Sunday, August 28, 2022

Hope of Israel (Isaiah 1-6) QUESTIONS

Background on Isaiah

Who was Isaiah?

How do we know that Isaiah’s prophesies apply specifically to our day?

Why did Nephi use Isaiah in his record?

 

 

Israel’s Last Days Hope

READ Isaiah 1:2-6

What is the Lord saying about His people?

 

READ Isaiah 1:11-13

Israel is continuing to “worship” Jehovah using all of the rites that have been revealed, so what is wrong?

 

READ Isaiah 1:16-20

Is there hope for Israel?

What happens if Israel does not hear Isaiah’s cry for repentance?

 

READ Isaiah 2:2-3 and Isaiah 5:26

Where will the Temple of the Lord be established in the Last Days?

What nations will flow unto this Temple?

What is being described in v.3?

How is Israel gathered?

Who in the Temple will teach Israel the Lord’s ways and how to walk in His paths?

What Temple is being referred to here?

What does it mean to walk in the Lord’s paths?

What is the “ensign to the nations” which will be “lifted up” above them and will enable them to come quickly to the Lord?

 

READ Isaiah 2:10-12

When the Lord comes, who will not abide the day?

Why does it say that the Lord ALONE shall be exalted in that day?

 

 

Israel’s Last Days Sins

Getting back to the sins of Israel that will cause them to be destroyed when the Lord comes…

 

READ Isaiah 3:14-15

What does “grind the faces of the poor” mean?

Who does this to the poor?

 

READ Isaiah 5:1-4

What are the grapes?

What is the vineyard?

What should the Lord do with His vineyard?

 

READ Isaiah 5:13-14

Who might take them captive because they have no knowledge?

What knowledge can keep His people from captivity?

 

 

Isaiah’s Redemption and Prophetic Call

READ Isaiah 6:1-5

What is a seraph?

What do the wings represent?

Why do the posts of the door move?

What does “woe is me, I am undone” mean?

Why is this his reaction?  He is a “prophet” so isn’t he worthy enough to see God, by definition?

 

READ Isaiah 6:6-7

How does God make it possible for any one of us to exist in His presence without being physically incinerated and mentally anguished beyond measure?

Is this fair?

What does the altar of incense represent?

What is the symbolism of the seraphim taking a coal off the altar of incense and touching Isaiah’s lips, making them clean?

 

READ Isaiah 6:8

How does Isaiah go from “woe is me” to “here am I, send me” in a few minutes?

Why is Isaiah so quick to volunteer when the Lord needs a messenger?

 

READ Isaiah 6:9-10

What is the Lord’s message through Isaiah?

What is the problem?

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Apostasy in the Last Days (Amos; Joel)

Amos and the Role of Prophets

READ Amos 3:7

Why does the Lord follow this pattern?

His work is to bring about our immortality and eternal life (see Moses 1:39).

…which requires that WE bring our lives into conformity with His ways (see LoF 6:4 and LoF 7:9).

…which means that we must understand what it takes to do that (see 2 Nephi 31 and 32:3-7 and D&C 93:1).

…which means that God must begin by revealing Himself to at least one person, initially, to give His instructions (see LoF 2:54-56).

…but must end with each of us knowing Him for ourselves if we are to have eternal life (see John 17:3).

What is the objective of having prophets?

So that all that will hear their testimony will inquire after the knowledge of God THEMSELVES – leading to the most glorious discoveries (the Lord Himself) and eternal certainty (sealed up) – see LoF 2:56, again.

What secret does the Lord not put in motion until He has revealed it first to His prophets?

That He is coming.

…because once He comes, the probationary period is over (or at least significantly constrained, as the wicked will not be able to stand – for them it will be over).

What is most prophesy about?

The comings of God/Christ to the earth – either His first coming as the suffering servant to redeem Israel spiritually or His second coming in glory to rule and reign on earth and redeem Israel physically.

What is the message of all true prophets?

To repent, so that the people can “stand” in the day of the Lord’s coming (either His first or second coming).

 

READ Numbers 11:29

How does this verse inform Amos 3:7 and what are the implications?

Amos speaks of “prophets”, which implies more than one.

We constrain the number of real prophets among us by our lack of willingness to rise up and know God.

If we know God ourselves (i.e. are “prophets”), we will be able to stand when He comes again in glory, otherwise… we will be utterly wasted because we can’t abide the day.

Moses hoped that all Israel would become prophets, for likely this reason (among others… see Numbers 11:29).

 

READ Amos 7:10-17

Who was Amaziah?

The “authorized” Priest at Beth-el (Israel was in apostasy at this time, as the truly authorized priests were in the Kingdom of Judah with the temple – but were in apostasy - so King Jeroboam had consecrated his own priests, regardless…).

How did Amos become a prophet?

