Amos 1:1-3:15, Revelation 2:1-17, Psalms 129:1-8, Proverbs 29:19-20
Today is the 10th day of December welcome to the Daily Audio Bible I am Brian it’s great to be here with you today as we bring another week to a close and gather ourselves around the Global Campfire for another step forward together. We are moving through a lot of territory quite rapidly as we’ve been talking about over these last couple of days. And, so, we have some new territory to move through in the Old Testament today. We read in its entirety the book of Joel yesterday, which leads us today to the book of Amos.
Introduction to the book of Amos:
A good many biblical scholars believe that Amos may very well be the earliest collection of prophetic utterances that have been written down that are found in the Bible. Amos prophesied in the mid eighth century BC. And this is a time when the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah were experiencing peace and prosperity. And into that comes Amos who wasn’t a priest or…or trained for religious worship or leading religious worship. He seems to be an ordinary person living a basic life, the life of a shepherd and farmer. We don’t know if he was like a commoner, like a day laborer or even a shepherd, or…or whether he owns his flocks and groves. We can tell that he was educated, we can tell that he was socially aware of what was going on around him. He lived in the city of Tekoa and that’s about 10 miles south of Jerusalem. So, his home then would be in the southern kingdom of Judah. Ironically, his mission was to prophesy in the northern kingdom of Israel. And, so, probably he was sent just across the border to the city of Bethel. We may remember when the kingdom was divided there was Solomon’s son Rehoboam and then there was this other guy the sort of the leader of the labor force, Jeroboam, and the kingdoms split with the 10 northern tribes making Jeroboam their king. And he led the northern tribes into idolatry, setting up golden calves at the extremes of his kingdom up in Dan and in Bethel just at the border. Bethel was a hub for trade and commerce and idolatry. But the northern and the southern kingdoms were both experiencing peace and prosperity, like the kind of widespread peace and prosperity that they hadn’t seen since Solomon. So, it…it may be weird that God would send some ordinary person to deliver a very, very severe message of judgment that was on its way. It…it would’ve been hard to deliver this message, but that’s exactly what Amos was told to do because peace and prosperity had opened the door in the culture for corruption, which was everywhere. And the way that this was being experienced or made visible is that the poor were being oppressed and greed was ruling the hearts of the leaders, And Amos steps in and denounces this, denounces preying upon the less fortunate, which makes social justice a major theme in this book. And it’s funny, anytime I say those two words together, social, and justice together as it relates to some of the text in the Bible, I typically get emails from people, saying, can’t you just say justice, right? Because it’s such a politically charged sort of thing. I’m not saying anything to comment on our current wrestling with what social justice might look like. There is justice, and then there is justice that governs society and there is social justice or justice that governs a society that can’t be enforced by a law, it’s how we treat each other. This is what Amos is coming into, wealth and prosperity, but a ton of greed and corruption and marginalization and oppression. And as we’ll see as we read this, God is speaking into this. He’s the one saying you’re not treating each other the way you should be treating each other. This is not how God’s people treat one another. And it would seem that we would get by now. I mean, this is thousands and thousands of years ago that this is written. It seems like we would have figured that piece out by now, but we haven’t. We wrestle with the same kinds of stuff in our lives today. But Amos comes in and reminds everybody that nobody is as powerful as they think they are and that God is way, way, way more powerful than we can even comprehend. It’s God’s world. He created it. It belongs to God. He is sovereign over all things and all people. So, if we approach Amos with a bit of humility that this belongs to God and things should be done the way God would like them to be done because that would be right and true and righteous, then there’s something for us in the book of Amos. And, so, let’s begin. Amos chapters 1, 2, and 3 today.
Father, we thank You for Your word. We love You, Lord. We thank You for all of his new territory that we are moving through. Feels like we’ve speeded up. It’s how the year feels. But it’s just day by day step-by-step just like it’s always been. And, so, Holy Spirit come plant what we’ve read in our lives. Let us receive and understand what’s being said in the book of Amos. Let us explore and receive and understand what we’re reading in the book of Revelation. Let us explore and read and understand all that we’re reading from Psalms and Proverbs. Lead us into all truth we pray with grateful hearts knowing that only You can, but that You…You will, You desire that we might walk in the truth. And, so, lead us there, we pray. In the name of Jesus, we ask. Amen.
