Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Heavy Burden of Sin


By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
The video version of this teaching is available at: https://youtu.be/yzrZgyB6n7g
Amos was a prophet during the later years of the Kingdom of Israel. He prophesied during the same time as Jonah, Isaiah and Hosea, but Amos was not the typical prophet. He was by profession a breeder of sheep and a tender of the sycamore fruit.
Amos 7:14-15 NKJV 14 Then Amos answered, and said to Amaziah: "I was no prophet, Nor was I a son of a prophet, But I was a sheepbreeder And a tender of sycamore fruit. 15 Then the LORD took me as I followed the flock, And the LORD said to me, 'Go, prophesy to My people Israel.'
Amos didn’t come from an established line of prophets, nor was he trained in prophecy at the school for prophets. He was an average man who tended his flock in Judah when God called him to become His prophet—His mouthpiece to Israel. The name Amos means burden or burdensome. It comes from the Hebrew word, aw-mas, #6006 in Strong’s Concordance meaning to load or impose a burden. In many ways, the theme of bearing a burden works its way through Amos’s message starting with the burden God laid on Amos.
At the time God called Amos to prophesy, Jeroboam the second was king of Israel and Uzziah was king of Judah. Jeroboam would be the last king who would rule over a totally independent nation of Israel. The kings after him would all pay tribute to Assyria with the nation falling completing into Assyrian hands thirty-two years after Jeroboam’s death. In the kingdom of Judah, Uzziah reigned.
Amos 1:1-2 NKJV 1 The words of Amos, who was among the sheepbreeders of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel 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. 2 And he said: "The LORD roars from Zion, And utters His voice from Jerusalem; The pastures of the shepherds mourn, And the top of Carmel withers."
King Uzziah of Judah was judged a righteous man who loved the land.
2 Chronicles 26:10 NKJV 10 Also he built towers in the desert. He dug many wells, for he had much livestock, both in the lowlands and in the plains; he also had farmers and vinedressers in the mountains and in Carmel, for he loved the soil.
Amos’ prophecy about Judah strikes to the heart of Uzziah’s love for the land. The wells he had dug and the pasturage and farms that Uzziah had carefully tended and built up would all dry up! Amos, as a farmer and sheepbreeder, would have been personally grieved to bring such a prophecy! In fact, Amos’ words imply that it was not at all his choice or desire to become a prophet; He indicates that God compelled him to prophesy.
Amos 3:8 NKJV 8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?
Amos carried the burden of prophecy-the burden of being God’s mouthpiece. God was angry; His voice roared from His temple in Jerusalem! God charged Amos with the burden of pronouncing judgment not only on Judah and Israel but on all the nations that surrounded her! He began with Damascus.
Amos 1:3 NKJV 3 Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, Because they have threshed Gilead with implements of iron.
Throughout the pronouncements of judgment, Amos uses the phrase “for three transgressions, and for four.” E.W. Bullinger in The Companion Bible explains that this is a Hebrew idiom for several or many. With the number four meaning the fullness of creation; we understand that the sins of these nations were full and that judgment was inevitable. However, God still gave them the opportunity to repent and turn from their ways. Amos singles out Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab for judgment. Although the details vary, all of them are guilty of sins against God’s people particularly that of taking Israelites captive and selling them as slaves. Edom is singled out for killing his brother, Israel, with the sword.
Amos 1:11 NKJV 11 Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, Because he pursued his brother with the sword, And cast off all pity; His anger tore perpetually, And he kept his wrath forever.
Amos spoke these words not to the nations, but to Israel stating that the events he saw concerned Israel. Perhaps Amos was assuring Israel that God saw and would judge those who harmed Israel. The prophet Zechariah would later explain that God would plunder the nations that harm Israel.
Zechariah 2:8 NKJV 8 For thus says the LORD of hosts: "He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.
Amos, then, relays God’s words against Judah.
Amos 2:4 NKJV 4 Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, Because they have despised the law of the LORD, And have not kept His commandments. Their lies lead them astray, Lies which their fathers followed.
Why did Amos prophesy against Judah? King Uzziah is described as a righteous king following in the ways of David. His acts show that he loved the land and sought to make the land fruitful for his people. He set up watchtowers throughout the land for the protection of the people and the land. What did God see that is not outwardly visible?
Although Uzziah was counted as a righteous king following in the ways of David, he grew proud and attempted to usurp the role of the priesthood in offering incense to God. God struck him with leprosy for his presumption and Uzziah ended his life in exile.  His son JOtham took over the rule of the kingdom. Jotham is also described as doing right in the sight of the LORD.
2 Chronicles 27:1-2 NKJV 1 Jotham was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem. His mother's name was Jerushah the daughter of Zadok. 2 And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Uzziah had done (although he did not enter the temple of the LORD). But still the people acted corruptly.
