of the city is
predicted. Silver and gold is taken
away. There seems to be no end of all
the glorious things which were heaped together in
2. The Completeness of the Judgment: Verses 11-13.
Is it a sarcastic question which is asked, “Where is the den of lions?” What has become of her proud boastings of being the Queen-City of the nations?
Then Jehovah speaks of the completeness of her judgment and overthrow. “Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more he heard.”
1. The Great Wickedness of
2. Her Fate to he Like the Fate of No‑Amon. 8-13.
3. Her Well-deserved and Complete Judgment. 14-19.
1. The Great Wickedness of
But she received as she had sown. The next two verses give again the scenes of carnage during her judgment hour.
“The cracking of the whip;
And the noise of the rattling wheels;
The prancing of the horses,
And the dashing chariots.
The horseman mounting;
And the flashing sword,
And the glittering of the spear;
And the multitude of the slain;
And the heaps of the corpses.
There is no end of dead bodies;
They stumble over their corpses.”
And why? “Because of
the multitudes of the whoredoms of the well-favored harlot, the mistress of
witcherafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through
her witcherafts.” She made herself attractive like a harlot
does, to ensnare and beguile weaker nations.
Like all these ancient cities she was filled with witchcrafts, that is,
sorceries. The power of darkness
manifested itself in the dominion of evil spirits, which
Then Jehovah speaks again, as the God of retribution and judgment. These are solemn words.
“Behold! I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts;
And uncover thy skirts over thy face,
And display to the nations thy nakedness,
And to kingdoms thy shame!
And I will cast vileness upon thee,
And disgrace thee
And make thee a gazing-stock.
And it shall come to pass,
That all that look upon thee
Shall flee from thee,
Who will lament over her?
Whence shall I seek comforters for her?”
She had acted the harlot and now she receives the punishment of a harlot, which consisted in exposing her in public. She would be a gazing-stock for nations and kingdoms, as the righteous God stripped her of all and exposed her shame. There would he no one to lament over the vile mistress of witchcrafts.
2. Her, Fate Like the Fate of No-Amon: Verses 8-13.
“Art thou better than No-Amon that
dwelt by the rivers? Waters were round
about her; her bulwark was the sea and her wall was of the sea.
3. Her Well-deserved and Complete Judgment: Verses 14-19.
Dramatically the prophet calls upon
* * *
By FRANK V. MILDRED
The ceremony of infant sprinkling is so much at variance with the teaching of the New Testament that a committee of clergy is meeting to consider what is called responsible baptism. A very prominent Anglo-Catholic leader, Dr. Kenneth Kirk, Bishop of Oxford, is so concerned about this question that he wrote as follows in his Diocesan magazine of September, 1946:- “Is it not possible that instead of being baptised in infancy a child might at that stage be admitted as a catechumen, or learner; and then after a period of instruction and when years of discretion are reached, be baptised and confirmed and admitted to Communion? Would this in any way help our difficulty?”
First, we must say quite bluntly that infant sprinkling is not in the new Testament. As Dr. A. Plummer (an Anglican scholar) writes:- “Not only is there no mention of the baptism of infants, but there is no text from which such baptism can be securely inferred.” In like manner, we have the testimony of a Methodist scholar, Prof. Norman Snaith, who wrote as follows in The Methodist Recorder of 17 June, 1948:- “Most communities, other than the Baptists, are confused over the whole matter, and those that are not confused are wrong. The modern difficulties in interpretation are caused by the transference of the rite to infancy.” Another witness is Father S. J. Hunter, a Jesuit, who writes:- “There is no trace in Scripture of Christian baptism being administered to any one who was not capable of asking for it.”
Secondly, we find in Church history that infant sprinkling was
a gradual change from Christian baptism. The oldest non-canonical Christian
document is The Didachee, or The Teaching, to be dated about 120 A.D., in the
first six chapters of which is an explanation of the
Thirdly, infant sprinkling is no substitute for Christian baptism. We are saved by faith in Christ, as our Saviour and Lord: “Ye are all sons of God by faith.” So Dr. Sanday, an Anglican scholar, writing on Romans 6, puts it this way:- “It (i.e., baptism) expresses symbolically a series of acts corresponding to the redeeming acts of Christ: Immersion = death; Submersion = burial, the ratification of death; Emergence = resurrection.”
“Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2: 38).
* * *
The Prophet Habakkuk
There is a very interesting diversity among these Minor
Prophets. Hosea starts with the command of the Lord for a symbolical action
Of Habakkuk the same holds good as with most of the other Minor Prophets; we know nothing of the particulars of his life. It does not matter much. God knows these holy men, whom he called to make known His will and the future, and He has kept the record of their lives, as He keeps the record of all our lives.
His name means “to embrace,” but it has the double meaning “to embrace” and “being embraced.” He embraced his own people and embraced God in prayer, then “being embraced” - God answered him. Dr. Martin Luther gave a very striking definition of his name, which cannot be improved upon. “Habakkuk signifies an embracer, or one who embraces another, takes him into his arms. He embraces his people, and takes them to his arms, i.e., he comforts them and holds them up, as one embraces a weeping child, to quiet it with the assurance that if God wills it shall soon be better.”
It has been assumed that he probably sprang, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, from a priestly family, for at the end of the great ode, at the conclusion of the book, he states – “to the chief singer on my stringed instruments,” from which we may gather that he was officially qualified to take part of the Temple service. But Isaiah 28: 20 seems to contradict this.
An apocryphal book, “Bel and the Dragon,” states that Habakkuk was miraculously transported to Daniel, who had been cast a second time to the lions by Cyrus. This and other legends are without any foundation at all, and need not be examined, for they are worthless.
THE DATE OF HABAKKUK
As it is with Nahum, so it is with Habakkuk, the superscription does not fix a definite date, but the contents of the book do not leave us in doubt about the time when this man of God prophesied.
In the sixth verse of the
opening chapter we read, “For. lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and
hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the
dwelling places that are not theirs.” He therefore
prophesied at the time when the Chaldeans, or as they are also called the
Babylonians, were coming into power, and soon to he used against the house of
THE MESSAGE OF HABAKKUK
The language which Habakkuk used is extremely beautiful. Professor Delitzsch speaks of it as follows: “His language is classical throughout, full of rare and select turns and words, which are to some extent exclusively his own, whilst his view and mode of presentation bear the seal of independent force and finished beauty. Notwithstanding the violent rush and lofty soaring of the thoughts, his prophecy forms a finely organized and artistically rounded whole. Like Isaiah, he is, comparatively speaking, much more independent of his predecessors, both in contents and form, than any of the other prophets.”
“Everything reflects the time when
prophecy was in its greatest glory, when the place of the sacred lyrics, in
which the religious life had expressed itself, was occupied, through a still
mightier interposition on the part of God, by prophetic poetry with its trumpet
voice.” Much in his message is in
the form of communion with the Lord. He
begins with the familiar heart-cry, “0 Lord, how long shall I cry?”
He receives an answer, which announces the coming of the Chaldeans, to
which again the prophet replies. Then he said, “I will stand upon my watch,
and will set me upon the tower, and will watch and see what He will say unto me” (chapter
2). Then he receives another
answer. The judgment of
Sublime is the great lyric ode contained in the third chapter, which begins with a prayer (chapter 3). It is one of the greatest descriptions of the Theophany, the Coming Of the Lord. which the [Holy] Spirit of God has given. He comes in glory and in wrath; the wicked are overthrown, His people are saved. It waits for its great fulfilment when our Lord Jesus Christ shall he revealed from heaven in flaming fire with His holy angels.
THE DIVISION OF HABAKKUK
The division is very simple.
Chapter 1 forms the first part and
gives the coming invasion of
Inasmuch as the Authorized Version contains numerous incorrect renderings, we give a complete text in a metric version.
The Prophet Habakkuk
1. The Burden, which Habakkuk, the prophet, saw.
2. How long, 0 Lord, must I cry
And Thou hearest not?
I cry to Thee: Violence!
And Thou dost not help.