Not in an “authorized” way – i.e. he didn’t hold a “calling” to be a “Prophet” or “Seer” and wasn’t from a family bloodline where either he had priesthood (i.e. a Levite) or any kind of spiritual “birthright” – he was a lowly herdsman.

He was called by God as he went about his work.

How did the authorized Priests react to this outsider “prophet”?

They told him to stop prophesying against Israel.

Told him that he wasn’t being politically correct (“Beth-el is the king’s chapel and court”).

Threatened him (the word “flee” is used).

Falsely accused him before the king (“Amos has conspired against thee”) and the people.

 

READ Amos 6:1

What does it mean to be “at ease in Zion”?

It’s not about 100% home teaching or scheduling more service projects,

It’s about complacency regarding our exaltation, which leads to taking our focus away from knowing God and coming unto Christ – and focusing instead on tithing payments, temple recommends, ministering numbers, and leadership callings.

 

READ Amos 8:11-14

In prophetic language, what does “the days will come” imply?

The times around His comings – first and second.

What does a “famine” of hearing the words of the Lord mean?

Either the words of the Lord either aren’t being spoken at all.

Or what is spoken is old and weak and lacks “nutrition” because it has been compromised by the teachings of men.

Or the words have been spoken in strength and boldness but the people won’t hear them – perhaps because they aren’t coming from authorized sources but from those God chooses to speak with.

Where do the seekers go?

All over the earth – anywhere to find truth.

What does “faint for thirst” imply?

Whatever “spiritual water” is found (the “god of Dan”) is bitter or non-nutritious to their souls and causes them to lose spiritual consciousness.

So this implies that the word of the Lord is not being spoken in that day.

 

 

Joel’s Vision of the Second Coming

READ Joel 1:13-16

What will happen because of this “famine of hearing the word of the Lord”?

The priests, ministers and elders will seek to repent “all night” (i.e. at the last minute) to stave off what is coming – in sackcloth and with fasting and in solemn assemblies/counsels/conferences (see D&C 112:23-26).

But it will not work –because it is too late; implied is that the Lord had been warning them but they would not listen until things get really bad right before the end.

 

READ Joel 2:1-3, 11

Who is coming to destroy the wicked?

It is not the US military or Russia/China or Al-Qaeda/ISIS/Taliban.

It is not Zion – they sound the alarm that the “great people” are coming; also see D&C 45:67-70 (no weapons in Zion).

It is the Fathers who are in Heaven (see JSH 1:37 and TPJS 380:2).

It is the Army of the Lord.

Who CAN abide the presence of the Lord and His Army from Heaven?

Only those who can abide the same glory.

Those that are filled with the same spirit, light, truth or intelligence as those that come.

All others will be totally wasted, regardless of their military might or their self-righteousness.

 

READ Joel 2:12-15

What is the difference between the Lord having mercy on Zion vs. destroying the other priests and elders?

In Zion their contrition and repentance is real.

Perhaps it is not last minute, either.

 

READ Joel 2:28-32

What will happen in the last days to all those living in Zion?

Spirit will be poured out upon them.

The veil will be thin – they will have prophesies, dreams, and visions given to them.

God’s glory and light will be within them – they will be quickened by it.

Why will the Lord give them such wonderful and universal spiritual manifestations?

They will need them to survive the day  (Blood, fire, pillars of smoke… the day of the Lord’s coming).

They will have been true to God in the face of the terrible things happening to them, gaining light by wading in faith through the equal and requisite amount of darkness.

Who will these people be who survive the day?

A “remnant” who the Lord shall call.

The “self-elect” who choose to be seekers – and ultimately, become “finders” of the most glorious discoveries (the Lord Himself) and eternal certainty (sealing or quickening) which enables them to stand in the presence of the glory of the Lord and those who come with Him from the heavens.

 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Apostasy in the Last Days (Amos; Joel) QUESTIONS

Amos and the Role of Prophets

READ Amos 3:7

Why does the Lord follow this pattern?

What is the objective of having prophets?

What secret does the Lord not put in motion until He has revealed it first to His prophets?

What is most prophesy about?

What is the message of all true prophets?

 

READ Numbers 11:29

How does this verse inform Amos 3:7 and what are the implications?

 

READ Amos 7:10-17

Who was Amaziah?

How did Amos become a prophet?

How did the authorized Priests react to this outsider “prophet”?

 

READ Amos 6:1

What does it mean to be “at ease in Zion”?

 

READ Amos 8:11-14

In prophetic language, what does “the days will come” imply?

What does a “famine” of hearing the words of the Lord mean?

Where do the seekers go?

What does “faint for thirst” imply?

 

 

Joel’s Vision of the Second Coming

READ Joel 1:13-16

What will happen because of this “famine of hearing the word of the Lord”?

 

READ Joel 2:1-3, 11

Who is coming to destroy the wicked?

Who CAN abide the presence of the Lord and His Army from Heaven?

 

READ Joel 2:12-15

What is the difference between the Lord having mercy on Zion vs. destroying the other priests and elders?

