Thief

Jacob

A THIEF redeemed (1)

Read Genesis 27:1-37 and Genesis 35:9-12

 

My husband and I attended Atlanta Bible College when it was located in Morrow, GA and lived in one of the duplexes across the street from the college. One bright Saturday morning we decided that it would be a perfect day to ride our bikes. We went out to our patio so we could hop on our bikes and ride like the wind. However, wind was all we found on the patio and we quickly realized that our bikes had been stolen, never to be seen again. As a broke college student I remember feeling so angry that this had been taken from me because it wasn’t something that could be easily replaced at the time. Now imagine how you might feel had a bike or even something much more precious been stolen from you by a thief. It seems Esau had some rather strong feelings toward his twin brother Jacob after his blessing was snatched away from him.

Jacob was the favorite child of Rebekah and he was pretty cunning. We read in Genesis 27 that with the help of his mother, Jacob tricked his father Isaac into giving him the blessing that was meant for Esau. While Esau was out doing what Isaac had told him to do to prepare for his blessing Jacob was getting dressed up in goatskin so he could trick his father. He even went so far as to lie to his blind, on the verge of death father that he was back from hunting so quickly because God caused the animal to come to him (Gen. 27:20).

Although I’m sure God was not pleased with Jacob’s actions God didn’t strike him down or have the earth swallow him up but instead God eventually changes Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 35:9-12) and makes him a nation. Many times when God is mentioned in the Bible He is referred to as the “God of Jacob”. When doing a search in the NASB version of the Bible, Biblegateway.com brings up 353 results for “Jacob.

I’ll be honest, in the past I have found it difficult to be a Jacob fan because I would get hung up on his flaws; but thankfully, God sees things much differently than I sometimes do. Jacob was a thief and a liar in whom God saw potential. Instead of writing him off God redeemed him for His own and made him into a great nation.

-Lacey Dunn

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Don’t Lose Heart

Revelation 13-16

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Thursday,  July 20

Revelation 13-16 gives a continuation of God’s judgments and wrath which are poured out upon the earth.  We are introduced here to two beasts.  For those who are familiar with the Old Testament book of Daniel with it’s four beasts, this material will be familiar.  These beasts are ferocious looking images that represent some of the great oppressive empires of the ancient world.  The land which we today know as the nation of Israel has always been a strategically important piece of geography.  It is a point of convergence for three continents: Europe, Asia and Africa.  It has been hotly contested for thousands of years.  All of the major world empires up to that time took turns occupying the land.  It was occupied by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Medes, the Persians, the Greeks and the Romans.  I’m sure that if you were a peasant trying to eek out your life living in a small village in Israel, you would look at these various invading armies as  monstrous beasts.  Suddenly, you were forced to follow a new set of laws and customs, and learn to speak new languages in order to understand your captors.  You would have to get used to new kinds of money in order to be able to negotiate your way in the new culture.  I imagine it would have been scary and overwhelming.
John foresees a time when these beastly powerful world empires who control all of life, will be brought to an end, to be replaced by God’s Kingdom.  Even though, for a while, it seems that they are all powerful and all controlling, this will not last forever.  Patience is required to live as a believer in this current world system, but one day, our patience will be rewarded.  Don’t lose heart.  While the mark of the beast would seem to protect you from temporary suffering by the powers of this word system, it is the mark of God, which we are given when we follow Jesus Christ, that will protect us from God’s wrath.  Which mark would you rather have?

-Jeff Fletcher

 

(Photo Credit: http://www.trackingbibleprophecy.org/revelation13A.php)

It’s Always Been About the Condition of the Heart

Micah 5-7

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Tuesday, April 18

The latter half of Micah includes passages about judgement, God’s frustration with the people of Israel, and a prophetic utterance about the future king of Israel coming from a tiny blip-of-a-town, Bethlehem. Among these three chapters, we will look at Micah 6.6-8. Despite a common misconception that the Old Testament is concerned solely about external obedience to Torah (the Jewish law) and that it says nothing about the heart issue, our passage speaks directly about the heart.

Starting in verse six Micah asks a rhetorical question, ‘What should I bring to God”? Should it be burnt offerings? How about yearling calves? What about a thousand rams! The answer is none of these. We can find a similar message in Hosea 6.6. Micah tells the Israelites plainly “He [God] has told you, O man, what is good” (Micah 6.8). What is good in the sight of God are not sacrifices and mere external obedience but exacting justice, loving kindness, and walking or obeying God humbly, all of which are impossible to do without a transformation of the heart. The remedy to the corrupted leadership in Israel we looked at yesterday is found in here in verse eight. Israelites, return to God with all your heart-fully devoted to him, upholding justice, loving kindness, and obeying God, this is good in the sight of Yahweh!