In spite of the righteous example of the king, the people acted corruptly! That corruption would manifest itself in the reign of Jotham’s son Ahaz who would close the doors of the temple of God and replace worship of God with worship of the gods of Syria.
2 Chronicles 28:24 NKJV 24 So Ahaz gathered the articles of the house of God, cut in pieces the articles of the house of God, shut up the doors of the house of the LORD, and made for himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem.
God saw the direction that Judah was heading and sent Amos to send warning to Judah that judgment was coming!
Finally, Amos turned his attention to the behavior of the northern kingdom of Israel, the true focus of his prophecies.
Amos 2:6 NKJV 6 Thus says the LORD: "For three transgressions of Israel, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment, Because they sell the righteous for silver, And the poor for a pair of sandals.
The first transgressions of Israel that God convicts them on are perverting justice, mistreating the poor and selling their brothers into slavery! The Torah addresses all three of these issues. God commanded that judges be impartial in Deuteronomy 16, but Israel twisted the words of the righteous to the point that the righteous were sold into slavery! Although the Torah says that selling oneself into servitude to pay one’s debts is permitted in Leviticus 25, that servitude had conditions including that the man is the one to sell himself and that the servitude was not to be permanent.
Israel’s treatment of the poor stripped them of all dignity and respect. The poor were sold into slavery on the slightest of pretenses. Amos goes on to describe the obsession they had with going after the poor and taking all that they possessed.
Amos 2:7-8 NKJV 7 They pant after the dust of the earth which is on the head of the poor, And pervert the way of the humble. A man and his father go in to the same girl, To defile My holy name. 8 They lie down by every altar on clothes taken in pledge, And drink the wine of the condemned in the house of their god.
Amos describes Israel as going so far as to even take the dust from the heads of the poor! He goes on to describe their sexual sin as that of a father and son taking the same girl. This may refer to incest or having sexual relations with the wife of a near relative as prohibited in Leviticus 18. This passage in Leviticus lists the ways that this could occur and that all of them are prohibited. The passage concludes with the consequences of such behavior.
Leviticus 18:26-27 NKJV 26 'You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you 27 '(for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled),
In addition to these practices, the Israelites worshiped idols while drinking the wine that they had extorted from those condemned unjustly and using the clothing they had taken in pledge instead or returning it as required in Exodus 22.
In all, Amos lists five specific sins in his condemnation of Israel-unjust judges, mistreatment of the poor, sexual sin, extortion from debtors, and idolatry. To contrast with their crimes, Amos lists the ways that God took care of Israel.
Amos 2:9-11 NKJV 9 "Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, Whose height was like the height of the cedars, And he was as strong as the oaks; Yet I destroyed his fruit above And his roots beneath. 10 Also it was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt, And led you forty years through the wilderness, To possess the land of the Amorite. 11 I raised up some of your sons as prophets, And some of your young men as Nazirites. Is it not so, O you children of Israel?" Says the LORD.
God was their champion and strength giving them victory over their enemies. He was their deliverer taking them out of Egypt. He was their provider leading them through the wilderness. He was their king giving them the land as an inheritance. He was their Father guiding them through the prophets and setting others aside as holy to Him. All of these were advantages that Israel had and the other nations who were under judgment did not have. Paul writes of the advantage that the Jewish people have over the Gentiles.
Romans 3:1-2 NKJV 1 What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Chiefly because to them were committed the oracles of God.
The word “oracle” is the Greek word “log-ee-on” #3051 in Strong’s Concordance meaning an utterance. The Jews were entrusted with the spoken words of God whether through Moses and the Torah or through the prophets. Instead, they rejected the words of God. Amos tells us that Israel told the prophets not to prophesy and tried to pervert the service of the Nazarites.
Amos 2:12 NKJV 12 "But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink, And commanded the prophets saying, 'Do not prophesy!'
The burden of Israel’s sin and rebellion weighed heavy on the LORD!
Amos 2:13 NKJV 13 "Behold, I am weighed down by you, As a cart full of sheaves is weighed down.
As a result, God would no longer be their champion, their deliverer, their provider, their king or their guide. They would be on their own and be defeated!
Amos 2:14-16 NKJV 14 Therefore flight shall perish from the swift, The strong shall not strengthen his power, Nor shall the mighty deliver himself; 15 He shall not stand who handles the bow, The swift of foot shall not escape, Nor shall he who rides a horse deliver himself. 16 The most courageous men of might Shall flee naked in that day," Says the LORD.
God, then, begins the recitation of Israel’s punishment. He reminds Israel of the personal, intimate relationship they have with Him.
Amos 3:1-2 NKJV 1 Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: 2 "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities."
God reminds Israel that they are the only family that He has selected as His own. They are the only ones that He has known in that type of relationship. God had singled out Jacob’s family to call His own.