 

READ Joel 2:28-32

What will happen in the last days to all those living in Zion?

Why will the Lord give them such wonderful and universal spiritual manifestations?

Who will these people be who survive the day?

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Betraying the Bridegroom (Hosea)

Hosea and Gomer

READ Hosea 1:2

Why would God command a prophet to marry a harlot (prostitute)?

Who of us is sinless?

“Don’t judge me because I choose to sin differently from you” – we are all less than the dust of the earth compared to the Lord’s righteousness, which is where we NEED to be, to be saved (see LoF 7:9, 16).

 

READ QUOTE:

“The eminent Bible commentators Keil and Delitzsch reject the literal nature of the marriage for two main reasons. First, such a marriage would undermine the prophetic example and teaching of Hosea, and second, God would not command a prophet to sin or do anything at odds with the laws of God. "That by such a command and the prophet's obedience on his first entering upon his office, all the beneficial effects of that office would inevitably be frustrated. For if it were a well-known fact, that the woman whom the prophet married had hitherto been leading a profligate life, and if the prophet declared freely and openly that he had taken her as his wife for that very reason, and with this intention, according to the command of God; the marriage, the shame of which the prophet had taken upon himself in obedience to the command of God . . . would be a practical and constant sermon to the nation” . . .. Dr. Sidney B. Sperry, respected Latter-day Saint scholar, said "I cannot believe the marriage to be a literal one, for, as those who have taken it as an allegory or parable have always pointed out, to do so would be imputing to God a command inconsistent with His holy character. Furthermore, for Hosea to marry a woman with a questionable past would make it impossible for him to preach to his people and expose their sexual immoralities. They could point the finger of scorn at him and say, 'You are as guilty as we are; don't preach to us.'” (Brent Top, “The Marriage of Hosea and Gomer” from 1989 Sperry Symposium at BYU)

What is wrong with the arguments these scholars are making?

They presume to know the mind of God, which they do not – His ways are not our ways, and we cannot even obtain His ways unless He chooses to reveal them, and we cannot then understand them unless we are filled with enough light to do so (our minds are darkened, i.e. not quickened).

They are talking like the public relations department of a large corporate organization: it’s all about image with the public and authority over the employees (i.e. church members); God doesn’t care for these things and He doesn’t work this way – He wishes that we all were prophets AND He knows that we are all sinners.

They are mistaking virtue for righteousness – we are saved by adopting His ways and following His will, not the virtues we interpret as His will, which are based on the fragments of His word that we have received in the past, but are seen through the lens of our own cultural mores.

They are missing the fact that Christ was made “guilty” of all our sins, that He descended below all things, that He loves us despite our faithlessness toward Him, even in the face of all He has done for us; they are missing the fact that Hosea is a type of Christ and Gomer is each of us – but in real life.

 

READ Hosea 1:3, 6, 8

Was Gomer faithful to Hosea?

Yes, for a time, at least.

She has borne him 3 children.

They were a family.

 

READ Hosea 2:2

What has Gomer done that Hosea is no longer her husband?

She has betrayed him.

She has gone back to her immoral lifestyle.

Why is Hosea asking Gomer’s children to plead with her?

He still loves her.

He wants her to repent.

By implication, she won’t listen to him but perhaps she’ll listen to her children (who are still young?).

 

READ Hosea 2:5

Why was Gomer unfaithful to Hosea?

Her other lovers gave her material gifts – her livelihood.

In her mind, that livelihood meant more to her than her relationship with Hosea.

It doesn’t say that she stopped loving Hosea or how she felt about what she had done.   

 

READ Hosea 3:1

What is the Lord commanding Hosea to do next?

Remarry Gomer.

What does “yet an adulteress” imply?

She is still an adulteress.

She has not repented or if she has confessed, she has not forsaken her sins.

 

READ Hosea 3:2

What does the fact that Hosea bought her for 15 pieces of silver imply?

She had become a slave.

 

READ Hosea 3:3

What is the arrangement Hosea proposes to Gomer?

You be faithful to me.

You abide with me – be one.

I will be faithful to you, despite all of your betrayals – I will forgive you.

 

 

Christ and Israel

Going back to chapter 1…

Explain the analogy of likening Jehovah’s covenant with Israel (or us) to a marriage?

Both are covenants (binding two-way agreements, involving short term and long term obligations and rewards).

Both center around unconditional love, giving/creating life and self-sacrifice.

Both revolve around the principle of complete faithfulness to the other person – without which the trust and relationship is destroyed.

This level of faithfulness is required if the two are to become one, which is the ultimate goal of both covenants.

In this analogy, who is the bride and who is the bride-groom?

Bride = Israel, the Church, each of us individually.

Bride groom = Christ.

 

READ Genesis 2:18

What does “not good” in this context mean?

It is the opposite of God’s declaration about the creation which was “very good”.

