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Hosea witnessed the decline and ultimate fall of the 10 tribe confederation of Israel, and his messages resonate with us today. Decades earlier the once united Kingdom that had flourished under the reigns of David and Solomon became divided into two warring factions. The ten northern tribes led by Ephraim chose Samaria as their stronghold. The 3 tribes under the Davidic dynasty in the south continued to be ruled from Jerusalem. But it wasn’t long before the northern kingdom dissolved into political chaos.
The nation had experienced a time of great prosperity and expansion under the rule of Jeroboam II, but in Hosea’s day trouble was on the horizon. In short succession within a 13 year period, 5 kings rose to power through a series of murders, intrigue, and barbarism. This time of great instability led to a situation where the dominant power of the day, Assyria, stepped into the political fray. The Assyrian king, Pul, demanded a tribute of 1000 talents. And the Israelite ‘puppet’ king willingly extorted the money from his wealthiest citizens in order to secure his position of power. More
In a time when liars figure, and figures lie, what is the relevance of the ninth commandment, ” You shall not bear false witness?” Was it just a narrow rule given to a primitive people dealing with perjury in courtroom situations? Or does this principle encoded in God’s divine directives have universal applications? The apostle John, writing at the end of the early church era, boldly asserted that sin was lawlessness — a disregard for God’s commandments.
Today we are seeing the results in nations that have abandoned God’s instructions and tolerated lies or neglected the truth. Politicians massage the facts to garner votes, financiers colour the stats to manipulate the economy, researchers skew their results to please their patrons, cubicle warriors use rumours to smear their competition, educators teach half-truths to comply with the system, and media outlets endorse fake news to promote their agenda. And as Paul warned, religious charlatans would gain prominence, both fooling others and being fooled by obscuring the truth of scripture.
Amos, the prophet, understood that the Lord God loved his people, even though they had rebelled time after time. So God had commissioned Amos, a farmer, to take a message to the leaders of the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel in Samaria. The Lord was giving them both a warning, and a message of hope. Amos knew that the Lord had chosen Israel to bring the light of truth and hope to the world. But they could not do that task unless they were willing to walk in agreement with God. So Amos, was tasked with speaking God’s truth to the powerful leaders of the day, who had forgotten God. More
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The Way of Deception
The Eighth commandment, Lo T’ganav literally means, “NO you steal!” This is God’s instruction for combatting theft and deception. It is sometimes easy to ignore our complicity in this problem. We can perhaps quickly say that we are not pirates, burglars, robbers, or thieves. But then, perhaps we are not truly grasping the full implications of this command. This teaching underscores a deep systemic problem in society that has been a part of humanity for millennia. Paul characterized it as the ‘carnal’ attitude, that was opposed to God’s will and would ultimately end in death. The way of thieves was one of deception, as their intent was to gain through stealth what was not rightfully theirs. So do we follow this way or support it by our actions or attitudes?More
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Disciples of Moses?
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day thought of themselves as disciples of Moses. They thought they knew Moses’ message, but they were wrong.
Jesus consistently exposed the Pharisees’ hypocrisy. For though they made a great show of fastidiously tithing on thyme leaves, an insignificant matter, in reality they were cheats and cons. They had avoided the fly in their meal, but had proverbially “swallowed the camel.” The politically correct crowd of the time claimed Moses’ message as their own, but the truth was quite the opposite. They lacked the justice, mercy, or faith that Moses had taught. None of these hypocritical people kept the law, the teachings God delivered through Moses. In fact, they were plotting to kill Jesus, the one who was trying to correct their lack of understanding. Jesus had not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to make the full intent of these writings known. The people would reap what they were sowing, just as Moses prophesied. The apostle Paul encountered similar self-righteous attitudes when confronting the Jewish religious leadership that challenged his ministry to the Gentiles. Are we or our modern religious leaders guilty of holding similar attitudes towards God’s law? More
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What Children Need
What does the seventh commandment in God’s law have to do with family stability? Ask many a teacher who has had a few decades of classroom experience in a public setting and they will tell you that children are often bitter, angry, resentful, or anxious? Why? For too many children divorce has upset their dreams, and undermined the stability of their home-life. So they bring their angst to school with them and act out their frustrations. This was not the case decades ago, when divorce was often avoided if only for “the sake of the children.” But with changing attitudes towards sexuality, and marriage, divorce has gone from rare to commonplace. And the fruits of this dramatic shift in societal norms are being witnessed daily in the classroom. More
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Jesus Affirms the Role of the Prophet
Jesus told his followers that they should not misunderstand his intentions. He did not come to abolish the law or the prophets. Rather, Jesus understood the important role of the prophet in ensuring that God’s purpose would be achieved. This is an inconvenient truth for many who are teaching and governing in harmony with the politically correct notions of our time. Like their ancient predecessors, today’s hypocritical leaders want to look good, but in reality they are pretentious evil-doers from Jesus’ perspective. Jesus castigated the ‘virtue signalling’ frauds of his day by calling them the sons of those who murdered the prophets. But why did their ancestors murder the prophets? And why were the Pharisees willing to murder Jesus, the prophet? More