The Annotated Bible*

 

 

[*Minor Prophets only]

 

 

 

 

The Holy Scriptures Analysed and Annotated

 

 

By

 

 

A. C. GAEBELEIN, D.D.

 

 

Editor of “OUR HOPE

 

-------

 

 

1

The Prophet Hosea

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

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 Israel, as well as during the time when Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings over Judah.  His whole prophetic ministry covers probably over seventy years, so that he must have reached a very old age.  His prophecy is directed almost exclusively to the house of Israel, which had degenerated in a short time and Hosea lived during these awful years.  Jeroboam II was almost the last king who ruled by the appointment of the Lord.  After him kings made their way to the dottering throne of Israel by murdering their predecessors.  Shallum slew Zechariah; Menahem slew Shallum; Pekah killed the son of Menahem; Hosea killed Pekak.  All was anarchy in Israel.

 

 

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 Jerusalem to worship in the divinely appointed way.  Jeroboam had been in Egypt (1 Kings 11: 40; 12: 2) where he had seen nature worshipped in the form of a calf.  This worship he introduced in the identical words which their fathers had used when they worshipped the golden calf in the wilderness.  (See Exodus 32: 4 and 1 Kings 12: 28).  Outwardly the different ceremonies of the law, the feasts of Jehovah, the new moons and Sabbath days, the sacrifices and offerings were maintained, but all was a corrupt worship.  The calf was the immediate object of that idolatrous worship.  They sacrificed to the calf (1 Kings 12: 32); they kissed the calf (Hosea 13: 2) and swore by these idol-calves (Amos 8: 4). As Dr. Pusey states: “Calf-worship paved the way for the coarser and more cruel worship of nature, under the names of Baal and Ashtaroth, with all their abominations of consecrated child sacrifices, and horrible sensuality.”  It led to the most awful sins and degradation.  Here is a description of the moral conditions prevailing in the days of Hosea, a condition brought about by the false worship and departure from God.  Hosea and Amos acquaint us with it.  All was falsehood (Hosea 4: 1; 7: 1, 3); adultery (Hosea 4: 11, 7: 4, 9: 10); bloodshed (Hosea 5: 2; 6: 8); excess and luxury were supplied by secret or open robbery (Hosea 4: 2; 10: 13; 11: 12; 4: 11; 7:5; 6: 4-6; Amos 4: l); oppression (Hosea 12: 7; Amos 3: 9-10); false dealing (Hoses, 12: 7; Amos 8: 5); perversion of justice (Hoses, 10: 5; Amos 2: 6, 7); grinding of the poor (Amos 2: 7, 8: 6).  Adultery was consecrated as an act of worship and religion (Hosea 4: 14).  The people, the king and the priests were all steeped in debauchery.  Corruption had spread everywhere; even the places once sacred through Jehovah’s revelation, Bethel, Gilgal, Gilead, Mizpah, Shechem, were special scenes of vileness and wickedness.  Remonstrance was useless for the knowledge of Jehovah was wilfully rejected; they hated rebuke.  To understand the message of Hosea and Amos these conditions, both religious and moral, must be fully understood.

 

 

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 Israel to cease;”  I will have no more mercy upon the house of Israel.”  They shall be wanderers among the nations;” – “They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land;” – “Israel is swallowed up; she shall be among the nations like a vessel in which is no pleasure.”  In the greater portion of his message there is an exposure of the people’s moral condition and their impenitent state.

 

 

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 own people Israel, in two expostulating with them (9: 1, 5); in two calling them to repentance (10: 12 and 12: 6).  In two other verses he addresses Judah, and foretells their judgment mingled with mercy (4: 13).  The last chapter alone is one of almost unmingled brightness; the prophet calls to repentance, and God in His own person accepts it, and promises large supply of grace.*

 

* 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 Israel.  Judah and Israel both will receive the promised blessing and glory in that day when the King comes back, when Ephraim joyfully cries out I have seen Him (14: 8).

 

 

The conditions in Israel also find their counterpart in our own times.  Christendom has turned its back in greater part upon the true worship, rejects the truth, yea the highest and the best God has given, the Gospel of Christ, hence the moral decline and apostasy and ere long a greater judgment than that which fell upon Israel.

 

 

-------

 

 

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 Judah is also mentioned by him.  The book begins with two symbolical actions commanded by Jehovah, to illustrate Israel’s adulterous condition and Jehovah’s enduring love for His people in spite of their faithlessness.  This is followed by a terse prophecy as to the condition of the people for many days and their return in the latter days (chapters 1 - 3).

 

 

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 Israel) and also upon Judah.  This is beheld by the prophet in a solemn vision (5: 8-15), followed by a brief prophecy as to what will take place when the remnant of Israel returns unto the Lord (6: 1-3).  Then the Lord reproves them for their inconstancy, their immorality, their lewd priests.  From chapter 7 to 13 we have similar remonstrances, with renewed announcements of the judgments on account of their wickedness, idolatries, leagues with heathen nations; the judgment is to be exile.  What is to be their lot is predicted.  This punishment is not to be delayed; it will, however, not destroy them, but purge them, leaving a remnant.  The last chapter is one of gracious promise of what will take place in the day of their return.  The division of this book is therefore twofold.

 

 

1. THE REJECTION OF ISRAEL AS AN ADULTEROUS WIFE AND HER FUTURE RECEPTION AND RESTORATION.  Chapters 1- 3.

 

 

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 ISRAEL AS THE ADULTEROUS WIFE; HER FUTURE RECEPTION AND RESTORATION

 

Chapters 1 - 3.

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

ISRAEL’S SIN AND PROMISE OF RESTORATION

 

 

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 Israel, yet he mentions but one of the kings of Israel, Jeroboam, while four kings of Judah are given in this introduction.  Inasmuch as Hosea long survived Jeroboam, the king of Israel, and the Judaic kings extend far beyond the time of the one Israelitish king, it has been alleged that the second part of the superscription does not harmonize with the first.  Such is not the case.  The superscription is made in this manner for some purpose.  Hosea marks his prophecy by the names of the kings of Judah, because in Judah the theocracy remained.  He mentions Jeroboam (the Second), whose reign ended in the fourteenth year of Uzziah, because he was the last king of Israel through whom God acted and vouchsafed help to the rival kingdom.  All the other kings of Israel who came after Jeroboam, by whom the Lord sent deliverance to the ten tribes (2 Kings 14: 27) were therefore recognized by the prophets of God; the kings which followed were robbers and murderers, whose names the Spirit of God finds unfit to mention in the prophetic ministry of Hosea.

 

 

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 unfaithfulness of Israel?  Did the prophet actually and literally enter into such an impure relationship, or, is it wholly an allegory?  Luther supposed that the prophet called his lawful wife and children by these names at a certain time to perform a kind of a drama before the people and thus remind them of their apostasy.  The objectors to the literalness of this incident, and defenders of the allegorical explanation, have pointed out that it would be unworthy of God to command and sanction such an unchaste union.  The allegorical meaning is entirely excluded by the text, which speaks of a literal transaction.  All is related as real history, the marriage and the birth of the children.  We quote first Dr. Pusey’s words in support of the literal meaning of this command by the Lord.

 

 

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 Israel’s unfaithfulness.  But Israel was not always unfaithful; she played not always the harlot.  Of necessity this had to be symbolized in the case of the prophet’s marriage.  The question then arises, was Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim an impure woman when Hosea married her, or did she become unchaste after her marriage to the prophet?  We believe the latter was the case.  The Hebrew does not require the meaning that she was impure at the time of the marriage; in fact, as already indicated, the supposition that Gomer lived the life of a harlot before her marriage to the godly prophet, destroys the parallelism, which the prophet’s message embodies, with the relation of God to Israel.  The expression a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms simply intimated to Hosea what the woman he married was going to be.  If not taken in this sense it would mean that Gomer had already children when Hosea married her.

 

 

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 Israel, married unto the Lord, but afterwards became the unfaithful wife.  With this view, the entire prophetic message of Hosea in the beginning of this book harmonizes.  The name of the woman is likewise suggestive.  Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, means “Completion - a double cake of figs.”  Israel’s wickedness is symbolized as complete and the double cake of figs is symbolical of sensual pleasures.  And the prophet in spite of her unfaithfulness still loved her and did not abandon her.  This illustrates Jehovah’s love for Israel.

 

 

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 Israel was to be scattered and sown among the nations.  Jezreel was the valley in which Jehu executed his bloody deeds.  On account of his hypocritical zeal, the blood of Jezreel is now to be avenged, and the kingdom of the house of Israel would cease.  Thus the name Jezreel (resembling in sound and form “Israel”) indicates the speedy end of Israel, scattered and sown among the nations, on account of their whoredoms (see Ezek. 23).

 

 

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 Israel and they were to be taken away utterly.

 

 

Then the house of Judah is mentioned.  They shall he saved by the Lord their God, because He has mercy on them.  Their salvation was not by bow, by sword, or by battle horses and horsemen.  It was only a little while later when the Assyrian, who was God’s instrument in the execution of judgment upon Israel, came before the gates of Jerusalem, but Jerusalem was saved in the manner as predicted here, not by bow or sword, but the angel of the Lord smote the army of 185,000 in one night.  And later Judah was saved and a remnant brought back from Babylon.  Then there is a future salvation for Judah in the end of the age.

 

 

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 Israel’s rejection and the withdrawal of God’s mercy.  That this is not to be permanent the next two verses make this clear.

 

 

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 Israel shall be reinstated; but it also means the call and salvation of the Gentiles, and Gentiles called in sovereign grace are to be constituted “the sons of the living God.”  It is a prophetic hint on the blessing to come to the Gentiles, and that blessing is greater than Israel’s.

 

 

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 Judah and Israel be gathered together under one head, and gather once more to their national feasts in the land.

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

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 Israel, those who obtained mercy, are addressed, for the Lord acknowledges such still as Ammi - my people.  The godly are to plead with the rest of Israel their mother, but who is disowned by Jehovah as the wife, on account of her adulterous conduct.  Then the Lord threatens her with severe punishment because of her unfaithfulness.  She is to be stripped naked and be as in the day she was born (see Ezek. 16: 4).  Nor would there be mercy for her children because the mother, Israel, continued to go after her lovers.

 

 

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 Israel practised) she would not find them.  Thus she might return to her first husband, to Jehovah.  Israel had received from the Lord corn, wine, oil, silver and gold.  Then they attributed it all to Baal and used it in idol worship.  In verses 9-13 the punishment is fully made known.  She is to be left alone; the gifts and blessings will he withdrawn; her lewdness is to be uncovered, all mirth will cease and the days of Baalim, spent in licentious worship, would be visited upon her in judgment

 

 

3. The Resumed Relationship and its Great Blessing: Verses 14-23.

 

 

Immediately after the announcement of her punishment follows the assurance of future mercy.  Israel’s conversion is promised (verses 14-17) and the great mercies of Jehovah’s covenant are to be renewed (verses 18-23).  The Lord of Love will not forever abandon His people and though Israel has played the harlot so long, with no willingness to return unto Him, He Himself in infinite love is going to woo her back.  He will allure her, as He brings her into the wilderness, and there speak to her heart (the Hebrew meaning).  That will be in the coming day when the Lord will remember the remnant of His people during the time of Jacob’s trouble and save them in that day.  Then she will get her vineyards, her place of blessing, promised to Israel as His earthly people.  The valley of Achor shall be the door of hope.  In that valley Achan died, on account of whom all Israel had fallen under the ban (Josh. 7).  There judgment had been enacted and after that blessing was restored to Israel and the ban was removed.  Achor means “troubling.”  When Israel is in that great trouble, the great tribulation, the valley of trouble will become the door of hope, for then the Lord will forgive them their sins, cover them with His grace and redeem them by His power.  Then the singing times begin again for Israel.  She shall sing there as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.”  Songs of praise on account of accomplished redemption by Jehovah’s power will then burst forth (Exod. 15; Isa. 12).  She will be fully restored to her former relationship, typified by marriage.  It shall be in that day, saith the Lord, that Thou shalt call Me Ishi (my husband), and shalt call Me no more Baali (my master).” She will be re-married to the Lord, symbolically speaking, and become the earthly wife of Jehovah, while the church [of the firstborn], the espoused virgin, becomes in glory the Lamb’s wife (Rev. 19: 6-8).

 

 

But greater blessing will be connected with that coming day of blessing, when Israel is received back (Rom. 11:15).  Verse 18 tells us that creation will then be blest; the time of its deliverance has come. Here the same is indicated as in Isaiah 11: 6-7 and Romans 8: 21.  The end of wars comes then and universal peace blesses the whole earth.  This is always the order in the divine forecasts.  First, Israel has to be brought back, and after that the blessings for the earth and the nations, including that peace, which the blinded world-church tries to secure without the Lord Jesus Christ.  All these promises as to the future of Israel, her restoration and spiritual blessings, are unrealized.  It is infatuation to think that all this was fully accomplished in the return of a remnant from the captivity.  The result is that even Christians, misled by this miserable error, are drawn away into the rationalistic impiety of counting God’s Word here mere hyperbole to heighten the effect, as if the Holy Spirit deigned to be a verbal trickster, or a prophet were as vain as a litterateur.  No; it is a brighter day, when the power of God will make a complete clearance from the world of disorder, misrule, man’s violence and corruption, as well as reduce to harmless and happy re-subjection the entire animal kingdom.”

 

 

In that day all the great covenant blessings will return to redeemed Israel.  Betrothed again to Jehovah in righteousness, in judgment, in faithfulness and mercies, Israel will know Jehovah.  There will be an uninterrupted line of blessing from the heavens down to every earthly blessing.  Heavens and earth will be gloriously united, and in answer to the call of His people the heavens will hear and cover all with blessing, for Satan’s power is now gone.  Israel is no more Lo-Ammi, but they will be His people and He will be their God,” while the redeemed nation itself will be a blessing in the earth.

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

 

ISRAEL’S PAST, PRESENT AND FUTUR

 

 

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 Israel.

 

* 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.  Israel’s spiritual adultery is in view in all this.

 

 

2. The Present: Verse 4.

 

 

Here we have direct prophecy, a very remarkable one, as to Israel’s present condition.  It is to be their state for many days.”  These many days,” un-reckoned, are the days of this present age, in which Israel is in the predicted condition, while God visits the Gentiles, to gather through the preaching of the Gospel a people for His Name, that is, the church.  Their condition is to be threefold:  Without a civil polity, without king or prince; without the appointed Levitical worship, no sacrifice; without the practice of idolatry, to which they had been given, without image, ephod and teraphim - the distinctly priestly garment, the ephod; the teraphim, the tutelary divinities, which they used before the captivity.  Before the captivity they had kings; now they have none, would have none; after the captivity Judah had princes; no princes during the many days.”  The real approach to God according to the Levitical service was to cease, for during the many days there would be no sacrifice.  This has been Israel’s condition for nineteen hundred years.  What a wonderful forecast of the present we have here!  Clearly then, this describes the present condition of Israel - the most anomalous spectacle the world has ever seen - a people who go on generation after generation without any of those things which are supposed to be essential for keeping a people in existence.  They have lost their king, their prince; they have neither the true worship nor the worship of idols.  They are unable to present a sacrifice, because they have no temple and no more priesthood.  Here is an evidence of the super-naturalness of the Bible, one which no Jew nor destructive critic can deny.

 

 

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 Israel* and] Christ.  Nearly all the rabbinical writers and expositors explain it in this way.  David himself this could not be.  It is He who is David’s Son and David’s Lord, our Lord (see Ezek. 30: 23, 24).  Here we have the prediction of the future conversion of Israel to the Lord, in the latter days, the days of His coming again.**

 

[* See Jer. 30: 9: they will serve the Lord their God and David their king;” it is not “the Lord their Godwho isDavid 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

 

 

CHAPTER 4

 

 

THE LORD’S CONTROVERSY WITH HIS PEOPLE

 

 

1. The Condition of the People.  1-5.

 

2. The Loss of Their Priestly Relation.  6-11.

 

3. Israel’s Idolatry.  12-19.

 

 

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 house of Israel, the ten tribes.  It was all the result of having rejected the Word of the Lord and having turned away from Him.  The result of unbelief, destructive criticism and denial of the truth is today, as it was then, swearing, lying, stealing, killing and the immoralities of our times.  Therefore judgment would overtake all, even the land itself.

 

 

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.

 

 

3. Israel’s Idolatry: Verses 12-19.

 

 

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 Judah in verse 15.  The most sacred places, like Gilgal, had become the scene of the idolatry of the ten tribes.  Bethel, the house of God, became a Beth-aven, the house of vanity.  If Judah offended and committed the same whoredoms, she would not escape judgment.  The warning was unheeded.