Genesis 35:10-11 NKJV 9 10 And God said to him, "Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name." So He called his name Israel. 11 Also God said to him: "I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body.
It was because of Israel’s intimate relationship with God that they must be held accountable for their actions. The punishment would be personal and severe. The word “punish” is the Hebrew word “pakad” #6485 in Strong’s Concordance meaning to visit. God would “visit” Israel for all their iniquities. This visit to Israel would be different from God’s other visits. God visited Israel when they were slaves in Egypt, and He sent Moses to deliver them.
Exodus 3:16 NKJV 16 "Go and gather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, 'The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, "I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt;
At this time God “visited” them with deliverance while at the same time He “visited” Egypt with the ten plagues culminating in darkness and the death of the firstborn of Egypt.
Exodus 12:23 NKJV 23 "For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to strike you.
God said, through Amos, that this time when He visited Israel, He would not pass over them as He did in Egypt when they put the blood of the Passover Lamb on the doorposts and lintels of their home. This time God would pass through them like He passed through the Egyptians!
Amos 5:16-18 NKJV 16 Therefore the LORD God of hosts, the Lord, says this: "There shall be wailing in all streets, And they shall say in all the highways, 'Alas! Alas!' They shall call the farmer to mourning, And skillful lamenters to wailing. 17 In all vineyards there shall be wailing, For I will pass through you," Says the LORD. 18 Woe to you who desire the day of the LORD! For what good is the day of the LORD to you? It will be darkness, and not light.
Judgment did come on all Israel and all the lands around it. Within a generation of Jeroboam’s death, Assyria had swooped down and conquered Israel and all the nations around her. Only Judah remained because Hezekiah took the throne and all the people followed Hezekiah with all their hearts! Eventually, Judah was also taken into captivity but by Babylon instead of Assyria. But God was not and is still not done with His people. Isaiah promised that the false gods of Babylon could not deliver them. Only God could bear the burden of their iniquities and save them.
Isaiah 46:1-4 NKJV 1 Bel bows down, Nebo stoops; Their idols were on the beasts and on the cattle. Your carriages were heavily loaded, A burden to the weary beast. 2 They stoop, they bow down together; They could not deliver the burden, But have themselves gone into captivity. 3 "Listen to Me, O house of Jacob, And all the remnant of the house of Israel, Who have been upheld by Me from birth, Who have been carried from the womb: 4 Even to your old age, I am He, And even to gray hairs I will carry you! I have made, and I will bear; Even I will carry, and will deliver you.
God sent a deliverer to bear the sins not just of Judah and Israel but of all the nations. Yeshua came, sent by God, to visit His people with deliverance, but they did not recognize the day of their visitation.
Luke 19:41-44 NKJV 41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 "For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, 44 "and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."
God is still not done with Israel; He will again visit His people, His voice roaring from Jerusalem.
Isaiah 31:4-5 NKJV 4 For thus the LORD has spoken to me: "As a lion roars, And a young lion over his prey (When a multitude of shepherds is summoned against him, He will not be afraid of their voice Nor be disturbed by their noise), So the LORD of hosts will come down To fight for Mount Zion and for its hill. 5 Like birds flying about, So will the LORD of hosts defend Jerusalem. Defending, He will also deliver it; Passing over, He will preserve it."
God will Pass Over His people at the same time that He passes through the nations visiting the rebellious with judgment and His people with deliverance.
Amos 9:11-12 NKJV 11 "On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; 12 That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name," Says the LORD who does this thing.
The northern kingdom of Israel which rebelled against God and against the house of David will be no more. There will only be one nation of Israel ruled over by the Son of David and the nations around the land shall be the possession of the Son of David.
Amos carried the burden of the prophecy against Judah and Israel. The burden of their iniquities led to their exile and the destruction of both Judah and Israel. But God, also, carries the burden for all their iniquities. He sent a deliverer to bear that burden. Yeshua came and died on the cross bearing all of our sins on Himself. He alone could bear the burden for us!
Study Questions:
1. How is sin a burden for God and the prophet who exposes the sin as well as for the sinner? 
2. The Hebrew word “pakad,” #6485 in Strong’s Concordance, is translated as either visit or punish. What are some to the times God visited His people either for deliverance of punishment?
3. Amos poses a set of rhetorical questions in Amos 3:8. How can each one be looked at as a cause and effect argument pointing back to verse 2?
4. Read Amos 5:16-20, Amos 8:1-3, and Isaiah 31:1-6. How is the day of the LORD like Passover? How is it different?
5. Amos 9:8-15 tells us that after punishment, the tabernacle or sukka of David will be restored. What does this mean in the context of the entire book of Amos? Who is the sinful nation in verse 8? Who are the Gentiles in verse 12?
6. Josephus places Jonah as prophesying to Nineveh in Assyria during the reign of Jeroboam the second, about the same time as Amos. How does Assyria’s response to Jonah and later in Nahum fit in with Amos’ message to Israel?

