Key Notes: The prophets. The nations. Tragedy. The Day of the Lord. The Remnant. Deliverance.
By now we know that "Minor Prophet" does not mean junior, small or half-baked. Minor means short--and that turns out to be compact and punchy. They also add to what we have learned from Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, the major prophets we have already read.
It is a painful and lonely task to speak out against the evils of society. By marrying a prostitute, Hosea suffered the disgrace, the risk and cost of being a model of redemptive grace. Amos was warned to leave Bethel by the priest of Bethel with the authority of King Jeroboam. He protested his amateur status but did not miss a beat with his message.
Hosea's unique contribution is the love of God acted out in a sordid marriage of a godly man and a prostitute whom he lost and had to buy back from slavery. We have another marriage which involved a redeemer in Ruth, but she was a godly woman although a Moabite. In Gomer, we have a woman who chose to be promiscuous, ran away from her husband, and was bought back as a slave. J.M.Boice sees Hosea 3 as the most vivid picture of redemption in the Bible because of the helpless and sinful condition of the person saved and the pure grace that was offered. (The Minor Prophets. Vol. I. Chap. III. "The Greatest Chapter in the Bible". Baker,’83; p.31)
Another side of the story that we are not likely to understand is the divine suffering. "My heart recoils within Me. My compassion grows warm and tender"; (Hos.11:8)
"The depth of what God feels, as Hosea understands those feelings, can never be separated from the height of who He is. The sharpness of the pain that registers in the divine complaints is directly related to the majesty of the Person who is suffering. And that language of suffering takes on its pathos from the familial relationship which controls Hosea 's prophecy. No shepherd could feel that pain over his sheep, no judge over his defendant, no king over his subjects. Spouses and parents know special kinds of pain. Into these, the magnificent Holy One of Israel entered without balm or panacea. Not until Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, endures the betrayal of a disciple, and complains against the withdrawal of the Father, do we see a clearer picture of wounded majesty."
(Hosea. D.A.Hubbard. IVP,’89; p.45)
In Amos, six of the nations around Israel and Judah were judged as well as Israel and Judah in particular. The charges varied. They include atrocities and kidnapping against Israel, desecration of a dead body, rejecting the Law of God and social crimes. There were no exemptions for being descendants of Abraham, and Israelites, or being ignorant of the Law. Amos says that God also placed the Ethiopians, the Syrians and the Philistines in their territories. (Amos 9:7). Paul says God has determined allotted periods and the boundaries of national habitations. (Acts.17:26). If we read in the prophets about a dozen nations around Israel, a Last Days’ destiny is mentioned for almost all of them. They are all under God's judgment.Since God judged all eight nations mentioned, we can ask:
Will God judge all of the nations of the world? Or is He concerned only with Israel and her neighbors? “The nations” may refer to the Middle Eastern sphere.
If we find the phrase “all the nations”, suggesting a world-wide judgment, we will see the problem in a different light. And if He were to judge all nations, what would the charges be?
“Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and His anointed….” Psa.2:1–2. Psalm 2 sounds like a very general, world-wide, rebellion against God's rule.
“Arise, O God, judge the earth, for to You belong all the nations.” Psa.82:8. This Psalm indicts the rulers of all the nations for injustice against the weak, the needy, and the fatherless.
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Psa.82:3–4)
The other question is about “the nations that are called by my name.” (Amos 9:11–12) Does God deal with nations as nations, or only distinguishing Jews and all others? Is James telling the whole story when he says ”Gentiles” are coming to Christ? Who are the nations that are called by the name of the Lord?
Are they not also the nations of the Christian West?
Conclusion: God will judge all the nations of the world.
Tragedy, like prosperity, is caused. It is not accidental.
“As destruction from the Almighty it comes.” (Joel 1:15)
“Does evil befall a city unless the Lord has done it?" (Amos.3:6)
The prophet Amos uses cause and effect to predict future judgment. (Amos 3:2–8). That is, these catastrophes will be caused by God. He also uses the cause and effect argument to illustrate past punishments. (Amos 4:6–11). Most of our lives we think of flood or drought, wild-fires and hurricanes, earthquakes and explosions as chance events. We think of cause and effect only in the scientific sense—weather patterns based on the Jet Stream and El Nino, faults in the tectonic plates leading to earthquakes and tsumanis, or human error leading to the Chernobyl melt-down.