 

 

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 Israel and the house of the King.  Judgment was in store for them, for Mizpah and Tabor, the places of hallowed memory, had been turned by their idolatrous worship into a snare.  An old and interesting tradition among the Jews states that at Mizpah the apostates waited for those Israelites who went up to Jerusalem to worship there, to murder them.  The next verse seems to indicate something like this tradition.  And the apostates make slaughter deep; but I am a chastisement to them all* (see also chapter 6: 9).  And the Lord saw it all.  I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from Me.”  He knew the whoredoms of Ephraim and the defilement of Israel.  Their evil deeds kept them from returning to their God, for the demon of whoredoms had taken complete possession of them and it kept them in sin and rebellion.  Pride was the leading sin of Ephraim, it was to testify against them and both Israel and Ephraim would stumble on account of their guilt and Judah would share the same fate.  And though they go with their flocks of sheep and their herds, willing and ready to sacrifice, they shall not be able to find Him, for He hath withdrawn Himself.

 

* 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 of Judah have become, like the removers of landmarks: I will pour out upon them my wrath like water (verse 10).  A curse is pronounced in the law upon those who remove the landmarks (Deut. 27: 17).  Judah instead of taking warning from the disaster coming upon the northern kingdom, the ten tribes, sought gain by an enlargement of their own border.  The princes of Judah, instead of weeping over the calamity, rejoiced at the removal of Israel as the means of removing the boundary line and increase their estate.  Wrath was in store for Judah.  To Ephraim the Lord would be as a moth.  To the house of Judah He would be as rottenness.  The moth destroys.  Both terms, moth and rottenness, are symbols of destroying influences working against the house of Israel and the house of Judah (see Isa. 1: 9, 51: 8; Psalm 39: 11; Job 13: 28).  Then they turned to the Assyrian for help and to King Jareb.  But there was no help.  Jareb is not a proper name, it is an epithet applied to the king of Assyria and means “He will contend” or “He will plead the cause.”  Like a lion would be the Lord to Israel, and like a young lion to Judah.  The same symbolical language is used in Isaiah in connection with the Assyrian, the rod of God’s anger (Isa. 10).  Their roaring shall be like a lion, they shall roar like young lions; yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry it away safe, and none shall deliver it (Isa. 5: 29).  Thus judgment came upon them and they were carried away as a prey.  And like the lion after his attack withdraws to his den, so the Lord would withdraw from them, leave them and return to His place, waiting till their repentance comes and they seek Him early in their affliction.

 

 

The last verse of this chapter has a wider meaning than the past judgment which came upon the house of Israel.  The Lord of glory came to earth and visited His people.  He came with the message [of salvation] and offer of the kingdom to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  He came unto His own, but His own received Him not.  After they had rejected Him, delivered Him into the hands of the Gentiles to be crucified, He returned to His place.  There He is now at the right hand Of God, waiting for that day, when the remnant of Israel will repent and seek His face (see Acts 3: 19-20).  That will be in their coming great affliction, in the time of Jacob’s trouble.

 

 

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 remnant of Israel, that is, during the great Tribulation.  Believingly they will acknowledge His righteous judgment and express their faith and hope in His mercy and the promised blessings and restoration.  They express what their great prophet Moses so beautifully stated in His prophetic song, that great vision given to him, ere he went to the mountain to die.  See now that I, even I, am He and there is no god with Me; I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand (Deut. 32: 29).  After two days [two thousand years] will He revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight (literally, before His face).”  They have been dead spiritually and nationally, but when the two days of their blindness and dispersion are over, there is coming for them the third day of life and resurrection.  Jewish expositors have pointed out the fact that a day is with the Lord as a thousand years.  They state that they will be in dispersion for two days, that is, two thousand years, after which comes the third day of Israel’s glorious restoration.  One Rabbinical commentator says: “The first day we were without life in the Babylonian captivity, and the second day, which will also end, is the great captivity in which we are now, and the third day is the great day of our restoration.”  Like Jonah was given up by the fish on the third day, so comes for Israel a third day [i.e., a third one-thousand-year day] of life and glory.  Then the latter and the former rain will fall upon their land again, and, blest by Him, their Saviour-King, they will live in His sight.  But the passage, no doubt, also points to the resurrection of our Lord; [and, at the time of His return, the resurrection of the holy dead from ‘Sheol’ / ‘Hades’ - the underworld of the souls of the dead]* the true Israel in a hidden way.

 

[* 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 Eden had been given to him.  He transgressed, and after his fall he was driven out.  This happened to Israel.  Called of God, who entered with them into a covenant and gave them the land of promise, but when they transgressed, like Adam, they were also driven out.*  Iniquity and blood was everywhere. Even the priests lurked as a band of robbers and murdered the travellers on the way to Shechem, one of the cities of refuge. **

 

* Attention 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.  Israel was under the law, which they broke and became transgressors.  But no covenant existed with the Gentiles, nor had they the law given to them; hence while they are lost sinners, they are not called transgressors in the sense in which the covenant people are called transgressors.

 

** Note correct translation: “Upon the way they murder (those who go) to Shechem” (verse 9).

 

 

The horrible thing was that Israel was steeped in whoredoms; they were not only spiritually adulterers, but following the idol worship they lived in literal harlotry and lewdness.  Judah, too, would get a harvest.  But the final sentence of this chapter, When I return the captivity of My people,” is a prophecy, not concerning the return from Babylon, but that other great restoration which is yet to come.  Looked upon in this light the entire verse is prophetic.  For thee, also, Judah a harvest waits, when I shall turn the captivity of My people.”  When God restores His people in His promised covenant mercies then Judah will be visited by judgment as it will be in the end of this age.

 

 

CHAPTER 7

 

 

THE MORAL DEPRAVITY OF ISRAEL

 

 

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 Israel resulted in a greater manifestation of the iniquity of Ephraim.  Instead of turning to Him in true repentance and self-judgment their evil heart turned away from Jehovah, and they continued in their downward course.  They did not consider that the Lord would remember all their evil deeds and punish them for it.  The king and the princes, the political heads were as corrupt as the priests, they were pleased with the impenitence and wickedness of their subjects.  Then follows a graphic description of their moral depravity.  They were adulterers, burning with lust, like an oven heated by the baker, who rests, stirring up (the fire), after he has kneaded the dough until it be leavened.”  They indulged in all the vile, obscene practices connected with the idol worship of the heathen about them.  They were also drunkards and were heated with wine as they were with lust.  They made their heart like an oven; their baker (meaning their own evil will and imagination) slept all night, but, awakening in the morning, their lust is stirred up again.  Nor did anyone call upon the name of the Lord.

 

 

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 Israel is repeated in professing Christendom today.

 

 

1.  Mingling with Heathen Nations: Verses 8-16.

 

 

The Lord called Israel to be a separated nation, but Ephraim mingled with the heathen (not, people) and is compared to a cake not turned.  They adopted heathen ways, heathen manners and heathen vices.  Like an unturned cake, which is black and burnt on the one side, while above it is unbaked, such was Ephraim’s condition.  Such a cake was fit for nothing; it had to be thrown away.  The strangers with whom they mingled devoured their strength, nor did they not notice the signs of their speedy national decay.  This is the meaning of the statement, Gray hairs are here and there upon him, and he does not know it.”  Furthermore, Ephraim is likened to a silly dove without understanding.  Instead of flying back to Jehovah their help and rest, they fluttered, like a moth around the flame, around Egypt and Assyria, trying to find deliverance there.  But while fluttering from Egypt to Assyria and from Assyria to Egypt, they did not see the net which was spread for their destruction - that net was Assyria itself.  In this net the Lord caught them; their freedom would be ended and captivity begin.  Then follows the divine Woe.  Woe unto them! for they have wandered from Me.  Destruction upon them, that they have transgressed against Me!”  The divine lament cried after them, I would have redeemed them. but they spoke lies against Me.”  While they may have cried with their mouth, their heart did not.  They were like a deceitful bow on which the archer cannot depend, so the Lord could not depend upon Israel.  God had, to apply the symbol, bent Israel as His own bow against evil and idolatry, but they turned themselves against Him.

 

 

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 Judah), but Israel as the chosen people was the house, the dwelling-place of the Lord.  All their spurious profession, their false claim, My God, we know Thee, we, Israel,” will go for nothing, because they transgressed the covenant and the law.  The obnoxious thing they did is stated in verse 4.  They had separated themselves from Judah and chosen their own kings and princes in self-will, thus putting themselves outside of the theocracy; idolatry speedily followed.  In Bethel they had erected the worship of the calf, the great abomination in the sight of the Lord.  He rejects their corrupt worship, and ere long the calf of Samaria will be broken to pieces, like the golden calf their fathers made in the wilderness.  They sowed the wind and the whirlwind would be the harvest (see chapter 10: 13, 12: 9; Job 4: 8; Prov. 22: 8).  They sowed vanity and evil; the tempest of destruction would be their reaping. What they sowed would not yield fruit at all.  The Hebrew contains a play of words, “Tsemach brings no Quemach,” which may be rendered, “shoot brings no fruit.”

 

 

2. The Apostasy which Resulted in Judgment: Verses 8-14.

 

 

Israel had been swallowed up by the nations, that is, by mingling with them.  By their doings they have become like a despised vessel.  Their sin was going up to Assyria, like a wild ass, suing there for love and favour.  They were like a stubborn brute going there by itself.  Ephraim was even worse than the stubborn ass.  They formed unnatural alliances with the Gentiles.  There they gave presents, hiring lovers, literally rendered, Ephraim gave presents of love to practice her whoredoms.  They forgot their Creator, God; their sacrifices Jehovah despised.  Therefore the judgment.

 

 

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 Egypt will gather them, Memphis will bury them.”  Their precious things of silver will give way to thistles and thorns.  The day of visitation was at hand; their iniquities are remembered and their sins will be visited.

 

 

CHAPTER 9: 10 - 11:11

 

 

RETROSPECT.  ISRAEL’S FAILURE AND RUIN

 

 

1. Israel Once Beloved Now Fugitive Wanderers.  10-17.

 

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.

 

 

1. Israel Once Beloved, but Wanderers Now: Verses 10-17.

 

 

Like a wayfaring man who finds grapes and figs in the desert and delights in them, so the Lord found Israel in the desert and they were His pleasure when He led them out of Egypt.  But they requited His love by going after Baal-Peor, one of the filthiest gods of heathendom.  To this they consecrated themselves and practice their vile abominations.  Therefore the glory which He had given to His people will fly away like a bird and their licentious worship of unnatural vices would avenge itself so that there would be no pregnancy and no birth; the promised increase would stop.  It seems verses 14-17 are an outburst of the Prophet.  How literally the sentence has been fulfilled.  They will be wanderers.”

 

 

2. Their Guilt and Punishment: Chapter 10: 1-11.

 

 

Here is another retrospect, Israel once called to be a thriving vine (not empty), called to be fruitful; but Israel did not bring forth the expected fruit.  As the nation abounded and prospered they increased their idol altars; as the land yielded its increase in the same measure they made their images.  Their heart was smooth, or deceitful, for this they will now have to suffer.  Their heart is smooth; now will they make expiation.”  They will have no more king.  The smooth or deceitful heart is described in verse 4, while in the verse which follows the judgment upon their calves they worshipped is announced.  It, the calf, will be carried to Assyria to be made a present of to the king.  The high places will be destroyed and thorns and thistles will overgrow its altars.  Then they will say to the mountains, Cover us!” and to the hills, Fall upon us!”  Well, it is to read in connection with this prophetic statement what our Lord said about the judgment of Jerusalem in Luke 23: 30 and what is written in connection with the breaking of the sixth seal in Revelation 6: 16.

 

 

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 Israel.  And the nations will gather themselves against them, when I bind them for their offences (verse 10, literal translation).

 

 

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 Israel will seek the Lord; then He will come and rain righteousness upon them.

 

 

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 Bethel done to you, for the evil of your great evil.  In the early morning the king of Israel shall be utterly cut off.”  Bethel was the seat of Israel’s idolatry, it drew God’s wrath and finally ended the monarchy in Israel and their national existence.

 

 

4.  The Mercy of a Merciful God: Chapter 11: 1-11.

 

 

This chapter starts with a beautiful allusion to Israel’s youth, when in sovereign love He called Israel, His firstborn Son, out of Egypt, redeeming them by blood and power (Exod. 4: 22, 23).  But this passage is quoted in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son (Matt. 2: 15).  The blending together of Israel and Christ is very interesting.  Christ is the true Israel and goes through the entire history of the nation, without failure and in divine perfection.  He was carried as an infant into the land where Israel suffered in the fiery furnace; and finally He died for that nation and in some future day through Him, the true Israel (called such in Isa. 9), Israel’s great future and glory will come to pass.

 

 

But while the Son of God, the true Israel, was perfect and holy in all His ways, Israel was unfaithful.  This record of Jehovah’s faithfulness and mercy is here unfolded.  He sent them prophets who called them, but they turned away from Him and gave themselves over to the Baalim and the idol-gods.  How loving He had been to them!  He led them, took them into His arms and healed them.  He drew them with cords of love and was towards them as those that would raise the yoke-strap over their jaws, and I reached out to them to eat (verse 4).  It is a beautiful picture of His great gentleness with them.  Perhaps some of them were anxious to turn to Egypt and find a home there and thus escape the cruel Assyrian.  But the Lord declares that they shall not return to Egypt, but Assyria is to be their king, because they refused to return.  The sword of judgment would do its work completely (verses 6-7).  Then follows a most wonderful outburst of deepest sorrow over the stubborn nation:

 

 

How should I give you up, Ephraim?

How shall I surrender thee, Israel?

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 Judah.”  Then, in that day, like a bird from Egypt they will hasten back and like a dove from Assyria.  Then will I make them dwell in their houses, saith the Lord.”  Here is another prophecy of their restoration to their own, God-given home land.

 

 

CHAPTER 11: 12 - 12

 

 

THE INDICTMENT

 

 

1. Ephraim’s Indictment.  Chapter 11:12 – 12: 2.

 

2. Remembrance of the Past.  3-6.

 

3. What Israel Had Become.  7-14.

 

 

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 Judah still outwardly cleaved to Jehovah, though it was in a rambling way.  The word translated ruleth means rambling.  The better rendering of the sentence is and Judah is also rambling towards God (or unbridled against Him) and towards the faithful Holy One.”  But while outwardly Judah seemed to be all right, Ephraim fed on wind, was occupied with the vain, the empty things, increased in lies and desolation and turned to Assyria and Egypt for help, sending as a present olive oil to the latter and making a covenant with the former (see 2 Kings 17: 4).  Then the mask is torn from Judah’s face.  The Lord had a controversy with them also and would repay them according to their evil deeds.

 

 

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 Bethel!”  In the very place where the Lord found Jacob and Jacob found the Lord, they had set up their awful, God-defying idol worship.  Where God had shown such mercy there they practised now their abominations. Jehovah, the God of hosts, was still the same.  He is the Lord who changes not.  He was waiting still for their return.  To such a God, who keeps His covenant promises they were urged to return and prove their true return by keeping mercy and justice and by waiting on Jehovah continually.  But the call of grace and mercy was unheeded.

 

 

3. What Israel Had Become: Verses 7‑14.

 

 

The Lord calls apostate Israel a merchant, that is in Hebrew “Canaan” (Canaan means traffic; see Ezek. 17: 4).  They had become Canaanites with the balances of deceit, loving to oppress.  They had become fraudulent merchants, by cheating and oppression.  Their wrong attitude towards Jehovah, having forsaken Him, led to a wrong attitude towards their fellow-men.  Instead of repenting they boasted, I am become rich, I have found me out substance.”  They were breaking the law continually (see Lev. 19: 36 and Deut. 25: 13-16).  Yet in all their lawbreaking they prided themselves of being a righteous nation.  In all my labours they shall find no iniquity in me that were sin.”  How all this fits a good part of the Jews today is to well known to need further comment.

 

 

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 Egypt; all their blessing and prosperity they owed to Him; He had guided and preserved them, and all their sinning would not diminish His faithfulness to them.  They are going to dwell again some day in tents, a reference to the feast of tabernacles, that great feast which typifies the coming millennial blessings for restored Israel.  Such had been the continued testimony of the prophets He had sent, who announced the coming judgments and the final blessings in a future day. But now everything was ruin on account of their idolatry.  Gilgal was the seat of a part of their idolatry (chapter 4:15, 9: 15).  Then once more they are reminded of their progenitor Jacob.  He fled before Esau his brother, yet though he was weak he served faithfully for a wife and for a wife he kept guard and Jehovah guarded and blest him.  So He would concern Himself with them again.  The twenty-sixth chapter of Deuteronomy throws light on this passage.  But what was Ephraim’s condition? Instead of acknowledging all Jehovah had done for Jacob and his offspring they provoked Him to bitter anger, therefore the Lord would punish them.