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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Shabbat Service 11-24-2018

Join us each Shabbat at 10:00 am Pacific time for our weekly service.  Watch our midweek video teaching on Wednesday nights, download the discussion questions from our midweek teaching (available from our website at MoedMinistries.com) and be ready to join in the discussion on Shabbat.  We live stream our service on the home page of our website, Livestream.com and on our Moed Ministries International Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Obadiah, The Servant of God


By Dan & Brenda Cathcart
The video version of this teaching is available at: https://youtu.be/qagrIhd-st4
Obadiah is an obscure prophet who most likely lived in the Sothern kingdom of Judah. The author of this book is generally identified as the same Obadiah spoken of in 1st Kings chapter 18, a contemporary of Elijah and a kind of chief of staff to Ahab the king of Judah.
1 Kings 18:2-4 NKJV 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab; and there was a severe famine in Samaria. 3 And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly. 4 For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.)
Jewish tradition says that Obadiah was a proselyte from Edom. It is quite interesting that the prophecy of Obadiah would speak of the destruction of Edom. However, judgement of Edom is often a biblical metaphor for judgement of the nations of the world as a result of their treatment of the nation of Israel.
Although a date for the writings of Obadiah cannot be determined from the contents of this, the shortest book of the Bible, most scholars agree as to his identity.  The name Obadiah means “Servant of God.” Biblical scholars, in disagreement as to the exact dating of this book, also question whether the author is relating a prophesy or recording a history in a prophetic and poetic style.
Edom is a perennial thorn in the side of the nation of Israel and appears throughout the entire Tanach. This relationship goes all the way back to the twins carried by Rebecca, Isaac’s wife.
Genesis 25:21-23 NKJV 21 Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, "If all is well, why am I like this?" So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said to her: "Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger."
The remainder of Genesis 25 tells a brief account of the life and near constant contention between the twins and the fateful deed of Esau selling his birthright to Jacob for a single meal.  For generations following, the descendants of Esau, the Edomites, have contended with the nation of Israel, often winning the battles and bringing God’s judgment on Israel in their disobedience.
The book of Obadiah opens with a different picture of Edom.  It speaks of judgment on Edom, the reasons for this judgment and its results, and ends with Israel’s final triumph over Edom.
Obadiah 1:1-4 NKJV 1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom (We have heard a report from the LORD, And a messenger has been sent among the nations, saying, "Arise, and let us rise up against her for battle"): 2 "Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You shall be greatly despised. 3 The pride of your heart has deceived you, You who dwell in the clefts of the rock, Whose habitation is high; You who say in your heart, 'Who will bring me down to the ground?' 4 Though you ascend as high as the eagle, And though you set your nest among the stars, From there I will bring you down," says the LORD.
These opening verses of the book relate an indictment against Edom and an impending judgment. The word translated as “vision” in verse 1 is #2377 Chazown, meaning a dream, revelation or oracle.  Obadiah was given a revelation about the ultimate judgment and downfall of the nation of Edom. Verses 3 and 4 speaks of their pride which will be their undoing.
Geographicly, Edom was located in a mountainous region in what is today the nation of Jordan.  Living in the mountains, they perhaps had an attitude of pride as if they lived high up and next to God.  They “ascend as high as the eagle” and “nest among the stars.” God said that He would bring them down from their high places.  He would pull them down from their attitude, and from their land.
Pride in one’s nation and culture is not wrong in itself, but God must be given credit for granting and maintaining such achievements.  King David understood this principle.
Psalms 18:1-3 NKJV 1 <> I will love You, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.
This was not the attitude of the Edomites.  As we see from the very beginning, with the attitude of Esau toward his brother Jacob, the Edomites were arrogant and thought they didn’t need God.  The apostle Paul teaches us about the dangers of this attitude in Romans.
Romans 8:5-8 NKJV 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
The late 17th century Biblical scholar Matthew Henry also comments on this:
“Carnal security is a sin that most easily besets men in the day of their pomp, power, and prosperity, and does, as much as anything, both ripen men for ruin and aggravate it when it comes.”
Edom was headed for total disaster! When judgment came upon them, there would be nothing left.  Obadiah used three illustrations to make his point.
Obadiah 1:5 NKJV 5 "If thieves had come to you, If robbers by night-Oh, how you will be cut off! -Would they not have stolen till they had enough? If grape-gatherers had come to you, Would they not have left some gleanings?
Thieves and robbers generally leave the victim with something remaining, sometimes only the clothes on their backs.  Grape pickers were not to go over their vineyards a second time.  The Torah teaches about leaving certain portions for the poor and allowing the fallen grapes to remain on the ground.  But when judgment comes upon Edom, there will be nothing left.
Obadiah 1:6-7 NKJV 6 "Oh, how Esau shall be searched out! How his hidden treasures shall be sought after! 7 All the men in your confederacy Shall force you to the border; The men at peace with you Shall deceive you and prevail against you. Those who eat your bread shall lay a trap for you. No one is aware of it.
The Edomites thought themselves wise, but their wisdom was manmade.  Their wisdom did not recognize God as its source and did not even meet Solomon’s definition of wisdom.
Proverbs 1:7 NKJV 7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.
This wisdom of Edom flourished at a time in world history when human wisdom had reached a peak.  This was the beginnings of the age of Greek philosophy.  But even the Greeks, in all their foolishness, were often closer to God’s truth than the Edomites.  They were Esau’s descendants, they were Abraham’s offspring, yet they, like their father Esau, disregarded the revelation God had given to Abraham.
In Obadiah’s day the wisdom of Edom had reached, or would soon be, at an end. Like the builders of the Tower of Babel, they had built for them selves a dwelling place among the eagles and the stars. But by rejecting the promises given to Abraham and his descendants, Edom lacked the only protection that would keep them from the judgment of God.  Their fortress should have been built with the real rock and refuge.
Psalms 94:22 NKJV 22 But the LORD has been my defense, And my God the rock of my refuge.
Obadiah then says that all of Edom will face destruction, even the wisest among them.
Obadiah 1:8-9 NKJV 8 "Will I not in that day," says the LORD, "Even destroy the wise men from Edom, And understanding from the mountains of Esau? 9 Then your mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, To the end that everyone from the mountains of Esau May be cut off by slaughter.
Obadiah then lists five sins of Edom that result in this coming destruction the first of which harkens back to violence against Jacob.