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It is Christmas time and so it’s Christmas time here around the Global Campfire as well. The Daily Audio Bible family Christmas Box for 2022 is available in the Daily Audio Bible Shop, which you can navigate to either on the web or in the app. Just go to the Shop and you’ll find a Christmas category and the Christmas Box is in that category. And we have filled it full of resources and goodies for the season that we are in. And there are things in there that you’ll perhaps want to keep and things that you will perhaps want to give away. Check it out in the Daily Audio Bible Shop. And then also the Christmas music that is available for your downloading or your streaming purposes as you create the soundtrack to the season. There are a number of things you can listen to from the Global Campfire here. You can look up Jill Parr, my wife, who is one of the leaders at Daily Audio Bible Chronological, and who is an amazing vocalist. That’s what she did. That’s what we did before…before the Daily Audio Bible came into our lives. So, there are number of Christmas songs from her that are available online. Then there is the Family Christmas album, a beautiful instrumental Christmas album that…I really made it to be the kind of soundtrack that we would use when we, you know, when it’s the end of a long day and it’s Christmas time and you shut all the lights off and maybe there’s a fire in the fireplace and just the Christmas lights are on and you’re just kind of drinking in the season, grabbing those rare to find moments of serenity in the silence, Family Christmas is made to be the soundtrack for that kind of time. So, you can find that wherever you stream music or buy music. Just look for my name and family Christmas. And then there’s another really beautiful, just beautiful, hauntingly beautiful contemplative Christmas album that we released last year from Max, Maxwell Hardin, my son, and that one is called Christmas Time and it is a beautiful Christmas project as well. And, so, there’s some Christmas music from the family here, from our family to yours here around the Global Campfire. Put that in rotation as you move through your season.
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And that’s it for today. I’m Brian I love you and I’ll be waiting for you here tomorrow.
Community Prayer and Praise:
Hey Daily Audio Bible family it’s John from Westminster MA it’s the 6th day of December 340th day of the year. I wanted to call in and just pray to and for a couple of people that called into the 6th or their…their messages aired on the 6th program today. So, one would be…Sparky I believe it was you. You didn’t leave your name, but you were talking about how you’re really feeling convicted in your heart and to be real careful about saying that you’re a son of God but not acting like one. Amen brother. As a brother in Christ, as a follower Jesus like you, as someone with their heart on fire for the Lord and someone who’s basically, you know, rooted to Jesus, and that is the aim of your life, is to have a heart after God, this will be a continuous journey my friend. And it’s a precious, precious journey with a lot of joy in it. And I know you’re on the right track my friend, you’re on that narrow path because the Spirit is prompting you to be careful of the way that you’re living your life, right? That we should be, you know, a beautiful fragrant aroma for Jesus and if we’re not then something’s not quite right. You’re being transformed and made new each and every day and you’re an amazing gift not only to this community, of course, but to the world and all those that you’re touch in it. So, I’m going to be praying for you about that my friend. We’re all on this journey together. And also, People on the Water, the dad of People on the Water you called in and didn’t leave your name. My daughter Lia is a first-year student at college as well and is struggling very similarly to the way that your son is. So, you can bet that People on the Water is going to be in my prayer like my daughter Lia is. And for everybody out there that’s got a son or daughter in school that’s really having a tough time right now, it’s in Jesus we pray…
Good morning Daily Audio Bible family this is Tate from Colorado, and I am calling this morning because I believe the young man said his name was People on the Water from Indiana, a 19-year-old young man. You are on my heart. I have three daughters who are 20, 18, and 16 who have often expressed the same sentiments especially with the last couple of years and my 20-year-old daughter is in the same place you are even as recently as last night calling me crying and just feeling of despair and hopelessness and the angst of not knowing where your life is headed and what to do next. And I know many youth around the world are feeling the same way but I specifically want to lift you up in prayer this morning. Whatever your name is God knows it. Heavenly Father I lift up this Young man to You this morning. I want to beg You for Your mercy and grace over his life that You would fill him with a peace that passes understanding. I pray off the spirit of spare. I pray off the spirit of helplessness. I pray off the spirit of worthlessness. Lord help him to know who he is in You and to…most of all Lord that the right people would be in his life to guide him and direct him to remind him of the next steps that he can take, to remind him of his worth, to remind him of how loved he is. He needs people with skin on Lord. It’s too hard to just do that sometimes imagining and knowing that You’re there but not knowing to be able to feel You. So, Lord please send him people with skin on to give him this guidance that he needs. Reach inside his heart Lord and hold him tight. Help him to know that he does have purpose and that he will find his path. Thank you so much for loving us and for loving him. And young man you are going to stay in my prayers. God bless you.