 

 

CHAPTER 13

 

 

EPHRAIM’S RUIN AND JUDGMENT

 

 

1. Ruin and Judgment.  1-8.

 

2. It is Thy Destruction, 0 Israel!  9-11.

 

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 Israel, loving the pre-eminence, it led on to the schism from Judah and the house of David.  The next step after this separation from Judah was idolatry, then the dying of the nation began.  This sad history of Ephraim, revealing the steps of decline, beginning with self-exaltation and ending in ruin and death, has often been repeated in the individual history of countless multitudes among the professing people of God.

 

 

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 Beersheba to the golden calves (Amos 8: 14).  Then the judgment is announced.  Just as the rising sun quickly disperses the morning clouds and the dew, so they should pass away (see chapter 6: 4).  They would be like the chaff driven with a whirlwind out of the threshing floor (Psa. 1: 4; 35: 5; Isa. 17: 13, 41: 15-16); they would be like the quickly evaporating smoke, which comes out of the windows of a house without a chimney.

 

 

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 Israel: Verses 9-11.

 

 

It is thy destruction, 0 Israel, that thou art against Me, against thy help.”  What they had done in lifting themselves up, in forsaking Jehovah was spiritual and national suicide.  They were alone responsible for their destruction.  Where was their King to save them out of such ruin and destruction? The house of David with which the covenant had been made they had forsaken.  He reminds them again of an episode in their past history, when they, their fathers, were rebellious and asked for a king.  Such kings like Saul had been their kings which reigned over the ten tribes.

 

 

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 hell).  Israel will be raised from its national death-sleep.  Long she has been buried among the nations, without spiritual and national life, like those who are in the power of Sheol.  But Jehovah will deliver the faithful portion of Israel and Judah, and they will rise from the dust of the earth, the symbol of their national restoration.*  To use this passage, as it has been done, to teach the restitution of the wicked, is wrong.  It has nothing to do with the wicked dead and their future, but all applies to the restoration of Israel (see the annotations of chapters 16 and 37 of the Prophet Ezekiel).

 

[* 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).

 

 

CHAPTER 14

 

 

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 remnant of Israel will take these gracious exhortations to heart, and before the glorious redemption is given to them return to the Lord with this prayer.

 

 

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 coming for Israel in that day when they return unto Him and He appears in His Glory to be enthroned as King.  It will usher in the singing times for all the world, including groaning creation, then delivered [Rom. 8: 19-22].  Then follows the evidence of their genuine repentance.  It is expressed in words suited to the condition of Ephraim in Hosea’s day.  They repudiate Assyria; they acknowledge that no salvation is there, but only in Jehovah.  No longer will they trust in their own strength and in the strength of their horses; no longer will they turn to idols and call them “Our God,” but they will acknowledge Him in whom the fatherless findeth mercy.  Israel, God’s Firstborn son, had been the prodigal, was fatherless, though the Father’s love never gave them up.  But now the prodigal returns and knows there is One in whom the fatherless findeth abundant mercy.  All this true repentance will be manifested at the close of this age, when the remnant of Israel turns to the Lord.

 

 

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 Israel.  They are arranged in a most blessed order.  Mercy, love and gracious refreshment resulting in fruitfulness and beauty, such is the order.  The past is wiped out, the present is love and the future is glory.  Like the lily, like Lebanon and like the olive-tree, Israel is to be.  The lily denotes beauty; they will be clad in the beauty of holiness. Lebanon stands for strength and stability; they will become the nation of power which can never be moved.  Then they shall be once more the olive-tree; the broken off branches will be put back (Rom. 11: 16, etc.).  The blessings of the restored Israel in the millennium are given in the seventh verse.

 

 

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 Israel will look on Him whom they pierced, the great turning point in their future history.  Then the nation will yield the fruit through their fellowship with Him.  Blessed ending of the prophecy.  For the ways of Jehovah are right, and the just shall walk in them; but the transgressors shall fall therein.”

 

 

*       *       *

 

 

2

The Prophet Joel

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

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 Judah.  The entire prophecy bears witness to it; this fact has never been disputed.  It is different with the date of Joel.  Destructive criticism has assigned to Joel a post-exilic date, with some very puerile arguments.  For instance they claim that the mention of the walls of Jerusalem (chapter 11: 7, 9), point to a date after Ezra and Nehemiah.  Such an argument is not an argument of a scholar, but of a schoolboy.  Critics also object to an early date because the Greeks are mentioned in chapter 3: 6.  But the Greeks are also mentioned in an inscription of Sargon (about 710 B. C.), and long before that in the Armana letters a Greek is also mentioned, as stated in “Higher Criticism and the Monuments” by Professor Sayee.

 

 

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 Oxford, one of the greatest scholars of our times, wrote in a personal letter to the writer: “Let me thank you heartily for your very interesting exposition of Joel.  I am glad to see a work of the kind on conservative lines; the attempts to find a late date for the prophet rests on arguments which to the inductive scientist are no arguments at all.”  This strong statement and endorsement of a very early date for Joel certainly outweighs the arguments of certain critics who possess nothing like the scholarship of the Oxford professor.

 

 

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 Judah, captured the inhabitants, and sold them as slaves.  Now, according to 2 Chron. 21: 10, this happened under Joram, B. C. 889-883.  And they suffered the punishment predicted for their crime, under Uzziah, 2 Chron. 26: 6.  Hence Joel could not have written this book before B. C. 889, nor later than 732.

 

 

2. The Phoenicians, i.e., those of Tyre and Sidon, who in the days of David and Solomon were the allies, had in later times become the enemies of Judah.  They too had been guilty of selling Jewish prisoners to the Grecians.  Joel predicts that they also shall be punished for this crime a prediction fulfilled in the time of Uzziah, B. C. 811-759.  This proves that Joel must have prophesied before the days of Uzziah.

 

 

3. The Edomites (3: 19), are ranked among the enemies of Judah.  They came from the same stock as the Jews, and on account of their sin against their brethren, their country was to become a perpetual desolation.  From 2 Kings 8: 20, comp. with 2 Chron. 21: 8, we learn that they became independent of Judah in the time of Joram, B. C. 889-883.  They were again subdued, and their capital city Petra captured, B. C. 838-811, though the southern and eastern parts of their territory were not conquered until the reign of Uzziah, about B. C. 830.  The prophet must have exercised his ministry, therefore, prior to the latter date.

 

 

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 Valley of Jehoshaphat is a circumstance leading to the same conclusion.  It took this name from the memorable victory there gained over Moab and Ammon.  The way in which Joel refers to it shows that this event must have been a comparatively recent one, and that the memory of it was still fresh.

 

 

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 Israel’s restoration and blessing in the day of the Lord.  The style of the brief prophecy is sublime.  To show its beauty we give a corrected metric version.  It must be read through several times to the full, grasp its vivid descriptions, the terse and solemn utterances smooth phrases, and above all the revelation it contains.  His utterances are distinguished by the soaring flight of imagination, the originality, beauty and variety of the similes.  The conceptions are simple enough, but they are at the same time bold and grand.  The perfect order in which they are arranged, the even flow, the well compacted structure of the prophecy are all remarkable.

 

 

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 Israel are judged, when the Lord restores and redeems Israel.

 

 

The occasion of the book and prophecy of Joel was a dreadful scourge which swept over the land of Israel.  Locusts swarms had fallen upon the land and stripped it of everything green.  There was also a great drought.  All was a chastisement from the Lord.  Hence we see in the first chapter the penitential lamentations of old and young, priests and people.  Then the vision widens in the second chapter.  The locusts appear no longer as a scourge of literal insects; they become typical of an invading army.  This hostile army invades the land from the North and makes the land a wilderness.  The alarm is sounded in Zion; the repentance of the people follows.  Then comes the great change in this picture of desolation and despair.  The day of the Lord is announced.  He acts in behalf of His people.  He delivers them from the Northern Army; He restores what the locusts had devoured; the land is restored and the latter rain is given.  At the close of the second chapter stands the prophecy which predicts spiritual blessings through the outpouring of the Spirit of God upon all flesh, a prophecy which has not yet been completely fulfilled, which is not now in process of fulfilment, but which will be accomplished in the day of the Lord.  The last chapter is the great finale of this symphony of Prophecy.  Here the judgment of the nations is vividly portrayed; what the day of the Lord will bring, and what will follow in blessing is the final theme.

 

 

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

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

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.

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

 

1.  Blow the trumpet in Zion,

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.

 

15.  Blow the trumpet in Zion,

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 Zion, be glad and rejoice

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 Israel,

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

For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance.

As Jehovah hath said,

Even for the remnant whom Jehovah shall call.

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

 

1.  For behold in those days and in that time,

When I shall bring back the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem;

 

2.  I will also bring together all nations,

And will bring down into the valley of Jehoshaphat;

And there will I judge them on account of my people,

And my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations,

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.

 

4.  Yea also, what have ye to do with me, 0 Tyre and Sidon,

And all the borders of Philistia?

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 Judah and of Jerusalem,

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 of Judah.

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,

O,Jehovah!

 

12.  Let the nations arise and come up

To the valley of Jehoshaphat,

For there will I sit to judge all the nations round about.

 

13.  Put in the sickle

For the harvest is ripe;

Come -Tread!

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 roar from Zion,

And send forth His voice from Jerusalem;

And the heavens and the earth shall shake;

But Jehovah will be a refuge for His people

And a fortress for the sons of Israel.

 

17.  And ye shall know that I, Jehovah, your God,

Dwell in Zion, my holy mountain;

And Jerusalem shall be holy,

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 Judah shall be full with waters,

And a fountain shall come forth from the house of Jehovah,

And shall water the valley of Shittim.

 

19.  Egypt shall be a desolation

And Edom shall be a desolate wilderness.

For their violence against the children of Judah,

Because they shed innocent blood in their land.

 

20.  But Judah shall abide forever.

And Jerusalem from generation to generation.

 

21.  And I will purge them from the blood

From which I had not purged them.

And Jehovah will dwell in Zion.

 

 

-------

 

 

Analysis and Annotations

 

Chapter 1

 

 

 

1. THE PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS.

 

 

2. THE COMING DAY OF THE LORD; THE RUIN,

THE REPENTANCE AND THE RESTORATION.

 

 

Chapter 2

 

 

THE EVENTS OF THE DAY OF THE LORD; ISRAEL’S ENEMIES JUDGED;

THE KINGDOM ESTABLISHED.

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

THE PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

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 Suffering Land. 15-18.

 

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 Israel’s land bare was a judgment from the Lord.  It was one of the judgments the Lord sent upon Egypt, and Moses had prophetically announced that the Lord would use them to punish his people (see Deut. 28: 38, 42).

 

 

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 Israel’s history to bring judgment upon the land and the people.  They are typical of Gentile armies, as stated in the second chapter, where the Lord calls them “My great army.”  Here is unquestionably a prophetic forecast as to the future of the land.  From Daniel’s prophecy we learn twice that four world-powers should subjugate Israel and prey upon the land: Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Graeco-Macedonia and Rome.  Zechariah, also, in one of his night visions, beheld four horns, and these four horns scattered Judah and Jerusalem.  We see, therefore, in the locusts, first, the literal locusts which destroyed everything in vegetation at the time Joel lived, and these locusts are symbolical of future judgments executed upon the land and the nations by the prophetically announced world-powers.  At the close of the times of the Gentiles,” during which Jerusalem is trodden down, the final invasion of the land takes place; it is this which is described in the second chapter.

 

 

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 people Israel, especially in the days of their prosperity, may be learned from Amos 6:1-6; Isa. 5: 11, 24: 7-9, 28: 7, etc.  In verse 6 the locusts are described as a nation, mighty without number, with lion’s teeth.  This confirms the typical application to Gentile nations of the future who would devastate the land.  See, furthermore, Numbers 13: 33, Isaiah 40: 22 and Jeremiah 51: 14, where the same comparison is made.

 

 

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.  Israel in her relationship to Jehovah is here indicated.  We are reminded of Isaiah 3: 26 concerning Jerusalem, “And her gates shall lament and mourn, and she, being desolate, shall sit on the ground;” and Isaiah 54: 6, For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.”  So great was the havoc wrought that the meal and drink offering was cut off from the house of the Lord so that the priests mourned, the servants of Jehovah.  This is their mournful chant:

 

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 Israel.

 

 

4.  The Day of the Lord. The Suffering Land: Verses 15-18.

 

 

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.

THE REPENTANCE AND RESTORATION OF ISRAEL.

 

CHAPTER 2

 

 

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 Mount Zion and Jerusalem. 32.

 

 

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 Jerusalem the great kingdom-centre blessings will extend to all the nations.

 

 

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 people Israel must be restored to the land of promise and the ancient ceremonies and institutions be at least partially restored.

 

 

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 Israel.  In the second verse the day is described and may be compared with Zephaniah 1: 15-16 and Isaiah 60: 2.  Then there is an invading army announced which is fully described in the verses which follow.  The words, As the dawn spread upon the mountains,” are a description of the day and not of the army, as some have taken it.  On the one hand the day of the Lord is a day of darkness and gloom, on the other hand it is like the dawn spread upon mountains.”  After the darkness, the morning light will break the morning without clouds (2 Sam. 23: 4).

 

 

2. The Invading Army from the North: Verses 3-11.

 

 

Many armies in past history have occupied the land of Israel and wasted it, but here is the coming great invasion from the North.  This invasion is mentioned in the Prophet Isaiah also.  The Assyrian who came in Isaiah’s day to take Jerusalem is the type of the final Assyrian who threatens the land and the people with destruction.  He is also prefigured by Antiochus Epiphanes, who came into the land of Israel as the predicted little horn, rising from one of the divisions of the Graeco-Macedonian Empire (Dan. 8*).

 

* 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 Israel’s enemies finds the land like the garden of Eden; it has been restored through political Zionism, irrigated and cultivated.  The Jews are at it now, determined to make Palestine the garden-spot of the world, their Eden, as it has been said.  Then comes the rude awakening.  They thought themselves safe; they dreamed that their plans they had made without trusting in the Lord and without true repentance, had fully succeeded.  But now the greatest trouble of their long history of blood and tears is at hand.  The land is once more stripped of its beauty.

 

 

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 Jerusalem was trodden down by the Gentiles.  The times of the Gentiles terminated in Jacob’s trouble, out of which they are to be saved (Jer. 30: 4).  We saw their great repentance.  Here is the answer from above.  When their power is completely gone (Deut. 32: 36), then will the Lord be jealous for His land and pity His people.  Often this little word then is found in the prophetic Word marking the great change, from Israel’s past judgments and rejection to deliverance and glory.  The following passages should be carefully examined and compared with the 18th verse here: Isa. 14: 25, 24: 23, 32: 16, 35: 5-6, 58: 8, 14, 60: 5, 66: 12; Ezek. 38: 25-26, etc.

 

 

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 Jerusalem (Zech. 14: 3-4).  When the Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear in glory (Psa. 102: 16).  The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man, He shall stir up jealousy like a man of war; He shall cry, yea, roar; He shall prevail against His enemies (Isa. 42: 13).

 

 

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 Zion, which does not mean a spiritual Zion, but God’s only true Zion.  The early and the latter rain is restored to the land.  Of late this term, too, has been strangely misapplied.  It has been claimed that the early and latter rain mean spiritual blessing.  The early rain, it is said, means the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, and the latter rain, these deluded people tell us, is another Pentecost, a greater manifestation of the Spirit.  This latter rain, they teach, consists, according to their conception, in a restoration of “pentecostal gifts” and is especially evidenced in making strange sounds, which, it is claimed, is the original gift of tongues.  This unscriptural teaching has led to all kinds of fanaticism and worse things than that.

 

 

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 Jerusalem, which followed the day of Pentecost.  The spiritualizing method has been fully brought into play to overcome the difficulties the 30th and 31st verses raise.  The terrible day of Jehovah, it is claimed, is the destruction of Jerusalem.  Thus we read in the commentary of Patrick and Lowth: “This (verse 30) and the following verse principally point out the destruction of the city and the temple of Jerusalem by the Romans, a judgment justly inflicted upon the Jewish nation for their resisting the Holy Spirit and contempt of the means of grace.”  We quote another leading commentator on Joel 2: 30, Dr. Clarke.  He states: “This refers to the fearful sights, dreadful portents and destructive commotions by which the Jewish polity was finally overthrown, and the Christian religion finally established in the Roman empire. See how our Lord applies this prophecy in Matthew 24: 29 and the parallel texts.”  And in verse 31 (“the sun shall be turned into darkness”) Clarke says “it means the Jewish polity, civil and ecclesiastical, shall be entirely destroyed.”  Others give these words the same spiritualized meaning.  These learned doctors tell us that Joel 2: 30 and 31 relates to the destruction of the nation, and the civil and ecclesiastical polity of the Jews!  This is a fair example of the havoc which a Bible interpretation makes, which ignores the great dispensational facts revealed in the Word of God.  But inasmuch as the 32nd  verse, the last verse in this second chapter of Joel, reveals that there shall be deliverance in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem after these signs and wonders, and the continuation of the prophecy in the third chapter shows the judgment of the enemies of the people Israel, God’s ancient people, such interpretations appear at once as fundamentally wrong.