3. Why dost Thou show me iniquity,
And cause me to behold grievance?
Oppression and violence are before me;
There is strife, and contention ariseth.
4. Therefore the law is slacked;
And justice doth never go forth
For the wicked compass about the righteous;
Therefore justice goes forth perverted.
5. Behold ye among the nations and regard!
And wonder marvellously;
For I work a work in your days
Which ye will not believe, though it were told.
6. For behold! I raise up the Chaldeans,
That bitter and impetuous nation,
Which march through the breadth of the earth.
To possess dwelling-places that are not theirs.
7. They are terrible and dreadful,
Their judgment and dignity proceed from themselves.
8. Swifter than leopards are their horses,
And fiercer than the evening wolves.
Their horsemen shall spread themselves,
And their horsemen shall come from afar.
They fly like an eagle hastening to devour.
9. All of them come for violence;
The host of their faces is forward;
And they gather captives like the sand.
10. Yea, he scoffeth at kings,
And princes are a derision unto him.
He laughs at every stronghold
For he heapeth up earth and taketh it.
11. Then he sweepeth by as a tempest
And shall pass over and be guilty.
He whose might is his god.
12. Art Thou not from Everlasting,
Jehovah, my God, my Holy One?
We shall not die!
Jehovah! Thou has appointed them for judgment;
And Thou, 0 Rock! Thou has established him for chastisement.
13. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil;
Thou canst not look upon injustice.
Why lookest Thou upon the treacherous?
Why art Thou silent when the wicked destroys
The man that is more righteous than he?
14. And Thou makest men like fishes of the sea,
Like reptiles that have no ruler.
15. All of them he lifts up with the hook,
He catcheth them in His net
And gathers them in his drag;
Therefore he rejoices and is glad.
16. Therefore he sacrificeth to his net,
And burneth incense to his drag,
Because by them his portion is rich,
And his food plenteous.
17. Shall he, therefore, empty his net,
And spare not to slay the nations continually?
1. I will stand upon my watch.
And set me upon the tower,
And I will wait to see what He will say to me,
And what I shall answer as to my complaint.
2. And Jehovah answered me and said:
Write the vision and make it plain on tablets,
That he may run that reads it.
3. For the vision is yet for the appointed time,
And it hastens to the end, and shall not lie;
Though it tarry, wait for it;
Because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
4. Behold the proud:
His soul is not right within him;
But the just shall live by his faith.
5. And moreover, wine is treacherous;
A haughty man, that keepeth not at home:
Who enlargeth this desire as Sheol,
As death he is and cannot be satisfied,
And gathereth all nations to himself
And heapeth unto him all peoples.
6. Will not all these take up a song against him?
And a taunting proverb against him, and say:
Woe to him who increaseth what is not his own!
And that ladeth himself with pledges.
7. Will not thy biters rise up suddenly,
And those awake that shall shake thee violently?
And thou wilt become a prey to them.
8. Because thou hast plundered many nations,
All the remnant of the peoples shall plunder thee;
Because of men’s blood, and for the violence done to the land.
To the city and all that dwell therein.
9. Woe to him that procureth a wicked gain for his house,
To set his nest on high,
To secure himself from the hand of disaster.
10. Thou has devised shame for thy house,
By cutting off many peoples, and sinning against thyself.
11. For the stone crieth out from the wall,
And the beam out of the wood-work answers it.
12. Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood,
And founds a city by iniquity.
13. Behold is it not from Jehovah of hosts,
That the peoples labour for the fire,
And the nations weary themselves for vanity?
14. For the earth shall be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah,
As the waters cover the sea.
15. Woe to him that giveth his neighbour to drink,
Pouring out thy fury, and also making drunk.
In order to look upon their nakedness.
16. Thou are filled full with shame instead of glory,
Drink thou also, and be like the uncircumcised:
The cup of Jehovah’s right hand shall be turned to thee,
And vile shame shall be upon thy glory.
17. For the violence
And the destruction of wild beasts which made them afraid,
Because of the blood of men, and the violence done to the land,
To the city and all that dwell therein.
