Thoughts From The Prophets: Deceived by Pride

The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high” (Obadiah 3).

These words were for Edom (Obadiah 1).  They were prideful.  The Hebrew word which is translated “pride” means “exaltation” (Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius).  It is used in two sense, “In a positive sense… ‘excellence’ or ‘majesty’… The majority of the uses of gaon are negative in that they connote human ‘pride’ as an antonym for humility… Proverbs puts gaon together with arrogance, evil behavior, and perverse speech” (Vine’s), The word “pride” is connected with arrogance and haughtiness (Proverbs 8:13; 16:18; 21:24), and is contrasted with being humble (Proverbs 11:2; 29:23).  God hates this kind of pride, and considers it an abomination (Proverbs 6:16-19; 8:13; 16:5).

Over what were they prideful?  (1) They were prideful over their dwelling place, and its natural defenses.  They said in their hearts, “Who will bring me down to the ground’ (Obadiah 3).  They lived in a place which was easily defended.  Homer Hailey comments, “The country of Edom lay south of the Dead Sea in a rugged region known as the Arabah.  The mountainous area on either side of the Arabah was noted for its steep canyons, impregnable mountain strongholds, and well-protected coves.  In these people felt themselves security against their enemies” (Hailey, A Commentary on The Minor Prophets, p. 32).  “There principle city was Petra, one of the most spectacular fortresses of the entire ancient world… a handful of men could have defended it against a whole army” (Coffman,  (2) They may have been prideful of their wealth.    Their hidden treasures are mentioned (Obadiah 5 -6).  Homer Hailey comments, “Edom took pride not only in his physical strength and strategic location, but also in his wealth.  Possessing great ore deposits and being located as he was on the crossroads of caravan traffic, he had grown wealthy through trade, through duty charged the caravans that traversed his land,  …and through his disposition to plunder weak caravans that passed through” (Hailey, p. 33).  “The ancient Greek historian Diodorus Siculus indicates that the Edomites put their wealth – accumulated from trade – in vaults in the rocks” (NIV Study Bible).   (3) They may have been prideful in their treaties and military alliances.  Their confederacy is mentioned (Obadiah 7).  Homer Hailey suggests that this may have included Moab, Ammon, Gaza, Tyre, and Arabian tribes (Hailey, pp. 33-34).  (4) They may have prided themselves in their wise men (Obadiah 8; Jeremiah 49:7), and their mighty men (Obadiah 9).

The LORD’s reply: “Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down” (Obadiah 3-4).  They would not escape God’s judgment.  [Note: They did not.  Gleason Archer, Jr. writes, “As to the fulfillment of this doom upon Edom, it may be fairly inferred from Malachi 1:3-5 that by Malachi’s time (435 B.C.) the Edomites had already been driven from Sela and Mount Seir by the overwhelming forces of the Nabatean Arabs.  Secular sources inform us that as early as the reign of Darius I (521-485 B.C.) the Nabateans had pushed Edom out of their ancestral territory and driven them into the deserted regions of Southern Judea… As for dispossessed Edomites, the region in which they settled came to be known as Idumea, where they maintained an independent existence for a time, until they were conquered by… John Hyrcanus (135-105 B.C.), and forcibly converted to the Jewish faith” (Archer, A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, p. 310)].

Many today feel secure, even pridefully secure, in their lives.  They have nice homes, with security systems.  They live in quiet, peaceful neighborhoods, and on gated property.  Their country has a strong economy and a strong military – the strongest the world has even seen.  They have great medical insurance.  They are smart, and in many ways have wisely planned their lives.

However, many of these same people have neglected their relationship with God, or have altogether forgotten Him.  This is a serious and fatal mistake.  Ultimately, if one is not right with God nothing else matters (Mark 8:36-37).  Remember, “Riches do not profit in the days of wrath” (Proverbs 11:4).  Riches are not going to spare one.  Remember, “Though they join forces, none will go unpunished.”  Alliances are not going to spare one.  Remember, “Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,’ says the LORD” (Obadiah 4).  Earthly defenses will not spare one.

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Thoughts From The Prophets: Walking With God

Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” (Amos 3:3).
There are two understandings of these words. Some take this to refer to agreement in direction. If you are headed south, and I am headed north, how can we walk together? Some understand this to refer to an agreed meeting place to walk together. “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?” (E.S.V.). George Adam Smith commented, “Do two men walk together except they have trysted? – except they have made an appointment. Hardly in the desert; For there men meet and take the same road by chance as seldom as ships at sea” (Smith, The Book of the Twelve Prophets, Vol. 1, p. 82). The original word, yawad (agreed), seems to support the latter view (see: BDBG Lexicon).
If one holds to the first view, then this is about direction or agreement in direction. Consider: Leviticus 26:21, “Then, if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me…”; Leviticus 26:23-24, “If… you… walk contrary to Me, then I also will walk contrary to you, and I will punish you…”
If one holds to the latter view, then this is about relationship and intent to walk together. This view is not much different from the first view. Both have to do with agreement in direction. However, this view has the additional idea of intention of walking together, fellowship. Consider: 1 John 1:6-7, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and Walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…”; 1 John 2:6, “He who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk just as He walked.”
Israel no longer walked with God. Coffman commented, “Israel’s having forsaken God’s way means that they are no longer ‘agreed’ with God. Can they continue together? The law of cause and effect operates to separate them” (
It is possible to walk with God. “Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:22, 24). “Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). Are you?
“Let me live close to Thee, Take my hand dear Lord, and guide me all along the rugged way; O let me live close to Thee, Let me walk and talk with Thee, dear Lord, each day” (Song: Let Me Live Close to Thee by J.R. Baxter, Jr.).
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Thoughts From The Prophets: The LORD Will Not Acquit The Wicked