 

 

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 restoration of Israel.  The promises which are Israel’s (Rom. 9: 4) may be grouped into two classes, those which pertain to the land, earthly blessings and supremacy over the nations, and spiritual blessings, such as knowing the Lord, walking in His ways, being a kingdom of priests and prophets.  The earthly blessings are accomplished by the power of Jehovah when He is manifested as their deliverer and the spiritual blessings will be conferred upon them by the outpouring of the Spirit.

 

 

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 Mount Zion and Jerusalem: Verse 32.

 

 

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;

ISRAEL’S ENEMIES JUDGED; THE KINGDOM ESTABLISHED.

 

CHAPTER 3

 

 

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 Judah and Jerusalem is brought back. Clearly then up to this time this cannot yet have been, for the captivity of His people is not yet ended. They are still scattered in the great dispersion among the nations of the earth.  The time is future when the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem is brought back.  Israel, the ten tribes are not mentioned here, but they are included in the prophecy; they will likewise be brought back.  Joel only mentions Judah, because His prophecy was addressed to Judah and Jerusalem.  The captivity, or dispersion, which is the same thing, of the people Israel will not end till divine power accomplishes it according to the many promises in the Word of God.  And when at last the heavens are silent no longer and Jehovah in His power begins to fulfil His promises and their captivity ends, it will mean judgment for the nations.

 

 

It is Jehovah Himself who speaks, what He is going to do in that day, when He arises and has mercy on Zion.  I will also bring together all nations and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat.”  How the Lord will bring these nations together and then accomplish His purpose is revealed in verses 9-12.  We therefore pass it by for the present till we reach the second part of this chapter.  But here is also the place mentioned where this great judgment of nations will be executed.  It will be in the valley of Jehoshaphat.  The word means translated “Jehovah judges.”  This name occurs elsewhere in the Word of God.  King Jehu was the son of Jehoshaphat and he was the son of Nimshi (2 Kings 9: 2).  Significant names of the King who had to judge, for Jehu means “He is Jehovah;” Jehoshaphat, “Jehovah judges;” Nimshi. “Jehovah reveals.”

 

 

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 valley of Jehoshaphat, but it was called Berachah,” that is blessing.  We mention this for some expositors have claimed that the place where King Jehoshaphat brought judgment upon these nations is the valley of which Joel speaks.

 

 

The valley of Jehoshaphat must be looked for in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem.  It is generally placed in the valley of the Kidron on the East of Jerusalem.  It may not yet be in existence.  In Zechariah 14 we read of the same events which are here predicted.  When the Lord appears His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives in that day.  The Mount of Olives will then cleave in the midst and there will be formed a very great valley (Zech. 14: 4).  This great valley may be the valley where the Lord judges the nations.

 

 

In the valley of Jehoshaphat the Lord will deal with the nations and His judgment will be on account of His people and heritage Israel.  The nations scattered them and divided His land.  They treated His people like slaves, casting lots for His people, sold a girl for wine and drank it.

 

 

The great sin of the nations, the Gentile world-powers, is the sin against Israel.  This is repeatedly mentioned by God’s prophets.  The foundation of the judgment of the nations of which our Lord speaks in Matthew 25 is likewise the treatment of the Jew.  Read also Psalms 79: l-3, 83: 1-6; Isaiah 29: l-8; 34: 1-3; Jeremiah 25: 13-17; Zechariah 1: 14-15, 12: 2, 3.

 

 

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 Tyre and Sidon.  But these words were fulfilled during the Babylonian captivity and in that great dispersion which was brought about by the Roman Empire.  After the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 the very thing happened spoken by the prophet.  Nearly a million and a half of human beings perished in Jerusalem and the land in that awful warfare.  Over 100,000 were taken prisoners.  These hundred thousand Jews were disposed by Titus according to Josephus in the following manner: “Those under seventeen years of age were publicly sold; of the remainder, some were executed immediately, some sent away to work in the Egyptian mines (which was worse than death), some kept for public shows to fight with wild beasts in all the chief cities; only the tallest and most handsome were kept for the triumphal procession in Rome.”  Jews were sold for so small a price as a measure of barley; thousands were thus disposed of.  And what else could we add from the history of centuries, the cruel and terrible persecutions God’s heritage suffered, the thousands and tens of thousands massacred, tortured, outraged and sold as slaves.  Have we not beheld but recently similar horrors in Russia?  And that history is not yet finished.  Outbreaks of hatred against the heritage Israel are still to come and the time of Jacob’s trouble soon to come will eclipse all their former suffering.  It will be a time of trouble such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now nor ever shall be (Matt. 24: 21).  The day will come when the Lord will judge the nations for the evil they have done.

 

 

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,

0 Jehovah!

 

 

The Lord speaking:

 

 

Let the nations arise and come up

To the valley of Jehoshaphat,

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;

Come -Tread!

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 Zion

And send forth His voice from Jerusalem;

And the heavens and the earth shall shake;

But Jehovah will be a refuge for His people

And a fortress for the sons of Israel.

 

 

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, the restored Roman Empire (see annotations Dan. 2 and 7).  There will also be a great Northeastern alliance of nations.  This is in view here.  Consult Psalm 2, 68: 1-6; Isaiah 39: 1-8, 34: 1-3; Jeremiah 34: 13-17; Ezekiel 38; Zechariah 12, 14; and Revelation 19: 19.  Judgment then falls upon these opposing nations.  The judgment is mentioned as reaping and treading the winepress, the same as in Revelation 14: 14-20.

 

 

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 hath chosen Zion; He bath desired it for His habitation.  This is my rest forever; here will I dwell for I have desired it (Psa. 132: 13-14).  It is the literal Zion and not something spiritual.  Even good expositors of the Bible have missed the mark.  One good commentator says: “For Zion or Jerusalem is of course not the Jerusalem of the earthly Palestine, but the sanctified and glorified city of the living God, in which the Lord will be eternally united with His redeemed, sanctified and glorified church.”  Such exposition emanates from ignorance of God’s purposes with His earthly people and in not dividing the Word of Truth rightly.

 

 

Joel speaks also of the judgment which will fall upon Egypt in that day.  Isaiah also tells of judgment, but through him we learn that Egypt will turn to the Lord and the Lord will graciously heal Egypt (Isa. 19). Judah will abide forever.  His people will be cleansed.  Jehovah, our ever blessed Lord, will dwell in Zion.  The happy and glorious state of the land and the whole earth during the millennium is thus tersely stated.  For when He reigns there will be righteousness and peace; glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the deep.  Thus ends the great vision of Joel, the son of Pethuel.  May the eye of faith behold these blessed revelations and may we live in anticipation of what is soon to be.

 

 

*       *       *

 

 

POGROMS

 

By

 

ESSIE BERNSTEIN

 

 

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 JERUSALEM

AND FOR THE SALVATION OF THE JEWS.

 

 

Dr. H. A. Ironside sums up Israel’s future.  At the end of the years* Israel’s transgression will be finished, and their sins brought to an end, because [Jesus] their Messiah will have made reconciliation or atonement for iniquity.  The long period of Israel’s sufferings under the heel of the Gentiles will be completed, and everlasting righteousness will be brought in.  This refers clearly to the setting up of Messiah’s kingdom.  All will be fulfilled so that vision and prophecy will no longer be needed; and last of all, the Most Holy will be anointed.  This must refer to the Shekinah glory returning to Israel when the people are gathered back in their own land and Jehovah’s Temple is rebuilt.  The glory has been missing ever since the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.  It was not seen in the temple of Zerrubabel nor in the temple of Herod, but it will return when Israel’s mourning shall be ended and, as a repentant people, they will be brought back to God.”

 

[* That is, at the end of this evil age.]

 

 

*       *       *

 

 

3

The Prophet Amos

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

A few years before the Prophet Hosea, began to witness against the apostasy of the house of Israel, the ten tribes, and announced the coming judgment, there appeared in Bethel, the seat of idolatry, a peasant by name of Amos.  He was not a citizen of the ten tribe kingdom, but belonged to Tekoa, a small town in the south country of Judah.  We learn from the book that he was a herdsman and a gatherer of the fruit of the sycamore trees.  Some have thought he was a man of wealth, in possession of large flocks of sheep and herds of cattle, but this cannot be confirmed.  He was just an humble peasant and while engaged in his calling, not being a prophet or the son of a prophet, the Lord suddenly called him to leave his work and said unto him Go, prophesy unto my people Israel (chapter 7: 14-15).  Amos means “Bearer” or “Burden.”  In obedience to this command he appeared in Bethel to discharge his prophetic duty and deliver the messages of Jehovah to the people.  It was a strange occurrence that a prophet should come out of Judah to prophesy to Israel, it probably attracted wide attention, for such a thing had never happened before nor after.  It greatly aroused Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, who reported the case to Jeroboam, the king of Israel.  The message the priest sent to the king was the following: Amos has conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel, the land is not able to bear all his words.  For thus saith Amos, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their land (7: 10).  Evidently the priest did not await the king’s answer for he tried to intimidate the prophet and drive him away, but Amos was a man of courage, he boldly resisted the priest 'and announced the fate of the priest and his family.

 

 

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 Judah twenty-nine years and was followed by Uzziah, Jeroboam’s reign was during fourteen years of Amaziah’s reign and covered twenty-seven years of Uzziah’s reign.  Amos’ activity was during the period when Uzziah was king in Judah, in the second half of Jeroboam’s reign.  The earthquake which is mentioned, two years before which Amos began his work, cannot be placed chronologically.  It is also mentioned by Zechariah (14: 5).  The time then is around 810-782 B. C.  As we have shown in the introduction to Joel, Amos knew Joel’s prophecy, because Joel preceded him by at least a half a century.  Amos was therefore somewhat earlier than Hosea and part of his ministry was contemporary with Hosea.

 

 

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF HIS TIMES

 

 

Under the reign of Jeroboam II the northern kingdom of Israel flourished as never before nor after. There was a great external prosperity.  Therefore, we find that the prophet mentions the rich, their great wealth and luxury, their arrogant pride and self-security and the oppression of the poor.  Underneath it all was an awful moral corruption, the fruit of the false worship.  In this state of prosperity, immorality and false worship they did not dream of any coming calamity whatever.  Such were the days in which the herdsman of Tekoa appeared upon the scene to give an inspired testimony against the nation.

 

 

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 uttered in Bethel, which follow the two introductory chapters.  The people are reproved and their sins uncovered; judgment for them and for the nations is announced.  The end of the book brings in the promise of deliverance and restoration.  The great prophecy in the ninth chapter (9: 11-12) was quoted by James in the first great church-council in Jerusalem (Acts 15).

 

 

-------

 

 

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 Israel, but Judah and Israel are also included.

 

 

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 withHear 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 Israel, the rebuilding of the tabernacle of David and the blessings of the Kingdom.  We follow this division.

 

 

JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS,

JUDAH AND ISRAEL.  Chapters 1- 11.

 

 

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,

JUDAH AND ISRAEL Chapters 1- 11

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

1. The Introduction.  1-2.

 

2. Damascus.  3-5.

 

3. Philistia.  6-8.

 

4. Tyre.  9-10.

 

5. Edom.  11-12.

 

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 Zion.”  Inasmuch as Joel prophesied in Judah and Amos appeared from Judah in Bethel of the ten tribe kingdom, this sentence of coming judgment was probably unknown to his hearers.  He sounded the alarm at once as to the coming judgment on account of which the shepherds would mourn and the beautiful, luxurious Carmel would wither; it would bring disaster upon all.

 

 

2. Damascus: Verses 3-5.

 

 

Six nations are mentioned against which judgment is announced, five in this chapter and Moab in the beginning of the second.  Eight times we read saith the Lord.”  Then in each judgment prediction we find the phrase, for three transgressions or four ... I will not reverse it.”  The meaning of it is that the measure is full and that the judgment cannot be averted.  Fire is prominently mentioned as the mode of judgment.  These nations were the enemies of Israel.  The Syrians were the great enemies of Israel and treated them with awful cruelties.  The threshing of Gilead with iron instruments took place when Hazael of Damascus conquered the land east of Jordan (2 Kings 10: 32-33; 13: 7).  Hazael murdered Benhadad and Elisha predicted all the horrible things he would do to Israel.  When the Man of God wept and Hazael asked him the reason, Elisha answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel; their strongholds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child (2 Kings 8: 12).  Damascus was broken and the predicted judgment came.  It was executed through the King of Assyria, Tiglath-Pileser, who drove the Syrians back to Kir, from which they had come (2 Kings 16: 9).

 

 

3. Philistia: Verses 6-8.

 

 

Philistia is represented by Gaza.  They also mistreated Israel and sold them into the hands of Edom.  (2 Chron. 21: 16).  The cities of Philistia, Gaza and its palaces would be consumed by fire.  There would be an end to the Philistines, the remnant of the Philistines shall perish saith the Lord.”

 

 

4. Tyre: Verses 9-10.

 

 

Tyrus, the capital of Phoenicia, had also sinned against Israel by delivering them into the hands of their great enemy Edom.  Their sin was especially heinous because David and Solomon had made a covenant with the King of Tyre, hence no king of Judah or Israel had ever warred against Tyre (2 Sam. 5: 11; 1 Kings 5: 15).

 

 

5. Edom: Verses 11-12.

 

 

Edom was closely related to Israel, yet they hated more than the heathen nations hated Israel.  At every opportunity Edom expressed this hatred by deeds of cruelty.  What an awful record!  He did pursue his brother with the sword, and did cast off all pity, and his anger did tear perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever.”  In Obadiah we find more concerning Edom.

 

 

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.”

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

 

1. Moab.  1-3.

 

2. Judah.  4-5.

 

3. Israel.  6-16.

 

 

1. Moab: Verses 1-3.

 

 

So fierce was the hatred of Moab that they dishonoured the bones of the king of Edom.  Moab burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime” (see 2 Kings 3: 26-27).  The fire of judgment came upon Moab and her glory, too, departed like the glory of the other nations.

 

 

2. Judah: Verses 4-5.

 

 

While the measure was full of these nations, who had heaped transgressions upon transgressions, Judah and Israel were as guilty, yea, even more guilty, than, these nations.  The same significant phrase for three transgressions and four is used in connection with both.  If the punishment of the nations could not be held back, but had to come, so Judah and Israel could not escape.  Judah’s sin was the rejection of the law of the Lord; instead of listening to the voice of the Lord and to His prophets, they harkened to the false prophets, who, with their lies, caused them to err, and the children walked in the evil footsteps of their fathers.  The sin of Judah was apostasy.  That is the great sin today among the professing people of God, Christendom.  Fire was to devour the cities and palaces of the nations and fire was to come upon Judah and the palaces of Jerusalem.  Nebuchadnezzar fulfilled this prophecy.

 

 

3. Israel: Verses 6-16.

 

 

Inasmuch as Amos was sent to Israel the indictment and judgment of them occupies more space than the rest.  Verses 6-8 give a description of their sins.  The poor suffered through their covetousness, they lived in unspeakable vileness, they were idolatrous.  Those who were condemned by judges and paid their fines furnished the money to the judges to buy wine for their heathenish orgies.

 

 

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

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

 

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 Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for them.

 

 

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 Ashdod (Philistia) and in Egypt so that they may see and know the wicked acts of Samaria, and thus bear witness against Israel.  Thus the Lord exposed them to their enemies.  Then the coming adversary is announced who would encircle the land and humiliate the proud nation, so that her palaces would be spoiled.  Then the herdsman speaks in a parable familiar to him from his life as a shepherd.  When the beast of prey devours a sheep the shepherd must bring proof of it, so he is anxious to recover a part of the slain animal and tries to snatch away from the devouring lion either the legs of the sheep, or even a small piece of the ear, so as to show the rest was eaten by the lion.  Such would be the case with the people in their luxurious living, and only a small remnant is to escape the coming slaughter by the lion, the Gentile world power.  The transgressions of Israel will he visited; the idol altars of Bethel will be overthrown in that visitation and all their prosperity and luxury would then end and instead of living in winter and summer houses, they would become homeless.

 

 

CHAPTER 4

 

 

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 the mountain of Samaria.”  The cows of Bashan were noted for their slick and well fed condition, feeding on the choicest of pasture.  The term is descriptive of Israel’s prosperous condition as well as their beastly character.  They were selfish and cruel, for they oppressed the poor and crushed the needy.  It seems that women are mostly here in view, which explains the fact that the comparison is with kine and not with bulls.  They asked their masters to supply them means for debauchery.  But what happens to dumb cattle would happen to them in their luxurious and selfish life.  They would be taken with hooks and their posterity with fish-hooks, and they would be taken away.  The last sentence of verse 3 is correctly translated Ye shall be cast away to Har (mountain) Monah.”  It has been surmised that this means Armenia.