It is an emphatic negative: the man being alone is the worst possible situation or “not good in any way”.

What are the implications of the man being alone being “not good in any way”?

In ancient Hebrew, the word translated as “alone” has connotations of “separation” and even “alienation”.

This state of being alone destroys God’s objective – which is to create life on the earth.

Life needs male and female to create, but also without God literally supporting our every breath, we cannot live either.  So being separated or alienated from God is just as destructive to God’s ultimate plan as the man and woman being alone.

What is the connection between the command to marry a harlot and Israel departing from the Lord?

If Hosea is a type of Jehovah, then the Father has commanded the Son to covenant with a people (Israel) who have a history of being spiritually unfaithful to their God.

Why is departing from the Lord likened to committing great whoredom?

It is about being faithful to covenants that bring two people together into a contractual relationship of “oneness”.

Whoredom means to be unfaithful to that relationship because they value something else more; it is to sell oneself.

 

READ Hosea 1:3-4, 6, 8-9

What do the names of Gomer’s three children tell us?

Jezreel = The Kingdom of Israel (north kingdom) will be destroyed soon.

Lo-ru-ham-ah = The people of Israel will be completely removed (killed or captured).

Lo-am-mi = Israel have rejected Jehovah, so He is no longer their God.

 

In this reading of the story, there is a very specific application to the North Kingdom of Israel but…

What does this story teach us about God’s more general relationship with Israel?

He knew Israel had adulterous tendencies because of past actions of worshipping other gods.

He covenanted with her regardless.

He loved her regardless.

She bore him seed/fruit (see Moses 1:39) which is His desire (to create as many Sons of God as possible).

She went back to her adulterous ways by worshipping idols and receiving money/power and apostatized from the true and living God.

They were divorced – i.e. the spiritual covenant was severed and Israel was alone again without the blessings of assistance in this world and eternal life in the next phase.

She became a slave to sin, death and the ways of the world.

God had to buy her redemption from slavery at an additional cost to Himself through the Atonement.

God took her back into his home and marriage – God would not forget Israel but would bring her back into full fellowship in the Gospel Covenant.

 

READ D&C 33:17

Does this analogy apply to us today?

Yes, and even more particularly so, with the call to be ready when the bride groom comes again (Second Coming).



Christ and Us

If Christ is Hosea and Gomer is Israel, then Gomer is also each of us…

How do you react to being referred to as a “harlot” in this metaphor?

We are less than the dust of the earth, because the dust obeys God (see Helaman 12:7-8).

We are likely to break our covenants with God (see Hosea 5:7 and 1 Nephi 20:8).

It should be sobering.

What hope in Christ does it give you to know that He “proposed” His covenant to you, knowing your “adulterous” or unfaithful past and tendencies?

All we like sheep have gone astray (see Mosiah 14:6).

It is by grace we are saved, after (or despite) all we can do (or have done) (see 2 Nephi 25:23).

It should give us all great hope; Christ knows us and is still seeking after each of us, if we will but turn back to Him.

What does it tell you about His love for you?

Greater love hath no man than this… lay down his life for his friends (see John 15:13).

He loves us without reciprocation; His love is pure – it does not depend on our behaviors or even our love for Him. 

How does it make you feel to know that Christ will open His home to you, even after you have betrayed Him – AFTER you have already covenanted with Him?

Like the prodigal son (see Luke 15:20, 24).

It should break our hearts; enabling a mighty change in our hearts when we realize the level of love He is extending to us and what it cost Him to be able to extend it.

What does this story teach you about the depth of His love, which is clearly unconditional from him and undeserved by us?

Eye hath not seen…the things God hath prepared (see 1 Cor 2:9).

Like being in the presence of His glory unprepared, His love for us in all consuming.

What does our infidelity cost our Lord?

A level of suffering that we cannot now understand (see D&C 19:16, 18-19).

Plus, a deep, continued sadness:

·         At our careless indifference in not coming to Him despite His offer of forgiveness.

·         Or in our belittling of his sacrifice and power to save by imagining we are beyond His reach and ability to redeem.

·         Or affronting His very defining attribute by denying His love for us – being of love that He is.

Given all of this, upon whose agency does this relationship rest, i.e. who runs from whom?

He stands at the door and knocks (see Rev 3:20).

He stands with open arms to receive His ‘chickens under his wings’ (see 3 Nephi 10:4-6).

It is up to us to come to Him as He calls after us – He will never force us home.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Betraying the Bridegroom (Hosea) QUESTIONS

 Hosea and Gomer

READ Hosea 1:2

Why would God command a prophet to marry a harlot (prostitute)?