You and I can read this passage and think ‘silly Israelites of course God doesn’t want your sacrifices, he wants your heart’! However, just because we’re removed from the historical context, doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with the same problems. For example, some of you reading this may keep up with the ‘look’ of a Christian, yet have let your heart linger far from him. You attend church, youth group, and camps. You instagram your Bible readings and caption verses on your selfies. These are not wrong or bad, however, if this is the extent of your Christian faith, God is longing for something much deeper and significant. He wants your heart. Have you surrendered in your heart completely to the will of God and what he desires for you? In the words of Micah, do you uphold justice? Do you love kindness and see people as God sees them? And lastly, do you humbly obey and walk with God? We all can return to God in some area of our lives and give our heart back to him.

-Jacob Rohrer

(photo credit: http://www.godswordimages.com/wallpaper/gentleness/micah-6-8/)

The Responsibility of Godly Leadership

Micah 1-4

micah 1

Monday, April 17

            Micah, in line with his fellow minor and major prophets, has been given a message of judgment and warning. Micah is prophesying to the northern tribe of Israel. After king Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took over the nation of Israel but due to his poor leadership the nation split into two tribes. The northern tribe-Israel, and southern tribe-Judah. Micah’s audience is Israel-the northern tribe in the eighth century BCE.

Chapter three sheds light onto why judgment and wrath will come upon Israel if she does not change her ways. The rulers and leaders of Israel have led in a manner that is not in line with God and his standards and statutes. Instead of loving justice and hating evil, the present leadership have been accused of “hating good and loving evil” (Mic. 3.2). God had placed certain officers to lead his people, and the people in these positions were failing. Chapter three continues to say that leaders pronounced a judgment not based on truth but on bribery, the prophets would prophesy for money and speak falsely concerning God. Corruption was through the whole leadership and the victims of the corruption were the common people themselves.

In our world it’s not uncommon to see leaders fail and look out for their own interests before the interests of the people they’re leading. If you and I can be outraged with failed leadership how much more is God displeased and upset with his leadership when it fails? Whether we serve in an official leadership position at a church or Christian organization, or you’re a student leader at your school or church, you are a leader to someone. The best way to lead is to do it God’s way: pursue his heart and truth, practice servant leadership, stand up for justice, obey, and don’t be a coward with God’s truth. Leadership is something God gives and so it’s something he can take away if those whom he has called are not being faithful with it. We can see from Micah that God takes seriously a failure to obey God when leading. Are you being faithful with a leadership position God has placed you in?

-Jacob Rohrer

 

Don’t Be That Guy

Obadiah and Jonah

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Sunday, April 16

Don’t worry, God hasn’t forgotten.

Obadiah is the shortest book among the minor prophets, yet it’s message is anything but minor or insignificant. To grasp the content of Obadiah we have to go through a brief history lesson. History was my favorite academic subject in school, so other history nerds, you’ll enjoy this. Also, understanding the historical context of the books of the Bible is one tool used in hermeneutics (the study of how to interpret biblical texts). In other words, to be responsible interpreters of the Bible we should always attempt to reconstruct the historical context of the passage.

Though Jeremiah attempted to convince the people of Judah to surrender to the invasion of Babylon of 586/587 BCE, they refused. The context and content of Obadiah is situated in the aftermath of the destruction and exile brought on by Babylon. Verse 1 tells us that God gave Obadiah a vision concerning the nation of Edom. Edom is the cousin nation to the people of Israel. The patriarch of Edom is Esau and Jacob is one of the patriarchs of Israel. From the time of Jacob and Esau being in the womb to long after their deaths, they and their people have had rocky interactions, including the one described in Obadiah. Verses 2-9 describe judgement and wrath awaiting the nation of Edom, however we’re not told why until verse 10.

The first line of verse 10 says “Because of violence to your brother Jacob…”. Then from verse 11-14 the phrase “on the day/in the day” shows up nine times! When Babylon ransacked Judah, the Edomites, the cousin nation of Israel, just stood on the sidelines watching and did nothing. God is telling the Edomites they will be judged for what they didn’t do “on that day!” They didn’t come to the aid of the Israelites and instead enjoyed and gloated over their doom. Obadiah is writing to those who have been left behind to encourage them and remind them that God has not forgotten the wrong done to them.

There are two lessons we can take from Obadiah. First, just as God had not forgotten the wrong done to his covenant people Israel, likewise God doesn’t forget the wrong done to you. We serve a God who takes action in the present. And even if a wrong is not vindicated in this present evil age it will certainly be reversed at the return of King Jesus. Second, we see that God equates ignoring justice and not taking action as doing “violence”. Are you someone who shies from standing up for what is right? Do you stand by idly while injustice occurs? The New Testament places a great emphasis on taking care of other believers in the body and being there for them. Do you do this? Edom didn’t take care of their family and it displeased God greatly. Shoutout to God for having a significant message tucked away in a tiny unsuspecting book.