 

 

Then follows a statement of bitter irony.  Go to Bethel and sin; at Gilgal multiply transgression.”  Go on in your idolatry in these sacred places of your past history!  In Bethel the Lord had revealed Himself to their progenitor Jacob; in Gilgal on the banks of the Jordan, the reproach of Egypt had been rolled away (Joshua 5), and these favoured places were now the scenes of their wicked idolatries.  It is also mockery when the prophet says, Offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven,” for leaven always typifies sin.

 

 

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.

 

 

CHAPTER 5

 

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 daughter of Israel.  She shall no more rise has been used as an argument against the future and literal restoration of Israel.  The prophet has only the present government of God over that generation in view and does not deny at all a future rising as so abundantly predicted in the prophetic Word.  There is none to raise her up,” nor could she raise herself up.  But the day will come when the Lord in grace will raise her.

 

 

2. Seek the Lord and Ye Shall Live: Verses 4-15.

 

 

Here the Lord entreats Israel once more to desist from her idolatrous way and to seek Him instead of the worship at Bethel and Gilgal, for judgment would surely be executed there.  Seek ye Me and ye shall live.” Then again, Seek the Lord and ye shall live,” and in case of disobedience He, whom they refused, would fall like fire upon the house of Joseph.  The house of Joseph is mentioned because the tribe of Ephraim was the most powerful tribe in the kingdom of Israel, and Joseph was the father of Ephraim.  Again they are told to seek Him Who maketh the seven stars (the Pleiades) and Orion.”  These two great constellations were well known to the ancients (see Job 9: 9 and 38: 31).  And He also turneth the shadow of death into morning and darkeneth day to night.  This is an illustration of the judicial actions of the Lord.  As in nature He turns night into day, and the day into dark night, so He turns the deepest misery and sorrow into joy and happiness, and changes the bright day of prosperity into the night of woe and disaster.  He is the Lord of judgment, who controls the waters of tribulation and wrath, the floods of judgment, and makes them pass over the earth.

 

 

Verses 10-13 give a description of the moral condition of Israel.  They were unrighteous and loved the ways of unrighteousness; if the judge in the gate judged righteously they hated him for it, those who spoke uprightly they abhorred.  The poor they trampled into the dust and extorted the distribution of corn from them.  They had built fine houses of hewn stone, but they were not to enjoy them nor the wine from their pleasant vineyards (see Deut. 28: 30, 39).  The Lord knew their transgressions and the greatness of their sins.

 

 

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 Egypt in the Passover night when the Lord passed through Egypt to smite [the firstborn].  And now the death wail was soon to be heard in the midst of His people.

 

 

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 enemies, then Israel would be fully redeemed and blest and the Lord’s glory would be manifested in the sight of the nations.  Such was Joel’s vision concerning that day.”  Such was there false hope while they lived on in sin.  But the herdsman, Amos, pronounced a woe upon them [living in their present condition] for desiring that day.  What good will that day be to the impenitent nation?  It is a day of darkness and not light.  Then follows a parable such as a child of nature, as Amos was, would make.  He describes a man who flees from a lion and fortunately escapes; but then he meets a bear; him he escapes likewise.  Exhausted he reaches his house, and like one about to faint, he leans his hand on the wall; a small serpent out of the crevice bites him and he perishes miserably.  So would be the day of the Lord overtake them.  How different it is with the true [obedient, holy, and regenerate] believer.  He desires, not the Day of the Lord [in judgement upon wilful sin in His redeemed people], but the Coming of Him, who has promised His own, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am ye may be also.”

 

 

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 Damascus, saith the Lord, whose name is the God of Hosts.”

 

 

CHAPTER 6

 

The Fourth Discourse

 

 

1. Woe to Them That Are at Ease in Zion: Verse 1-6.

 

2. The Punishment Announced.  7-14.

 

 

1. Woe to Them That Are at Ease in Zion: Verse 1‑6.

 

 

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 Gath of the Philistines.  Calneh was built by Nimrod in the land of Shinar (Genesis 10: 10); Hamath was the capital of a Syrian kingdom, and Gath the centre of Philistia.  These places were the places of vileness and corruption.  But were the kingdoms of both Judah and Israel any better than these?

 

 

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 Israel when the evil day was put far off?  They committed violence; violence increased in the land.  They lived luxuriously on beds of ivory and ate the best of the flock.  They danced and made merry; they drank wine but none was exercised over the hurt of Joseph, the spiritual condition of the people.

 

 

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.

 

Chapter 7-9.

 

 

CHAPTER 7

 

 

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 Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”  The false worship and the monarchy in Israel will be completely swept away by the judgment.

 

 

4.  Opposition Against Amos: Verse 10-17.

 

 

This is an interesting and instructive occurrence.  Amaziah, the apostate priest at Bethel, who had charge of the idol worship, accused the prophet falsely before King Jeroboam.  It was a religious political accusation.  Thus the enemy accused Jeremiah also (Jeremiah 37: 14-15); he did the same with our Lord and His apostles.  At the same time Amaziah, the priest, sent an insulting message to Amos, saying, Seer, go and flee into the land of Judah, and eat there thy bread; there thou mayest prophesy.”  He tried to intimidate him, urging him to return to Tekoa in Judah where he came from.  He received a courageous answer from the herdsman-prophet.  I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit.  The Lord took me from following the flock; He said unto me, Go and prophesy to my people Israel.”

 

 

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.

 

 

CHAPTER 8

 

 

The Fourth Vision; The Basket With Summer Fruit

 

 

1. The Vision.  1-3.

 

2. Israel Ripe For Judgment.  4-10.

 

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 Israel was ripe for the harvest of judgment.  The message of the Lord to the prophet is, The end is come upon my people Israel; I will not again pass by them any more.”  The songs would be changed into howling lamentations and many should be slain.

 

 

2. Israel Ripe For Judgment.  Verse 4-10.

 

 

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 Israel [and the apostate Church] the bitter day of mourning, lamentation and woe would come.

 

 

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.

 

 

CHAPTER 9

 

 

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.‘HadesActs 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 Israel with dispersed Judah and lead them back to their land.  In the meantime they will be sifted among all nations, as wheat is sifted in a sieve, but not the least grain shall fall on the ground.  The sinners of His people will die by the sword.

 

 

2. The Coming of the Kingdom: Verses 11-15.

 

 

While the sinful kingdom, the ten tribe kingdom of Israel is passed away and will never come into existence again, there is another kingdom which will come, into which Judah and Israel will be gathered with the nations of the earth.  This kingdom of heaven, promised to David, is now announced by the prophet.  In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old.”  This prophesy is quoted by James in Acts 15:15-16 at the first great church council held in Jerusalem.  On that occasion the Holy Spirit used the prophecy of Amos to unfold the program of God concerning the future.  Yet there is no church council, no General Conference, General Assembly or General Association which reckons in any way with that which the [Holy] Spirit of God has laid down as the program of the Future.  We learn from the passage in Acts that during this age the Gentiles are visited to gather out from among them, a people for His Name (the church).  When this is accomplished the Lord returns, and, as a result of His return, the restoration of the tabernacle of David takes place: that is, the kingdom will be restored to His [redeemed and obedient] people, the Kingdom of heaven comes and the Lord Jesus Christ will be enthroned as its king upon the throne of David.  Then the conversion of the world will take place.

 

 

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 Edom and all the nations.  The last three verses of the prophecy of Amos describe the millennium in its earthly blessings.  It also shows the permanent blessing and glory into which redeemed and restored Israel has entered, They shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.”

 

 

*       *       *

 

 

THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH

 

By

 

HYMAN  I.  APPLEMAN

 

 

The Church of Christ was most unimposing in its appearance.  It contradicted popular prejudices, anathematized popular sins, propounded a most exalted standard of piety and virtue.  It resorted to no violence for the support of its faith or the punishment of its adversaries.  It drew no sword, bent no bow.  No deadly arrows trembled on its strings.  It battled for the good, the true, the glorious.  Its weapons were arguments, virtues, happiness gained, glory* in prospect.  It called men [and women] to a new life, to most exalted aims, to most heroic endeavours, to most sublime achievements.  It proposed to renovate the world, to purge out of it the leaven of impiety and wickedness.  It brought new and clear revelations of God, of a future state of consciousness and retribution after death, of eternal life for [all] God’s children, and eternal death to the wicked.

 

 

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.

 

 

The 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 Roman Empire.  In less than three centuries, it undermined and overthrew the religion of the Caesars.

 

 

-------

 

 

*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.

 

 

*       *       *

 

4

The Prophet Obadiah

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

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 Edom the Prophet clearly foretells, as yet to come; the destruction of Jerusalem, which, according to our version is spoken of as past, is in reality foretold also.  Unbelief denies all prophecy.  Strange, that unbelief, denying the existence of a jewel – God’s authentic and authenticated voice to man - should trouble itself about the age of the casket in which the jewel rests.  Yet so it was.  The Prophets of Israel used a fascinating power over those who denied their inspiration.  They denied prophecy, but employed themselves about the Prophets.  Unbelief denying prophecy had to find out two events in history, which should correspond with these two events in this Prophet - a capture of Jerusalem and a subsequent judgment of Edom.  And since Jerusalem was first taken under Shishak, king of Egypt, in the fifth year of Rehoboam 970 B. C., and Josephus tells us that 301 B. C. Ptolemy Lagus treacherously got possession of Jerusalem, unbelieving criticism has a wide range in which to vacillate.  And so it reeled to and fro between these two periods, 970 B. C. and 301 B. C.

 

 

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 Edom.  The question is whether Jeremiah used Obadiah’s words or Obadiah made use of Jeremiah’s message.  It has been pointed out that it is a peculiar characteristic of Jeremiah that he often leans upon the utterances of the earlier Prophets, and in his writing their thoughts, words and symbols are often reproduced.  Compare Jeremiah 47 with Isaiah 14: 28-32; Jeremiah 47 with Isaiah 15 and 16; Jeremiah 49: 1-6 with Amos 1: 13-15, etc.  When we point out this characteristic of the Book of Jeremiah we do not mean to say that this man of God was a copyist, who slavishly copied the utterances of the earlier prophets.  He had the books, or scrolls, of the earlier Prophets before himself and the Spirit of God led him to use them; thus the Spirit of God repeated through Jeremiah the testimony of his predecessors and confirmed their God-given utterances.  Jeremiah knew and possessed the prophecy of Obadiah, so that we can say with certainty that Obadiah is earlier than Jeremiah.

 

 

Now, Obadiah in his utterance lays bare the wicked behaviour of Edom in a time when Judah and Jerusalem was plundered by hostile forces.  The statement of some of the critics that the eleventh verse means only the taking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar is an assumption.  The fact is the Prophet does not speak of the destruction of the city, but that Jerusalem was plundered.

 

 

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 land of Edom at that time (Joel 3:19; Amos 1: 2).  It was then that the treacherousness of Edom and its evil spirit became fully manifested.  But there can be no question, as we show in the annotations, that the description of their evil spirit against their kin includes the after history, the fall of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzer, the opposition of Edom during the times of the Maccabees and the future revival and doom of Edom.  It is, therefore, quite well established that Obadiah lived and uttered his prophecy during the reign of Jehoram.

 

 

-------

 

 

Obadiah

 

 

(In a corrected version).

 

 

1.  The Vision of Obadiah,

Thus saith the Lord Jehovah concerning Edom:

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,

Whispers Jehovah.

 

 

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?

 

 

6.  How is Edom searched out

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,

Whispers Jehovah,

Destroy the wise out of Edom,

And understanding out of mount Esau?

 

 

9.  And thy valiant ones, 0 Teman, shall be dismayed,

When every man is cut off from mount Esau

By slaughter.

 

 

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,

And o’er Jerusalem cast lots,

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 Judah

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 Zion shall be deliverance; there shall be holiness;

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 mountain of Esau,

And the plain the Philistines;

And they shall possess the fields of Ephraim,

And the field of Samaria;

And Benjamin shall possess Gilead.

 

 

20.  And the captives of this army of the children of Israel

Will possess of the Canaanites as far as Zarepath,

And the captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad

Shall possess the cities of the South.

 

 

21.  And Saviours shall go up on mount Zion,

To judge the mountain of Esau.

And the Kingdom shall be Jehovah’s.

 

 

-------

 

 

Analysis and Annotations

 

 

The brief prophecy of Obadiah is composed of two parts.  Verses 1-16 concern Edom and its destruction and verses 17-21 reveal the establishment of the Kingdom in Israel and Israel’s restoration and victory.  We shall give brief annotations to assist in the understanding of this prophecy by making a threefold division:

 

 

1. Edom’s Humiliation and Ruin (verses 1-9).

 

2. Edom’s Sin Against Israel and the Day of the Lord (verses 10-16).

 

3. The Kingdom and the Restoration of Israel (verses 17-21).

 

 

1.  Edom’s Humiliation and Ruin: Verses 1-9.

 

 

In order to understand Obadiah’s prophecy, Edom’s origin and history must be taken into consideration.  The Edomites were the offspring of Esau.  Of him it was said that Esau the Elder should serve Jacob the younger.  The character of Esau was soon manifested and his offspring soon became powerful.  In Genesis 36 we read of the generations of Esau, who is Edom; there the dukes, the national chiefs, are prominently mentioned.  Long before Israel had kings, Edom had such rulers, And these are the kings that reigned in the land of Edom before there reigned any king over the children of Israel (Gen. 36: 31). In Exodus 15 we read of the dukes in Edom being amazed and in Numbers 21 of the King of Edom.  His outrageous behaviour towards the kin of Edom is recorded in Numbers 20:14-21.  Though the children of Israel promised not to drink the waters in the territory of Edom, or take their fruit without paying for it, Edom refused to give Israel passage; while Israel turned meekly away from Edom.  Thus Edom branded itself as the enemy of [the inheritance promised to] the people of God.  They had an un-dying hatred against the children of Israel, the sons of Jacob.  They had an envious dislike of the people of God.  Later it was attacked by Saul and conquered for David by Joab (2 Sam. 8).  During the reign of Jehoram (or Joram) they revolted and gained independence.

 

 

When Judah and Israel began to decline Edom became more and more arrogant and rejoiced in the evil which came upon the people of God.  Their dwelling place was the former possession of the Horim, a race which lived in caves in the mountainous region, much like the prehistoric cave dwellers on the North American continent.  Edom possessed then the so-called troglodyte dwelling places cut into the cliffs of sandstone; these rocky habitations were suited to their warlike character and gave them the shelter they needed.  Hence they are mentioned in verse 3 as dwelling in the clefts of the rock.”  The ruins of Petra still bear witness to its former grandeur.  The wickedness of Edom continued and when the Chaldeans came to destroy Jerusalem they also seemed to have shown their hatred.  We read in Psalm 137: 7, Remember, 0 Lord, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem, who said raze it, raze it, even to the foundation thereof.” They were also in evidence during the Maccabean period and later in the person of Herod the Great, an Edomite, reigned in Jerusalem.  The judgment pronounced upon Idumea, their dwelling place, has found startling fulfilment.

 

 

But this does not end the story of Edom; there will be a future revival of Edom and an ultimate history.  This will be at the close of the age, when the Lord re-gathers all Israel and Judah and ten tribes will be reunited, then and before Edom will appear once more in prominence.  No one knows where and what Edom is today.  One might almost surmise that the Turk must have some connection with Edom in his horrible hatred and outrages against the Armenians, who, as it is claimed by some, may contain remnants of the ten tribes.  But all this is mere speculation.  When God’s time comes the Edomite will be known and play his final role.  Once more they will manifest their national, undying hatred against the sons of Jacob, but Israel victorious will lay their hand on Edom (Isa. 11: 14).

 

 

We read of this future judgment upon the country of Edom, Idumea, in Isaiah 34: 6:-

 

 

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 land of Idumea (verse 6), that is, in the future day of the Lord.  As the context shows in Isaiah 36: 8, it will be that day, For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompense for the controversy of Zion.”  Then comes the utter desolation of Edom (Isa. 34: 9-17; see also Ezek. 35: 12-14, 35; Isa. 63: 3 and Lam. 4: 21-22).  While Obadiah’s prophecy has been partially fulfilled, it awaits its final accomplishment in the day of the Lord.