People on the Water please don’t quit. As a teacher and as a parent I want to encourage you not to quit. Don’t quit. I remember Moses and the children of Israel in the Bible. God said to them stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord. And you need to do that even now. I heard your father’s message a few days ago and then I heard your message today December 7th and I’ve been praying for you. I’ve been always praying for you because I really was impressed with your commitment to the Lord and the way you pray and encourage everyone else. And today people on the water I want to encourage you. Don’t quit. Quitting is not going to help you. I think it’s going to make you feel worse. Just stand firm and see the salvation of the Lord. Oh God heavenly Father I pray for People on the Water. Even now I pray that You would encourage his heart and Lord help them to believe that You are able to get him through these difficult times. This will pass Lord but help him to believe that and to trust You and to put everything that he knows about You, about Your love, Your forgiveness, and Your care and his life and help them to stand…stay the course even now. Lord, I just bless him down and I lay him before You. I cover him in Your blood and Your protection. I pray that You guard his mind from the enemy. And I give You praise, and I give You thanks for what You’re going to do in Jesus’ name. Amen. Randolph from Toronto.
Good morning Daily Audio Bible family my name is Makesh. I am asking for your prayers for my baby boy who is battling mentally. He is on mental health medications. For some reason, the nurse’s explained this, he doesn’t feel he needs them because he doesn’t know himself that he’s going through this. I am praying that God will work a miracle on his mind. I know that God can do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we can ask or even think according to the power working within us. So, I pray for everyone…anyone that’s battling mental health. I pray that God would cover your minds with peace…blanketed with peace and joy and allow clarity. And I believe that for my son and I trust God for my son. I will continue to pray for you. Brian and Jill, thank you. I’ve been listening to you for the past…I wanna say six years and every year after year after year is still a blessing for me. I’ve got to start my day with the word. God bless you all. And have a great day.
Deep Dive into the book of Revelation:
Alright. Let’s talk about the book of Revelation for a second. So, Yesterday we got started with that yesterday when John says he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day and he today. He saw some things. There was a voice like a trumpet that told him to write these things down and to send them to seven churches. And these weren’t metaphorical churches or allegorical churches. These were real churches. Some of the earliest churches that we know about. So, the church in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Messiah, Taira, Sardis, and Philadelphia, and Laodicea. So, those with instructions. And when he turned around to see who was talking to him, he saw more things. He saw seven golden lampstands, and in the middle of the lampstands he saw Jesus. And we get this incredible picture of Jesus, this incredible depiction where Jesus is standing in a long robe and he’s got a gold sash and…and his hair is all white like snow and his eyes are burning like flames of fire and his feet like burnished bronze and his voice like was…was like a rush of…of many waters. And He’s holding seven stars in His hand and out of His mouth comes a sharp sword and His face is shining like the sun, full-blown full-strength sun. So John, like all of us would come down as though dead. But Jesus comforts him. He tells him to not be afraid. He’s the first and the last, that He died but He’s now alive forever and He holds the keys of death and Hades, and John needs to write down this stuff. And right off the bat we have some imagery. So, we have seven golden lampstands, and these lampstands represent the churches, the seven churches. But what do lampstands do? Well they hold lamps, right? So, they hold the light, they hold the flame. So, using this symbolism the lampstand’s the church, right, the faith community and the light is their witness of the gospel of Jesus, right? The light shines in the darkness. But Jesus is also holding seven stars in His hand, and these represent the angels of the seven churches. And what the symbolism means there has been debated for a long time. These can be actual angels, who are the guardian angels of the seven churches. But it’s also thought that these seven stars could be the pastors of those churches, right. or the priests or presbyters of those churches because what follows, what we started to read today are seven brief letters and they’re addressed to these angels. So, like when we began our reading today it would begin, to the angel of the church in Ephesus and all these little letters are to the Angels of the church. So, you can see why that’s a little complicated, because we have the cosmic Christ, the resurrected Jesus appearing to John, the human being told to address these little letters to angels. So, it’s like you have God coming and appearing to a human being who is instructing the human being to then tell the guardian angels a message. So, you can see why the stars or angels have been looked at as symbols for the church leaders because the contents of these little letters are specific to the…the human church. Like, the church in Ephesus was a real church made up of real people and each of these little notes speak directly into what that church is physically, humanly facing. And it’s these little notes, these…these little communications from Jesus