Wednesday, December 23, 2009

PROPHET OBADIAH



Flashes of visions whizzed through Prophet Obadiah’s mind as he stood praying for the remnants of Israelites to be spared from further agony. The downfall of Jerusalem had severely dented the faith of most as they sat there in a foreign land. For some remnants, especially prophets, there remained a great hope amidst dreaded despair as they pondered deeply of Yahweh’s next move. Their God had never left his throne a single time and his grip on nations had not slipped an inch.


Sadness filled Obadiah’s heart as the word, ‘Edom’ appeared over and over again in the vision. “Isn’t Edom a close brother of Jacob? Isn’t he a kinsman? How could they do such a heinous thing to their brothers?” Prophet Obadiah questioned God’s Word in his heart. Immediately, he remembered ancient Cain’s ominous answer to God’s rhetorical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”


The historical feud between Jacob and Esau was well known. Since that fateful day when the birthright of Esau as the eldest son was ‘stolen’ by Jacob when he deceived their father, Isaac, the anger of Esau’s descendants never subsided. (Read my take on the issue at my other post on Isaac – under Bible Actors’ Series) Sometimes the minds of men could create a bondage that would last for a long long time.


“You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their disaster,” prophet Obadiah cried out the words of God. At their fortress on the solid rocks of Petra, the Edomites laughed and scoffed as the Israelites were slaughtered and exiled. They even made sure no one escape Babylonians’ murderous rampage by capturing and handing over the survivors. The prophet wept as anger rose from within him. “How could brothers turn against their own households and ally themselves with the enemy in the time of destruction?” he shook his head in disbelief.


As Obadiah knelt in agony, the word of God came like a healing balm.


“The house of Jacob will be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame; the house of Esau will be stubble, and they will set it on fire and consume it. There will be no survivors from the house of Esau." The LORD has spoken. People from the Negev will occupy the mountains of Esau, and people from the foothills will possess the land of the Philistines. They will occupy the fields of Ephraim and Samaria, and Benjamin will possess Gilead. This company of Israelite exiles who are in Canaan will possess the land as far as Zarephath; the exiles from Jerusalem who are in Sepharad will possess the towns of the Negev. Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau.”


Edom would not escape God’s judgment even though they thought they were invincible, lodged on the high mountains. They wished of Israel’s demise so that they could win the ancient war of taking back the birthright of Esau. Yet, the plan of God was set right from the beginning, that no one that cursed Israel would be blessed. Instead, a curse of destruction was awaiting all those who turned against Israel with an ominous reason.


The prophet stood up, looked up to the skies and proclaimed, “And the kingdom will be the Lord’s.”


What would Prophet Obadiah say to us if he were to be alive today?


1. We ARE our brothers’ (sisters’) keepers!
2. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.
3. Our mind can play havoc to our spiritual life if we do not let God and His Word take captive of it.
4. Israel may lose some battles but it will never lose the war!
5. No one can hide from God’s judgment. He can reach the highest mountain and the deepest oceans.


Monday, November 30, 2009

THE FALL OF THE DOLLAR AND THE RISE OF EUROPE!


LATEST: European Union foreign ministers agreed on Tuesday that Jerusalem should be the capital of both Israel and a future Palestinian state, as part of a negotiated settlement, E.U. diplomats said. - 8th December 2009!

There had not been so much coordinated attacks on the US dollar as in recent times. Russia, China, Middle Eastern countries and even United Nation itself have recently voiced out on the dominance of the Greenback. Some countries are hard pressed to find ways to steer away from its dominance as their international reserves are in Dollar, afraid that one day it may just collapse. On the other hand, nations like Iran, Venezuela and some Muslim majority states want to see the demise of the Dollar because they didn’t like the United States and want to see its power diminished. Today, USA is still the only superpower nation of the world and through the eyes of the world, it is not being highly esteemed. In fact, if not because of the Church with its righteous people and the strong leadership today, the United States will immediate implode. Immorality, out of control of guns and narcotics, dysfunctional families and not to say the thriving population of gays and lesbians have all been the contribution factors for the eventual fall of its hegemony of the world.

That fall will occur for another to rise as predicted by the Bible. The “feet and toes” of the vision of Daniel speaks about the last world empire before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ (Daniel 2). It will be the ‘last leg’ of the earth’s kingdom before the fulfilment of the prophecy, “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15). The fourth kingdom depicted in the Daniel’s statue prophecy represented by the Roman Empire which set up a powerful dominant force all across the known civilization. And when Prophet Daniel interpreted the toes, he aligned it with the feet signifying a revived Roman Empire, a dream today similar to a single Europe confederation.