 

 

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 against Edom.  The hour for Edom’s overthrow has come.  The Lord had made them small among the nations.  It was pride which brought them low so that they would be greatly despised.  As the dwellers in the rocks they thought themselves secure and boasted of it by saying, Who will bring me down to the ground?”  But the humiliation of Edom had been decreed by the Lord and no power could arrest its execution.  Their nests were high as the eagles, yea. even so high that their habitations seemed to be among the stars, yet the Lord would bring them down.  His destruction would be complete; the spoilers would not be like the thieves, who steal till they have enough; or like the grape-gatherers who leave something behind.  There would be a clean sweep, everything searched out, even the hidden things.  Even those in whom they trusted, with whom Edom made a covenant would deceive them and prevail against Edom.  Those with whom they made an alliance and gave hospitality would turn against Edom and prove treacherous, though they had eaten bread with them.  Their friends of the heathen nations, whom they stirred up against Israel, would forsake them completely and the Lord would destroy the wise out of Edom and understanding out of Mount Esau.  Even the wise men will not be able to help them; their wisdom and understanding will not avail.  Teman is mentioned because it was known for its wise men; Eliphaz, who spoke so well to Job was a Temanite (Job 4: l).  And the Prophet Jeremiah in his testimony against Edom wrote, Is wisdom no more in Teman?  Is counsel perished from the prudent?  Is their wisdom vanished?” (Jer. 49: 7).  But now their wise and valiant ones would be cut off by slaughter.

 

 

2. Edom’s Sin Against Israel and the Day of the Lord: Verses 10-16.

 

 

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 forever.  When Jerusalem was in trouble and the Philistines and Arabs plundered the city (2 Chron. 21: 16-17), they stood on the other side and revolted (2 Chron. 21: 8-10).  And more than that, they joined in plundering the city.  Thus it was afterwards when the Babylonians came against Jerusalem, Edom rejoiced; they spoke proudly.  Perhaps what is recorded in verses 12-14 happened repeatedly.  They stretched out their hands for the possession of God’s people.  They placed themselves at the cross-roads to cut off the fugitives and delighted to deliver up into the hands of their enemies the remnant which was left.

 

 

All this will be repeated once more, when another great prophecy will be fulfilled and Jerusalem is once more surrounded by hostile nations (Zech. 14: 1-5).  Not a few superficial Bible students thought when Jerusalem was captured during the war, and all looked bright for political Zionism, that the promises were now being fulfilled.  There is coming another siege of Jerusalem, preceding the glorious appearing of the King of Israel, our Lord.  That siege is prophetically described by Zechariah.  Among those nations will be found Edom once more.  Once more they will manifest their malice and hatred against Jerusalem.

 

 

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 Egypt, Babylon and others, nations which were nations of power and culture, which have fallen under the dealings of a righteous God; these judgments of the past did not bring that day which Obadiah announced, of which Joel after him so fully speaks.  The Day of the Lord upon all nations is future.  When it comes it will mean judgment for all nations, including Edom, Moab and others named in the Scriptures of Truth; and that day will be immediately followed by an age of blessing and glory such as the earth and the race had never known before.  It will bring divine retribution.  As thou hast done will they do unto thee.”  The nations of the earth will have to drink of the cup of His fury and wrath.

 

 

3. The Kingdom and the Restoration of Israel: Verses 1-6, 21.

 

 

The final section of Obadiah’s brief prophecy concerns the [millennial] kingdom, the victory over the enemies and the restoration of His people.  Mount Zion will come into its own; there will be deliverance and there shall be holiness.  What God had promised to the remnant of His people will be accomplished, and they will be a holy people and then hold their possessions, all that the Lord in His infinite grace had promised unto them.  The house of Esau will be consumed, so that none shall be remaining of Esau, while Israel will occupy Edom’s territory.

 

 

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.”

 

 

*       *       *

 

 

5

The Prophet Jonah

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

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 Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, a greater than Jonah is here (Matthew 12: 40-41).  Our Lord tells us that there was a Prophet by the name of Jonah and that he had the experience related in the book which bears his name.  To deny this is paramount with denying the knowledge and the truthfulness of the Son of God.  This is exactly what sneering critics do.  They have even gone so far as to say that if our ever blessed Lord knew better than He spoke, He acted thus for expediency’s sake, so as not to clash with the current opinions among His contemporaries.  Others boldly say that He did not know, for He had not access to the sources which are at our command today.  In other words the destructive critic claims to have more knowledge than the Lord Jesus Christ possessed in His days on earth.

 

 

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 wildernessAs it was in the days of Noah” ... “As it was in the days of Lot.”  Then in the next verse in Matthew’s Gospel, the Lord speaks of the Queen of the South’s visit to Solomon as a real, literal fact.  Why then should He not have spoken of the history of Jonah as a literal fact?

 

 

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 preaching to Nineveh.

 

Chapter 4 contains the account of Jonah’s discontent and correction.

 

 

-------

 

 

Analysis and Annotations

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

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 Nineveh, that great city, and to cry against it on account of its wickedness.

 

 

Nineveh was the great capital of the Assyrian nation; it is mentioned for the first time in Genesis 10: 11.  Its great size is mentioned in Chapter 3: 3, where we read it was three day’s journey.”  Ancient Greek and Roman writers state that it was the largest city in the world in that day.  All these statements of its enormous size have been verified by modern excavations.  The Word of the Lord came to Jonah to visit this city and deliver the message.  Seven times the phrase the Word of the Lord came to Jonah is used in this book.

 

 

2. The Disobedience: Verse 3.

 

 

Jonah rose up at once, but instead of going to the east towards Nineveh he fled in the other direction.  Tarshish in Spain was his goal.  It is also stated that he fled from the presence of the Lord.  This cannot possibly mean that he fled from the presence of Him whom he knew as the omnipresent One.  The Psalm of David which speaks of this expressly was then in the possession of Israel, and Jonah must have known it: “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit?  Or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?  If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in sheol,* behold, Thou art there.  If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139: 7-10).  He did not flee from the presence of the Lord in the sense of escaping His knowledge and authority.  It means that he left the land of Israel where Jehovah dwelt; he fled from the service-commission he had received.

 

[* 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 Nineveh and save the city?  It was undoubtedly a national spirit which possessed the prophet.  It has been suggested that the prophet knew that the Assyrian would he used by the Lord as the instrument to punish Israel and that he thought if Nineveh would perish the people Israel might be saved.  Inasmuch as God might show mercy to Assyria, Assyria would then be used as the rod upon Israel, and for this reason he was disobedient to the commission.  But the direct prophecy that the Assyrian would be the staff in the hand of the Lord to bring judgment upon Israel was made through Isaiah (chapter 10), and that revelation had not yet been given, for Jonah lived before the Prophet Isaiah.  It was rather the fear Jonah had as a Jew that the conversion of the Gentiles might rob his nation of the distinction of being the nation of election, to whom Jehovah had revealed Himself exclusively.  He therefore went to Joppa where he engaged passage on a ship which was to bring him to Tarshish, which he never reached.  It was at Joppa where centuries later another Jew, who was also jealous for his nation, had a vision which made it clear that the Gospel should be preached to the Gentiles.  That Jew was Peter (Acts 10).

 

 

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 Mediterranean Sea, nor can a whale swallow a human being on account of the narrowness of its throat.*  It was probably a species of sea-monster frequently found in that sea and known by the scientific name squalus carcharias, which can easily swallow a human being whole.  But the miracle was not that such a fish came up from the depths of the sea and swallowed the prophet, but that Jonah was miraculously preserved in the fish.

 

[* 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 Galilee, and though the ship was filling with water He was undisturbed, knowing that He was safe.  He did what Jonah did not and could not do.  He rebuked His fearful disciples and rebuked the wind and the waves; the storm was suddenly hushed.

 

 

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), afterHe 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 Israel is one of the great miracles of history, just as the preservation of Jonah in the belly of the fish was a miracle.

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

 

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 Israel.  There is coming the time of Jacob’s trouble in the closing years of this age.  Then a part of the nation will call upon the Lord.  Their prayers are also pre-written in the book of Psalms, and when finally they acknowledge that Salvation is of the Lord,” and He appears in His glory, to turn away ungodliness from Jacob, the Lord will bring them out of their spiritual and national death.  He will speak to the fish, the nations, and they will give up the Jews.  Then comes the third day of their restoration. (See Hosea 6: 1-3)

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

 

JONAH PREACHING IN NINEVEH

 

 

1. The Repeated Commission and Jonah’s Obedience. 1-4.

 

2. The Repentance and Salvation of Nineveh. 4-10.

 

 

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 Nineveh to preach there what the Lord would command him.  And now he is obedient.  Jonah arrived in the great city of three days’ journey, and advancing a day’s journey into it he cried out his message, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”  Following is the objection of Higher Criticism as to this statement: “If we were reading a historical description the narrative would be full of difficulties.  A strange prophet announced the impending destruction as he travelled through the vast city for one day, and the huge population immediately believed and repented.  The king, who is not named, heard, put on sackcloth, sitting in ashes.  If this were history, Jonah did what no prophet, no apostle, what Christ Himself never did.  Never did a day’s preaching bring a vast strange city to repentance.  But we repeat, it is not history, it is a story with a meaning, an allegory; it is the great announcement that God cares for the heathen world, and calls it to repentance, and whenever men anywhere repent, His compassion is kindled towards them” (New Century Bible).  We reserve the answer to the supposed difficulties in this historical account for the typical unfolding of this event.

 

 

2. The Repentance and Salvation of Nineveh: Verses 4-10.

 

 

The people of Nineveh believed God.  The news that a strange prophet had appeared with the message of doom must have spread like wildfire and hundreds upon hundreds must have passed it on so that in a very short time it reached every nook and corner of the great city; it reached the palace of the king and the prisoners in the dungeon.  That this is real history has been confirmed by archaeology.  For just about that time Nineveh was in great trouble and facing a crisis, which made them eager to believe the message and return to God.  They evidenced their faith by a universal fast and humiliation before God.  The king laid aside his royal robe and humiliated himself as every one of his subjects did.  He issued a proclamation to abstain from food and drink, in which the dumb creation was included.  What a solemn time the great city had, when hundreds and thousands humbled themselves and when the lowing and groaning of the domestic animals was heard throughout the city.  The people acknowledged all their wickedness and turned away from their evil ways and deeds of violence, expressing the hope of God’s mercy.  Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not.”  And God answered and was merciful to them.

 

 

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 Israel, for that nation,” but He also died as a member of the nation, from which He came according to the flesh, so that He might rise and become the Saviour of the Gentiles.  Christ preached as having died for our sins, buried and risen on the third day, is the true Gospel and carries with it the power of God in the salvation of sinners.

 

 

2. As to the Nation.

 

 

The third day is the day of Israel’s spiritual and national resurrection.  When that day comes converted Israel will be, according to God’s gifts and calling, a holy nation, a nation of priestly functions, a kingdom of priests.  They are then fit to show forth the Lord and His glory, and to bring the message, not of judgment, but of life and glory, to the nations of heathendom.  The statement in the New Century Bible quoted above is quite correct in one particular - that “Jonah did what no prophet, no apostle, what Christ Himself never did” - that never a day’s preaching brought a vast strange city to repentance.  And we might add that no preaching today, during this age, can ever bring such results.  The case is unique; it never happened again, that a man who was disobedient, who turned against the divine commission, became a castaway, was miraculously preserved and delivered, led a great world city to God and to true repentance.  But if we take into consideration the fact that this true history is a prophecy, all these invented higher critical difficulties vanish altogether.  When the nation is reinstated in the land, filled with the [Holy] Spirit, they will fulfil their calling and go forth in bringing the message to the nations of the world.  Then Matthew 28: 19 will be accomplished.  Then and not before will the world be converted, and all the nations will be joined in the kingdom to Israel, His kingdom people.

 

 

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].

 

 

CHAPTER 4

 

 

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 Nineveh, when it did not happen?  What he feared had come true; God had been merciful to this great city and they were now enjoying what he considered Israel’s exclusive inheritance.  Instead of rejoicing in the great exhibition of God’s mercy towards such a wicked city, he was angry.  Like Elijah, in the hour of despondency he requests to die.  "Therefore, now, 0 Lord, take, I beseech Thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live." The trouble with Jonah was that he thought only of himself, and, as another has said, “the horrid selfishness of his heart hides from him the God of grace, faithful in His love for His helpless creatures.”

 

 

2. The Correction: Verses 4-11.

 

 

The Lord God who had been so merciful to Nineveh is now merciful to His angry servant the Prophet. Doest thou well to be angry?”  How great is the patience and kindness of the Lord, even towards them who fail!  Jonah leaves the saved city evidently in disgust, and finds on the east side a place where he constructed a booth and sat there waiting to see what would become of the city.  He evidently expected still an act of judgment.  Then comes the lesson.  The Lord God who had prepared a fish to swallow the disobedient prophet now prepared a gourd to provide shade for him.  This gourd, a quipayon, is a very common plant in Palestine.  The Creator whose creation is so wonderful, manifested the Creator’s power in raising up this plant, for the relief of His servant, in a sudden manner.  And Jonah was exceeding glad.  Then God prepared a worm which destroyed the gourd.  When the morning came and the sun beat upon the head of the prophet he fainted, and once more wished in himself to die.  Alas! if the prophet had been in the right place before the Lord he would have accepted the gourd as an evidence of His loving care, and when the worm destroyed the plant so that it withered he would have equally acknowledged his Creator-God and not have murmured.  He might have said with Job, The Lord gave, the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Jonah in his selfish impatience found fault with God.  It is still the common thing amongst professing Christians.

 

 

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 Israel alone, but all His creation, the Gentile world and even animal creation.

 

 

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.”*

 

*Synopsis.

 

*       *       *

 

 

*FOOTNOTE

 

 

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 of Nineveh shall rise in judgement with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and behold a greater than Jonas is here.”

 

 

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.

 

 

-------

 

 

*       *       *

 

 

6

The Prophet Micah

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

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 Jerusalem during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, he was contemporaneous with Isaiah.  Though his name is not mentioned in the prophecy of Isaiah, his message is the same as the message of Isaiah, in describing the moral corruption of their times, and the Messianic prophecies.  The following passages will confirm this: Micah 1: 9-16 and Isaiah 10: 28-32; Micah 2: 1-9 and Isaiah 5: 8; Micah 2: 6, 11 and Isaiah 30: 10, 11; Micah 2:10 and Isaiah 10: 20-23; Micah 3: 5-7 and Isaiah 29: 9-12; Micah 3: 12 and Isaiah 32:14; Micah 4: 1 and Isaiah 2: 2; Micah 4: 4 and Isaiah 1: 20; Micah 4: 7 and Isaiah 9: 7; Micah 4: 10 and Isaiah 39: 6; Micah 5: 2-4 and Isaiah 7: 14; Micah 5: 6 and Isaiah 14: 25; Micah 6: 6‑8 and Isaiah 58: 6-7; Micah 7: 7 and Isaiah 8: 17; Micah 7: 12 and Isaiah 11: 11.  Thus the Lord gave the same witness through the mouth of these two.  Of course Isaiah was the leading figure.  But Micah did not copy him, but as the Holy Spirit came upon him he uttered his prophecies bearing witness to the same truths Isaiah had spoken.  The style of Micah’s writings is different from the style of Isaiah.  This may be all explained by the vivacity of his own individuality, and the excited state of his mind, passing as he does rapidly from threatening to promise, from one subject to another, and from one number and gender to another.”  But his words are never deficient in clearness, while in other respects he comes quite near to the style of Isaiah.

 

 

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.

 

 

HIS MESSAGE

 

 

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 Samaria, the ten-tribe kingdom, and the captivity of Judah.  The second message is a message of reproof of the leaders of the nation, the heads of Jacob and the princes of the house of Israel, followed by a denunciation of the false prophets.  This is followed by the vision of the coming glory in the last days and the restoration of Israel.  In this second discourse the coming Ruler of Israel and His birthplace are announced; what He is and the Kingdom He will establish in the midst of His people.  Here is the message of hope and glory.

 

 

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 Israel’s hope and is a prophecy of the time when the Redeemer shall return and turn away ungodliness from Jacob and remember their sins no more.

 

 

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

 

 

Chapter 1-11

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

1. The Introduction.  1.

 

2. Judgment Announced.  2-5.

 

3. The Destruction of Samaria.  6-7.

 

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 Israel.  On verse 4 see Psalm 18: 7-10; Psalm 68: 8 and Judges 5: 4.  The near fulfilment was the double judgment which came upon the two kingdoms, the kingdom of the ten tribes, Samaria, and the kingdom of Judah.  But the description of the coming of the Lord in judgment also relates to that great future event, the day of the Lord.

 

 

3. The Destruction of Samaria: Verses 6, 7.

 

 

The sin of Israel was Samaria, it originated there and consisted of idol worship; the sins of Judah were the high places in Jerusalem (see Jer. 32: 35).  Complete destruction of Samaria would come with this announced judgment and all her graven images would he broken to pieces, and her whoredoms burned with fire (Joel 3: 3; Hosea 2: 7).