 

READ QUOTE:

“The eminent Bible commentators Keil and Delitzsch reject the literal nature of the marriage for two main reasons. First, such a marriage would undermine the prophetic example and teaching of Hosea, and second, God would not command a prophet to sin or do anything at odds with the laws of God. "That by such a command and the prophet's obedience on his first entering upon his office, all the beneficial effects of that office would inevitably be frustrated. For if it were a well-known fact, that the woman whom the prophet married had hitherto been leading a profligate life, and if the prophet declared freely and openly that he had taken her as his wife for that very reason, and with this intention, according to the command of God; the marriage, the shame of which the prophet had taken upon himself in obedience to the command of God . . . would be a practical and constant sermon to the nation” . . .. Dr. Sidney B. Sperry, respected Latter-day Saint scholar, said "I cannot believe the marriage to be a literal one, for, as those who have taken it as an allegory or parable have always pointed out, to do so would be imputing to God a command inconsistent with His holy character. Furthermore, for Hosea to marry a woman with a questionable past would make it impossible for him to preach to his people and expose their sexual immoralities. They could point the finger of scorn at him and say, 'You are as guilty as we are; don't preach to us.'” (Brent Top, “The Marriage of Hosea and Gomer” from 1989 Sperry Symposium at BYU)

What is wrong with the arguments these scholars are making?

 

READ Hosea 1:3, 6, 8

Was Gomer faithful to Hosea?

 

READ Hosea 2:2

What has Gomer done that Hosea is no longer her husband?

Why is Hosea asking Gomer’s children to plead with her?

 

READ Hosea 2:5

Why was Gomer unfaithful to Hosea?

 

READ Hosea 3:1

What is the Lord commanding Hosea to do next?

What does “yet an adulteress” imply?

 

READ Hosea 3:2

What does the fact that Hosea bought her for 15 pieces of silver imply?

 

READ Hosea 3:3

What is the arrangement Hosea proposes to Gomer?

 

 

Christ and Israel

Going back to chapter 1…

Explain the analogy of likening Jehovah’s covenant with Israel (or us) to a marriage?

In this analogy, who is the bride and who is the bride-groom?

 

READ Genesis 2:18

What does “not good” in this context mean?

What are the implications of the man being alone being “not good in any way”?

What is the connection between the command to marry a harlot and Israel departing from the Lord?

Why is departing from the Lord likened to committing great whoredom?

 

READ Hosea 1:3-4, 6, 8-9

What do the names of Gomer’s three children tell us?

 

In this reading of the story, there is a very specific application to the North Kingdom of Israel but…

What does this story teach us about God’s more general relationship with Israel?

 

READ D&C 33:17

Does this analogy apply to us today?



Christ and Us

If Christ is Hosea and Gomer is Israel, then Gomer is also each of us…

How do you react to being referred to as a “harlot” in this metaphor?

What hope in Christ does it give you to know that He “proposed” His covenant to you, knowing your “adulterous” or unfaithful past and tendencies?

What does it tell you about His love for you?

How does it make you feel to know that Christ will open His home to you, even after you have betrayed Him – AFTER you have already covenanted with Him?

What does this story teach you about the depth of His love, which is clearly unconditional from him and undeserved by us?

What does our infidelity cost our Lord?

Given all of this, upon whose agency does this 

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Should Not I Spare Nineveh? (Jonah)

We’re now switching back to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, about 40 years before their destruction by Assyria.  The capital city of Assyria is Nineveh.

 

READ Hosea 10:1-2, 6-7

Who does Hosea prophesy will enslave Israel and kill its king?

Assyria.

 

READ Jonah 1:1-3

Why does the Lord command Jonah to preach against the wicked Assyrians?

To either prick their hearts so that they might repent and be saved.

Or to condemn them to a just destruction, as they would have been warned by one saying “thus sayeth the Lord”.

Why does Jonah flee to Tarshish (in Spain, the furthest western point from Nineveh in the known world)?

Either, he is scared to go to Nineveh because they may kill him.

Or, he believes Hosea’s prophesy and wants Nineveh to be destroyed by the Lord before they can destroy his country of Israel – he doesn’t want them to repent and be saved.

 

READ Jonah 1:4-5 ,7 ,10

What is the consequence of Jonah’s fleeing from the Lord?

It is not without consequence; Jonah had committed to serve the Lord and was now turning his back on Him.

The Lord calls up a hurricane.

The innocent men he is sailing with are in danger.

The sailors lose all of their cargo, trying to save the ship and passengers.

Jonah is called out (by casting of lots) as the cause of the storm.

Jonah is thrown overboard, at the direct command of the Lord through him (see v 15).

 

READ Jonah 1:11-15

Why do the sailors not want to throw Jonah overboard?

It is a death sentence.

They do not want to be murderers.

What is the initial response of the sailors?

They try to row to land (must have been close enough to see it) but they can’t get there against the storm.

They are actually endangering themselves by doing this as the ship could be dashed against the rocks and all aboard drowned in the surf.

They try to extend mercy to Jonah.

Why are they not able to extend mercy to Jonah?

It is not the Lord’s will.

 

READ Jonah 1:17 and Jonah 2:2-10

What happened to Jonah?