God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; The LORD avenges and is furious.  The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries and He reserves wrath for His enemies; The LORD is slow to anger and great in power and will not at all acquit the wicked.  The LORD has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet”  (Nahum 1:2-3).

Five things are about the LORD in these two verses.  Let’s notice: (1) “God is jealous, and the LORD avenges.”  The word “jealous” refers to passion.  He is not dispassionate or disinterested.  He would punish Assyria (Nahum 1:1; 3:1; Isaiah 10:5-7, 12-14; Jeremiah 50:18).  (2) “The LORD avenges and is furious.”  This is synonymous with the first point.  (3) “The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries and He reserves wrath for His enemies.”  The coming wrath on Nineveh (Assyria) was not without reason.  They were His enemies. The E.S.V. Study Bible comments, “God’s holy anger is righteous and just in defense of his word and his people.”  (4) “The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.”  He had been patient, and had given them time.  However, the time was up.  This ancient city, which dated to shortly after the flood (Genesis 10:8-10), and which served as the capital city of Assyria for many years (c. 1100 – 612 B.C.) would be looted (Nahum 2:9), and burned (Nahum 2:13; 3:13).  It would be made desolate (Zephaniah 2:13-15), and have no healing (Nahum 3:9).  (5) “The LORD has his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet.”  He is powerful.

Let’s consider more closely the fourth point and make application for us.  (1) The LORD is slow to anger.  The destruction of Nineveh was slow in coming.  Approximately 100 years earlier God had sent the prophet Jonah to them, and they repented (See: book of Jonah).  However, this change was short-lived.  They had become morally corrupt (Nahum 3:1), idolatrous (Nahum 1:14; 3:4), prideful and without respect for the LORD (2 Kings 18:28-35).  Judgement would come.  Application for us – God’s patient should not be viewed as dispassion or disinterest. Wayne Jackson comments, “It may superficially appear that God ignores evil, but this is not the case. His delay in dealing with such is due to His great patience; He is ‘slow to anger’ (1:3)” (Jackson, Notes From The Margin Of My Bible, vol.1, p.155). Peter warned, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

(2) The LORD is great in power.  He can control nature (Nahum 1:3b-5).  The point: “Who can stand before His indignation?  And who can endure the fierceness of His anger?” (Nahum 1:6).  Wayne Jackson comments, “Nahum introduces examples of Jehovah’s power, as reflected in nature, as an argument for the fact that He is able to deal with man wickedness – in this case that of Nineveh” (Jackson, p. 156).  Application for us – we should respect God.  He is the Creator and the Sustainer of this universe.  If tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes, fire, thunder and lightning should be feared and respected, then how much more should God, the Creator of all things?

(3) The LORD will not acquit the wicked.  He punishes sin.  Application for us – Judgment is coming (2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27).  “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.  For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the spirit will of the spirit reap everlasting life.  And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:7-9).










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Thoughts From the Prophets: The Valley of Decision

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!  For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision” (Joel 3:14).

“The valley of decision” is the equivalent to the “the valley of Jehoshaphat” (Joel 3:14 cf. 3:2, 12). Terry Varner commented “Joel calls for the nations to ‘assemble,…come,…gather’ (3:11b). They are come to ‘the valley of Jehoshaphat’ (3:12), meaning ‘Jehovah judges,’ as ‘I sit to judge all the heather’ (3:12)” (Editors Thomas Warren and Garland Elkins, The Minor Prophets, Power Lectureship, p.81). Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown comments “As Jehoshaphat overthrew the confederate foes of Judah, viz., Ammon, Moab, etc. (Psalms 83:6-8), in this valley, so God was to overthrow the Tyrians, Zidonians, Philistines. Edom, and Egypt, with a simular utter overthrow (vss. 4,19)” (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, Commentary On The Whole Bible, p. 787). The decision, the judgment, is Jehovah’s.  He will sit and judge.  Homer Hailey comments, “The judgment is indicated as universal, on all nations that had had a part in scattering His people” (Hailey, A Commentary on The Minor Prophets, p. 57).

There is a judgment day to come (John 12:48; Acts 17:31; Romans 2:16; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Hebrews 9:27).  His judgment will be the only judgment that will matter on that day.  Human opinions will not matter.  Subjective thoughts will have no authority.

However, our decisions do now count.  We are in “the valley of decision” in this life.  What will we choose?  Will we choose to submit ourselves to the Lord or not?  Jesus said, “He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).

What Then?