 

 

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 Samaria, but over Judah as well.  He weeps for both Samaria and Judah.  I will wail and howl; I will go stripped and naked; I will make a wailing like the jackals, and a mourning like the owls (ostriches).”  It shows how these men of God entered in a whole-souled manner into the divine revelations they received.  It created deep soul exercise.  This must be the result of faith in the Prophetic Word with all His people at all times.  In verse nine the prophet speaks of one who comes to execute the threatened judgment.  He is come unto the gate of my people, even to Jerusalem.”  This enemy is the Assyrian whom Micah beholds advancing and who came before the gates of Jerusalem (see Isa. 10).  The Assyrian was used in ending the kingdom of Israel; Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar was the instrument used against Judah and Jerusalem.  Sennacherib came against Jerusalem, but it was Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, who carried Israel away into captivity.  Isaiah’s prophecy enters more fully into this.  He describes both the Assyrian and the Babylonian power.  And both will appear again at the close of the times of the Gentiles.  The little horn of Daniel’s prophecy in chapter 7, the head of the confederated nations, the revived Roman Empire, corresponds with the final King of Babylon, while the final Assyrian is the other little horn in Daniel 8 (see annotations on Dan. 7 and 8).

 

 

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 Gath, that is, the Philistines are not to hear of it (see 2 Sam. 1: 20).  There is a remarkable play of words in these statements.  It may be literally rendered as follows: Weep not in Weep-town; in Dust-town (the meaning of Aphrah) roll thyself in dust; then a contrast, in Beauty-town (Saphir means beauty) be in nakedness and shame; and in March-town (the meaning of Zaanan) march not forth.”

 

 

The inhabitant of Maroth waited anxiously for good, but evil came from the Lord unto the gate of Jerusalem (Maroth means bitterness).  In the Assyrian cylinder, known as Taylor’s cylinder, Sennacherib mentions the great gate of Jerusalem.

 

 

Then follows a call to Lachish to escape.  Bind the chariot to the swift beast.”  Lachish was a fortified city, as the excavations have shown, and was taken by Sennacherib.  Here is still another play of words in the original.  Lachish means “Horse-town,” so that it can he translated Bind the chariot to the horse, 0 inhabitant of Horse-town.” It has been suggested that the sin mentioned in connection with Lachish was that the horses of the sun in connection with idolatry were kept there (see 2 Kings 23: 11).

 

 

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 Israel, a false hope.

 

 

The heir who is to possess Mareshah is the Assyrian, and the glory of Israel shall come even unto Adullam,” the nobles of Israel shall gather in the cave of Adullam, like outcasts (see 1 Sam. 22: l).

 

 

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.

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

 

1. The Guilt and Punishment of Israel.  1-11.

 

2. The Future Restoration.  12-13.

 

 

1. The Guilt and Punishment of Israel: Verses 1-11.

 

 

In the first two verses the special sins of Israel are mentioned, the same as in Amos - idolatry, covetousness and oppression.  Therefore punishment is to fall upon them.  There would he a doleful lamentation: We be utterly spoiled: he changeth the portion of my people; how does he take it away from me!”  Their fields would be divided.  Nor did they listen to the true prophets; they gave ear to the false prophets who flattered them.  It is interesting to note that the sentence, Prophesy ye not, thus they prophesy,” literally translated is, Do not sputter, thus they sputter.”  They did not give out the real message, but they sputtered out their own words.  These false prophets tried to prevent the true prophets from announcing the judgment of the Lord.

 

 

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 Israel comes when the King [and His Kingdom] comes and brings with Him the promised blessing and glory.  Then the remnant of Israel will he gathered, and their king shall pass before them, and the Lord at the head of them.”  It is a great prophecy of the ultimate restoration of Israel.  We must not exclude all allusion to the deliverance of the Jewish nation out of the earthly Babylon by Cyrus; at the same time, it is only in its typical significance that this comes into consideration at all, namely, as a preliminary stage and pledge of the redemption to be effected by Christ.”

 

 

THE SECOND PROPHETIC MESSAGE

 

 

Chapters 3-4.

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

 

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 Israel his sin.

 

 

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 they build Zion with blood and Jerusalem with iniquity.  He speaks of the influence of money.  Judges acted for reward, priests taught for hire, and prophets prophesied for money.  The verdict of judgment is mentioned in Jer. 26: 19.  This prophecy was fulfilled when Babylon conquered Jerusalem.  And when finally the returned remnant rejected the Lord of Glory, their King, Zion and Jerusalem became once more heaps, as he announced, Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

 

 

CHAPTER 4

 

 

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 Zion.  This is followed at once by a great prophecy of the future of glory in store for Zion.  Isaiah also uttered this great prediction.  Not that Micah copied Isaiah, nor Isaiah Micah, but the same [Holy] Spirit gave to the men the same prophecy.  It concerns the latter days, which means the coming of Messiah’s [millennial] kingdom on earth.  These days are not yet here.  To apply these words, even in a spiritual way, to the present age, or to the Church, is a serious mistake.  The house of the Lord is not the Church, but the house in Jerusalem. to which in the kingdom the nations will come to worship the Lord of hosts.

 

 

The nation will he judged and rebuked by Him whose glorious throne will be established in Jerusalem.  Then, and only then, comes the time of universal, world-wide peace.  How blind Christendom is in not seeing in what connection the favoured text concerning peace on earth stands!  It will be in that day when they shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”  The prediction of our Lord that throughout this [evil] age, down to its end, nation would lift up sword against nation, is then ended, and another order of things begins; for then nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”  What peace and prosperity will then follow!  It is described in the fourth verse, But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”

 

 

2. The Restoration and the Final Victory: Verses 6-13.

 

 

The re-gathering of all Israel then takes place.  Not the boasting, proud, infidel, portion of the nation as it is today.  Reform-Judaism and the other apostates in the nation will suffer judgment in the future as they did in the past.  But there is a feeble, God-fearing remnant, and to that remnant belong the promises. In that day, saith the Lord, will I assemble her that halteth, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted.”  In His grace He will make the remnant a strong nation and reign over them in the established kingdom.  To Zion shall return the first dominion,” that is, the reign and power and glory that was manifested in the monarchy under David and Solomon; only it will be greater than David’s or Solomon’s kingdom.

 

 

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 Israel from the hands of her enemies.  Nor was it true then that many nations were gathered against her.  The Babylonian captivity is a type of the greater dispersion throughout this present age.  When it ends, as it will end, the Lord will then redeem His people and deal in judgment with the opposing nations which finally gather against Jerusalem. (See the annotations of the last chapters of Zechariah.)  He gathers the nations for the harvest time, when the sheaves are to be threshed.  The daughter of Zion is to trample on them and beat them, and the grain, the riches of the Gentiles, will he consecrated unto the Lord.  In connection with verses 11-13 the following Scriptures should be read and studied with the annotations: Joel 3; Ezekiel 28; Zechariah 12.

 

 

CHAPTER 5

 

 

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 Israel.  4-6.

 

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 Jerusalem.  It is the Assyrian army gathering before the city.  But it is not the Assyrian of the past, whose invasion both Isaiah and Micah describe prophetically, but it is the Assyrian of the future, the great troubler which invades the land of Israel at the end-time, the time of Jacob’s trouble, the great time of travail and final deliverance.  This last invader, the King of the North (see Joel 2) besieges Jerusalem. And the reason of it all, their long history of trouble, culminating in the great tribulation, is the rejection of the judge of Israel.  It is the Messiah, our Lord.  They despised Him, insulted Him, smote Him with a rod upon the cheek.  He is called the Judge of Israel, because the judge held the highest official position in Israel; the King of Israel held this office.  The smiting upon the cheek was considered the greatest disgrace; thus Zedekiah smote the prophet Micaiah upon the cheek and asked him, Which way went the Spirit of the Lord from me to speak to thee?” (see 1 Kings 23: 24 and Matt. 16:  67, 68).  In Job 16: 10 we read Job’s complaint, They have gaped upon me with their mouth; they have smitten me reproachfully upon the cheek; they have gathered themselves together against me.”

 

 

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 Bethlehem.

 

 

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 Israel.  But He is more than a descendant of David, His goings forth have been of old, from everlasting.”  Even this plain announcement has not been left un-attacked by the infidel critics. Dr. R. F. Horton in his comment on this passage says the following: “We are not called on to explain away this wonderful and solemn forecast, especially when we have seen it in the Babe of Bethlehem, who came into the world out of the bosom of the Father.  Micah could not understand his own deep saying; but how foolish of us to discredit it when history has made its meaning plain.”

 

 

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 Israel.”  It is often applied to the birth of Christ and connected with Revelation 12, the birth of the man-child.  There can be no question that the man-child in the chapter of Revelation is Christ, and the woman described is Israel; but its exegetical meaning is in connection with the last days, when Israel will be in travail pains to give birth to the remnant, so prominently mentioned in prophecy.  Since the nation rejected the Messiah they have had nothing but suffering, but the great travail pains come in the future.  For thus saith the Lord: We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear and not of peace.  Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child?  Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness?  Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it, it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it (Jer. 30: 5-7).  That godly remnant turning then to the Lord, born in that future travail, are called here His brethren.”  They are the same of which our Lord spoke in the description of the judgment of nations, which He executes when sitting upon the throne of His glory (see Matt. 25: 31).  That remnant will resume their place as and with Israel, not becoming a part of the true Church [of the firstborn], which is then no longer upon the earth, but having all the earthly Jewish hopes realized in the kingdom, of which they are the nucleus.

 

 

4. The Rejected One, the Shepherd of Israel: Verses 4-6.

 

 

This refers to His second coming.  He will stand and feed in the strength of Jehovah, for He is the Lord; and they (saved Israel) shall abide.  Yea, more than that, He shall be great unto the ends of the earth.”

 

 

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 people Israel.  He will be the peace for them, when the Assyrian, the King of the North, enters their land, and by His power will strike down the invader.  Who are the seven shepherds and the eight principal men?  They will be those who will be used in that day to stem back the invading hosts.  Who they are is unknown, but it will be known at the time of fulfilment.  Then Assyria, the land of Nimrod, as well as all opposing world powers will be completely ended.

 

 

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 enemies of Israel will be cut down and cut off (Num. 24: 9; see exposition of Balaam’s parables at the close of annotations on Numbers.)  All the instruments of war will be done away with, as well as witchcrafts and the soothsayers.  Spiritism, Christian Science, Theosophy and all the other demon cults flourishing now, and still more before He comes, will find their ignominious end.  Idolatry, the graven images, and the standing images will be abolished.  Before the Lord comes the evil spirit of idolatry will once more seize hold on Israel, that is, among the apostates (see annotations on Matt. 12: 43-45).  While all this refers to Israel it also includes the rest of the world.  All offences will he gathered out of His kingdom.  The better rendering of verse 15 is, And I will execute vengeance in anger and fury upon the nations which hearkened not.”  That is, during the end of the age God sent forth a testimony to the nations and those who hearkened not will fall under the wrath of the lion of the tribe of Judah.

 

 

THE THIRD PROPHETIC DISCOURSE

 

 

Chapters 6-7

 

 

CHAPTER 6

 

 

1. The Words of Jehovah to His People.  1-5.

 

2. Israel’s Answer.  6-7.

 

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 Israel.

 

 

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 Egypt, redeemed them out of the house of bondage; He had given them Moses, Aaron and Miriam, by whom He led them.  He reminded them of Balak, King of Moab, and Balaam, the son of Beor, who wanted to have Israel cursed.  But what had Balaam been forced to say?  How shall I curse whom God has not cursed!”  What a faithful, loving God He had been to them.

 

 

2. Israel’s Answer: Verses 6-7.

 

 

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.  Israel did not act in righteousness, nor did they love mercy, nor did they walk humbly in fellowship with the Lord.  Why not?  Because they were uncircumcised in their hearts.  To do right, to love mercy, to walk in humility with God is impossible for the natural man; in order to do this, there must be the new birth, and the new birth takes place when the sinner believes and expresses his faith in true repentance.  Only a blind leader of the blind can say this verse is the Gospel, and that faith in the Deity of Christ and in His atoning, ever blessed work on the Cross is not needed.  Israel never has been anything like this which Jehovah demands.  The day is coming when the Lord in His grace will give them a new heart and take away the stony heart, and fill them with His Spirit (see Ezek. 26).

 

 

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.

 

 

CHAPTER 7

 

 

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 Zion.  It is to be noted that our Lord quotes from this portion of Micah. (See Matt. 10: 21, which dispensationally applies to the future remnant.)  In the midst of the conditions the prophet describes we read that his refuge was prayer, looking to the Lord with the assurance that He will hear.  Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.”  This will be the attitude of the godly Israelites during the [Great Tribulation] time of trouble.

 

 

2. The Conclusion: Verses 7-20.

 

 

It is Israel speaking in the remnant, represented by the prophet.  The enemy is addressed; at the time of Micah it was the Assyrian, the type of the end Assyrian; but it includes all the world powers in their anti-Semitic attitude.  The real Israel has always had this comfort, founded on the fact that God’s gifts and calling are without repentance, that they are the elect nation, that their fall must be followed by a spiritual and national resurrection (Rom. 11).  Hence they say, Rejoice not against me, 0 mine enemy; when I fall I shall rise again; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto me.”  This will be the case when their greatest darkness comes in the end of the age (see Isa. 60).

 

 

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 Judah and Israel enter in that day.”  Then the nations will gather to restored Israel in the [millennial] kingdom (compare verse 12 with Isa. 60: 3-10).

 

 

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 Egypt.  The nations, their enemies, will be witness to it; they will he humiliated in the dust.

 

 

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 Israel.  It will be a glorious day when God forgives them their sins and remembers them no more.

 

 

*       *       *

 

 

7

The Prophet Nahum

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

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 Nineveh, on the eastern banks of the Tigris.  There the grave of Nahum is shown, adored alike by nominal Christians and the followers of Mohammed.  But careful research has shown this to be absolutely without any foundation whatever.  No one knew anything about that grave till about the sixteenth century of our era.  It is the Elkosh which existed in Galilee and which is still known as a little village.  Nahum, like Jonah, was a Galilean.

 

 

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.  Judah and not Israel is addressed by Nahum.  There is no reason to assume that he lived in exile and uttered his prophecy in the land of Assyria.  He spoke in the land of Israel, probably in Jerusalem.  The most significant passage which gives us important information is chapter 1: 11: There is one come out of thee (out of Assyria) that imagineth evil against the Lord, a wicked counsellor.”  Who was this wicked counsellor, who imagined evil against the Lord? There can be but one answer.  A wicked counsellor came out of Assyria, the mouthpiece of its reigning king Sennacherib.  His name was Rah-shakeh.  He blasphemed and defied the God of Israel.  His vile words are recorded in 2 Kings 18: 26-27.  The description of Nahum fits this Assyrian villain.  We are justified in placing Nahum in the period of Hezekiah; he was therefore contemporary with Isaiah and Micah.

 

 

There is an interesting link between Jonah, Micah and Nahum.  Jonah, was sent with the message to Nineveh about one hundred and fifty years before Nahum prophesied.  Through his message Nineveh turned to the Lord.  Isaiah and Micah prophesied concerning the same Assyrian power, the capital of which was Nineveh.  They witnessed the Assyrian attack upon Jerusalem and Jehovah’s intervention in behalf of His people.  They saw the downfall of the kingdom of Israel through Assyria and were well acquainted with the wickedness of the Assyrian.  And then came Nahum from Galilee, and the Spirit of God gave through him the great message of the coming complete destruction of Nineveh.

 

 

ASSYRIAN HISTORY

 

 

A knowledge of Assyrian history, and its great capital Nineveh, is needed for a better understanding of Nahum’s prophecy.  It is strange that ancient writers like Ctesias, the physician of Artaxerxes, Mnemon and Diodorus Siculus have but little to say about Assyria, and many identified Assyria with Babylonia.  The infidel critics have seen their defeat in this respect.  Not believing the Bible, they trusted in the historical accounts of pagan writers, and assuming that they were right discredited the Word of God, only to find out afterward that the Bible is right and the heathen historians were wrong.  For instance, Isaiah mentions in chapter 20 Sargon, king of Assyria.  Because the secular historians know nothing of such a king, they sat in judgment upon the Word of God.  They denied that such a king ever existed, thinking that the statement by Isaiah is an invention.  But when Khorsabad was excavated the annals of Sargon, King of Assyria, were found engraved on the walls of the palace.  It was then proven that Sargon was a great warrior, the father of Sennacherib, and that Isaiah gave a true record.

