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Hosea 1: ‘God, you want me to do WHAT? Marry a PROSTITUTE?!’

August 3, 2010 Leave a comment

When he received his commandment from God, I have little doubt that the prophet Hosea checked his calendar to see if it was April Fool’s Day. Or whatever the ancient Israelite equivalent of it was.

“Dear God, surely you are joking?!” Hosea probably asked, reverently. Could he really be hearing God correctly?

God had instructed Hosea to do the unthinkable:

“Go and marry a prostitute.”

It must’ve been a very strange pill to swallow. Little is known of Gomer, Hosea’s wife, and I wonder if she was one of those prostitutes in the temples of the false gods. If so, it must’ve seemed especially distasteful for Hosea.

This minor prophet, we learn from the opening verse, lived during the time of King Hezekiah of Judah and of King Jeroboam of Israel. This means, of course, that the events of this book actually happened before those of Daniel.

We see in the second verse that God doesn’t call Hosea to marry Gomer for divine amusement. There’s a reason for it: “…And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.”

There’s a lesson to be learned: Hosea and Gomer’s marriage will mirror God and Israel’s marriage.

They had three children: a son named Jezreel (because God would soon avenge Jezreel upon Jehu and would bring Jehu’s rule in Israel to a close and would judge Israel); a daughter named Loruhamah (from the Hebrew phrase meaning “no mercy” to indelicate God would cease from having mercy for Israel and would take them away while having mercy on Judah through some apparent tough love); and another son named Loammi (from the Hebrew meaning “not my people” to indicate a period of separation that would take place).

According to my Bible commentary notes, some believe that Loruhamah and Loammi were not Hosea’s biological children due to the wording of the text. I’m not so sure, simply because similar wording is used to describe all the kids Leah had when she was married to Jacob, but yet the context of Jacob and Leah shows nothing to indicate Jake wasn’t the father of all those boys and the daughter.

Verses 10 and 11 indicate that Israel will have a period of separation from God as God punishes the country for its idolatry before restoring it. I suspect this refers to the Babylonian captivity and then the Jewish people’s return back to Israel.

Richard Zowie is going through the Bible in his Richard’s Two Shekels blog when not commenting on Christian issues or blogging about his Christian walk. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Daniel 12: ‘All in good time’

I imagine Daniel must’ve been mentally exhausted at the end of his long life. He saw many visions, some wonderful and others horrifying. He also had to deal with royal egos, not the least among them King Nebuchadnezzar.

Chapter 12 takes place immediately after the events of Chapter 11 and is in itself a separate prophesy.

We learn in this chapter that Michael the Archangel will stand up for the righteous during a time of trouble that the world has never seen. It is possible this is a time of trouble that has taken place, but its wording suggests very strongly to me these are events that will occur in the Book of Revelation.

God’s people will be delivered, those who are found written in the book (my interpretation being the Lamb’s Book of Life) will be delivered, and that delivery is wonderful. The end times will be especially horrible; among many reasons, it’ll be the first time the world has seen what God is like when He is truly angry.

I wonder what went through Daniel’s mind in verse two when he saw the vision of dead people reanimating out of the dust of the earth for their final judgment: the righteous to everlasting life and the unrighteous to shame (their sins and wickedness on open display) and eternal damnation.

Years ago, when Dr. Jack Hyles autographed my Bible, he wrote as his life verse Daniel 12:3. It reads: “And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.” (King James Bible)

Sirius, the brightest star visible in our sky.

This tells me that those in heaven who’ve earned rich rewards by becoming godlike and by leading many to Him will not just have glorified bodies, but will shine like the stars in the universe. Our sun. Sirius (the brightest star in our sky), a.k.a., “The Dog Star”. Deneb, Rigel, among a few. Perhaps some righteous souls will even shine like all the stars combined that comprise the Andromeda galaxy.

The Andromeda Galaxy, one of the Milky Way Galaxy’s closest neighbors at about 2.5 million light years away (or, around 150,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles).

Daniel is then instructed by this heavenly being to cease writing and seal his scroll; in the end times, the prophecies would be fulfilled and people would understand. Then, things will indeed be hectic. Many will become very well-versed in the Bible as they seek out God and study what’s going on.

Daniel then saw one more vision, that of two men on different sides of a river. One wonders when things will take place. The other man, who apparently went onto the water, said it would be for a specific appointed time.

I don’t know what it means in verse seven when it says “…he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” Perhaps this will mean Israel has been made weak by the antichrist, or maybe it refers to Israel ceasing to become a nation in A.D. 70. I suspect the former.

Daniel wants to know what the end should be and, probably when. He is told, basically, “All in good time.”