18. What profiteth a graven image, that its maker has carved?
The molten image, and the teacher of lies,
That the maker of his image trusts therein, to make dumb idols?
19. Woe to him that saith to the wood,
Awake; To the dumb stone,
Arise! Shall it teach?
Behold it is overlaid with gold and silver;
And there is no breath in its inside.
20. But Jehovah is in His holy temple,
Let all the earth be silent before Him.
1. A prayer of Habakkuk, the prophet, set to Shigionoth.
2. 0 Jehovah! I have heard the report of Thee. I am afraid!
0 Jehovah! revive Thy work in the midst of the years;
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy.
3. God cometh from Teman,
And the Holy One from Mount Paran. - Selah.
His glory covereth the heavens,
And the earth is full of His glory.
4. His brightness is like the sun;
Rays are streaming from His hand;
And there is the hiding of His power.
5. Before Him goeth the pestilence;
And fiery bolts follow His feet.
6. He standeth and measureth the earth;
He looketh and maketh nations tremble;
The everlasting mountains are broken to pieces;
The eternal hills sink down:
His goings are as of old.
7. I saw the tents of Cushan in trouble;
The tent-curtains of Midian are trembling.
8. Was it against the rivers Thou wert displeased, 0 Jehovah?
Was Thine anger against the rivers?
Was Thy fury against the sea?
That Thou didst ride upon Thy horses,
In Thy chariots of victory?
9. Thy bow is made completely bare;
Rods (of chastisement) are sworn by Thy Word,
Thou cleavest the earth with rivers.
10. The mountains saw Thee, and trembled;
The flood of waters passeth over;
The deep uttereth its voice,
And lifteth up its hands on high.
11. The sun and moon stood still in their habitation;
At the light of Thine arrows, which flew,
At the slinging of Thy glittering spear.
12. In wrath Thou marchest through the earth;
In fury Thou treadest down the nations.
13. Thou goest forth for the salvation of Thy people,
For the salvation of Thine anointed;
Thou dashest in pieces the head out of the house of the wicked,
Laying bare the foundation even to the neck. - Selah.
14. Thou piercest with his own staves the chief of his warriors,
That rush on like a whirlwind to scatter me;
Their rejoicing is to devour the poor secretly.
15. Thou treadest upon the sea with Thine horses.
The swelling of mighty waters.
16. I heard, and my bowels trembled;
My lips quivered at the sound;
Rottenness entered my bones;
And I trembled in my place,
That I might rest in the day of trouble
When he that approaches the nation presseth upon it.
17. For though the fig-tree shall not blossom,
Neither shall fruit be in the vines;
The fruit of the olive tree fails
And the fields shall yield no food;
The flock shall be cut off from the fold,
And there shall be no cattle in the stalls.
18. Yet will I rejoice in Jehovah,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19. Jehovah, the Lord, is my strength,
And makes my feet like the hinds’,
And will make me to walk upon mine high places.
(For the Chief Musician, on my stringed instruments.)
Analysis and Annotations
THE JUDGMENT OF
THROUGH THE CHALDEANS ANNOUNCED
1. The Prophet’s Cry to Jehovah. 1-4.
2. The Answer. 5-11.
3. The Prophet’s Plea. 12-17.
1. The Prophet’s Cry to Jehovah: Verses 1-4.
The prophet begins his message with a prayer-cry to
Jehovah. He whose name is “the embrace?” embraces the Lord and cries to Him on
account of the conditions prevailing in
Like Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, Habakkuk is deeply stirred on account of the declension among the people of God, and that led him to cry to Jehovah, to tell Him all about it. He begins with “How long, 0 Lord.” It is the cry of the saints of God in all generations. We, too, in the midst of the increasing apostasy, the perilous times, cry to Him, “How long, 0 Lord.” He had cried and there seemed to be no answer. Heaven was silent. And with him the righteous among the Jews had cried for help and for a change of conditions, under which they were suffering affliction. Wickedness and violence were evident on all sides. Strife and contention were the continued order of things. They injured each other wherever they could. The Law of God was completely flouted; there was no more justice, and the wicked compassed about the righteous.