Either he was swallowed alive by a whale or…

He drowned and his body was swallowed whole by a great fish or whale; alternatively, he drowned and his body was “swallowed” by the sea for three days, after which he was “vomited” back to shore by the waves.

After he died, he repented in the spirit world (“hell” is a translation of “Sheol” or the spirit world).

The Lord had mercy on him and his spirit was sent back to his body to continue his earthly mission.

What does “I AM cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple” mean?

He is dead, in the spirit prison, away from God’s sight.

He is vowing that if the Lord will extend mercy to him, he will look again toward the holy temple or throne of God, i.e. he will look to God and live or in other words, he will follow God’s will (remember the physical temple was in Jerusalem, his enemy’s land).

 

READ Jonah 3:1-3

What did Jonah do when he received the will of the Lord the second time?

He immediately went and did it.

He had learned his lesson – at a remedial level, at least.

 

READ Jonah 3:4-5 and 3:9-10

What was Jonah’s message to the Assyrians?

You will be destroyed in forty days.

Notice there is no “unless you repent” clause – did the Lord not give one or did Jonah forget that part of the message?

How did the people of Nineveh react to this prophet of their enemy declaring their coming destruction?

They discerned the Holy Spirit within the message – that it was sent from the living God.

They repented in the hope that the Lord would spare them.

How did the Lord react to their repentance?

He forgave them and spared them.

He is no respecter of persons. 

 

READ Jonah 4:1-5

How did Jonah react to the Lord’s mercy?

He became very angry with the Lord.

Regardless of what the Lord had just told him, he went up above the city on the hillside to wait the forty days so he could watch the Lord destroy the city.

Why had Jonah really gone to Nineveh?

For ensure justice was served.

To condemn them to death for their sins – past, present and future (i.e. destruction of Israel).

To give some context, Assyria were the type of the aggressive, brutal “terror of the North” – think Hitler’s Germany or Genghis Kahn or the USSR (as opposed to Egypt’s type as the sexually permissive, cultured, economic “world power of the West”) – Nibley called Assyria the “Nazi’s of the Near East”).

Jonah went to Nineveh to preach destruction to them, knowing that they wouldn’t repent.

And even if they did, their sins were so bad they should be destroyed anyway – it would only be just.

 

READ Jonah 4:11

Should not the Lord spare Nineveh – is it “just” to save them?

It is not just (it does not serve justice given their past sins) to save them but it is merciful, as they don’t really seem to warrant saving, even with the repentance in sackcloth.

Nineveh is still sinful – or to put it differently, there are still Assyrians living in the city who have not repented in their hearts (sowing the seeds of the eventual destruction of Israel 40 years later via invasion).

Nineveh is a danger to others (i.e. Israel).

But, to not spare Nineveh, Jonah is asking that he not be saved himself…

Does Jonah “deserve” to be saved?

No.

He sinned when he ran from the Lord and was disobedient to His commandments.

He was a danger to others when the sailors lost all of their cargo and possessions, and almost lost their lives.

What is justice?

Receiving exactly what you deserve – blessings and punishment; no less and no more.

What is mercy?

Not getting the punishment that you deserve.

What is grace?

Receiving a blessing that you don’t deserve.

What do you need to do to deserve mercy?

Nothing – by definition; none of those who receive mercy warrant it – it is by definition unfair (as is grace).

Mercy cannot be earned by your works or attempts at righteousness.

What is Jonah’s refusal to allow God’s mercy for Nineveh?

It is completely hypocritical.

He is seeking to damn and destroy a people while asking for mercy for himself with regards to the same kinds of sins.

While we cannot earn mercy, we can disqualify ourselves from it, as taught in the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant.  The first servant had asked his master to forgive a $2.2-billion-dollar debt, which the master did, then the servant turned around and took his peer to court and jail for late payment on a $10,000 debt (see Matthew 18:21-35).

 

READ Matthew 18:32-35

How must Jonah forgive Nineveh its trespasses against him?

From his heart.

It is not to be done begrudgingly.

Alternatively, what sins are Jonah committing against Nineveh?

Hoping to have a hand in destroying their entire civilization by cursing them and taking pleasure in it, too.

Damning them all to hell.

Why does the Book of Jonah end with an open question – “should not I spare Nineveh?”

Because the question is really for us.

The Lord is trying to help us to see that we will be forgiven to the extent that we forgive others; we will be judged by the exact standard we judge others.  If we leave all judgement to God, we will be safe – as He will either extend mercy and grace to us or, in His love, He will walk with us in the valley of the shadow of death, which will be for our experience and good. 

What is the biggest deterrent to our own salvation: failing to extend mercy to those who have sinned against us or forgetting the mercy that others have extended to us when we have sinned against them?

Trick question – they both come from the same place: self-righteous, hard-hearted, narcissistic pride.

What is the chiasm in the Book of Jonah?