Obadiah 1:10-14 NKJV 10 "For violence against your brother Jacob, Shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever. 11 In the day that you stood on the other side-In the day that strangers carried captive his forces, when foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem-Even you were as one of them. 12 But you should not have gazed on the day of your brother in the day of his captivity; Nor should you have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; Nor should you have spoken proudly in the day of distress. 13 You should not have entered the gate of My people in the day of their calamity. Indeed, you should not have gazed on their affliction in the day of their calamity, Nor laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity. 14 You should not have stood at the crossroads to cut off those among them who escaped; Nor should you have delivered up those among them who remained in the day of distress.
Esau may well have had reason to be upset with Jacob over the stealing of the blessings of their father Isaac.  But this sibling rivalry should have ended with the brothers themselves instead of being carried from generation to generation.  It should have ended with Jacob’s return from Paddan Aram.
Genesis 33:3-4 NKJV 3 Then he crossed over before them and bowed himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. 4 But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept.
Even though there is no excuse for Jacob’s deception, only Esau can be blamed for not accepting God’s choice.  Esau’s hatred toward his brother was rooted in his rebellion against God.
The violence referred to in verse 10 could be a number of incidents in history, but the attack of Judah by the Philistines, which also involved the Edomites comes to mind.
2 Chronicles 28:16-17 NKJV 16 At the same time King Ahaz sent to the kings of Assyria to help him. 17 For again the Edomites had come, attacked Judah, and carried away captives.
Another occurrence where the Edomites inserted themselves into attacks on Judah was at the time of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem.
Psalms 137:7 NKJV 7 Remember, O LORD, against the sons of Edom the day of Jerusalem, Who said, "Raze it, raze it, To its very foundation!"
The use of the word “shame” in verse 10 should catch our attention. It is from the Hebrew word “boo-shaw” #955 which only means shame.  It’s use here is deliberate because it indicates a certain level of knowledge.  Esau, or Edom did not follow God’s revelation and accept God’s choice of Jacob, but he knew of it.  On the Day of Judgment, the level of Edom’s knowledge will be revealed in the level of judgment accordingly.  Perhaps this is why God’s judgment on Israel throughout history is so profound.
The fall of Jerusalem and the resultant exile of the people to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar had been Judah’s punishment for their sins against God.  But that doesn’t give the victorious party license to do as they will and profit from their victory - A lesson the Israelites learned at Ai following the success at Jericho when they first entered the Promised Land.
At the siege of Jerusalem, Edom made no effort to assist his brother Jacob, on the contrary, he cheered and celebrated and joined the robbers and looters much like those who come in and loot after a natural disaster strikes a city; it’s human nature at its lowest.
What is the result of God’s judgment on Edom, and by extension, the nations of the world?
Obadiah 1:15-16 NKJV 15 "For the day of the LORD upon all the nations is near; As you have done, it shall be done to you; Your reprisal shall return upon your own head. 16 For as you drank on my holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually; Yes, they shall drink, and swallow, And they shall be as though they had never been.
The use of the word nations here widens the scope of Obadiah’s prophecy.  The warning which Obadiah is directing to Edom is no longer limited to just one nation.  It is now a warning to all.  Judgment upon Edom is now symbolic for God’s judgment on all the nations of the world.
While Israel was on their journey to the Promised land, the king of the Moabites hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel.
Numbers 24:17-19 NKJV 17 "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult. 18 "And Edom shall be a possession; Seir also, his enemies, shall be a possession, While Israel does valiantly. 19 Out of Jacob One shall have dominion and destroy the remains of the city."
This links Obadiah’s prophecy to Messiah’s words found in Matthew 25. Look at verses 31 through 33 then skipping to 45.
Matthew 25:31-33 & 45 NKJV 31"When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 "All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 "And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left… 45 "Then He will answer them, saying, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.'
Obadiah doesn’t leave his prophecy ending with judgment on Edom and, by extension, the nations.  There is redemption through Israel for Edom and all those who would repent and turn to God.
Obadiah 1:17-21 NKJV 17 "But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. 18 The house of Jacob shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau shall be stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau," For the LORD has spoken. 19 The South shall possess the mountains of Esau, And the Lowland shall possess Philistia. They shall possess the fields of Ephraim and the fields of Samaria. Benjamin shall possess Gilead. 20 And the captives of this host of the children of Israel Shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath. The captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad Shall possess the cities of the South. 21 Then saviors shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, And the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.
This is more than assurance to the people of Judah that the captives would return from Babylonian exile. This is an open door of escape for all those who would turn to God.  When these words of Obadiah are read alongside those of the prophets Joel and Zechariah, we again see the wider scope of Obadiah’s words.
Joel 2:32 NKJV 32 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance, As the LORD has said, Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.
And from the prophet Zechariah.
Zechariah 2:10-11 NKJV 10 "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming, and I will dwell in your midst," says the LORD. 11 "Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.
The Apostle Paul in Romans says that salvation through Messiah is open to all.
Romans 10:11-13 NKJV 11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame." 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For "whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
In the broader context of scripture, Mount Zion has a meaning well beyond the residence of King David and the house of Jacob.  It is more than a gathering place in Jerusalem.  It is a place of judgment for the righteous and the unrighteous. Obadiah had and interesting way of expressing it in verse 18. Lets look at it again.
Obadiah 1:18 NKJV 18 The house of Jacob shall be a fire, And the house of Joseph a flame; But the house of Esau shall be stubble; They shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau," For the LORD has spoken.
I would say that one lesson here is that sin is highly flammable. So those who live in sin and refuse to repent and turn to God should not stand too close to those who practice righteousness. The judgment by fire from the house of Jacob will consume them. But beyond this, the ultimate lesson to be gleaned from Obadiah’s short but profound prophecy is that God’s grace is open and available to all who are willing to humble themselves and receive it. And in the end the grace of God wins!
Study Questions:
1. Esau’s hatred of Jacob was rooted in his rebellion against God.  What other Biblical examples are there of hatred for a person or group of people rooted in rebellion against God?