In other words: you’ve done a great job, Daniel, but it’s not for you to know…yet. When the time is ready, your physical body shall be resurrected and reunited with your soul and you will know.

Many will be made righteous and will be purified, but not the wicked, who will not understand.

Daniel does learn that the time that passes between the ending of the daily sacrifice and the abomination of desolation (when, I suspect, the antichrist will defile the Temple of God) shall be 1,290 days (about 3.5 years) while those who endure and arrive at the 1,335 days (a little longer than 3.5 years) shall be blessed. I suspect the first set of days refers to the first half called the Tribulation while the second half refers to the Great Tribulation when things really start getting ugly.

To close out this book, Daniel is told to go his way, rest and then arise again at the end. I suspect this means that Daniel died shortly after recording this twelfth and final chapter of the book.

Next, we move on to Hosea, a prophet who must’ve thought God was joking when He told Hosea to marry a prostitute.

Richard Zowie is going through the Bible in his Richard’s Two Shekels blog when not commenting on Christian issues or blogging about his Christian walk. Post comments here or drop a line to richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Daniel 11: The Long Vision

April 13, 2010 1 comment

This would be an excellent chapter to read sometime if you ever have one of those days where you have a free hour or two. Daniel 11 consists of 45 verses chock full of prophecy.

This vision takes place around the time of Chapter 9, during the reign of King Darius the Mede. From the vision, we see that being a king in the ancient world was very much different from being a ceremonial king today in places like England and Spain. These days, monarchs get up, dress nice, eat the best food and spent their day engaging in their favorite activities and listening to professional sycophants telling them how marvelous they are.

Even as recent as a few centuries ago, being a monarch was far different. Sure, you lived in luxury and had the best of food, clothes and shelter, but you also had to keep a sharp eye for those who would like to overthrow you. Those advisors you have? Are you certain they’re giving you the best advice or advice that will ultimately benefit them? Kings also kept a close eye on other countries and no doubt secretly made plans to conquer them. King Edward I “Longshanks” of England (popularly fictionalized in the Mel Gibson historical-fiction epic Braveheart) negotiated a treaty to have his son Edward II marry Margaret, Maid of Norway and heir to the Scottish throne, ostensibly because eventually Longshanks wanted England to conquer Scotland. Alas, Margaret died before she could marry Eddie 2.

Braveheart wasn’t a historically-accurate film, but I did like Patrick Magoohan’s portrayal of Edward I “Longshanks”.

Daniel in his vision learned of three kings in Persia with a fourth king would would be far richer than them. The king would then use his wealth to make the first three kings war against Greece.

As the vision continued, Daniel saw that the kings from four parts (I presume north, south, east and west) would be involved. The southern king sent his daugher to the north for an “agreement”, which seems odd considering how many women were treated in those days. Daniel wrote that she was “given up” by her father and was without authority.

Verse seven states her offspring would grow strong and would successfully attack the north and ransack the land of people, idols and valuables and would transport some items or people to Egypt.

Back and forth the kingdoms went against each other and that in one kingdom, the temple would be desecrated with the wicked prevailing before hte godly overcame them. Lots and lots of bloodshed and horrible deaths.

Then, in verse 36, a king exalted himself above God and committed many blasphemies until finally, God decided enough was enough.

This king, verse 37 suggested, would become morally and rationally bankrupt and would be defeated. Eventually he would face an unceremonial end and would see his kingdom end without anyone trying to help him.

What era does this cover? Has it already taken place? And if so, was it shortly thereafter or did it refer to the Romans? Does it refer to the future antichrist? I think it applied to both near-future kings as well as the antichrist. I know from reading Left Behind and finishing with Kingdom Come that many Bible scholars feel that aspects of the rapture, antichrist and the millennial reign of Jesus can be found in Daniel.

Next, we’ll finish with Daniel 12.

Richard Zowie is a Christian blogger. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Thoughts on Acts, Daniel, Christian writing

I was very flattered but even more encouraged to hear from a high school friend that she reads this blog. Sometimes, when you blog, you post and have no clue who’s reading it. Sunshine’s (her real name, by the way) words are an encouragement to me to overcome my natural inclinations toward procrastination and be faithful by posting on a daily or semi-daily basis. We have only so much time on earth and then it’s over. For those of us who are Christians, we have only a finite amount of time to make a difference in our lives and make the most of the talents that God has given us.

God has not given me the gift to pastor a church, nor to be a traveling evangelist nor to be a missionary like my friends, Ross and Ellen Ligon, but he has given me the gift of writing. My job is to use that gift to write about things I encounter as a Christian.