A.       The Lord commands Jonah to preach against Nineveh (Jonah 1:1-2).

B.       Jonah sins, not wanting Nineveh to be saved (Jonah 1:3-17).

C.        Jonah repents, and the Lord saves Jonah (Jonah 2:1-10).

C.        Nineveh repents, and the Lord saves Nineveh (Jonah 3:1-10).

B.       Jonah sins, not wanting Nineveh to be saved (Jonah 4:1-10).

A.       The Lord asks Jonah: “Should not I spare Nineveh?” (Jonah 4:11).

The center statement in a chiasm is the true point of the story. The middle of the chiasm of the Book of Jonah is Jonah 2:8 = “They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy” and “regardless of your past sins, no one is outside of God’s reach to save if they will truly repent and come unto Him.”

What is the true point of the story of Jonah?

Jonah sits in his “booth” or lean-to above Nineveh, looking down on the city; he has forgotten his own prior sin of running from the call to preach repentance to the city; he has forgotten the mercy extended to him by the sailors, he has forgotten the mercy of the Lord who saved him from the fish (perhaps bringing him back from the dead to do so).

He is blind to how much like the people of Nineveh he is.

Failing to see the mercies he has received and failing to see the mercy he still now needs, looking down with hate and judgement on the people of Nineveh, he is completely blinded to his own situation; he is looking at Nineveh and seeing himself but he doesn’t realize it or won’t admit it.

All he can see is that he is “right” – even though he has never been so wrong.

Observing lying vanities (lying to himself and to the Lord about his own righteousness - and the justification about how he “earned” the mercy he had been extended, which is impossible by definition - compared to Nineveh’s wickedness), he is in danger of losing the mercy he had received from the Lord; without extending mercy to others, he is locked in a state of hatred, despair and darkness.

Escape from despair is all about extending mercy (by definition, undeserved) to others.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Should Not I Spare Nineveh? (Jonah) QUESTIONS

We’re now switching back to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, about 40 years before their destruction by Assyria.  The capital city of Assyria is Nineveh.

 

READ Hosea 10:1-2, 6-7

Who does Hosea prophesy will enslave Israel and kill its king?

 

READ Jonah 1:1-3

Why does the Lord command Jonah to preach against the wicked Assyrians?

Why does Jonah flee to Tarshish (in Spain, the furthest western point from Nineveh in the known world)?

 

READ Jonah 1:4-5 ,7 ,10

What is the consequence of Jonah’s fleeing from the Lord?

 

READ Jonah 1:11-15

Why do the sailors not want to throw Jonah overboard?

What is the initial response of the sailors?

Why are they not able to extend mercy to Jonah?

 

READ Jonah 1:17 and Jonah 2:2-10

What happened to Jonah?

What does “I AM cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple” mean?

 

READ Jonah 3:1-3

What did Jonah do when he received the will of the Lord the second time?

 

READ Jonah 3:4-5 and 3:9-10

What was Jonah’s message to the Assyrians?

How did the people of Nineveh react to this prophet of their enemy declaring their coming destruction?

How did the Lord react to their repentance?

 

READ Jonah 4:1-5

How did Jonah react to the Lord’s mercy?

Why had Jonah really gone to Nineveh?

 

READ Jonah 4:11

Should not the Lord spare Nineveh – is it “just” to save them?

Does Jonah “deserve” to be saved?

What is justice?

What is mercy?

What is grace?

What do you need to do to deserve mercy?

What is Jonah’s refusal to allow God’s mercy for Nineveh?

 

READ Matthew 18:32-35

How must Jonah forgive Nineveh its trespasses against him?

Alternatively, what sins are Jonah committing against Nineveh?

Why does the Book of Jonah end with an open question – “should not I spare Nineveh?”

What is the biggest deterrent to our own salvation: failing to extend mercy to those who have sinned against us or forgetting the mercy that others have extended to us when we have sinned against them?

What is the chiasm in the Book of Jonah?

What is the true point of the story of Jonah?

Thursday, August 4, 2022

The Story of Job (Job)

The Afflictions of Job

READ Job 1:1

What were Job’s traits?

Perfect.

Upright.

Feared (worshipped/respected) God.

Eschewed (avoided/abstained from) evil.

 

READ Job 1:2-3

What was his standing in the world?

The “greatest” (richest, most powerful) man of the East.

Father of 10 grown children.

 

READ Job 1:6-12

What is being described in heaven?

A regular heavenly council; which tells us a little about how heaven functions.

Interesting to see that it does not operate like a kingly (albeit “benign”) dictatorship.

What does Satan spend his time doing?

Walking the earth, watching and interacting with mankind, within certain bounds set by the Lord.

What does it mean that the Lord has made a “hedge” around Job?

He is protected from Satan (a shield of light that Satan can’t penetrate).

His family and property is also shielded from Satan.

Job has been blessed for his righteousness and industry.

Why would the Lord remove the “hedge” from Job and allow Satan to exercise his power?