Although Rome had lost all its glory but there remained a desire to colonise and dominate in the form of a united Europe. Recently, every nation in the European Union states had signed up for the establishment of the European Constitution, a treaty for Europe to take another giant step into becoming a single entity. The progressive revelation of God to Daniel revealed the fourth beast in another vision (Dan. 7), speaks more vividly of the last kingdom, a coordinated nations, partly of iron and partly of clay that was prophesied earlier. Ten toes or ten horns in Daniel chapter 7, don’t necessarily speak of numerically 10 nations but a complete number of countries coming together. Some countries will obviously be weaker than others and there will be infighting amongst the nations. The revived single Europe will rise to take control over the world’s economy as the Dollar falls. As expected, the nation which takes over the economy today takes control of the world.

"While I was thinking about the horns, there before me was another horn, a little one, which came up among them; and three of the first horns were uprooted before it. This horn had eyes like the eyes of a man and a mouth that spoke boastfully” (Dan. 7:8).
As predicted, a man will rise up from the Revived Roman Empire, the rise of the Anti Christ and Paul called him, “The Lawless One”.

"And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness" (2 Thess. 2:8-11).

Paul knew about the power of the words spoken by the Anti Christ as also John, who wrote in the Book of Revelation, a conqueror, riding on the white horse with bow without arrows. The conquest will be accomplished by him with eloquent words and will deceive multitudes. Eventually, he will brutally wage war against the weaker nations, trying to take control. The Anti Christ will try to win over many hearts by solving the most contentious crisis ever on the face of the earth, the Israel and Palestinian issue. The ultimate fight is not so much about the Palestinians or Israelies but about Jerusalem. If anyone wants to know the greatest sign of the Second Coming of Jesus, it will be Jerusalem!

However, when Jesus Christ comes, the Lawless One shall be overthrown and God’s truths will reign, like the water covers the seas. The lies of the Anti Christ shall crumble like dominoes when the Word of God comes! The kingdom of Christ will take over the earth and righteousness will once again thrive!

We are on the verge of seeing the coming last kingdom prophesied by Daniel as a united Europe will flap its powerful wings, flying high in the world, only to be brought down by the next kingdom, the Kingdom of God and of Christ!

What can Christians do before the time of the end?

1. Christians must live a simple life.

2. Christians must stand firm for what they believe in.

3. Christians must share the Gospel so that more souls can be spared from the Great Tribulation or the Abomination of the Desolation decreed by God in His Word.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

PROPHET DANIEL



Angel Gabriel descended gracefully towards Prophet Daniel as he knelt with his hands lifted towards Jerusalem. The prophet’s face was still moist with tears of repentance. “As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed,” the heavenly visitor spoke.


It was a moment of intense grieving for many Israelites who were exiled by the Babylonians and biting their fingers praying that Jerusalem and the temple would be delivered. By the river of Babylon they would sit and cry. Yet even amongst the exile, many still rebelled against God’s Word to submit to chastisement. Prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel were voices of God that often went unheeded. But Daniel understood Jeremiah’s 70-year exile message and he knew that God alone would have the final say. Instead of rising to complain, Daniel went down on his knees. God often revealed his plans to those who sought him earnestly and Daniel knew the secret to God’s secrets: prayer.

From day one when he became the first group to be taken to Babylon, Daniel kept his faith in Yahweh intact. The idolatrous and gluttonous cultures of the day were perpetually shunned by him and some of his Israelite friends. And as he continued to surrender to God, Daniel rose to great prominence in the palace of the king. Magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers all were not in his league when God empowered Daniel. Even King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon turned to Daniel for counsel! What a transformation, from an exile to being an advisor of the palace!

Prophet Daniel's adventurous life continued to rumble the Babylonians. Yet, he never kept any glory for himself but always lifted up the name of Yahweh! Daniel’s dream was to let the nations know that his God was in control and always would be. Nothing could stop Daniel from realising his dream, no furnace of fire, and no lions!

The solid character of Daniel made him the perfect choice to more of God’s visions and the revealing of the future. Never in a time had God revealed so much to a single prophet with such clear predictions of future happenings in the world. Daniel was privileged to view future kingdoms of Persia and Medes, Greece, Romans and also the last coordinated world kingdoms. In fact, the prophet even saw the eternal kingdom of God triumphed over the kingdoms of the world! He saw God's Messiah set forth his everlasting kingdom!

Daniel proclaimed victoriously, "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed”.