2. Esau and his descendants, the Edomites, had a knowledge of God as demonstrated by Obadiah 1:10.  In judgment, they would be held accountable in relation to their knowledge.  How does this apply to God’s judgment of other nations mentioned elsewhere in the Bible?  How does it apply to Israel and Judah? What does Yeshua, the apostle Paul, or other apostles have to say about this concept?

3. Obadiah says that God will, in judgment, bring the Edomites down and make them small.  But Obadiah also says that God will show mercy if they repent, turn back to God and accept Jacob as God’s chosen.  What are other examples of God’s warnings of impending judgment but with the promise of grace and forgiveness with repentance? 

4. Compare Obadiah’s prophecy against Edom with Yeshua’s statements in Matthew 11:20-24 regarding the cities of the Galilee.  What was the “sin” of these cities?  How are they like, if not worse than Edom?

5. How is the book of Obadiah a story of the gospel message of salvation?

© 2018 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Shabbat Service 11-17-2018

Join us each Shabbat at 10:00 am Pacific time for our weekly service.  Watch our midweek video teaching on Wednesday nights, download the discussion questions from our midweek teaching (available from our website at MoedMinistries.com) and be ready to join in the discussion on Shabbat.  We live stream our service on the home page of our website, Livestream.com and on our Moed Ministries International Facebook page.

Innocent Until Proven Guilty - Part 2

Part two of our study from our book, "Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah - Vol. #4."  The book is available from Amazon.com