When all the great plants of our cities have turned out their last finished work;          When our merchants have sold their last yard of silk, and dismissed the tired, weary                clerk;                                                                                                                                           When our banks have taken in their last dollar and declared their last dividend;       When the Judge of the World says, ‘closed for the night,’ and ask for a balance-           What then?

When the people have sung their last anthem, and the preacher has said his last prayer; When the Bible lies closed on the pulpit, and the pews are all empty of men,               When all stand facing the record, and the Great Book is opened, –                                   What then?

When the actor has played his last drama, and the mimic has made his last fun;        When the film has flashed its last picture, and the billboard displayed its last run.    When the crowds seeking pleasure have vanished, and gone out in the darkness again, When the trumpet of all ages is sounded, and we stand before God, –                             What then?

When the bugle’s last call sinks in silences, and the long, marching columns stand still; When the captain has given his last orders, and they’ve captured the last fort and hill; When the flag has been hauled from the masthead, and the wounded soldiers have all              checked in;  When a world that rejects its Savior is ask for a reason, –                     What then?

~ Author unknown

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Thoughts From The Prophets: Rend Your Heart

“‘Now, therefore,’ says the LORD, ‘turn to Me with all your heart’… rend your heart, and not your garments” (Joel 2:12-13).
The rending (tearing) of garments was a common practice among people in the Bible lands. It was done in times of sorrow, or distress (Genesis 37:29; 2 Samuel 13:19; Ezra 9:3, 5; Jeremiah 36:24). It was done in anger or shock (Matthew 26:65; Mark 14:63).
However, some evidently abused this practice. They made an outward show of emotion, but their hearts were not in it.
God wanted more than an outward show of repentance. He wanted them to truly repent in their hearts. He told them to rend their hearts, and not their garments (only, alone B.H.). He wanted their hearts (cf. Deuteronomy 4:29; 6:4-6; 10:12-13; 11:13-15; 30:9-10).
He still wants the heart. He wants it in our belief. “For with the heart one believes unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10). He wants it in our repentance. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10 cf. Acts 2:37). He wants it in our obedience. Paul wrote to the saints in Rome, who had “obeyed from the heart” the form of doctrine (Romans 6:17). He wants it in our service. Paul wrote, “God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit” (Romans 1:9). He wants it in our worship. Our singing is to be with grace in our hearts to the Lord (Colossians 3:16). Our giving is to be done cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). Consider the words of the Psalms (Psalms 9:1; 111:1; 119:2, 10, 34, 69; 138:1). He wants it in our love. Jesus taught, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 cf. Deuteronomy 6:5). He has never been pleased with those draw near with their mouths and honor Him with their lips, but have hearts for from Him (Matthew 15:8 cf. Isaiah 29:13).
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Thoughts From The Prophets: A Cake Unturned

Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned” (Hosea 7:8).
Some believe that this refers to Israel’s idolatry. Homer Hailey commented, “’A cake not turned,’ burnt on one side and uncooked on the other, fit for nothing. They were ‘cooked’ by heathenism but ‘uncooked’ or raw in their relation to God” (Hailey, The Minor Prophets. p. 159). Garland Elkins, “They tried to serve both God and idols, and that is an impossibility. God will not accept a divided allegiance (Deuteronomy 6:4; Matthew 22:37; 6:24; 12:30)” (The Power Lectures, The Minor Prophets, pp. 46-47). The book of Hosea addresses idolatry (Hosea 4:12a, 13, 17a), Baal worship (Hosea 2:8, 13, 17; 11:2), and calf worship (Hosea 8:5-6; 10:5; 13:2). They were not thoroughly ‘cooked’ for God.
Others think that this refers to their looking to others for protection, and not to God (Hosea 5:13; 7:7b-9a, 11, 8:9; 12:1 cf. Isaiah 30:1-2; 31:1). One commentator suggested, “The prophet address his protest not against the particular foreign policy of his country, pro-Assyria or pro-Egyptian, but against the fact that Israel was seeking her safety in a system of foreign alliances and not in her favor in God.” (Ed. F. Davidson, The New Bible Commentary, p. 686). They were not thoroughly ‘cooked’ in their relationship with God. They were being burned in the relationship with others.
Either way, the point is similar. They were undone in their relationship with God.
Are you fully His? Or are you undone before Him because of divided allegiance or lack of trust?
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Thoughts From The Prophets: What Does The Lord Desire?

I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:8).
Didn’t God require animal sacrifices and burnt offerings? He certainly did (e.g. Leviticus 1–7, 16, 23).
However, some began to treat the sacrifices as if they were all that God desired. Homer Hailey comments, “They thought that by these outward tokens of devotion, void of true piety, all of their wickedness were taken care of” (Hailey, A Commentary on the Minor Prophets, pp. 156-157).
In this, they were wrong. He told them, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice (only, alone B.H.), and knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” He cared how they treated others. He wanted them to come to know and understand Him (to the extent that such was possible) and not rote dispassionate worship (cf. Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:7-8).
He still wants the same. Let us not just worship to Him; let us worship Him in spirit and in truth, and let us truly serve Him in our daily lives.
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