Overwhelmed with such intensity of those prophecies, Daniel was understandably perplexed. Although God would ultimately triumph, it would not be without bloodshed and destruction of many people. An abomination of desolation, a great tribulation had been pronounced in Jerusalem before the finest hour of the Messiah! However, on that day, deliverance would come to all righteous believers!

God declared, "At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people--everyone whose name is found written in the book--will be delivered.”

Daniel could not understand everything that he prophesied because it concerned the end of time. But God left words for all who were willing to listen and obey, “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.”

Finally, God gave a final assurance for all righteous people, especially for his beloved prophet, "As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance."

What would Prophet Daniel say to us if he were to be alive today?

1. Prayer works! God answers prayers!
2. No matter how difficult or dangerous circumstances may be, keep your faith in God and you will be rewarded.
3. Our God controls the nations today, tomorrow and the end of time!
4. The righteous can rest secure even when the world falls into absolute turmoil.
5. The eternal inheritance in heaven is waiting for all who serve God and giving Him glory on the earth.

Friday, November 20, 2009

PROPHET EZEKIEL



“The city has fallen! The city has fallen!” a cry rang out eerily from a desperate and broken man. The messenger who had seen the carnage and massacre in Jerusalem garnered whatever strength that was left in him to proclaim to his hearers, the first remnants of Israelites taken by the Babylonians.


The news had become the darkest hour in Israel’s history. The walls of Jerusalem crumbled beyond recognition. What was more horrifying to the chosen nation was the destruction of the temple of God, built by the mighty King Solomon. Many of those heard went away in disbelief but not Prophet Ezekiel, who was amongst those taken away from a losing war with the Babylonians. In fact God had shown him this day before it even happened.


Prophet Ezekiel was called to be a prophet in a world filled with international upheavals. The rise of the Babylonians had caused many countries in the region to tremble especially powers like Egypt, Syria and the Palestine Judah. Many of these countries fell like dominoes when ruthless Babylon wielded their swords against them. When Israel was finally subdued, only some righteous ones knew that it was Yahweh who made it happen. Not because the Babylonians were invincible but the blatant sins of Judah had caused its own downfall.


Before the shock devastation, God had transported his prophet Ezekiel to witness many treacherous scheming and wicked deeds being performed by so called chosen ones without an ounce of remorse. Such audacity of wantonness was unthinkable to the mind of any righteous man or woman, let alone a prophet priest like Ezekiel. God always showed his close ones the secret why he did what he had to do! And Ezekiel understood perfectly! The prophet even witnessed the departing of the glory of God from the temple, signifying the end of God’s presence with the rebellious people!


When God’s glory departed, his judgment fire would follow. Yet, when they heard of the consuming fire of God being prophesied, they laughed it away as ridiculous! Ezekiel complained, "Ah, Sovereign LORD! They are saying of me, 'Isn't he just telling parables?'" The prophet knew of their heart of stone when Yahweh spoke, “Son of man, this is what the Sovereign LORD says to the land of Israel: The end! The end has come upon the four corners of the land.”


The despair could be seen in Ezekiel’s face! If God did not stop the fire, it could destroy his people completely. The most heart breaking moment came when God uttered these words to his prophet, “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found NONE.” Not even one! The judgement of God was obviously justified.


Yet with all the doom and gloom Ezekiel saw and heard, God sprinkled hope upon the weary prophet like a refreshing shower! The soothing Word came forth from the throne room of God’s amazing grace, "'For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.” Surely Ezekiel would have heard of the remnant theology but coming out personally from above was exhilarating. More than that, God made sure Ezekiel got a rock solid assurance when he showed the prophet a vision of the dry bones being brought back to life, piece by piece and ultimately through the breath of God! God as usual, remembered the promised made to Abraham although his people forgot.

“I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms,” the all compassionate Yahweh declared! One nation, one King, one God! On that day, when God restored Jerusalem under his awesome power, no nation could stand against it!


As a prophet from a priestly line, Ezekiel would invariably be burdened with worship and secretly yearning for a temple. Then he got more than he asked for. Instead of showing him the vision of the rebuilding of the temple after the 70-year exile, God bypassed it and showed him the millennium temple where the Messiah, the son of David, began his rule! (See my opinion on another blog post - Will the third Jewish temple be built?)


What would Prophet Ezekiel say to us if he were still alive today?