2. The Answer. Verses 5-11.
Jehovah speaks and answers the complaint of His servant. He is going to raise up the Chaldeans to
chastise His wayward people. The Lord is
calling on His people, that they should see now what He was going to do.
“Behold ye among the nations, and regard, and
wonder marvellously; for I work a work in your days, which ye will not believe
though it were told you.” The meaning is that
they should look around among the nations, the faithless ones among the Jews,
and see how the storm would gather and ultimately break over the head of the
In verse 6
the instrument of chastisement is announced, and afterward described. A new power would arise, the Chaldeans. They would make an invasion, and possess
dwelling places which were not theirs, that is, they would set out for a
widespread conquest and take away the dwelling place of
But as he is victorious the Chaldean becomes proud and forgets
that he was but used as an instrument in the hand of God to deal with those who
had done evil. As a result, they imputed
their power to their own god, and do not give God the honour and the
glory. His own might is his god. Then comes the day when the Lord takes the
Chaldean in hand for judgment and deals with him, as He dealt with other
nations. Nebuchadnezzar, the first great
3. The Prophet’s Plea: Verses 12-17.
The prophet had listened to the terrible announcement from the lips of Jehovah, what was to befall his nation. How it must have shocked the man of God! But he knows the comfort and expresses it in faith at once. “Art Thou not from everlasting, 0 Jehovah, my God, my Holy One? we shall not die!” He knows Jehovah as the faithful God, the covenant-keeping God. Such a God will surely not permit the nation, to whom He has pledged His Word, to be wiped out. His faith lays hold on that and he realizes that the Lord is using this enemy for correction, to chastise His people. And furthermore in his plea he says, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, Thou canst not look upon injustice.” Would He, the righteous God, look on unconcerned at the wicked deeds of the Chaldeans? Can He remain silent to all their deeds of violence? If such is the case, the prophet asks next, “Why lookest Thou upon the treacherous; why art Thou silent when the wicked destroys?” It is the voice of the godly remnant here, seen suffering with the nation. It brings before us the same question concerning the suffering of the righteous.
The Chaldean took men as if they were fishes; as a fisherman puts out the net and the drag, so they catch men by the net and the drag. Gathering in the people with their wealth, he rejoices and is glad. Then the prophet takes up the statement given by the Lord that the Chaldean would offend, and fall by his pride, and the worship of his false gods, He sacrifices to his net; he burns incense; he makes the thing which prospers him his idol, his god. Is this then to go on continually? Shall he who empties his net, and throws it out to catch more, to do this again with the nations forever?
Such was the plea of Habakkuk, after the announcement of the coming chastisement of the Jews by the Chaldean He knows that the affliction could not continue forever, for God is a covenant-keeping God, and of purer eyes than to behold evil, a holy and a righteous God.
THE UNGODLINESS OF THE CHALDEANS AND THEIR DESTRUCTION
1. The Waiting Prophet and the Message He Received. 1-4.
2. The Five-fold Woe upon the Chaldeans. 5-20.
1. The Waiting Prophet and the Message He Received: Verses 1-4.
It seems there was no immediate answer to the plea of the prophet. He then speaks to himself and expresses his attitude. “I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and I will wait to see what He will say to me, and what I shall answer as to my complaint.” He watches like a sentinel upon a watch-tower for the answer the Lord will give him. It does not mean that the prophet actually ascended a tower, but he expresses his innermost attitude by the symbol of a watchman. He remained silent and eagerly looked for the reply.
How long he waited is not stated. But the answer came, for the Lord never disappoints His inquiring and waiting servants. He is told to write the vision and make it plain upon the tablets, that he may run that readeth it. Thus the Lord spoke to him and gave him the vision, which he was to write in plain characters upon tablets. The effect should be not that he that runneth may read (as it is sometimes misquoted) but that he that readeth may run. The Prophetic Word is always plain. It is far from being the deep and complicated portion of God’s Truth that some make it, but it needs an ear opened by the [Holy] Spirit of God. Prophecy believed is a great stimulating agent to Christian service, even as it is stated here, that the reader of the vision runs to spread the message.