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Calling of Ephraim


By Dan and Brenda Cathcart
The video version of this teaching is available at: https://youtu.be/vc9J_9lSPsE
The prophet Hosea prophesied during the later years of the kingdom of the northern tribes of Israel. Judgment was soon to fall on the kingdom by the hand of the Assyrian Empire. This passage in Hosea opens with God reminding Israel about Jacob’s journeys outside the Promised Land and God’s presence with him during those journeys.
Hosea 12:12-13 NKJV 12 Jacob fled to the country of Syria; Israel served for a spouse, And for a wife he tended sheep. 13 By a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, And by a prophet he was preserved.
The first time Jacob left the Promised Land was when he fled from Esau. This connects us with the Torah portion for this week, Vayetze, Genesis 28:10 through 32:3. While out of the Land, Jacob sought and found a bride or brides, and gained a fortune. When it was time to return to the Promised Land, God delivered him from the wrath of his father-in-law Laban and gave him the new name of Israel. The second time Jacob left the Promised Land was when he was fleeing famine. He sought refuge for his family in Egypt where he was reunited with his son Joseph. After Jacob’s death, God delivered his family from the slavery imposed on them by Pharaoh and made them into the nation Israel.
Why did God remind Israel of these particular events at this time? What message did He want backslidden Israel to take from the words of Hosea? How does this message encourage us today?
By citing these two events, God is reminding Israel of His faithfulness. As Jacob left the Promised Land empty-handed and in fear of his life, God assured him that he would be with him the entire time he was out of the Promised Land. God, also, reassured Jacob, that his exile from the land would not be permanent.
Genesis 28:15 NKJV 15 "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you."
When it was time for Jacob to return to the Promised Land, God revealed how he had blessed Jacob. Jacob’s agreement with his father-in-law Laban was that Jacob would serve as his keeper of the flocks in return for receiving the animals born either speckled, streaked or spotted gray. God revealed that He was the one who caused the animals to bear speckled or streaked offspring so that Jacob would be blessed!
Genesis 31:11-12 NKJV 11 "Then the Angel of God spoke to me in a dream, saying, 'Jacob.' And I said, 'Here I am.' 12 "And He said, 'Lift your eyes now and see, all the rams which leap on the flocks are streaked, speckled, and gray-spotted; for I have seen all that Laban is doing to you.
Then again, when Joseph invited Jacob and the rest of the family to join him in Egypt during the famine years, God reassured Jacob that He would once again go with Jacob when he left the Land.
Genesis 46:3-4 NKJV 3 So He said, "I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there. 4 "I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes."
God was faithful to fulfill His promises to Jacob! He brought Jacob back to the Promised Land richer than when he left. God had proved His faithfulness. But now, after years in the Land, Israel had forgotten God. Instead of being grateful to God for the blessings of the Land, Israel turned to Baal. While God asked for obedience and adherence to a moral code which supported a cohesive community, worship of Baal promised the fulfillment of their own fleshly desires.
After reminding Israel about her past, Hosea returns to the present with a strong indictment of Israel’s behavior. He singles out Ephraim as representative of Israel because the first king of the northern kingdom was Jeroboam from the tribe of Ephraim, and Ephraim remained the largest and most influential tribe in the kingdom of Israel.
Hosea 12:14 NKJV 14 Ephraim provoked Him to anger most bitterly; Therefore his Lord will leave the guilt of his bloodshed upon him, And return his reproach upon him.
God, then, begins to outline all the ways that Israel or Ephraim sinned and the punishment for that sin. He, then, follows it up with what Israel needed to do to return to God. Both the punishments and the steps to return can be summarized in four particulars. Why four? E. W. Bullinger explains the significance of the number four in his book Number in Scripture.
“Now the number four is made up of three and one (3+1=4), and it denotes, therefore, and marks that which follows the revelation of God in the Trinity, namely, His creative works.”[i]
In other words, the number four represents the fullness of creation and God’s sovereignty over it. In particular, God has sovereignty over His covenant nation Israel.
Hosea opens with the pronouncement of death on Israel because they turned and worshiped idols.
Hosea 13:1-2 NKJV 1 When Ephraim spoke, trembling, He exalted himself in Israel; But when he offended through Baal worship, he died. 2 Now they sin more and more, And have made for themselves molded images, Idols of their silver, according to their skill; All of it is the work of craftsmen. They say of them, "Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves!"
This death can be understood on multiple levels. Physical death awaits those in Israel when the brutal armies of Assyria overran the nation of Israel. The siege of its capital city Samaria took three years. The famine within the city was so severe, that mothers began eating their babies! But the death spoken of by Hosea can also be understood to be spiritual or eternal death. When Jeroboam accepted the decision of the ten northern tribes of Israel to become their king instead of accepting Solomon’s son Rehoboam as king, he worried that if the people still worshiped in Jerusalem they would return their allegiance to Rehoboam. To prevent this, Jeroboam set up golden calves for the people to worship in place of God.
1 Kings 12:28-30 NKJV 28 Therefore the king asked advice, made two calves of gold, and said to the people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!" 29 And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. 30 Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.
Their worship of the golden calves which they intermingled with Baal worship brought in by Jezebel led to their spiritual death. Their worship of other gods broke the covenant relationship with God leading to covenantal death. This takes us to the second punishment, exile.
Hosea 13:3-4 NKJV 3 Therefore they shall be like the morning cloud And like the early dew that passes away, Like chaff blown off from a threshing floor And like smoke from a chimney. 4 "Yet I am the LORD your God Ever since the land of Egypt, And you shall know no God but Me; For there is no Savior besides Me.
Jeroboam told the children of Israel that the golden calves were their god that had brought them out of Egypt. God, through the prophet Hosea, corrected that erroneous statement! Because they trusted in idols, they would be dispersed throughout the Assyrian empire. Hosea describes the dispersion with four similes, the morning clouds, the dew, the chaff and smoke from a chimney, each of which quickly disperses!
When Israel broke the covenant, God, Israel’s covenant partner, invoked the curses embedded within the covenant provisions. If Israel broke the covenant, certain consequences would follow.
Hosea 13:7-8 NKJV 7 "So I will be to them like a lion; Like a leopard by the road I will lurk; 8 I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage, And there I will devour them like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them.
In the Hebrew, there is a word play that reveals the instrument God chose for Israel’s punishment. The English phrase “I will lurk” is translated from the Hebrew word “ashhur,” the imperfect future tense of the word “shuwr.” Asshur sounds exactly like the Hebrew word, Asshur, for Assyria! This word play tells us that Assyria will descend down the road to destroy them.
Instead of God helping Israel, He allowed Israel to be destroyed. They had rejected God as their king, and now must rely on the kings that they had demanded God give them to help them. However, their kings could not help them!