1. God’s judgment will never be unjust for God is a just God!
2. Submission to God leads us to a great future with God.
3. Do not let the world’s wickedness alarm you and keep you away from God for He is still in control!
4. Stand in the gap for unsaved men and women today and keep them from the fire of judgment that is to come.
5. Nothing is impossible for God! What is seemingly dead can be revived if God so desires!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

PROPHET HABAKKUK


"Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay,” the soothing voice replied to prophet Habakkuk’s complaints.


God caught the distress signal of his beloved prophet. Yahweh knew exactly how a righteous man would feel after the destruction of Israel, the southern kingdom and the impending doom of the north. Prophet Habakkuk’s heart received a double blow, a complete rebellion from his countrymen and the invading force of idolatrous Babylonians! Like every psalmist would, he vented his frustrations at the God of the Universe, the one who held the earth as his footstool. A vertical release was less dangerous than horizontal ones. To God, anger was part and parcel of the human psych. He was more than able to take the blows of righteous anger and exchange them with comfort of his words.


Habakkuk knelt down as he received God’s words and cried. “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy,” the prophet prayed with an air of confidence. He knew that God had to do what he had to do. God Almighty could stop the advancement of the Babylonians instantly and let Judah escape. That would be counter- productive and improper.


Yes, the gloom and doom were inevitable but Yahweh had a solid future plan! A righteous man or woman needed to wait upon God. A thought came to Habakkuk’s mind, from the words of prophet Isaiah, “Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Perhaps his contemporary peer, prophet Jeremiah did help with a God-given 70-year time frame of exile. Prophet Habakkuk believed that in the end of everything, the earth would be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters covered the sea. The righteous must live by faith that God would make things right in his own righteous ways!


God gave Habakkuk a clear picture how he would deal a death blow to the Babylonians. After many God-given victories in their conquests, the Babylonians thought that they were superior people and their gods rule supreme. “The cup from the LORD’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory,” the voice of God thundered against Babylon! Habakkuk had to make it plain and simple on tablets, in order for God’s messengers to unmistakably deliver the good news to all!


Then Habakkuk straightened up and burst out singing, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Saviour. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights."


What would Prophet Habakkuk say to us if he were to be alive today?


1. Anger is a normal emotion but don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.
2. Let our anger and frustrations be made known to God and let His Word comfort you.
3. Do not be happy or gloat over someone who is facing consequences for his/her actions
4. Let us clearly understand the message of the gospel as we seek urgently to transform lives with it.
5. Let us run the race with
faith and not by sight.


Monday, November 9, 2009

PROPHET JEREMIAH


“For twenty-three years--from the thirteenth year of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah until this very day--the word of the LORD has come to me and I have spoken to you again and again, but you have not listened. And though the LORD has sent all his servants the prophets to you again and again, you have not listened or paid any attention,” Prophet Jeremiah declared angrily. The disheartened man of God was the last call of Yahweh to the stiff-necked people of Judah. The cup of God’s wrath against Judah was almost tilted to pouring.


Jeremiah was called to be a voice of God in an unprecedented time of rebellion. It was even dangerous to live a righteous life, what’s more, to be a prophet. Time was so bad that Jeremiah himself was so overwhelmed by it that he fell into a short depression. His heartfelt prayer for his beloved nation often bounced back from the brazen heavenly roof. God told him not to pray for this people anymore, and said even if Moses and Samuel were to stand before him, his heart would not go out to them. Jeremiah felt as if a knife had plunged right into his heart. But the Lord restored his prophet gently, asking Jeremiah to repent from deep anger and a sense of hopelessness.




When Jeremiah started out, God told him how he had given a certificate of divorce to Israel, the northern nation. It was supposedly to be an object lesson to Judah but alas, it was taken without even a tinge of fear. “Faithless Israel is more righteous than unfaithful Judah,” God spoke to the prophet, signifying a more drastic judgment soon to be unleashed. Then, the merciful God declared through Jeremiah what seemed to be the last call for reason, "Return, faithless Israel. I will frown on you no longer, for I am merciful. I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt-- you have rebelled against the LORD your God, you have scattered your favours to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me.”




King Josiah’s reform during the ministries of Jeremiah and Zephaniah did prompt some changes but it was too little too late. Kings after Josiah, officials, priests, prophets and people were all responsible for the impending wrath. The remnant concept was conceived prior to the destruction of Israel, but under Jeremiah’s ministry, it was prominent and clear. The prophet saw in a vision from God two baskets of figs, one very good and the other rotten. The bad figs represented deadly and fearful wrath of God to be poured out on Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, its officials and all those who sinned against him. There would be no escape! Then God told Jeremiah about the good figs, “The exiles from Judah whom I sent away from this place to the land of Babylonians, my eyes will watch over them for their good, and I will bring them back to this land.” In fact, it even had a time frame for their punishment, a whopping 70-year exile. It was the turning point for Jeremiah, widely known as the weeping prophet, to continue to trust God. With confidence, Jeremiah even bought a field in preparation for the return of the exiles.