to the churches that we begin to get into today. So, first up was Ephesus. “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write the words of Him who holds the seven stars in his right hand who walks among the seven golden lampstands.” So, Jesus is saying I’m holding you in my hand and I’m walking among you, and I know what’s been going on. I know what you’re going through. So, Jesus commends the church at Ephesus because they’ve been…they’ve endured patiently, they’ve toiled, they’ve kept the faith, they’ve resisted false doctrine and false teachers, false apostles. And a lot of all of that that was going, on all this false teaching and stuff we see in the writings of Paul and we…we saw in Peter and…and first, second, and third John and Jude. And we talked about that when we read them. Here in Revelation, we’re saying this church, the church at Ephesus has successfully been able to go back to the beginning to what they were told in the first place and hold onto that. So, Jesus commends them for that, but He says, “I do have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first”, right, so your first love. So…so, look at that. Look at where you were at first and look at where you are now and see how far you have fallen and repent and do the works you did at first because if you don’t, I’ll come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. So, what is the first love that they abandoned? It’s not likely that it was their love for Jesus because Jesus had just commended them for staying true. So, a good many scholars would agree that the first love that they lost was their light in the darkness, their witness of the gospel of Jesus. So, they’ve done well in holding onto the truth, but they had originally expected this this change, this sudden change of the world to have happened a long time ago and now we’re getting into a new generation, and it still hasn’t happened and so they’ve stopped talking about - sharing the light, sharing the good news into the world. So, they are a community of faith. They are all in this together. They are holding on to Jesus. They are holding on to the things that they were first taught, but they’ve lost their passion to share this good news. And Jesus is telling them they need to repent from that and reignite the passion that they had at first to rescue everyone by sharing the good news of Jesus. Otherwise, there is no need for the lampstand. It’s not shining light in the darkness. And, so, Jesus says He’ll remove the lampstand. And then we have this little note to the church in Smyrna, where Jesus tells them that he knows that they’re suffering and that they’re poor but spiritually they’re rich. he knows that they’re being slandered by people who are claiming to be Jews but aren’t. They’re actually part of the synagogue of Satan. And Jesus is encouraging them to stay true, that they’re…they’re going to be persecuted, but if they’re faithful all the way to death then they will receive the crown of life. So, the probable back story here has a lot to do with the Roman empires posture toward Christianity. From how a wider cultural perspective, like the Roman empire cultural perspective, this belief in Jesus was just part of Judaism. That’s its origins. But most of the Jews, they were not on board at all, and in fact were in opposition to these teachings about Jesus. So, they had no problem being vocal about denouncing followers of Jesus and saying that they had nothing to do with Judaism. And, so, they would slander the Christians marginalizing them. And, so, a clear distinction between Jews and Christians was developing. So, in…in this little note to the church in Smyrna, Jesus says I know your tribulation and your poverty but your rich. And I also know about the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but they’re of the synagogue of Satan. So, that’s what’s likely going on here and Jesus is simply saying, I see you, I see this, and I can see that I’s gonna lead to some trouble and some suffering and I’m telling you that if you stay true, even if that means you have to die, you’re not gonna die, you’re going to receive the crown of life. And then lastly in our reading today we have this little letter to the church at Pergamum. And in it Jesus commends their loyalty, their faithfulness to them. He says, I know where you dwell, like I know where you are, you’re where Satan’s throne is. And from a biblical scholarship perspective, like there’s not many people that would say Pergamum, that’s where the actual throne of Satan is. Rather, it’s thought that this is just referring to the false idol worship that is pervasive in all of these cities, some more than others. I mean there were large temples. When we read through the Bible we think of the temple in Jerusalem as this amazing pinnacle, an awe-inspiring structure and it was. But in the Roman Empire they worshiped many many gods. There were many many temples, some far more ornate than the temple in Jerusalem had ever been, temples with a vast horde of priests and all of the support staff that it would take to run something like that. Pergamum was the first city in that region to build the temple to the…to the Emperor Augustus for the cult of Emperor worship. So, this is what we think is being referred to here. So, Jesus is commending them that. in spite of their marginalization and persecution even…even with some dying. For example, a person named Antipas who Jesus calls my faithful witness, was a person who was killed. Unfortunately, like, we do not know who Antipas is, which is kind of a bummer. I want to know who Antipas is because Jesus mentions him by name. Unfortunately, from at least a scholarly perspective, we don’t know for sure. What we do know is that this person was a witness who was killed