My background? I have a bachelor of arts degree in history from Pensacola Christian College in 1995. I minored in English and took a Bible class every semester. I’m not a Bible scholar, but what I do is pray, read, consider the context, consult commentaries and concordances and wise friends over passages I don’t grasp and then write about what I understand and how it applies to me.

That being said, if you are a young Christian who’d likes to listen to the radio, I highly recommend J. Vernon McGee, Chuck Swindoll and Chip Ingram. All three are excellent Bible teachers.

Regarding Daniel, people think of it as a book of Daniel and his pals Shadrach (real name: Hananiah), Meshach (Mishael) and Abednego (Azariah). It’s also a book of prophecy, and as I read it, I see at least two visions Daniel saw that troubled him greatly. One even made him physically ill. One he doesn’t even write about what he saw, which makes you wonder if he saw something very horrible or something so futuristic that he simply couldn’t grasp it.

After Daniel, I’ll be venturing into a part of the Old Testament I haven’t explored in well over a decade: the Minor Prophets. No, they weren’t called the minor prophets because they were all under 18 years old.

As for Acts, how fascinating it is to read about the church in its infancy and about Saul’s conversion into the Apostle Paul. Soon we’ll be reading and blogging about his trials and his climactic trial before King Agrippa.

My prayer and goal is to step things up and within 2 to 4 years, to have blogged my entire way through the Bible. We’ll see how that goes.

For those of you who struggle daily with various temptations (I know I certainly do) and hear those whispers of past things you’ve done and deeply regret, I leave you with this: Whenever Satan reminds you of your past, remind him of his future.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian since 1981 and is currently searching for a solid Bible-teaching church to attend in or near Vassar, Michigan (one church in Frankenmuth was very nice, but it wasn’t a good fit). Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Daniel 10: A vision that troubles Daniel

March 26, 2010 Leave a comment

I read this on Thursday and planned to blog about it last night, but I decided to wait for two reasons: this is one of those chapters that must be read carefully (preferably several times) and I was a little too tired. Blogging about the Bible’s something I prefer to do on a fresh mind. You never know who will stumble upon this blog, and I want them to get something out of it rather than read the ramblings of someone who’s a little too sleepy to make sense.

Since I’m still shaking off rust as I read parts of the Bible that–sadly–I haven’t read in years, it’s very possible the next few times I go through this area of the Bible and as I grow more as a Christian, I may have a more elaborate analysis. Or, perhaps I’ll sound a little less dumb than I do now.

(That was supposed to be a joke, in case you were wondering).

With that…

During the third year of King Cyrus of Persia, Daniel experienced yet another vision. What he saw bothered him. Greatly. For three full weeks, he mourned and fasted and even refrained from personal hygiene. It sounds like the activity one would normally associate with extreme distress and mourning.

Why the anguish?

Daniel, during the 24th day of the first month, walked by the great river Hiddekel (or the Tigris River) when he saw a man in a glorified body: clothed in linen, wearing a gold belt, his body bright, his eyes as “the lamps of fire”, his skin like polished brass and his voice “…of a multitude”.

Was this a pre-incarnation of Jesus? No, it was an angel. Daniel wrote that he alone saw the vision; those with him saw only a shaking of the earth that caused them to flee.

This experience left Daniel physically and emotionally weak, but he was assured by this angel there was nothing to fear. He learned he was greatly loved by God and that he was in excellent favor. I assume that due to Daniel’s spiritual and perhaps even social conduct, a man who behaved himself wisely, that he was chosen to receive this vision.

The angel told Daniel he came to meet with him, but that he (the angel) was delayed for 21 days by a demon of Persia. The conflict became such that Michael the Archangel came to help.

The angel’s message to Daniel? To help Daniel understand what would happen to the Jewish people in the “latter days”; the vision to be shared was for many days.

As the angel spoke to Daniel, he experienced the “simultitude” of many people and described as it as a vision where “my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.”

Further, Daniel asked something else that tells how distressful the vision was for him in verse 17: “For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.”

Daniel was then strengthened by the angel and was encouraged to be of courage. The angel then returned to fight the demon in Persia and then, after that, against the demon of Greece.

The chapter ended with the angel telling Daniel: “But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and [there is] none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince.”

What exactly happened in the vision? It’s possible Daniel saw the persecution the Jewish people would face in a distant future. Perhaps during the Great Tribulation, and perhaps even the Holocaust. Whatever it was broke Daniel’s heart. Instead of being ill for a few days, he was ill for a few weeks.

