Bible Study Lessons

AMOS

OCTOBER 15, 2014

AUTHOR:  Amos, a shepherd from Tekoa, near Bethlehem

DATE:        Approximately the 760s BC.

IN TEN WORDS OR LESS: Real religion isn’t just ritual but treating people with justice.

DETAILS:  An average guy-a lowly shepherd, actually-takes on the rich and powerful of Israelite society, condemning their idol worship, persecution of God’s prophets, and cheating of the poor. Through God once rescued the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt, He is ready to send them into new bondage because of their sin. Amos sees visions that picture Israel’s plight: a plumb line, indicating the people are not measuring up to God’s standards, and a basket of ripe fruit, showing the nation is ripe for God’s judgment.

QUOTABLE: Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. (4:12)…Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live….Let justice roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. (5:24)

UNIQUE AND UNUSUAL: A native of the southern Jewish kingdom of Judah, Amos was directed by God to prophesy in the northern Jewish nation of Israel.

SO WHAT?: How are you treating the people around you? In God’s eyes, that’s an indicator of your true spiritual condition. For a New Testament perspective, see James 2:14-18.

HOSEA

September 24, 2014

DATE: Sometimes between 750 (approximately when Hosea began ministering) and 722 BC (when Assyria overran Israel).

IN TEN WORDS OR LESS:  God gives Hosea a strange command: Take unto thee a wife a wife of whoredoms” (1:2). The marriage pictures God’s relationship to Israel-an honorable, loving husband paired with an unfaithful wife. Hosea marries an adulteress named Gomer and starts a family with her. When Gomer returns to her life of sin, Hosea, again picturing God’s faithfulness, buys her back from the slave market. The book contains God’s warnings for disobedience but also His promises of blessing for repentance.

QUOTEABLE: For they {Israel} have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. (8:7)

UNIQUE AND UNUSUAL: Gomer had three children, perhaps Hosea’s but maybe not, each given a prophetic name, Son Jezreel was named for a massacre, daughter” Lo-ruhamah’s name meant “not loved,” and son Lo-ammi name meant “not my people”.

SO WHAT: God is faithful, even when His people aren’t and He is always ready to forgive. “I will heal their backsliding,” God said through Hosea; “I will love them freely” (14:4).

Daniel

September 3, 2014

AUTHOR:  Likely Daniel, though some question this. Chapters 7-12 are written in the first person (“I Daniel” 7:15), through the first six chapters are in the third person (“Then Daniel answered” 2:14).

DATE:  The period of the Babylonian captivity, approximately 605-538 BC.

IN TEN WORDS OR LESS:  Faithful to God in a challenging setting, Daniel is blessed.

DETAILS:  As a young man, Daniel-along with three others to be known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego- are taken from their homes in Jerusalem to serve the King of Babylon. Daniel’s God-given ability to interpret dreams endears him to King Nebuchadnezzar whose vision of a huge statue; Daniel says represents existing and future kingdoms. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego find trouble when they disobey an order to bow before a statue of Nebuchadnezzar; as punishment, they are thrown into a fiery furnace, where they are protected by an angelic being “like the Son of God” (3:25). The next Babylonian King, Belshazzar throws a drinking party using cups stolen from the temple in Jerusalem; he literally sees “the handwriting on the wall,” which Daniel interprets as the soon-to-come takeover of Babylon by the Medes. The Median king, Darius, keeps Daniel as an adviser but is tricked into passing a law designed by other jealous officials to hurt Daniel, who ends up in a den of lions. Once again, God protects His people; Daniel spending a night and replaced by the schemers, who are mauled by the hungry beasts. The final six chapters contain Daniel’s prophetic visions, including that of “seventy weeks” of the end times.

QUOTABLE:  Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king (3:17)…My God hath sent His angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths that they have not hurt me. (6:22)…O my God…we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousness’s, but for thy great mercies. (9:18)

UNIQUE AND UNUSUAL: The book was originally written in two languages: Hebrew (the introduction and most of the prophecies, chapter 1 and chapters 8-12) and Aramaic (the stories of chapter 2-7).

Ezekiel

August 27, 2014

AUTHOR:  Ezekiel, a priest. (1:1-3)

DATE:  Approximately the 590s-570s BC

IN TEN WORDS OR LESS:  Though Israel is in exile, the nation will be restored.

DETAILS:  Ezekiel, an exiled Jew in Babylon, becomes God’s spokesman to fellow exiles, He shares unusual (even bizarre) visions with the people, reminding them of the sin that led to their captivity but also offering hope of national restoration.

QUOTABLE:  I have no pleasure in the death of Him that dieth, saith the Lord God: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye. (18:32)

UNIQUE AND UNUSUAL:  Ezekiel’s vision of a valley of dry bones is one of the Bible’s strangest images: “I prophesied as I was commanded: and…there was a noise, and behold a shaking and the bones came together…The sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them above…And the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army” (37:7-8, 10).

SO WHAT:  Ezekiel strongly teaches personal responsibility: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. But if a man be just, and do that which is lawful and right…he shall surely live” (18:4-5, 9)

  

Jeremiah

July 23. 2014

AUTHOR:      Jeremiah (1:1), with the assistance of Baruch, a scribe (36:4).

DATE:              Approximately 585 BC.

IN TEN WORDS OR LESS:  After years of sinful behavior, Judah will be punished.

DETAILS:  Called to the ministry as a boy (1:6), Jeremiah prophesies bad news to Judah: “Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the Lord (5:15).” Jeremiah is mocked for his prophecies, occasionally beaten, and imprisoned in a muddy well (chapter 38).  However, his words come true with the Babylonian invasion of (chapter 52).

QUOTABLE:  Behold, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel (18:6).

UNIQUE AND UNUSUAL:  The book of Jeremiah that we read is apparently an expanded, second version of a destroyed first draft. King Jehoiakim , angry with Jeremiah for his dire prophecies, cut the scroll with a penknife and “cast it into the fire that was on the hearth (36:23).” At God’s command, Jeremiah produced a second scroll with additional material (36:32).

SO WHAT:  Through Jeremiah, God gave Judah some forty years to repent. God “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).”