The prophet Hosea prophesied during the later years of the kingdom of the northern tribes of Israel. Judgment was soon to fall on the kingdom by the hand of the Assyrian Empire. This passage in Hosea opens with God reminding Israel about Jacob’s journeys outside the Promised Land and God’s presence with him during those journeys. After Jacob’s death, God delivered his family from the slavery imposed on them by Pharaoh and made them into the nation Israel.
Why did God remind Israel of these particular events at this time? What message did He want backslidden Israel to take from the words of Hosea? How does this message encourage us today?
The book of Malachi may be very short, but it is full of prophetic significance. Malachi may not even be the proper name of the author of this book because the word is often used as a title and is from a root word which means ambassador, angel, king, or messenger.
The prophecies of Malachi were given during a time of relative peace in the land of Israel. Many of the Jewish people had returned to the land from captivity in Assyria, and then, later in Babylon. Although the people didn’t have complete autonomous rule of their historic homeland of Israel, the temple had been rebuilt, the priesthood was in place once again, and all was looking well… Or was it? The book of Malachi contains some very specific warnings to the priesthood and the people who have again failed to uphold their obligations under the Mosaic Covenant. And, once again we see the curse of Esau rise up as a thorn in the side of the nation of Israel. We see in the book of Malachi, in yet another generation, we see that the battle and animosity between the twin brothers of Jacob and Esau continues.
When David was old, two of his sons plotted to take the kingship after David. These two sons were full brothers sharing the same mother. The older of the two, Absalom, was killed when he attempted to overthrow and murder David to obtain the kingship. The second son was Adonijah whose efforts were more subtle but no less devious. As the oldest surviving son of David, Adonijah decided that he was the rightful heir to the throne of David.
This portion of the scripture is read alongside the Torah portion Chayei Sarah which includes the death of Abraham and the passing of the promise to his son Isaac. What do these passages tell us about the coming and the reign of God’s chosen Son?
In this portion we read the tale of two women, both in need and suffering emotional and spiritual pain. The first of these women is a widow whose husband died and left her with two sons and a sizable debt yet to be paid. The second woman is not widowed but her son dies and leaves her childless.
What is the common thread between these two women and their particular situations? One woman is a Jew, the other a Gentile. Both are believers in the God of Israel. One is widowed and in great debt, the other is wealthy, but has lost her son. These two women, from diverse and very different backgrounds have an encounter with the prophet Elisha; the one anointed by God to be His servant. How does God, through the prophet Elisha, meet their need at just the right time? What lesson can we learn from these two women and their situations? How is this a picture of the abundant grace and salvation from the God of Abraham Isaac and Israel?
After Yeshua’s resurrection, He appeared to His disciples and family over a period of forty days. E. W. Bullinger in Numbers in Scripture tells us that forty is a number of probation. As a multiple of eight, the number of new beginnings, the number forty relates to an enlarged dominion, renewal or extended rule. Yeshua prepared for His ministry with forty days of trial in the wilderness; He concludes His ministry on Earth with forty days of preparing the disciples for their increased role in expanding the kingdom of God. The disciples would be responsible for taking the message of the kingdom beyond the borders of Israel.
Before the disciples could go, they needed to be prepared and empowered. They needed to be given their mission and the instructions for carrying out this mission. What did Yeshua do to equip them for the days ahead? These days would lead to great joy and fulfillment as well as horrific persecution and death.
Yeshua had indeed risen from the dead! He first appeared to the women at the tomb who had come to anoint His body with burial spices on the morning of the first day of the week after the Sabbath. At first no one would believe them as they related their experience to the disciples gathered together in the house. Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves and found the empty tomb and the neatly folded grave clothes just as the women had reported.
The Master was nowhere to be found. Had he actually risen as the women had reported? Or had His body been relocated by the Romans or the High Priest and the corrupt Sadducees? What had become of Him? There were key witnesses, chosen by God before hand to speak boldly of the risen Messiah.
After Yeshua’s death on the cross, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus courageously came out in the open by asking for the right to take Yeshua’s body for burial. Both men were members of the Sanhedrin but did not approve of nor participate in the arrest and mock trial of Yeshua. They, who were powerless to stop the atrocity of Yeshua’s death, now did what they could to honor the body of the Master.
As the sun set and the Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread began, Yeshua was dead and buried. Yeshua’s death rocked the world of His followers. They didn’t know what to think. Was this man they had given up everything to follow really the Messiah or had they been horribly deceived? God, of course, knew that these doubts would play on the minds of Yeshua’s disciples as they do on the minds of seekers today. What evidence or signs did God put in place to confirm that these events followed God’s plan for our redemption?
As Yeshua’s last day was coming to a close, He still had things He needed to communicate to His followers and others. As He hung suspended on the cross from 9:00 a.m. until His death six hours later at 3:00 p.m., He made seven statements. Seven is the number of spiritual perfection or completion. In addition to the literal meaning of these seven statements, they have deeper metaphorical and spiritual implications. What spiritual completion is in these statements? What can we learn from Yeshua’s last words before His death?
Yeshua and His disciples had gone to the Mount of Olives following their Passover Seder to pray. While they were there, Judas Iscariot had gone to find the High Priest Caiaphas and other select members of the Sanhedrin, telling them where they could find Yeshua. This was the opportunity that they were looking for! To be able to take Yeshua into custody in secret, well away from the crowds of followers who were constantly surrounding Him.
This detachment of troops quickly led Yeshua away to the place where the High Priest and the others were waiting. This would begin the long night of questioning and torture that awaited Yeshua. The prophecies concerning the fate of the messiah, especially that if Isaiah 53 were about to play out before the thousands of witnesses converging on Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.
Yeshua had spent a busy and probably stressful time in the week leading up to the His final Passover observance. As He began the journey from Jericho up to Jerusalem, He knew what awaited Him there. He tried to prepare His disciples by taking them aside and telling them what was about to happen.
Now that His Passover celebration with His disciples has been concluded, Yeshua is confronted with the reality of His betrayal, torture and death. What exactly is He accepting as He submits Himself to the Father? What does it mean for Israel and for those of us who believe in Him as the Messiah sent by God?