Amos 4 – Repetition and Repetition, Revisited

Amos certainly likes his patterns. We started off with the “For three transgressions and for four I will not revoke” of the first two chapters, then we had the torrent of God’s rhetorical questions welcoming us to chapter three, and now in chapter four, we’ve got the mantra “Yet you have not returned to me.” The latter half of the chapter comprises a litany of disciplinary judgments intended to bring Israel back to their Creator, each punctuated by God’s observation that it didn’t work.

Chocolate Review: Vosges Black Salt Chocolate with Caramel

There’s a story behind this bar. Awhile ago, I swung by Kroger with my Plan X Media partner-in-ministry, Ash Green, to restock my chocolate supply. The standard price for the Vosges caramel bar you see above was $5.49, and while I like caramel well enough, I prefer straight-up dark chocolate, so I normally wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But, as Ash pointed out, the bar was on sale for $2.79, an absolutely crazy markdown. He talked me into grabbing the Vosges bar on sale, and I’m glad he did. This is the good stuff.

Amos 2 – Burden of a Straying Nation

I’m pretty sure the only reason Amos 1 and 2 aren’t a single chapter is to keep the chapters short enough to read in under two minutes. Remember the formula from the first chapter? “For three transgressions of Nation X and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they did Terrible Thing Y, so I will send fire upon the wall of Nation X and it will consume her citadels, garnish as necessary with additional judgments?” In this chapter it continues. However, it only runs through one foreign nation (Moab) before turning to Israel and Judah. Yes, that’s right. For all the attention God gives the heathens abroad for the abuse they’ve heaped on his people, now he’s turning his attention to his people’s own biggest abusers: themselves.

Amos 1 – Moral Thermodynamics

It’s time for some new prophecy. Today we start the book of Amos, who was a shepherd by trade when God called him to be a prophet. At the time, Israel and Judah had divided into two separate kingdoms; during Amos’ ministry in the mid-eighth century BC, Uzziah ruled Judah to the south, and Jeroboam ruled Israel to the north. Amos was an older contemporary of two prophets whose messages we’ve already seen: Isaiah and Hosea. When you consider that multiple prophets were on the scene at the same time, you have to conclude their audience was in dire need of their message. That audience, of course, is primarily Israel.

Giving is Receiving – Genesis 29, Leviticus 7 & 22 [Totally Hip Gratitude]

Welcome back to our study on thankfulness, “Totally Hip Gratitude.” Get it? It’s a play on attitude? Like cool–you know, forget it. Before returning to the minor prophets, we’re going to look at thankfulness in the Torah, like we intended to in the first installment of this series before we got distracted by portions of the Torah where any mention of thankfulness is conspicuously absent. And this time around? There’s gonna be more of my other favorite food, Biblical Hebrew, so crack open your Strong’s Concordance and let’s get to word-studyin’.

Joel 2 – Rescinderella Story

The second chapter of Joel begins with a trumpet warning of war–if you can call it a war. Joel sees a vision of an advancing foreign nation, and he devotes nearly half the chapter to describing their power. Even at a distance, it’ll be clear to the people of Israel that they’re terrifyingly outclassed by the horde; Joel prophesies, “Before them the people are in anguish; all faces turn pale” (6). The advancing crowd are disciplined soldiers, besieging cities with ease, and their power even shakes heaven and earth with apocalyptic might. And on top of that, they’re sanctioned by God.