Saturday, December 21, 2013

Jonah 4

Jonah became very angry and is upset about LORD choosing to not destroy Nineveh.

He knew LORD too well, and here is what he told the LORD, “Isn’t this what I said, LORD, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

LORD asked if he was right to be angry.

Jonah then left the city and sat in the hot sun where God causes a plant to grow to provide shade for Jonah. The next day LORD send a worm to kill the plant. Jonah then said it would be better for him to die. LORD questioned Jonah’s anger about the death of the plant, and asked him why he thought a plant should be spared from destruction but a large city like Nineveh should not.

My Thoughts
Just like how we know our best friend intimately, Jonah knew LORD very intimately - gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in love.

If I ever thirst to taste pure and true love, I should look towards the LORD. One sip of His love makes me want more and more.

LORD sent Jonah to the city so that people would repent, and turn away from their sins - and they did. This made LORD happy.

When we repent, move away from sin, and shift our focus towards the LORD, He loves it.

Jonah 3

LORD told Jonah once again, to go to the city of Nineveh and proclaim the message He gave them. Jonah went there, and proclaimed, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.”

Word reached the king, and the unexpected revival broke out. The king called everyone, including the animals into a period of repentance, fasting and mourning.

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction He had threatened.

My Thoughts
Repentance seems to be something LORD desires. When people of Nineveh repented, LORD relented, and decided not to destroy the city.

If I repent, and if He washes away all my sins, I can hope for an opportunity to go into LORD's presence.

Jonah 2

Jonah then prays from the belly of the fish. This psalm of thanksgiving vividly describes his near death and deliverance. He confesses that LORD has saved him in the midst of hopeless and distress situation.

Now that he has come to senses, he praises LORD for bringing him back to life and remembers the meaning of 'true loyalty'.

He then contrasted his situation with that of idol worshipers who concluded to worship and sacrifice to his LORD.
Jonah 2:8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
    turn away from God’s love for them.
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.’”
The LORD then commanded the fish to deposit Jonah on dry ground.

My Thoughts
When was the last time I reached out to my LORD in a time of distress. Did He hear my prayer, during that desperate situation, and was I delivered from that situation?

Had I not prayed, and trusted in people, would I have had any hope of receiving LORD's grace?

Jonah 1

We have heard this story at Sunday school - kids illustrating the dramatic plot with numerous surprises. The book carries a vital message apart from the masterpiece.

Jonah has to learn that Israel's special relationship with LORD does not make Him their exclusive possession - He belongs to the whole world, and His care extends to everyone.

Jonah is called by LORD to go preach in the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, and to denounce their wickedness. Instead, he flees on a ship going in an opposite direction towards Tarshish. He does this because he knows LORD too well. If the people of Nineveh repent, LORD will forgive them. However, Jonah wants that kingdom to be destroyed, and therefore he disobeys.

The LORD then sends a tempest, while Jonah is asleep on the ship. The mariners cast lots to ascertain who was responsible for the tempest, and realized it was Jonah. Jonah suggested they throw him overboard to save them.

At first, the mariners were reluctant to resort to this extreme measure, but did so, when the tempest did not abate. They then prayed that they may not perish because of throwing Jonah overboard.

The sea was calmed, and a great fish swallowed up Jonah, who was in the belly of the fish for three days and three nights.

My Thoughts
I enjoy listening to the Sunday school version of 'Jonah and the whale', narrated by young children.

Obadiah 1

Obadiah means 'servant of God' and he preached against Edom's pride. His message was to stop picking LORD's people. Edomites, Easu's descendants, launched their raids from mountain strongholds and considered themselves to be invincible. The LORD pledges to bring them down, even though they soar like an eagle and build their nests among the stars. In the midst of destruction, is an advice, not to gloat.
Obadiah 1:12 You should not gloat over your brother
    in the day of his misfortune,
nor rejoice over the people of Judah
    in the day of their destruction,
nor boast so much
    in the day of their trouble.
They will reap what they sow - the house of Jacob will be a fire, and that of Joseph a flame, but the house of Esau shall be stubble.

Further prophesy speaks that the children of Israel will possess the land of the Canaanites. Deliverers will come to Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be the LORD's.

Amos 9

Amos documented another vision he had - the LORD standing by the altar, supervising the work of destruction. His judgment cannot be escaped and LORD stays close to His hard-work.

The threshold of a house is the strongest structure of the house, and shaking it is equivalent to bringing the house down. The LORD will sift the house of Israel, as grain is sifted in a sieve. Many sinners who think they are safe and unaffected by these calamities will have their ends met by the sword.