in Pergamum. But anyway, Jesus commends them for their loyalty but, He says, I have a few things against you. You have some there…some of you…some there in the community of faith hold to the teachings of the Ballam who told Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. And you also have some who hold to the teachings of the Nicolaitans. And the Nicolaitans are another thing that’s hard to pin down exactly. But here’s a thought. Balaam is mentioned. And, so, Balak was a king, and he summoned Balaam to curse the wandering children of Israel in the desert and he couldn’t curse them he could only bless them. But, as tradition holds what Balaam did was later to suggest to Balak that basically he send the ladies in and if…if the women could get the attention of the men who were wandering they would go with the ladies and be seduced. And, so, they would be seduced through sex, but eventually that would seduce them to the worship of the other gods. And that happened and I mean we've…we’ve read through most of the Bible now and we can see that the problem of worshiping other gods is a pervasive problem in the Bible. And, so, the thought here is that this is what was happening. And it’s a problem that we saw earlier in…in some of the letters in the New Testament. People thought an imminent change was going to happen, the end of humanity as we know it, the introduction of the family of God, of which Jesus was the firstborn. And, so, the time remaining with the human experience as we know it or as they knew it was coming to an end and it didn’t matter what they did. It didn’t matter if they assimilated into their culture and went to the temples of other gods and participated because they didn’t believe in those gods and they weren’t real anyway. And many of the cultic practices of these other gods that were being worshiped all over the place included temple prostitution as part of the worship and this is because spilling into the church. On the one hand people had no problem going to other temples having sex with the temple prostitutes, all that kind of stuff because it didn’t matter anyway. And them there were those who wouldn’t go into the temple and worship these other false gods but they had no problem having sex with whoever they wanted to have sex with because it didn’t matter anyway. And then this begins to seep into the church itself in the way that they observed the Eucharist, or communion. This would be a feast, a love feast. And we have other examples in the New Testament of these things getting out of control. And, so, this sexual component of the culture was seeping into the church, resulting in sexual immorality. And we know that this kind of stuff was happening because there are witnesses to it in the New Testament. And in some ways, this worked to marginalize the believers. They began to get this weird, convoluted reputation of a religion of incest, right? Because the believers all felt like they were part of the same family, the family of God and they called each other brother and sister and the reputation of these love feast wasn’t so great and in some cases lead to sexual immorality in the church. And, so, you have people who are claiming to be brothers and sisters having sex with each other. There you go. You have this religion of incest. Now obviously, this isn’t like the teaching that they heard from the first. This was obviously never talked about or condoned or as suggested by the apostles. The apostles are totally against this. And it’s not the wider teaching of the church at large, but because it’s so juicy and over-the-top, you know, rumors spread. This is how stereotypes begin. And, so, it’s thought that this is some of stuff that the Nicolaitans were doing. So, in the case of Ephesus the first church that we have this little note to from Jesus, He commends them for shutting that down. In fact, He says that He hates that. But in the case of the church in Pergamum we see that it’s present and He’s calling it out. But that’s how far we got today. What we see at the beginning of the book of Revelation is some notes to specific churches and we can see that they are going through different things. And Jesus is encouraging them specifically but also calling them out specifically. So, like in Ephesus the problem isn’t that they’re not holding onto the true faith. The problem is that they’ve lost their first love. It’s not shining. They’re not passionate about shining out into the culture and affecting the culture. In the case of like Pergamum that we just talked about the problem isn’t that they’re unwilling to engage the culture. They’re doing that just fine, but in some cases they’re doing that way over the top and engaging in a way that isn’t shining the light of the gospel, but is exploiting their freedom in Christ so that they can do whatever they want. And, so, a problem and Jesus asks them to repent. And there’s lots of jumping off places that we can apply this to our own life. I mean what would Jesus commend you on? What would He say you’re doing this really really really well but I do have this against you. There is this problem and you need to repent because this is going to take you where you don’t want to go.
Jesus, we invite you into that because even as the words are spoken things begin to bubble up. And your kindness, your kindness is so apparent. You begin all of these little notes, not with what’s being done wrong but with what’s being done right. And, so, we listen for those words, Holy Spirit. How…how are we doing things well? This encourages us so deeply that it exposes the things that we need to repent of for what they are. And we invite your Holy Spirit to speak to us individually and personally. Come Holy Spirit, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.