Hosea 13:9-11 NKJV 9 "O Israel, you are destroyed, But your help is from Me. 10 I will be your King; Where is any other, That he may save you in all your cities? And your judges to whom you said, 'Give me a king and princes'? 11 I gave you a king in My anger, And took him away in My wrath.
God gave Saul to be king when the children of Israel demanded a human king. He took him away when Saul’s pride and desire to please the people had him turning away from God. However, God, also, gave the northern tribs of Israel Jeroboam as their first king, but Jeroboam caused Israel to sin. Every king after Jeroboam followed Jeroboam’s sin and continued to cause Israel to sin. Now, God is taking away the king of Israel in His wrath against the nation. The final king of the kingdom of Israel was Hoshea.
2 Kings 17:6 NKJV 6 In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
Hoshea, number 1954 in Strong’s Concordance, is a variant of the name Hosea and Oshea. It means deliverer. King Hoshea was unable to deliver Israel from Assyria! The prophet Hosea, who announces the coming destruction, names God as their only true deliverer!
The fourth punishment on Israel was devastation both of the land and the people.
Hosea 13:15-16 NKJV 15 Though he is fruitful among his brethren, An east wind shall come; The wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness. Then his spring shall become dry, And his fountain shall be dried up. He shall plunder the treasury of every desirable prize. 16 Samaria is held guilty, For she has rebelled against her God. They shall fall by the sword, Their infants shall be dashed in pieces, And their women with child ripped open.
The name Ephraim, number 669 in Strong’s Concordance, means doubly fruitful. Ephraim was the younger son of Joseph that Jacob blessed before his older brother saying that he would be the greater of Joseph’s two sons. Later, when Jacob blessed his sons before he died, he described Joseph as a “fruitful bough.”
Genesis 49:22 NKJV 22 "Joseph is a fruitful bough, A fruitful bough by a well; His branches run over the wall.
Ephraim did not fulfill his early promise and bear fruit for God! He did not further God’s kingdom by upholding God’s covenant in the sight of the nations. Moses had promised that the nations would see the righteousness of Israel.
Deuteronomy 4:6 NKJV 6 "Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, 'Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.'
Ephraim’s descendant Jeroboam did not follow God’s commandments, statutes and judgments. Jeroboam did evil and led the children of Israel away from God and His commandments. God sent judgment on the house of Jeroboam during the reign of his son Nadab because of the sins of Jeroboam.
1 Kings 15:29-30 NKJV 29 And it was so, when he (Baasha) became king, that he killed all the house of Jeroboam. He did not leave to Jeroboam anyone that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according to the word of the LORD which He had spoken by His servant Ahijah the Shilonite, 30 because of the sins of Jeroboam, which he had sinned and by which he had made Israel sin, because of his provocation with which he had provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger.
Yeshua tells us that He will prune out any vine in His Father’s vineyard that does not bear fruit.
John 15:5-6 NKJV 5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
All four of these punishments came on the northern kingdom of Israel. Yet God still stated that He was their God and their only savior! No other would be able to deliver them. God was not done speaking to Israel! How should Israel respond to the judgments poured out on them? Hosea outlines four steps they are to take to return to God!
Hosea 14:1-2 NKJV 1 O Israel, return to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity; 2 Take words with you, And return to the LORD. Say to Him, "Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.
The first thing Israel was to do was to confess their sins and ask God to take away their sins. King David, when confronted with his sin against Uriah and Bathsheba confessed his sins.
Psalms 51:1-3 NKJV 1 <> Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.
The apostle John tells us that when we confess our sins we have an advocate with the Father.
1 John 2:1-2 NKJV 1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
The second thing they were to do was to change their attitude. Their sacrifices belong to God and only to God. It is to Him they were to thank for the blessings God gave them. Earlier in Hosea, God chastises Israel for giving thanks to their idols instead of Him for the blessings that He brings.
Hosea 2:5 NKJV 5 For their mother has played the harlot; She who conceived them has behaved shamefully. For she said, 'I will go after my lovers, Who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my linen, My oil and my drink.'
Paul encourages us to come to God with an attitude of thanksgiving and praise.
Philippians 4:4-7 NKJV 4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The next thing Hosea called on Ephraim to do was to return his trust to God and acknowledge that God alone could save him.
Hosea 14:3 NKJV 3 Assyria shall not save us, We will not ride on horses, Nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, 'You are our gods.' For in You the fatherless finds mercy."
They were to acknowledge that salvation did not come from Assyria, and follow that up with action. Action is the fourth step in their return to God. They were to renounce and turn from their worship of idols.
Hosea 14:8 NKJV 8 "Ephraim shall say, 'What have I to do anymore with idols?' I have heard and observed him. I am like a green cypress tree; Your fruit is found in Me."
Yeshua tells us that He is the one sent by the Father to bring salvation and there is no salvation except through His name.
John 3:35-36 NKJV 35 "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 "He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."
We must follow up our faith with action. Yeshua says that our words are not enough. We can’t just say to Him, “Lord, Lord!” We must change our actions to meet our words.
Matthew 7:21 NKJV 21 "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.
John tells us that if we truly know Yeshua, we will follow Him and keep His commandments.
1 John 2:3-6 NKJV 3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. 6 He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
Hosea brought his words to Israel when they were at the decision point that would determine whether they would be destroyed as a nation. God’s desire was for Israel to repent and turn back to Him! His desire was that they remain a nation set apart for Him. But Israel did not repent and judgment came. However, this was not the end of Hosea’s message. When Israel repents, God will restore her.
Hosea 14:4 NKJV 4 "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from him.
God has not turned His back on His covenant people, nor will he ever do so. He continues to call out to Ephraim. We, also, have this assurance. When we turn from sin and fully embrace God, He will heal us from our sins and pour out His love upon us. In fact, He has already done so by sending Yeshua to die for us.
Study Questions:
1. This portion of scripture opens with a five line poem in Hosea 12:12 describing God bringing Jacob and Israel back to the Promised Land. How would Hosea have written about Yeshua’s role in delivering Israel?

2. Jeroboam had set up calves for Israel to worship instead of worshiping in Jerusalem Hosea described those who made idols as saying to Israel “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves” in Hosea 13:2. How does Psalm 2:10-11 respond to this instruction?

3. Read God’s promise to Jeroboam in 1 Kings 11:37-38. Compare this promise to God’s promise to David in 1 Chronicles 17:9-14. What was God’s indictment of Jeroboam when Jeroboam’s wife came to the prophet Ahijah when her son was ill in 1 Kings 14:6-16?

4. Yeshua says in Mark 12:30 that loving God with all one’s heart, soul, mind and strength is the first and greatest commandment. Compare this to the four steps Hosea outlined for repentance: Confession, Attitude, Trust, and Action.

5. In what way is God calling Ephraim? How does this apply today?

© 2018 Moed Ministries International. All rights reserved



[i] Bullinger, E.W. Number in Scripture. Eyre and Spottiswoode. ©1894. Reissued Cosimo, Inc. ©2005. P. 123.