Richard Zowie plans to read about the Minor Prophets once done with Daniel. Post comments here or e-mail him at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Daniel 9: Humble prayer and explanation of 70 weeks

March 23, 2010 2 comments

After far too many days, I spent time this morning getting back into reading God’s Word. It was a glass of ice-cold, freshly-brewed tea. When I think of my own struggles walking with God and why it seems so hard for Christians to stay on the path of righteousness, the answer to “why?” is simple: they either neglected or misinterpreted the Bible and got out of fellowship with God. From there, the many other problems surfaced.

This chapter covers events that took place during the reign of Darius, meaning we can close the door on Belshazzar and his Reign of Error. During his study time, Daniel studied the Hebrew prophets. Troubled by the mention of 70 weeks God had previously spoken about to the prophet Jeremiah, Daniel prayed for understanding. He wanted to understand what Jeremiah meant when he wrote “Seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.”

There are two things I find interesting: One, that Daniel would have access to the writings of the prophets (for some odd reason, I’d always assumed they’d been left behind in Jerusalem). I suspect it was either smuggled or Daniel was able to use his influence to have a copy brought from back home. Or perhaps he’d built up such a stellar reputation that he was able to study the sacred writings without interference.

Second, his prayer. Here’s a prophet who had lots of political power and had no doubt become a respected person with his ability to understand and interpret dreams. As we learned earlier in this book, Daniel’s reputation, both personal and professional, was impeccable. Yet his prayer suggested great humility on his part. His prayer was somewhat of a historical record of Israel’s continued disobedience towards God. He recalled all the blessings and mercies and how God brought the Israelites out of Egypt and gave them their own home.

And so, he prayed for God to help him understand the 70 weeks. God sent the angel Gabriel to reveal the interpretation.

In verse 24, Gabriel told Daniel the 70 weeks are meant to complete the transgression of the people, end the sins and to “make reconciliation for iniquity” along with ushering in eternal righteousness, “seal[ing] up the vision and prophecy” and bringing honor to God.

Here’s one chart that “explains” the 70 weeks.

Again, my understanding is from a lay perspective, but it looks like the 70 weeks apply to several future times. One, the return to and the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple. Two, Jesus’ crucifixion and, three, the end times. Gabriel said the end would be with a flood, and that the Messiah would cause sacrifices and oblation to discontinue. This sounds like something that has not happened yet.

Some say 70 weeks could actually represent hundreds of years. Who knows for sure.

Here’s another chart. Same basic idea, different layout.

Perhaps the next time I read Daniel 9 in a year or so, I’ll have more to add.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian since 1981. He had a reassurance of salvation in 1984 and has actually been baptized twice–first in 1981 and then in 1990 for his reassurance of salvation. Whenever Satan tries to remind Richard of his past, Richard gladly likes to tell Satan, “Hey, Satan, don’t you have an eternity in the lake of fire to get ready for?”. Post comments here or e-mail Richard at richardstwoshekels@gmail.com.

Daniel 8: A vision that troubles Daniel

March 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Things have been hectic lately, and I’m trying to develop better time management skills. I read this passage late last week. Forgive me for just now getting around to posting this.

We’re continuing on into the next phase of Daniel, where he sees visions of both the near future and not-so-near future. Forgive my redundancy, but it must’ve been terrifying seeing visions. Imagine seeing images based millennia into the future and seeing people, cities, styles, machines that make no sense because they’re too far technologically advanced.

This vision occurred in the third year of the reign of Belshazzar before the fifth chapter of this book. Daniel, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, chose to group his dealings as a government official in one part of the book and all the visions in the rest of the book.

In this vision, he saw a ram (the Media-Persia empire) and a goat (Greece). The goat, Greece, prevailed over the ram, telling Daniel that the MP empire that’ll soon overthrow Belshazzar will itself eventually collapse. The vision also foretold the death of the great Greek emperor Alexander and, eventually, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The vision told Daniel that A-IV eventually would try to set up pagan worship in Israel and would try to exalt himself above God.

Verse 12 says he was successful awhile and then finally, as all men with overinflated egoes who exalt themselves above God, he was defeated and the Temple was rededicated. History tells us A-IV was defeated by an army led by Judas Maccabeus. Verse 25 says he was “broken without hand”, indicating that he was probably humiliated in his quest to become godlike.

The vision troubled Daniel, and at the end of this chapter he mentioned being ill several days and even taking a few days off from work. This is probably not unusual, even in the days before people filled themselves with caffeine, processed foods and other things not good for them. What Daniel saw, no doubt, made him sick to his stomach.

What made him ill? Maybe the sickness of seeing what would happen to this current kingdom, or the sickness of seeing what God’s people would endure a few hundred years into the future. It’s hard to tell for sure.

Richard Zowie has been a Christian for 28 years and likes to write about the Bible. Post comments here or contact him at richardzowie@gmail.com.