Later, LORD will repair and restore the tabernacle of David. At that time, those captives of Israel will be restored and rebuild the ruined city. They will have fruits and wine in abundance. Israel will be planted in the land, and no longer pulled up.
Amos 9:15 "I will plant Israel in their own land,
    never again to be uprooted
    from the land I have given them,”
says the LORD your God.

Amos 8

Now the prophet speaks about rotting and corruption, dishonesty and cheating.

Amos saw a vision that contained a basket full of ripe fruit. This meant the time was ripe for Israel, and LORD will no longer spare them. LORD again speaks about the most hated quality - pride.
Amos 8:7 The LORD has sworn by himself, the Pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done.
LORD then rebukes their dishonesty and cheating the poor. In the day of judgement, sun will go down in the noon, the sky will be darkened, religious festivals will turn to mourning, people will experience famine, people will wander and men & women will faint due to thirst.

My thoughts
So far, we saw two things that LORD hates - idolatry and pride. Combining both these qualities is a sure-fire 'recipe for disaster'.

Amos 7

Prophet Amos shares his three visions in this chapter:
- vision of locusts,
- vision of fire,
- vision of plumb line. 
The first vision indicated that LORD would punish the people of the land by taking away all the grass, by means of locusts.

Amos prayed to LORD, “Sovereign LORD, forgive! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!”

So the LORD relented.

“This will not happen,” the LORD said.

In his second vision, Amos saw LORD calling for a judgement by fire. Again the prophet prayed to the LORD.

“Sovereign LORD, I beg you, stop! How can Jacob survive? He is so small!”

So the LORD relented.

“This will not happen either,” the Sovereign LORD said.

Then there was the third vision of a plumb line. This was to see if Israel are ‘straight’ by LORD's standards. Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, spoke to the king against Amos, and he was ordered to immediately leave the city.

Amos replied to the priest that he was called upon by the LORD to come prophesy. He issued a punishment to the priest.
Amos 7:17 “Therefore this is what the LORD says:
“‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city,
    and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword.
Your land will be measured and divided up,
    and you yourself will die in a pagan country.
And Israel will surely go into exile,
    away from their native land.’”

Amos 6

The prophet woes at those who are at ease in Zion as they indulge themselves in sinful rest - luxury, comfort and lust. They care for self and self only. A reference is made to neighboring countries asking whether they are better off than them.

Woe to those whose lives were that of luxury, lying on beds if ivory and pampered themselves. During the time of economic prosperity, they used that prosperity for pure self-indulgence. They did not have any obligation to use what He gives them to glorify Him.

One thing that LORD abhors is their pride.
Amos 6:8 The Sovereign LORD has sworn by himself - the LORD God Almighty declares:
“I abhor the pride of Jacob
    and detest his fortresses;
I will deliver up the city
    and everything in it.”
When a relative of one of the dead comes to burn the corpses, if he finds one person still alive, that person will not permit him to mention the name of the LORD - due to the fear, that the LORD may turn His wrath upon him.

Justice has been turned to poison, and righteousness to bitterness.

Amos 5

In a call to repentance, Prophet Amos laments the fall of Israel saying virgin Israel has fallen and never to rise again. The city will be taken captive and deserted. The LORD and creator of everything invites everyone to seek Him to stay alive. Here the prophet corrects the ironic statement he made earlier.
Amos 5:4 This is what the LORD says to Israel:
“Seek me and live;
5     do not seek Bethel,
do not go to Gilgal,
    do not journey to Beersheba.
For Gilgal will surely go into exile,
    and Bethel will be reduced to nothing.”
He makes it clear that it is pointless and in vain to search Him at places of sacrifice such as Gilgal, Bathel and Beersheba. The leaders of Israel pervert justice and treads down the poor.

His advice is to be good in His eyes.
Amos 5:14 Seek good, not evil,
    that you may live.
Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you,
    just as you say he is.
15 Hate evil, love good;
    maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy
    on the remnant of Joseph.

The day of the LORD is described as a day of pitch darkness when a man fled from a lion, only to meet a bear, and as he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall, he was bitten by a snake. The LORD has no regard for their offerings and will not accept them.

My Thoughts
If I keep quiet while witnessing evil deeds around me, then my silence is my consent for the evil deed, and I am a silent partner in that crime. 

I wonder how many will jump in, and fight for such evil deeds when poor people are oppressed and misled. Majority of the folks want to protect their 'face' and do not risk tarnishing their image in front of others. "Why should I object? I will just take care of my own activities, and stay quiet," is what many think. 