His prophecies of doom did not augur well with kings and often followed with anxiety of death and imprisonment. Their perception was contrary to a 'weak stance' taken by Jeremiah that the invincible Yahweh could let Judah be taken into exile by a foreign nation. The great irony was that the kings of Judah did harm to prophet Jeremiah while the Babylonians showed mercy to him. Finally, the time came for the end of a great era of the Davidic kingdom, for the time being. Not only doom politically, when the temple was burned to the ground and all the articles taken, it was also a religious calamity.




But God preserved Jeremiah and shielded him from being taken from Jerusalem in the aftermath of the Babylonian defeat of Judah. From there, he sent a letter and encouraged the remnant.


“This is what the LORD says: "When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. I will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."


The remnant theology was not only settled with the return of the exiles from Babylon, it would stretch out even to the final days where a righteous Branch, sprout from David’s line would come. “In those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness,” Jeremiah proclaimed God’s Word like a fire trapped inside him! As promised, God would restore the kingdom of David to its greatest heights one day!


What would Prophet Jeremiah say to us if he were still alive today?


1. We do not know everything about what God is doing but we can trust Him in everything.
2. If God takes away every consequence of sins, we will forever live in darkness.
3. God is not mocked. We will reap what we sow.
4. The truths of God must be proclaimed even though the whole world may go against them.
5. God always plans the best for us, even sometimes we may not like it. It helps us mature!

Next: Prophet Habakkuk

http://psbible.blogspot.com/2009/11/prophet-habakkuk.html

Friday, November 6, 2009

PROPHET ZEPHANIAH


When Prophet Zephaniah saw those words flashing through his mind, he stood up from his kneeling position, put his whole trust in the Lord. Judah had been a pain to him ever since King Manasseh took over from King Hezekiah. The southern nation had plunged headlong into religious chaos! God’s chosen ones had once again bowed to Baals and made Asherah poles for worship. Manasseh even sacrificed his sons to the fire, practising sorcery, divination and witchcrafts, and worshipped all the starry hosts! When he was captured by the Assyrians and then repented, God in his amazing grace, bestowed mercy on him. Although the ruler restored some semblance of Yahweh worship but sins had already snowballed. No thanks to his son, King Amon, the nation continued to slide downhill.


“Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm,” Zephaniah spoke passionately. God had begun turning his prophets beyond present Israel and Judah and had them focussed on the final days. The King of Israel would be the Messiah, prophesied to rule supreme. Jerusalem would fear no more! What a comfort indeed to those righteous ones who had not soiled their garments to idolatry and immorality.


The prophets of late knew that God’s wrath would eventually come upon this darkened nation, a nation that supposed to shine. Yet deep in the heart of prophet Zephaniah, he hoped and prayed for mercy of God for his beloved Judah. “Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord's anger,” he cried. Perhaps, he saw something in young King Josiah, the son of wicked King Amon who might yet turn things around.


To Zephaniah, all other ungodly nations might not understand the covenant of Yahweh but not Judah! In fact, God ordered him to prophesy against the surrounding nations, especially Assyria whom cruelty was well-known. His contemporary, prophet Nahum had already prophesied Nineveh’s doom. The nations might have heard of the voices of the prophets but they couldn’t care less. But Judah had no excuse for ignorance! They had a covenant with God. Could Jerusalem escape God’s coming wrath? The destruction that had crushed the northern kingdom previously made prophet Zephaniah feared the worst!


“That Day” was the favourite theme of Zephaniah’s prophetic ministry. “The great day of the Lord is near – near and coming quickly,” the prophet proclaimed. “Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end to all who live in the earth,” he added without mincing his words. Zephaniah’s God would have a final say on the earth! The prophet looked on with hope for the future of Jerusalem. “At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honour and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes," says the LORD.


God would eventually restore Jerusalem! If not today, then it would be “that day”.

What will Prophet Zephaniah say to us if he were still alive today?
1. The righteous will triumph in the midst of chaos!
2. God gives grace to the humble but humbles the proud.
3. The nations can twist and turn but God will have the final say.
4. Let the wicked repent before the wrath of God pours!
5. The future of the righteous is not only secure but they will have a place in the future plan of God!
Next: Prophet Jeremiah

http://psbible.blogspot.com/2009/11/prophet-jeremiah.html

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

PROPHET NAHUM




“It’s about time!” Prophet Nahum uttered softly. He was waiting and praying like most inhabitants who were affected directly and indirectly by the extremely brutal Assyrians. Extreme terrorism with nothing short of demonic cruelty was Nineveh’s policy and practices toward any foreigner. Their war strategies would have lions of men shrivelled into scampering mice.


