What we are reading this week (beginning Wednesday, October 21, 2020):
• Joshua 17-23
• Amos 4-9 ~ Obadiah
• Philemon ~ Hebrews 1-6
Notes on Joshua
In chapter 17, the dividing of the land continues. The tribe of Joseph has been divided into two half-tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh.
The division of the land continues in chapter 18. The Levites(see verse 7) will be spread out among the tribes and not have their own section, but they will have their own towns. Gad, Reuben and the half-tribe of Manasseh are going to go back to the other side of the Jordan, outside of the Promise Land. Allotments for Simeon, Zebulun, Issachar, Asher, Naphtali, and Dan are found in chapter 19. At the very end of the chapter, Joshua is given his own allotment of land. Cities of refuge are established in chapter 21. In chapter 21 towns are assigned to the Levites, which are spread out throughout the other tribes In the next chapter, 22, Moses sends the 2 and a 1/2 tribes to their inheritance east of the Jordan, away from the Promise Land, but nevertheless sends them with his blessing. The first thing they do is to build “an imposing altar” by the Jordan (22.10).
This almost starts a Civil War, but the tribes explain that its purpose was to build a reminder so that the other tribes would not forget about them.
Joshua wraps up his ministry in chapter 23 and is preparing to die. He warns the Israelites about staying true to the covenant of the Lord their God.
Notes on Amos
Amos gives a sobering prophecy to a nation at ease in chapter four. From a place of severe contentment, it was hard for Israel to take his prophecies seriously. This reminds me far too much of America right now. In chapter 5, God desperately pleads for repentance. “Seek me and live” is a theme here. Beginning in verse 21, God thoroughly rejects outward and accurate worship that is devoid of any heart. Complacency will lull them into destruction. In chapter 6, the prophet spends time describing their affluent lifestyle, and then explains how they were so much caught up in sin and pride that the city and the country would soon be given over to another nation. Amos is given two visions at the beginning of chapter 7, visions of destruction. He intercedes and pleads with God for the nation, and God relents. Then Amos must confront a false priest, Amaziah, who rebukes Amos and bad-mouths him to the king. Amos is then given a word of condemnation for the false prophet In chapter eight, Amos is given the vision of a basket of ripe fruit, which represents that the time is ripe for judgment (8.2).
A famine is declared through the land, not a famine of food or a thirst for water but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.
This has often been mis interpreted as a wonderful time of revival when people really want to hear God's word and will seek it out. But the reality is, it descibes a famine. That means that there will be severe lack of resource, that those people seeking to find the Word of God will not to be ablet to find it anywhere. See verse 12. As w3 find in so many of the prophetic books, after a closing argument against his people In chapter 9, the final chapter, along with a promise of judgment God promises an eventual restoration.
Notes on Obadiah
Obadiah is one of the few books in the Bible (especially in the Old Testament) written to a nation or people group other than Israel. This short book was written after the exile had taken place. The people of Edam, who are the relatives of Israel (they are descendants of Esau, Jacob's brother) have looted the cities after the Israelites were taking into exile. Not only that, but we see in verse 14 that they even delivered survivors of the exile over to the Babylonians. at the end of the book, God promises that in spite of all of their difficulties, including those inflicted by Edom, he will restore his people Israel
Notes on Philemon
Philemon is a wealthy man who owned a slave named Onesimus. Onesimus had apparently run away from him, and perhaps had stolen from Philemon on the way out. Somewhere along the way, Onesimus had met Paul and he had become a follower of Jesus. Paul was sending him back to Philemon with this letter.
There is lots of debate today about the Bible and slavery. We know that slavery was a part of the culture in Old and New Testament times, and has actually been a part of every culture in world history up until 1833.
But we see that Paul is pleading with his brother Philemon to welcome Onesimus back not as a slave, but as a brother. Paul gives him an offer he cannot receive refuse, offering to pay for any wrong and having Philemon charge it to him. I find this hilarious, for who in the New Testament church would ever require anything from Paul? Paul also mentions that Philemon owes him his very life (see verse 19). And then Paul says he will be coming to come visit him (22). Philemon doesn't have much choice here!
Notes on Hebrews
Hebrews as my very favorite book in the entire Bible. And we don't even know who wrote it. Personally, I think I was Apollos. There is no possible way I could prove it. But if I could, I would be famous.
This is the best tie-in we have between the Old and New Testaments/Covenants. The Temple, Moses and the Law were revered above and beyond everything in Judaism.
The writer of the Hebrews takes each of these and shows us how Jesus is superior to each. Chapter one opens with a description of Jesus declaring, his eternity, his power to purify from sin, his deity. Jesus is shown to be superior to the angels. Chapter 2 makes the strong case on how Jesus was fully human, right after we found out in chapter one that he was deity. In chapter 3 the writer takes on Moses to show that Jesus was greater than he. Then Moses and his followers are used an example to warn against the dangers of unbelief. Chapter 4 starts by talking about the sabbath rest for the people of God. This is a very interesting topic and would take a long time to unpack. I won't do that today. There is also allusion to the word of God being alive and active. The chapter closes describing Jesus as the great high priest. The Jewish readers of this letter would certainly understand the significance of this in a highly enlightened way. Chapter 5 continues with the description of the high priest and the comparison of how Jesus fulfilled this role ultimately. The chapter closes with a warning against following no way The warning against following away continues into chapter 6. The chapter ends with showing again the power of Jesus and the certainty of the hope that he gives us as our high priest forever.