 

 

Hezekiah, the king of Judah, under whom Nahum as well as Isaiah and Micah prophesied, had paid tribute for many years to Assyria.  When he revolted an Assyrian army appeared in the land, by which over forty Judean cities were captured.  Jerusalem itself was saved by divine intervention (see Isa. 37: 36).  Sennacherib, who had sent the expedition against Jerusalem, being murdered by his own sons in 681 B. C. (see Isa. 37: 38).  His successor was Esarhaddon, who besieged Sidon and carried its treasures to Nineveh.  Asshurbanipal succeeded him to the throne and made his son Shamash-shumukin regent of Babylon, for Babylon was then an insignificant power.  Here we must remember that when Babylon was next to nothing in world history, Isaiah had predicted its coming greatness and conquest of Jerusalem by the Babylonian power.  Under Asshurbanipal the ancient and great capital of Upper Egypt was captured, which is mentioned by Nahum, in chapter 3: 10; that is, No-Amon is Thebes.  Asshurbanipal conquered many countries and nations; he razed Susa and immense treasures were carried off to Nineveh.  During his reign every year saw a cruel war and ruin and carnage was spread in every direction.  The captives were treated in a horrible manner, with all kinds of torture.  The nations suffered terribly under this wicked monarch, so that when finally Assyria fell the nations rejoiced, as mentioned by Nahum at the conclusion of his prophecy.  All that hear the bruit of thee shall clap hands over thee; for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?”  After Asshurbanipal Assyria declined.  He was followed by Asshur-etil-ilani and Sin-shar-ishkun, and finally Assyria and its great and proud capital were conquered by Nabo-polassar, the father of Nebuchadnezzar and Cyaxares.  This happened about 695 B.C., just about ninety years after Nahum announced the, destruction of Nineveh.

 

 

THE MESSAGE OF NAHUM

 

 

His prophetic message concerns exclusively Nineveh.  Critics have put question marks over against certain parts of this book, while other critics have contradicted their fellow critics.  In fact, if one wishes to find theories and assumptions, wild guesses and fanciful hypotheses, the camp of the rationalist is the place.  The unity and integrity of the prophecy of Nahum is beyond controversy.  As the opening verse announces, it is the burden of Nineveh.

 

 

Typically Nineveh stands for the world powers to the end of the times of the Gentiles, and its overthrow foreshadows the overthrow of the final world powers.

 

 

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 oppressor of Israel.  The second chapter describes the overthrow, the plundering and destruction of Nineveh.  The third chapter shows the guilt and the well deserved judgment and ruin of Nineveh.

 

 

-------

 

 

Analysis and Annotations

 

 

THE PURPOSE OF GOD IN DEALING

WITH THE ASSYRIAN OPPRESSOR

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

1. The Superscription. 1.

 

2. Jehovah’s Majesty in Judgment.  9-6.

 

3. His People Comforted and Assured.  7-13.

 

4. The Judgment of Assyria and the Result.  14-15.

 

 

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.

Carmel, Bashan and Lebanon are thinned out.

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 (Nineveh) and darkness will pursue His enemies.”

 

 

In the prophetic application we must look beyond the horizon of Nahum’s time and the judgment of Nineveh.  The day of the Lord brings the final overthrow of the proud world powers, and the remnant of His people will have in the Lord a refuge, while the judgment floods sweep over the earth (see Psa. 46).

 

 

On the ninth verse many expositors have erred in their interpretation.  It is also addressed to Israel.  What do ye imagine against the Lord?”  Do you imagine that the Lord is not going to do it?  Will He repent of His judgment purpose?  No?  He who has spoken will make an utter end,” and to His people it is spoken affliction shall not rise up the second time.”

 

 

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 Jerusalem with evil imaginations.  The better translation of verse 12 is, Though they be strong, and likewise many, even so shall they be cut down, and he (the Assyrian) shall pass away.”

 

 

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 longer afflict Israel, yet affliction upon affliction has been their lot.  But there comes the day when all afflictions will cease.  For now will I break his yoke (the yoke of the Assyrian) from off thee (Israel) and I will burst thy bonds asunder.”

 

 

4. The Judgment of the Assyrian and the Result: Verses 14-15.

 

 

The fourteenth verse gives the judgment commandment as to Assyria and Nineveh.  They are vile, and the God who declared His character in the beginning of this message, is going to act accordingly.

 

 

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 Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows; for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.”  The prophet beholds how the messengers rush over the mountains with the good news.  Judah and Jerusalem are delivered. Peace has come.  Praise and thanksgiving is heard in Zion.

 

 

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 Zion, Thy God reigneth! ... Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem.  The Lord hath made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth have see the salvation of our God.”  This was spoken in connection with Babylon’s overthrow, but its wider application and meaning is future.  The overthrow of Babylon and Nineveh did not result in the glorious things spoken of by Isaiah and Nahum.  Not then did the ends of the earth see the salvation of God, nor was Jerusalem redeemed, nor God as King enthroned in Zion.  It is all yet to come.  When that day comes, the messengers will go forth from Jerusalem and declare the good tidings to the nations of the world.  The good news of the kingdom will be heralded far and wide, in the beginning of the millennium, and then the abiding, abundant peace has come so that all the nations see the salvation of the God of Israel.  The wicked, opposing powers of the world will then be no more.

 

 

THE OVERTHROW, PLUNDERING AND DESTRUCTION OF NINEVEH

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

 

1. The Capture of Nineveh Announced and Described.  1-10.

 

2. The Completeness of the Judgment.  11-13.

 

 

1. The Capture of Nineveh Announced and Described: Verses 1-10.

 

 

This great prophecy was literally fulfilled some ninety years after Nahum had spoken.  When these words were spoken Nineveh was in the zenith of her glory.  Who told Nahum the Elkoshite that the proud world city would undergo such a sack and be completely wiped out?  Who moved his pen to give such a vivid description of what would take place?  There is but one answer - the Spirit of God.  How was the prophecy fulfilled?  Cyaxeres of the Medes had surrounded Nineveh in the north.  Nabopolassar of Babylon entered into an alliance with Cyaxares against the Assyrians, which was sealed by the marriage of the daughter of Cyaxares, Amunia, with the son of Nabopolassar, that is, Nebuchadnezzar, who appeared then as the colleague of his father, till the Lord called him as the instrument of judgment upon Jerusalem and he became the head of the Babylonian monarchy (see Dan. 11).  They made an assault upon Nineveh.  The Assyrian king, a son of Asshurbanipal, collected all his forces into the lower part of the immense city.  Three times the forces of the Assyrian sallied forth from the city and inflicted severe punishment upon the besieging armies, and Nabopolassar had great difficulty in keeping the Median forces from flight.  The Assyrians after these successes abandoned themselves to great carousings, as stated in Nahum 1: 10.  But during that night they were attacked by the besiegers and driven back behind the walls.  Then the troops which were under the command of the brother-in-law of the Assyrian king were routed and driven into the river Tigris.  The main part of Nineveh was still safe. In the third year of the siege the river which surrounded the city became its enemy.  Great rains had fallen and suddenly there was a tremendous flood which broke down the walls surrounding the city.  This was predicted by Nahum in this chapter in the sixth verse.  The king despaired of saving his life.  He had sent his family north, and when all hope was gone he shut himself up with all his treasures in the royal citadel and burned himself with them.  Then the victors entered into the city, and, after securing an immense booty, which was carried to Babylon and Eebatana, the Babylonians set fire to the sacked city, and destroyed it completely by fire.

 

 

The prophet in the beginning of this chapter addresses Nineveh; he urges that she make ready to defend herself, for he that dasheth into pieces has appeared before her walls.  It was the Lord who had used the Assyrian to bring judgment upon Israel and upon Jacob, but now the time had come for the restoration of their former excellency.  The Authorized Version gives the wrong sense, and the second verse is correctly rendered: For the Lord bringeth again the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel; for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine branches.”  Then the besieging army is described.  Here we read of their glittering arms, their fast racing chariots, which dash along like lightning.

 

 

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 Nineveh with their chariots, drawn by swift horses.

 

 

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 Babylon fell, under the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, the river also was the means of defeat, for the enemy had diverted the river Euphrates and through the dry river-bed entered the city.

 

 

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 Nineveh is pictured in the eighth verse.  Like as a pool of water empties when the sluices are opened, so they flee.  The soldiers cry “Stand! Stand!” but there is a panic.  They rush away and none looks back.

 

 

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 Nineveh.  The city is emptied; hearts melt, courage is gone; there are tottering knees and pale faces.

 

 

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.”

 

 

NINEVEH’S GUILT AND WELL-DESERVED JUDGMENT

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

 

1. The Great Wickedness of Nineveh.  1-7.

 

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 Nineveh: Verses 1-7.

 

 

Nineveh was a bloody city, for her kings never knew peace, but were constantly at war.  The Hebrew Ir-Damim means “City of Blood Drops.”  They boasted of making the blood of their enemies run like rivers.  It was a city full of lies and rapine.  Her word could not be trusted; she broke truces and covenants and deceived nations with lying promises of help and protection.  As stated in the second chapter, she was ferocious as a lion and the prey never departed.

 

 

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 Nineveh courted.  Spiritism, as advocated today by men of research and culture, of the type of Oliver Lodge and Conan Doyle, and a multitude of others, is not a new thing.  Egypt, Babylon and Nineveh and other centers of paganism were filled with occultism, the practice of which hastened their doom; as the doom of our age will be consummated through the influence of the same evil powers.

 

 

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,

And say, Nineveh is laid waste;

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.  Ethiopia and Egypt were her strength, and there was no limit; Put and Lubim were thy helpers.”  No-Amon was an Egyptian city, known to the Greeks by the name of Thebes.  The judgment of No-Amon, or, as it is also called, “No,” was announced by the prophet Jeremiah.  The Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel saith, Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh and Egypt, with their gods and their kings, even Pharaoh and them that trust in him (Jer. 46: 5).  Ezekiel likewise had spoken of this great Egyptian city (Ezek. 30: 14-16).  There existed an immense temple there in honour of the god of No, the building had great facades and columns and covered a large space; the ruins which are left are still most wonderful to look upon.  It was situated on the upper Nile some four hundred miles from Cairo, and was built along the river front.  On the other side of the river was the city of the dead, the Necropolis, with a long line of temples, devoted to the worship of former Pharaohs, and behind these temples were thousands of tombs, many of which have been uncovered by the spade of the explorer.  The cuneiform monuments tell of the fate of Thebes.  Though she was defended by the strong men of Ethiopia and of Egypt and Phut, and the Libyans, nothing could avert her doom.  She was carried into captivity, her young children were dashed in pieces, and her great men were bound in chains.  Could then Nineveh hope to escape?  The fate of No-Amon was a prophecy of Nineveh’s fate.  She was even more wicked than the Egyptian city.  Her fate is described in verses 11-13.

 

 

3. Her Well-deserved and Complete Judgment: Verses 14-19.

 

 

Dramatically the prophet calls upon Nineveh to draw water for the siege, to secure clay for brick to repair the breaches in the wall.  But all would be useless, for the Almighty had decreed her downfall.  The fire would devour the proud city, the sword do its havoc in cutting them off.  Let them be as numerous as the cankerworm (see annotations of Joel 1), make thyself as many as the locusts, which come in immense swarms, and it will be all to no avail.  Her great commerce, her merchant-princes, were a vast host, like the stars of heaven, but all would soon be devastated, as the cankerworm spoileth and then flies away. Their crowned ones, the chiefs in authority, would all be scattered just as the sun-rise scatters the locusts and swarms of grasshoppers to a place unknown.  Their shepherds, the leaders and rulers, under the king of Assyria, would sleep in death, while the population wandered homeless over the mountains, with none to gather them.

 

 

Nineveh’s ruin is complete and irreparable.  All who hear of her fall rejoice and clap their hands.

 

 

 

*       *       *

 

 

BAPTISM

 

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 Two Ways.  Then follow these words:- “Baptise ye into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, in running water.  And if thou hast not running water, baptise into other water, and if thou canst not in cold then in warm.  But if thou hast neither, pour water thrice upon the head into the name of the Father …”  Thus affusion, or pouring, was only an alternative for regions where no water could be had, such as a desert.  Dean Stanley, writing of the change from the New Testament practice to sprinkling infants, says:- “One reason no doubt was the superstitious feeling which regarded baptism as a charm, indispensable to salvation, and which insisted on imparting it to every human being who could be touched with water, however unconscious.”

 

 

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).

 

 

*       *       *

 

 

8

The Prophet Habakkuk

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

There is a very interesting diversity among these Minor Prophets.  Hosea starts with the command of the Lord for a symbolical action to show Israel her spiritual whoredoms.  Joel plunges in at once to describe the judgment of the land by the locusts and leads on to the day of the Lord.  Amos begins with the announcement of the judgment of the surrounding nations, while Obadiah is chiefly concerned with the judgment of Edom.  Jonah is different from all the rest in his miraculous experience, while Micah has a character of his own.  Nahum, as we saw, has the one great message of the doom of Nineveh., and brings comfort to God’s people.  Habakkuk again is different from all the rest.  In Nature God displays as Creator a wonderful diversity, and so in His revelation His Spirit uses every instrument in His own way, as it pleases Him.

 

 

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 Judah, as the Assyrian was used in judgment with the house of Israel.  He prophesied during the reign of Josiah, that is at the very close of his reign, and a few years before Nineveh was destroyed, which elevated the Babylonians to the place of prominence.  Some have put the date into the reign of Manasseh, the father of Josiah, but this is too early.  Josiah died on the battlefield, and after his son Jehoahaz had reigned three months, Pharaoh-necho, who had slain Josiah, made Eliakim, the son of Josiah, king over Judah, and gave him the name of Jehoiakim (see 2 Kings 24: 28-37).

 

 

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 Judah by the Chaldeans as well as the overthrow of the Chaldeans, on account of the deification of their power, is the prophetic message with which he starts.

 

 

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 Judah by the Chaldeans.  In chapter 2 the Woe is pronounced upon the Chaldeans and their destruction is predicted. The third chapter contains the Vision of the Coming of the Lord, with which all the ungodly world powers terminate, and the dominion of the Gentiles ends.

 

 

Inasmuch as the Authorized Version contains numerous incorrect renderings, we give a complete text in a metric version. 

 

 

-------

 

 

The Prophet Habakkuk

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

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?

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

 

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!

How long?

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 done to Lebanon shall cover thee,

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.

 

 

CHAPTER 3

 

 

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 JUDAH

THROUGH THE CHALDEANS ANNOUNCED

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

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 Judah.  The [Holy] Spirit of God stirred up the heart of Habakkuk on account of the moral conditions in Judah.  He is jealous for Jehovah’s glory, which manifested itself in hating the evil.  There is no prophetic delivery among the twelve lesser books more peculiar and characteristic than that of Habakkuk.  It has no longer the occupation with the enemy as its main feature, although the enemy is referred to; but for its prominent topic we find the soul of the prophet, as representing the faithful among Judah, brought into deep exercise, and indeed a kind of colloquy between God Himself and the prophet, so as to set out not only that which gave him trouble of heart, but also divine comfort, as well as into exulting hope into which he was led by the communications of the Spirit of God.”

 

 

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 house of Judah.  He would work a judgment work, which they would not believe, it would be an unparalleled occurrence, amazing and terrible.  This passage is quoted by the Apostle Paul in Acts 13: 41 and applied to the unbelievers and despisers of the Gospel. In the quotation the Spirit of God led the Apostle to omit the address to the nations, and substituted for it Ye despisers.”  While in Habakkuk’s day God was about to work a work of judgment, which the unbelievers would not believe when they heard of it, we note that Paul preached the Gospel; he has reference to speaking to the Jews in the synagogue; preached the Gospel unto them, and they did not believe.  Then He worked a work which they would not believe, in sending that Gospel far hence to the Gentiles (Acts 27) while the unbelieving Jews would be dispersed among the nations.

 

 

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 Judah.  They were to be the instrument in the hand of God to mete out judgment to the Jews and humble them, as well as other nations.  The Chaldeans, called in Hebrew Hakkadsim were of Semitic origin, springing from Kesed, the son of Nahor, and brother of Abraham (Gen. 22: 22).  Jeremiah, who also announced the Chaldean invasion, speaks of them in the following manner: Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from afar, 0 house of Israel, saith the Lord; it is a mighty nation, an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say.  Their quiver is an open sepulchre, they are all mighty men.  And they shall eat up thine harvest, and thy bread, which thy sons and thy daughters should eat, they shall eat up thy flocks and thine herds; they shall eat up thy vines and thy fig-trees; they shall impoverish thy fenced cities, wherein thou trustest, with the sword.  Nevertheless, in those days, saith the Lord, I will not make a full end of you (Jer. 5: 15-18).  Their terrible onslaught is here compared with the swiftness of the leopards, their fierceness with the prowling evening wolves, and their horsemen in their dash with the eagle’s flight.  They come for violence and know no defeat, for their faces are always forward.  They make prisoners like the sand, and mock all attempts to check their advance; kings and princes are ridiculed and all strongholds are quickly reduced.

 

 

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 king of Babylon, after his humiliating experience, acknowledged the God of Heaven, but his grandson Belshazzar praised the Babylonian idol-gods, at his licentious feast, dishonouring the temple vessels.  Then followed the judgment of the Chaldeans in the overthrow of Babylon.

 

 

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

 

 

CHAPTER 2

 

 

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, final Babylon as revealed in the last Book of the Bible, will be judged and the Lord will be manifested in all His glory.  The prophet’s business is, as well as that of every believer, to wait for it and not to be disturbed if there is delay, for the assurance is given that it will surely come and not tarry.  And here faith can rest.

 

 

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.”