Amos 4

As the Bashan terittory was very rich, those luxury and party loving women of Israel are referred to as 'well-fed cows of Bashan'. They oppressed the poor and crushed the needy - which was not direct, but their luxury continually watered the tears of the poor due to their action and behavior. The prophet calls them by name of beasts because of their abundance of wealth, they are after self-indulgence - with the inability to resist bodily appetite, especially that of passion. They demand wine from their husbands to stay intoxicated during that 'pleasure moment'. They have forgotten the LORD completely.

Soon, these women will be taken away with fishhooks - the Assyrians used to lead people by hooks driven through the lower lip. The prophet makes an ironic statement that their sacrifices at Bethel and Gilgal - those popular places of worship, are in vain.
Amos 4:4 Go to Bethel and sin;
    go to Gilgal and sin yet more.
Bring your sacrifices every morning,
    your tithes every three years.
Rain will be withheld, and there will be a shortage for food. Israel will suffer blight and mildew. LORD tells them to be ready to meet Him - the creator of everything.
Amos 4:12 “Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel,
    and because I will do this to you, Israel,
    prepare to meet your God.”

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Amos 3

The children of Israel have tasted LORD's special love and care. However, they have not fulfilled their responsibilities as God’s chosen people. They have broken their covenant-agreement with the LORD. The prophet asks them about value of an agreement.
Amos 3:3 Do two walk together
    unless they have agreed to do so?
Anyone breaking a promise or agreement has to face the consequence, and pay the penalty. The city will be destroyed and during that time, the Egyptians and Philistines will be invited to the mountains of Samaria to witnesses these punishment upon Israel.

Eventually, Israel will be conquered and exiled, and those altars of Bethel will be destroyed. Those living in mansions will not be spared.
Amos 3:15 I will tear down the winter house
    along with the summer house;
the houses adorned with ivory will be destroyed
    and the mansions will be demolished,”
declares the LORD.

Amos 2

Moab violated all ancient universally unwritten laws.  Since Moab burned the bones of the king of Edom to ashes, it will be destroyed with fire, and its officials will be slain.

Judah, the hometown of Prophet Amos, will be destroyed by fire, because their lies have led them astray towards idol worship, and they have rejected the law of the LORD.

The main agenda for Amos was to preach and warn the Israelites about LORD's judgement. Israel will be punished for its sins against the righteous, poor and humble. Both young and old make use of temple prostitutes, and they drink wine in the house of god.
Amos 2:7 They trample on the heads of the poor
    as on the dust of the ground
    and deny justice to the oppressed.
Father and son use the same girl
    and so profane My Holy name.
8 They lie down beside every altar
    on garments taken in pledge.
In the house of their god
    they drink wine taken as fines.
Those who took the Nazirite vow were made to drink wine and those appointed as LORD's spokesmen were gagged and forbidden from prophesying.
12 But you made the Nazirites drink wine
    and commanded the prophets not to prophesy.
A warning is issued saying the most courageous of men shall flee naked in the day of LORD's judgment.

My Thoughts
The day of judgement is something I should keep in mind. As I cannot fool God, or do anything without His knowledge, it is better for me to lead a life of righteousness.

Amos 1

Amos was a shepherd and a simple farmer. When it came to theology, he was a layman. He lived in Tekoa, about 20 miles south of Jerusalem, during the days of Uzziah of Judah and Jeroboam of Israel. This was the period of prosperity and influence. However, the nation was rotten with social and religious corruption.

Amos was chosen to denounce these immoral acts and warn about LORD's impeding judgement. People turned a deaf ear to this prophet.

In the first chapter, Amos condemns those surrounding nations of Israel - Syria for gross cruelty, Philistia for selling their own people, Tyre & Edom for infringing the laws of blood relationships, Ammon for their atrocities to gain further land, and for ripping open pregnant women.

In each of these instance, Amos uses a rhetorical formula to introduce the judgment is ‘For three transgressions of Syria/Philistia/Tyre/Edom/Ammon, and for four, I will not turn away its punishment.’

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Joel 3

All those nations will be punished for scattering and casting lots upon LORD's people.
Joel 3:3 They cast lots for my people
    and traded boys for prostitutes;
    they sold girls for wine to drink.
LORD warns those nations that He will retaliate against those who have mistreated His people, and looted His gold and silver. Tyre, Sidon and Philsta are the nations referred here. He tells them to prepare for war by beating their plowshares into swords and their pruning hooks into spears.

The winepress is full, the vats overflow; such is their wickedness - so great. The day of the LORD is near. The sun and the moon will turn dark, the LORD will roar, but He will protect His people,

He will share His abundant blessings with His people. The land will be fertile and rich, flowing with wine, milk and water. 

