What we are reading this week (beginning Friday, October 14, 2022):
• Joshua 10-16
• Hosea 14 ~ Joel 1-3 ~ Amos 1-3
• 2 Timothy 1-4 ~ Titus 1-3
Notes on Joshua
There is an amazing battle that we find in chapter ten, where Israel is doing so well that Joshua wants more time to fight… and he commanded the sun (and moon) to stand still… and they did!
Lots of conquests in this chapter, as Joshua and the Israelites turn south.
In chapter eleven, Joshua turns his attention to the north. Once again, he finds victory at every turn (see 11.23).
An inventory of defeated kings is given in chapter 12.
In chapter 13, an assessment of the land yet to be taken is procured. The land for the two and a half renegade tribes is divvied up east of the Jordan. This entire debacle of these tribes was a distraction.
Now, in chapter 14, the land west of the Jordan is portioned out for the other tribes. We find a special appearance of Caleb, the faithful warrior. For his enormous contribution to the people of God, he is given his own private allotment of land.
The specific allotments for tribes begin in chapter 15, starting with the tribe of Judah. Caleb gives his daughter away in marriage, in the old-fashioned, old-school manner: to the warrior who conquers the given target (see 15.16-17).
The allotments for Ephraim and Manasseh are both given in chapter 16. Their land will eventually be a part of the northern kingdom. Ephraim will be the predominant tribe of the ten that end up there, and its name will be used interchangeably with Israel. Hosea especially uses this designation for them.
Notes on Hosea
Hosea closes out his book with a somewhat optimistic tone. God is promising that he will still be willing to heal and forgive his people if they are willing to repent and turn back to him. However, history tells us that they would not respond to this, and the northern kingdom of Israel fell around thirty years after this prophecy was completed.
Notes on Joel
Joel is a most unusual book, for no king is mentioned in it, so we really don’t know when it was written. Also, two-thirds of the book is about an invasion of locusts. However, there is a very significant message given, and his words were cited by Peter on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.
Chapter one warns of the coming locusts, with a call to lament.
The description of the invasion continues through chapter two. Then the prophet calls the people of God to repentance with some words that are worthy of our own reflection (verses 12-14):
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.
“Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing.”
Then the call to a sacred assembly (a la Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20) is given in verses 15 and following.
The prophecy that Peter cites on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2.17-21 is found here in 2.28-29.
The third chapter concludes the book with judgment on the surrounding nations and restoration and blessings for the people of God. Another great verse to address the need for repentance of the masses is in 14:
“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.”
Notes on Amos
Amos was just an ordinary shepherd, and the son of a shepherd, when the Lord called him into prophetic ministry (1.1, 7.14). He was ministering in the northern kingdom in the middle of the years of the kings. Israel was riding at its highest, but there was much sin in the camp.
As a faithful prophet, Amos called them on it. The people were not pleased with any of his message.
The first chapter is a series of rebukes against Israel’s neighbors. His signature style is, “For three sins of [insert nation], even for four, I will [insert consequence].”
The rebukes carry on into chapter two. In the second half of this chapter, the focus turns to Israel and her many sins.
The judgements against God’s own people continue to pour out through chapter three.
We do find this gem of a verse in the middle of everything: “Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing this plan to his servants the prophets” (3.7).
Notes on 2 Timothy
Paul writes to a discouraged Timothy, and we see some of the soft side of Paul. He urges Timothy (and us) to “fan into flame the gift of God”, the one that was imparted through a laying on of hands, obviously related to his spiritual giftings (1.6).
In evaluating the problems Timothy faced, Paul is not afraid to name names.
Paul uses three metaphors for serving God: as a soldier, as an athlete, and as a farmer (2.4-6).
There is a lot of practical discussion on how to deal with false teachers in chapter two.
More explanation of what to expect in the last days is found in chapter three.
Jannes and Jambres were apparently the priests who worked for Pharaoh when Moses came and said, “Let my people go” (3.8; see also Exodus 7.11).
Chapter four is Paul’s wrap-up, and you can sense that he is feeling the end of his life is very near. Instead of dread and despair, he proclaims, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (4.6-8).
It's not like he was sick and approaching a final round of disease. His life would be ended in painful manner at the hand of his enemies. Even so, he holds onto the attitude we all should embrace at the end of our lives!
Notes on Titus
Titus is a book that I feel is severely underused by the church. I don’t remember ever hearing a sermon series on it, or even a stand-alone, now that I think about it.
In chapter one, Paul lays out requirements for church leadership. He does this in the context of weeding out false teaching and those who are disrupting the church.
Instructions on dealing with older women, young men, and slaves is given in chapter two. Toward the end of the chapter, he uses the phrase “blessed hope” to refer to the return of Jesus. This is the only place in the Bible where we find this wonderful phrase.
In the final chapter, he encourages his readers to remember what we were before salvation, and what God has done in us since. Again, he warns against tolerating those who run after useless controversies, and even encourages Titus and his leadership team to do the “three strike” approach to troublemakers (3.10).