“The Lord is slow to anger and great in power; the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished,” the man of God cried confidently! Nahum reminisced of the salvation of Nineveh more than a hundred years ago through the prophet Jonah. “How could they forget the mercy of God?” Nahum was upset over the short-memory syndrome of mankind. Obviously the strength and prowess of their military might erased all the humility that once portrayed in their history.


Nahum knew of the mighty fortress of Nineveh’s city walls, surrounded by moat to deter any invading armies. In fact, the Assyrians could have invincibility in their thoughts with so many victories and subjects all across the region, including the destruction of God’s people in the northern kingdom. They might even laugh in scorn of Nahum’s prophecies of troubles brewing in their shore. If only they understood previous prophecies that the nation was just instrument in Yahweh’s mighty hand, they might have a slight chance of redemption. But to God and Nahum, it would be all over!


“With an overwhelming flood, Yahweh will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness,” the prophet spoke sternly. “‘I am against you’, declares the Lord Almighty,” he continued, echoing the words of Yahweh. The atrocities that Nineveh committed were not just normal earthly warfare but their stench went right up to the living God! His right hand was raised and this time, he would not send another Jonah. Scores must be settled. Wrongs righted. No moats could stop God from penetrating; no walls could deter God from destroying. Justice would be served, through flood and fire!


Nahum and all the inhabitants breathed a huge relief. “Nothing can heal your wound; your injury is fatal. Everyone who hears the news about you claps his hands at your fall, for who has nor felt your endless cruelty?” the man of God gave his final words to Nineveh.


Judah, the only kingdom left to light up Yahweh’s name got some breathing space after Nineveh’s demise. “Celebrate your festivals, O Judah, and fulfils your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed,” Nahum, his name meant ‘comfort’ encouraged his fellow southerners. The destruction of Assyria was not just a prophecy of relief for them but also a warning of turning against the living God and his covenant.


What would Prophet Nahum say to us if he were still alive today?


1. Don’t treat God’s patience and grace for granted.


2. Build your house upon the Rock (God) because all other grounds are sinking sand.
3. Watch out for signs of pride. Pride comes before a fall!


4. Trust in God even when you see so much of terrorism and wickedness in this world today.

5. Be an encourager today to someone who needs comfort.

Friday, October 30, 2009

PROPHET ISAIAH



“Hear the word of the Lord Almighty: The time will surely come when everything in your palace, and all that your fathers have stored up until this day, will be carried off to Babylon. Your flesh and blood born to you will be taken away and become eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon,” Prophet Isaiah prophesied with a heavy heart. On the receiving end, King Hezekiah of Judah had mix feelings. On one hand, Hezekiah was sad that the dreaded judgment of God was inevitable but on the other hand, glad he would not be there to witness it. The days of the southern Kingdom were numbered and sins spiralling out of control.
Isaiah’s ministry started when King Uzziah died. The late Uzziah (or Azariah) was one of the most successful kings since King David took control of Israel. When God struck him with leprosy because of pride, Judah was badly shaken. While everyone was moaning over the death of Uzziah, Isaiah’s eyes got hold of a different king in a vision. And all eyes should be on Isaiah’s heavenly King of kings, rather than on any earthly kings. The holy and glorious God shook Isaiah to his core and awakened him to a new task. His call was to be a prophet to his own obstinate nation and to the nations of the world.


The prophet’s early days of ministry were filled with rage of backslidden kings of Israel and Judah manipulating each other politically for survival and power. Further adding to the anguish to God was the entanglement with idolatrous nations of Aram, Assyria and Egypt. Even on the onset of Isaiah’s call, he prophesied of destruction and exile! And the damning reports of perpetual sins of the northern kingdom from his peers, Hosea and Amos confirmed the worst.


Right before Isaiah’s eyes, God strengthened the evil and brutal nation of Assyria instead of prospering his beloved Israel or Judah. God would bring to pass what he had said by all means, both judgment and promises. The names of Isaiah’s two sons had superbly illustrated that truth. His first, Shear-Jashub, “A remnant will return”, and the second, Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz, “Quick to the plunder” were God’s restoration and judgment in one statement. These signs were like power points accompanied the declaration of the prophet. The remnant theology was again brought to the forefront of a nation soon to be taken into exile.