 

 

Don’t be that guy: The Story of Jonah

            The story of Jonah we have all heard in one capacity or another. Whether it be in Sunday School, a sermon, or just having a superficial awareness of Jonah and his short yet interesting story. The four chapter story can be summed up fairly easily: Jonah is called by God to bring Nineveh, a great terrible city, to repentance. Jonah then runs away but is swallowed up by a great fish-spewed back onto land and again given the charge to preach repentance to Nineveh. He preaches and Nineveh repents and as a result God does not smite the Ninevites. Meanwhile, Jonah stews about how they were saved not demolished.

Consensus about the purpose of Jonah among Old Testament scholars is that there is none. There are a bevy of interpretations concerning the purpose and point of the book. However, there is one thread that stuck out to me the most that connects the story of Jonah to our own contemporary world. We see Jonah as someone who knows the true God and thus is part of the people of God. God gives Jonah a mission to preach repentance to the Ninevites, so that they may turn from their life of pagan idolatry and a life without knowing the true God, to living lives in a manner that is reflective of the truth of the God of Israel, the one true God. But Jonah isn’t down with this plan and flees the opposite direction.

In a parallel manner, you and I have been called to evangelize to those who do not know the truth of Jesus and the kingdom of God. Be honest with yourself, as a disciple of Jesus, do you share the gospel with those who do not know it or have not accepted it? We can think of many reasons why we can’t or we shouldn’t, but is this being faithful to the call Jesus has given us? It’s uncomfortable, I get that. It can be awkward, you’re absolutely right. It’s scary, exactly. But let’s not be Jonah and run away from the message we have been given to proclaim.

Pray for boldness, confidence, and opportunity. Get the gospel message embedded in your heart and mind so that you know where to take someone when you dialogue with them. You got this, you can do it. Don’t be Jonah, be faithful.

-Jacob Rohrer

Bio: ABC (Atlanta Bible College) grad.  Ohio native. Kingdom citizen

 

Goody-Two-Shoes Gets It, Too

Amos 1-3

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Thursday, April 13

In a couple of days, we’ll dig in to just who Amos was and why he was writing.  But as we start reading his book, I’m wondering if the same thing that stood out to me also stands out to you.

The book begins with God giving Amos a list of places He’s about to bring judgement on.  My Bible labels this section “Judgement on Israel’s Neighbors”.  He goes through Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, Moab..and so on.

This scene reminds me of being in a class where the teacher is scolding some students for misbehavior.  The goody-two-shoes in the class is sitting there watching it unfold with a smug look on her face, watching her classmates get taken down a notch.  That’s Israel.

But then the teacher turns and points at her.  Miss Perfect herself.

Midway through chapter 2 we see God turn to Israel.  And through the end of chapter 3 He is telling her what for.

Interestingly, He says this:

“You only have I chosen
    of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you
    for all your sins.”

That sounds contradictory, doesn’t it?  I’ve chosen you therefore I will punish you?

It reminds me of Hebrews 12 where we’re told that God disciplines those He loves.  Proverbs 3:12 speaks the same wisdom.

Come back tomorrow to see what else God has to say as he disciplines His chosen Israel.

-Susan Landry

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Another Thing…

Hosea 5-9

susan mon

Monday, April 10

Have you ever experienced this?

Your parents are lecturing you about something you’ve done wrong.  Really laying into you.  It seems to go on and on and on.  Finally, they pause and take a breath and you think they’re done.  But instead, they start in again with a new wave of, “And another thing…!”

In chapters 4-6, we see God get riled up.  He’s mad.  He is laying it all out in phrases like:

  • You ignored the law of your God
  • You exchanged glory for disgrace
  • Your deeds do not permit you to return to God
  • You’ve moved boundary stones. (I love this phrase, would be an interesting one to dig into)
  • Your love is like a mist…here one minute, gone the next.
  • God has withdrawn from you.

Yeah, He’s mad.

Then He pauses, takes a breath, and starts the second round, where he lays out the consequences of all of this (9:7-9):

The days of punishment are coming,
    the days of reckoning are at hand.
    Let Israel know this.
Because your sins are so many
    and your hostility so great,
the prophet is considered a fool,
    the inspired person a maniac.
The prophet, along with my God,
    is the watchman over Ephraim,
yet snares await him on all his paths,
    and hostility in the house of his God.
They have sunk deep into corruption,
    as in the days of Gibeah.
God will remember their wickedness
    and punish them for their sins.

Don’t miss these phrases:

  • Punishment is coming.
  • The days of reckoning are at hand.
  • God will remember.
  • Punish them for their sins.

We are so fortunate that, because of Jesus, we don’t have to have our sins remembered by God.  They can be wiped away.  Forgiven here and now.  That doesn’t let us off the hook, though.  Jesus calls us to continued repentance and obedient living.

But what wonderful news that we get to choose if our parental lecture ends with punishment or forgiveness.  When does THAT ever happen?

-Susan Landry