This life is a probationary state (see Alma 42:10) – we’re here to be tested.

If Job continues faithful (does not “curse God to His face”), he will not be tempted above that which he can bear (see Alma 13:28), i.e. the Lord is still in control - Satan has bounds.

It is an Abrahamic test…so testing Job to the fullest will actually be to his greatest benefit, as it will enable him to gain the most available light, if he remains faithful (see LoF 6:7).  We’re here to gain light – which is gained in accordance with the “pendulum principle”: you gain light to the degree that you experience darkness (opposition in all things gives context), so if you want a lot of light, you’ll need to experience that same amount of trial.

 

Satan gets right to work and in a single day he destroys Job’s wealth (animals and servants) and kills his children (who Job seems to be extending protection to, see Job 1:5)

READ Job 1:20-22

Why does Job react this way?

Rends his clothes and shaves his head - as a show of contrition for sins that he has not recognized but attributes his losses to.

He understands that riches are not tied to righteousness; he enjoyed the Lord’s blessings but is equally open to suffering afflictions.

The first and second points are somewhat in opposition; Job’s insight (light) is growing as he experiences these things.

He understands that the Lord blessed him with all that he had; and could just as easily take it away again; material blessings are “maya” or transitory – they are related to this world only and are not “real”, i.e. you can’t take them with you (but you can take with you the light you gain from successfully navigating these experiences in faith.

 

READ Job 2:1-7

What do we learn from this exchange between the Lord and Satan?

The Lord already knows about what has befallen Job and about Job’s reaction to it.

 

Job remains faithful, even when his wife asks him why he doesn’t just curse God and die (Job 2:9-10) and when his friends falsely accuse him of offending God through some secret wickedness (Job 3:7-9).

READ Job 10:15-17

What is Job confused about?

The Lord is cursing him but at the same time he is receiving marvelous heavenly manifestations - he is confused by the Lord’s behavior.

He still associates righteousness to earthly blessings; the Lord is teaching him that eternal blessings require the sacrifice of all earthly things.

How would you counsel Job if you were one of his “friends”?

Either to choose to love and trust the Lord…

Or to “cowboy up, you slacker!” – remember that God won’t try you beyond your ability to handle it and He’s a “fourth watch God” anyway.

Or “I’m sure the Lord has a plan for you…” because He loves all His children and is no respecter of persons.

 

 

Job Finds Knowledge Through Sacrifice

READ LoF 6:3-5, 7

What is the Lord counseling Job (us) to do in these verses?

Obtain an assurance from God that the course of life he is pursuing is agreeable to the will of God.

Make these sacrifices salvific by OFFERING the sacrifice, not by “merely” enduring terrible trials (see LoF 6:7).

 

READ Job 13:13-16

What decision has Job made?

He will be true to the Lord regardless of what the Lord (or Satan) does to him – even unto death.

 

READ Job 19:25-26

How does Job achieve the level of faith that will enable him to know God in the flesh?

Through the sacrifice of all earthly things (see LoF 6).



Job as a Type of Christ’s Suffering

READ Alma 7:11-12

What does the phrase “he shall go forth suffering” imply about the nature of Christ’s physical suffering?

This was a “prior” suffering – he suffered physically and emotionally, perhaps before he ever started his ministry and definitely before the Garden and Cross.

Why did the Lord have to suffer these physical afflictions?

So that He will know how to succor us in our infirmities – meaning, while we are going through physical suffering in this life – He stands at the door and knocks, ready to succor us because He’s experienced these things Himself.

 

READ Isaiah 52:14 and 53:2-4, and Luke 4:23

What is Isaiah telling us about Christ’s mortal appearance?

He may have been “marred” or “scarred”, too.

Remember the “Horses of Shiloh” – scarred from battles, races, and labor (carpentry can be dangerous work).

Like Job, whose friends esteemed him smitten of God after viewing his marred body, how did many treat Christ?

Hid their faces.

Esteemed him smitten of God (a sinner).

Despised – hated.

Rejected – not accepted.

 

 

Valiance Revisited

READ Job 39:19-25

How would you describe this horse?

Valiant!

Unafraid of battle.

Ready to be tried and tested.

Eager to be part of something meaningful.

Like he was bred and trained his entire life for this moment.

 

Several posts ago we spoke about Uriah and the valiant men who died with him - Job was also valiant in the testimony of Jesus.

In our day, the Lord may ask you to do and say things that the world will despise and they will become offended.  Be valiant, go forward and do what you have been commanded to do/say with the pure love of Christ in your soul for those who are offended.  Do not fear (respect or worship) men, but respect and worship God.  Live your life fearlessly and valiantly. 

“In your quest for heaven, mount up and ride the horse described in Job 39:19-25 toward the sounds of the battle and not away from it!  Ride towards the Lord and His glory, which is above the noonday sun on Midsummers Day in its terrible radiance, and not away from Him!”

 

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