In the next place we hear of the certainty of the vision. It is for the appointed time. It hastens toward the end, and shall not
lie. The prophet is commanded to wait
for it, though it tarry, and then receives the assurance that it will surely
come and not tarry. These are important
instructions by which many a believer might profit. God has an appointed time for all His
purposes and their fulfilment. He cannot
be hastened, for His schedule was made before the foundation of the world. When the appointed time comes all visions
will be accomplished. It hastens toward
the end. That end is the end of the
times of the Gentiles, which began with the rising of the Babylonians, and the
first great king, Nebuchadnezzar, the golden head in the prophetic image of Daniel 2.
When the end of the times of the Gentiles comes, the world-power then,
Part of this is quoted in the Epistle to the Hebrews. “For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb. 10: 37). From this quotation we learn that the vision which will surely come is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the centre of every vision and without Him there is no vision. The Septuagint translation is the same: “If He tarry wait for Him, for coming He will come and not delay.”
In the fourth verse, which may properly be taken to be the opening statement for the vision which follows, the all importance of faith in the vision is made known. The proud one who is mentioned must primarily be applied to the haughty Chaldean, but it is equally true of the unbelieving, proud Jew, and of the nominal Christian. The proud, the puffed up one, his soul is not right within him, and God resisteth the proud, while he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
“But the just shall live by faith.” Criticism has not left this matchless sentence untouched. The Higher Critic Davidson labours to show that the Hebrew word for faith (Emunoh) means faithfulness, dealing in faithfulness in money matters, that is, one who deals honestly. According to his statement the verse means if an Israelite, or anybody else, does right he will live. But in Genesis we read, “Abraham believed the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness.” As every intelligent Christian knows, there was no Law then, and the New Testament in the testimony of the Holy Spirit makes it plain that this is the Gospel of Grace in which the ungodly are justified; justified by faith. Interesting is the quotation of the sentence “the just shall live by faith” in the three passages of the New Testament Epistles.
Romans 1: 17 quotes this sentence. In this passage the emphasis is upon the word “just.” The theme of Romans is the Righteousness of God, at least in the opening chapters. It shows how a person, a lost and guilty sinner, becomes righteous, and as such is saved. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”
In Galatians 3: 11 the emphasis is upon the word “faith.” “But no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, as it is evident: for, the just shall live by faith.”
In Hebrews 10: 38 the emphasis is upon “live.” “For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.”
2. The Five-fold Woe upon the Chaldeans: Verses 5-20.
The Lord uncovers the wicked conditions prevailing among the Chaldeans. God had allowed the people whom He loved to be chastised by an evil instrument; they were to be crushed by injustice and by the actions of the cruel invader. But the character and conduct of the oppressor, the Chaldeans, was not unknown to Him, as the prophet expressed it, “Who is of purer eyes than to behold evil.” And now the righteous Lord announces the five-fold woe upon the wicked world-power. While all this applies primarily to the Chaldean, it is likewise a prophecy concerning the future. The world powers remain the same to the end of the times of the Gentiles. It was true then, as it is true now, and will he true in the future throughout this present age, “The world lieth in the Wicked One.” There is no improvement to be looked for among the world powers, and as we have seen so frequently in the study of the prophets, the end of the age brings still greater opposition and, defiance of God, with a corresponding moral decline. We see therefore in these verses a description of the world conditions down to its very end. The word “wine” does not need to be interpreted in a literal way, though drunkenness was one of the sins of the Babylonians. They were inflamed with an ambition for conquest, like a drunken man is inflamed with wine. This intoxication made them treacherous, haughty, restless: like death, which is never satisfied, so they are never satisfied; constantly pressing on they spoil the nations, gather prisoners and act in violence. How can God permit this to go unjudged.
Then follows a taunting song in verses 6-7. Divine retribution is coming for them. The spoiler is going to be spoiled. It is the retribution which may be read in all history, which still continues, for of nations it is true as of individuals, “Whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.”