The Lord’s anger burned against the northern kingdom and the resurgent Assyria did a Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz! The nation had not seen such devastation since its formation during Joshua’s days! Prophet Isaiah was swift in turning towards Judah, the diminishing light of a godly nation. Next to the conquering Assyria stood Babylon, another power that would be raised up by God for his purposes.


This time, Isaiah warned his fellow southerners to watch out, fresh from the background of destruction and humiliation of their northern neighbours. King Hezekiah knew about the gathering storm from Babylon. Although Hezekiah witnessed a miracle from God in defeating King Sennacherib from Assyria and a prolonging of his life by fifteen years, he wasn’t strong enough to change Judah from sliding further away from Yahweh.


As most prophets did, Isaiah prophesied against all foreign nations especially Assyria and Babylon where they were directly involved in the punishment of Israel. When both of these nations overcame their enemies, they would take pride in their prowess and gloat over all defeated foes, often giving glory to their worthless idols. No prophets would believe that any other so-called gods could be more powerful than Yahweh, the King of all kings! The God who controlled all nations would not stand idle and watch his name being laughed at. If these nations could open their eyes to see that it was Yahweh that strengthened their position and power! They were just instruments! How could clay speak against its potter! “Watch out you guys, Israel’s God will send another to destroy you,” Isaiah declared.


As the prophet’s ministry progressed, he saw the future plan of God. His heart must have calmed a great deal when he saw Cyrus, a king that would come and fulfill the remnant theology. More than that, Isaiah knew of God’s plan right up to the end of days! Where God would eventually lead Israel to complete victory under the coming anointed Messiah.


The main consolation for the man of God was the promised of a King in the lineage of King David. Not just any ordinary kings who blew hot and cold but instead, the King of kings would always reign with righteousness and justice. Emmanuel, or “God with us”, Root and Stump of Jesse, or simply the Servant were some of the names associating with the coming Messiah. He would be filled with the Holy Spirit to overflowing, doing great miraculous works for the glory of God. He envisioned a day that the Messiah would lead Israel to its greatest heights. Peace and prosperity would be the order of the day. How Isaiah longed for that day! How every righteous and right minded godly person would long for that!


Isaiah proclaimed with confidence and gladness, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.” The invitation of God was clear! His love for the world would never die. “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon,” the prophet challenged everyone who desired to hear and hear good.


What would Prophet Isaiah say to us if he were to be alive today?


1. Trust in the Lord rather than putting your trust anywhere else.


2. Do not be proud just because God uses you to do His work.


3. God is in control over all the nations of the earth.


4. Nothing that happens in this world that God is unaware or suprised.


5. Your future is in God's hand and this solid rock foundation will never be shaken.


Friday, October 23, 2009

PROPHET MICAH



The headlines screamed these words in ancient Jerusalem Post, “Barefooted, Naked and Howling Madman on the Prowl!”


Yes, he was barefooted, naked, howling like a jackal and moaning like an owl but he was not mad. In fact he was Micah the prophet, completely heart broken by the nation’s complete disregard for their Master and God, Yahweh! Israel had committed incurable transgressions and Micah was called to be the very voice of judgment. He had been inconsolable, knowing that a great nation, a promised nation would be utterly destroyed. To add salt to his wounds, the enemy chosen by God would be Assyria, a foreign nation. Surely they would laugh and despise Yahweh, the name Israel supposed to revere. The unthinkable would soon become a reality. The humiliating act of Micah was to show the Israelites that their enemy would likewise humiliate and degrade them.


God had warned them enough. Yet, the voices of prophets Joel, Amos and Hosea were ignored to their own destruction. Micah was sent not for repentance but for submission to sins’ consequences. “Heed the rod and the One who appointed it. Am I still to forget, O wicked house, your ill-gotten treasures and the short ephah, which is accursed? Shall I acquit a man with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weight,” Micah shouted out the words of God. The court of God had decided. The charges were filed and a guilty verdict announced. A just God must let justice take its place. A sinful and stubborn nation must be brought to its knees to know godly sorrows. The rod would be Assyria and there was no escape. No more pleas to return but to face the music. Micah remembered Judah, the southern kingdom, “I pray that they heed this as an example.”