If tragedy is caused by God, the reaction to tragedy should be prayer and repentance.
“Yet even now, says the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting…and rend your hearts and not your garments.” (Joel 2:12)
Scripture teaches us to grieve, mourn, repent and beg God for mercy because disasters are caused by God. They are not accidents.
Hurricane Katrina and Sandy Hook and the Japanese tsunami and the Pakistan earthquake were under God’s direction.
What God intends that we learn from it seems obvious: repent and return to Him.
THE DAY OF THE LORD.
The Day of the Lord is mentioned four times in Joel. From these texts, we can come to a tentative understanding of what The Day of the Lord is.
It is a plague of locusts. Joel.1:4–5
It is the assault of the Assyrians. Joel 2:1–11
It is an end-times cosmic event preceded by the coming of the Holy Spirit. Joel. 2:28–32
It is the valley of decision for the nations of the world. Joel. 3:14.
There is also The Day of the Lord for the Babylonians (Isa.13:6, 9), and Egypt. Jer.46:10
Plainly, The Day of the Lord is not a single event, or even a single time period. A good working definition is “an historical visitation of God for judgment and deliverance.” These events occur with mounting intensity in Joel, as well as in other prophetic writing. It is not limited to Israel, but will eventually involve the whole world. It may not be stretching too much to say that WWI and WWII were also “the Day of the Lord.”
The escalation of catastrophes seems clear from Revelation 6–16 with its seven seals, seven trumpets and seven bowls of the wrath of God. And a ten-fold rise in world-wide natural disasters in the last ten years gives one pause. (New Engl. J. Med.369;19. 2013; p.1838.)
Scripture is also is clear that an end-point of history is the total destruction of life on the earth.
“I will utterly sweep away everything from the face of the earth, says the Lord. I will sweep away man and beast. I will sweep away the birds of the air and the fish of the sea. I will overthrow the wicked; I will cut off mankind from the face of the earth says the Lord.” Zeph.1:2–3
“ You, Lord, founded the earth in the beginning and the heavens are the work of Your hands; they will perish, but You remain; they will all grow old like a garment; like a mantle You will roll them up and they will be changed. But You are the same and Your years will never end.” Heb.1:10–12
“..the heavens and earth that now exist have been stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” IIPet.3:7
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise and the elements will be dissolved with fire and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up.” IIPet.3: 10
Conclusion: the Day of the Lord is a series of escalating judgment events that lead to a final overthrow of human government and even life on earth followed by a reconstruction.
(Day of the Lord. in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. L. Ryken et al. IVP,’98; p.196–197.)
THE CONCEPT OF THE REMNANT.
"On Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape...and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls. “ (Joel 2:32)
“On Mount Zion there will be those who escape.” (Obad.17)
“The surviving remnant shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. (Isa.37:31)
“The lame I will make a remnant... a strong nation, and the Lord will reign over them in Mt. Zion. (Mic. 4:7)
Conclusion: God will save some believers out of catastrophic events.
The visitation of God, The Day of the Lord, is for judgment, but also for deliverance. If the destructive element of the Day of the Lord is an escalating series, so also is the reconstructive process.
*Israel was promised a return from exile in Babylon. Jer. 29:10
*Israel was promised a second re-gathering into her own land. (Isa.11:11) That would occur after 70AD.
*The future Golden Age described in Isaiah 60–66 is not final either, as we know from Rev. 21 when there is new Heaven and new earth.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” Psa.46:1–3
“The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters his voice, the earth melts. The Lord of host is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.” Psa.46:6–7
The love and grace of God will produce great blessing in the end.
Joel has unique good news. The Holy Spirit will come in power, not only for Israel,but the people in every land.
"And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour our My Spirit on all flesh." (Joel 2:28)
"Then the Lord became Jealous for His land and had pity on His people." (Joel 2:18)
"I will restore to you the years that the ...locust... has eaten. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied." (Joel 2:25,26)
Amos also gives us relief at the end. "Behold, the days are coming, 'says the LORD', "when the plowman shall overtake the reaper and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed; the mountains shall drip sweet wine and all the hills shall flow with it. I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel...and they shall never again be plucked up out of the land which I have given them' 'says the Lord your God.'"