That day when King Assyria dethroned and conquered the last king of Israel, Hoshea, prophet Micah was overwhelmed at the downfall of a promised nation. So were Amos, Hosea and Isaiah, his contemporaries. Judgment of God was not unusual but this one was different and would badly shake the faith of the Israelites. “Yahweh, the Almighty God of Israel had been defeated,” they would reason. But to the prophets, God would never abandon his people forever. To them, Yahweh would never be defeated! They were believers of God’s promise to King David that his kingdom would rule forever. Thus the remnant theology was birthed at this troubled time. Micah remembered the day when the great prophet Elijah was so overtaken by pressure of carrying the weight alone for the nation. He felt defeated and wanted to die. That was when God revealed to him that there were still 7,000 Israelites that worshipped Yahweh and did not bow to Baal.


Although prophets were voices of judgment and repentance, the message of hope was equally as important. The remnant theology would eventually culminate with the Day of the Lord! That day would come that all Israel would be fully saved and restored. Micah declared, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labour gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth”.


Micah sadly watched the destruction of Israel but his eyes looked to the heavens for redemption. “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea,” Micah cried to the Lord.


And the prophet whispered softly the ancient promise, “You will be true to Jacob, and show mercy to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our fathers in days long ago.”


What would prophet Micah say to us if he were still alive today?


1. Don’t be surprised when God does something we don’t understand.
2. Spare the rod, spoil the child.
3. God is just and therefore He must judge sin.
4. Our God is a God of hope, even though we think our situation is hopeless.
5. The Day of the Lord is coming soon! The second Coming of Jesus Christ, the predicted ruler from Bethlehem!


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

PROPHET HOSEA



Prophet Hosea was heart-broken when his wife Gomer left for another man. Which husband would not feel intense pain if his intimate lover despised him and the kids? Last he heard of her was she had become a prostitute and to many it would spell an end to the relationship.


But to Hosea, it was not a surprise as he pondered over the words of God given to him before his marriage to Gomer. Their marriage was arranged by heaven but by far a heavenly marriage. While the prophet was seeking Yahweh over his next move, the Word of the Lord came, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulterous. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” Hosea knew of the intensity of Israel’s rebellion of God and his covenant.


Although it was difficult for Hosea to reconcile with a prostitute wife, the prophet knew that God's Words spoken through him, were the only hope for Israel. His prophecies were to become the last call of God for Israel to turn back. To God, this picture story was clear enough for all to see. The God of Hosea was willing to love and heal the unfaithful Gomer nation who despised God’s mercy and kindness.


The names of the three children of Hosea thundered loudly from the heavenly roof top the seriousness of God’s words. Each child’s name appeared more drastic in judgment than the previous one. Jezreel meant “God plants or scatters” showed how God would eventually plant or scattered them somewhere else, away from the promise Land. Incidentally, the city by the same name, Jezreel, was also the abode of the evil king Ahab and the gory death of Jezebel. And the prophet could not have forgotten the blood-shed of Jehu’s murderous campaign there as well. Hosea’s second child, a daughter, Lo-Ruhamah meant “No mercy” signalled that God would finally despise his beloved if Israel still stubbornly persisted in her sins. The third child, a son by the name of Lo-Ammi meaning “Not my people” began a severance of a relationship between God and his people. Yet, when God asked Hosea to take back his disgraced wife, there was this sense of amazing grace and hope. What an amazing God!
Hosea had witnessed succession of evil and hopeless kings in his call as a prophet of Yahweh. From King Jeroboam II to Hoshea, the last king of Israel, the nation had deteriorated spiritually to a breaking point. Canaanite worship, ritual drunkenness and temple prostitution were common sights and sounds. The saddest part for the prophet was the degradation of worship to Yahweh. Some rituals were still followed but their hearts were hollow. The words of Hosea epitomised the grief of God, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings”.


When Israel sins began to destabilise the nation, the king scrambled for alliances again, this time with Egypt and then Assyria, unaware that the latter was God’s impending instrument of judgment. Hosea knew that these fragile treaties were added sins of distrust of their God, Yahweh.


Hosea’s name itself was a call for reconciliation, “God is Salvation!” The prophet reminded them of their birth as a nation and how God protected and nurtured them like every good parent would. God spoke through Hosea, "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim (Israel) to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them”.


What a God! What a Father! What amazing love!


God was waiting patiently for his wayward son to return and reunite. Before Hosea retreated onto the background and silenced by God, his last words were penetrating for Israel and for generations to come.


“Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them”.


What would Prophet Hosea say to us if he were still alive today?


1. God is a Loving Father.


2. God's grace is absolutely amazing.


3. God sees everything we do and He knows what is in our hearts.


4. God can use nations to do His bidding.


5. Let us hunger after God's Word and be a discerning believer of Christ.