Joel 2

Prophet Joel is warning people about the day of LORD's judgement. The day of the LORD is coming – a day of darkness and gloominess, like the morning clouds spread over the mountains. A fiery, destroying nation is arriving. If the onward attack of locusts is devastating, inexorable, and irresistible, who can endure LORD's judgement.

However, there is good news - nobody needs to endure LORD's judgement, if they are willing to repent, turn towards LORD and ask for His mercy.
Joel 2:12 “Even now,” declares the LORD,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
Our LORD is gracious, merciful, and slow to anger. The LORD will be zealous for His land, and pity His people, removing the northern army to a barren and desolate land. He says that you shall eat in plenty and be satisfied.

The LORD is willing to pour out His Holy Spirit upon all flesh, and many will prophesy and see visions. Blood, fire and pillars of smoke will be seen; the sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the LORD.

Those who calls upon the name of the LORD shall be saved.
Joel 2:32 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the LORD will be saved;
for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem
    there will be deliverance,
    as the LORD has said,
even among the survivors
    whom the LORD calls.

My Thoughts
On that dreadful day of LORD's judgement, He will bring tragedy upon those who have failed to repent of their sins.

Sin simply cannot enter His presence, and He has to find a way to keep it away - hence we cannot blame LORD for His judgement. For those willing to repent, LORD responds to them by compassion and offers to help and save them from their shame.

LORD is always willing and ready to pour out His Holy Spirit upon us - all we need to do is be that 'vessel' to receive it. 

Joel 1

Prophet Joel speaks about a devastating plague of locusts that destroyed the land of Judah. He is speaking of present time devastation - chewing, swarming, crawling, and consuming.

When the locust grows rapidly, what the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; what the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; and what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten.

Joel calls up to those who are busy drinking as the nation of locust has laid waste the vine.
Joel 1:5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep!
    Wail, all you drinkers of wine;
wail because of the new wine,
    for it has been snatched from your lips.
All has withered, and Judah must lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth. There is almost nothing for people or for them to offer to the God. Food and joy has been cut off, and everyone is starving. Even the animals are suffering in the drought.

Prophet Joel calls for a national day of prayer.
Joel 1:14 Declare a holy fast;
    call a sacred assembly.
Summon the elders
    and all who live in the land
to the house of the LORD your God,
    and cry out to the LORD.
He encourages everyone to repent and pray.

My Thoughts
When disaster strikes, the one and only way out is to devote ourselves to the LORD in prayer and fasting. LORD always means good for us. We have to seek His purpose and meaning in that disaster. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hosea 14

The final chapter of Hosea is filled with His love and is literally pleading people to return to the LORD. He says the way is wide open, for those who want to travel. The one and only requirement is loyalty to the LORD.

He then shows us the path to find love and forgiveness and thus to embark on a new and transformed life.

Finally, Prophet Hosea calls out to those who are wise:
Hosea 14:9 Who is wise? Let them realize these things.
    Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the LORD are right;
    the righteous walk in them,
    but the rebellious stumble in them.

Hosea 13

Even though Israel may turn to other gods such as Baal, there is only one God - the LORD. He never blessed Israel when they worshiped Baal; however, that did not stop them. His children forgot them when He took care of them. They acquired the biggest sin of proud.
Hosea 13:6 When I fed them, they were satisfied;
    when they were satisfied, they became proud;
    then they forgot Me.
To bring humility upon them, like a lion, the LORD will tear Israel apart. When LORD departs from them, they will not have any wisdom whatsoever, but endure pain.
Hosea 13:13 Pains as of a woman in childbirth come to him,
    but he is a child without wisdom;
when the time arrives,
    he doesn’t have the sense to come out of the womb.
However, out of His love, LORD will deliver them from their grave.

Hosea 12

Israel is reminded about their father Jacob, how he behaved while in womb of his mother, how he put up a fight with the angel, begged for favor, and learned to lean of the LORD.
Hosea 12:6 But you must return to your God;
    maintain love and justice,
    and wait for your God always.
Ephraim is boastful about it's wealth, and thinks itself to be invincible.
8 Ephraim boasts,
    “I am very rich; I have become wealthy.
With all my wealth they will not find in me
    any iniquity or sin.”
The LORD will bring them low, and can make them live in tents again. Prophets were the ones whom LORD used to deliver and preserve the people of Israel. The current attitude of Israel to reject prophets will incur tLORD’s wrath.

Hosea 11

Prophet Hosea takes us into that infinitely loving parent-heart of the LORD. One who has poured out his/her heart to another will understand the sentiments contained in this chapter. It is impossible to condense the love depicted in this chapter, as LORD narrates those long years of history.
Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, I loved him,
    and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more they were called,
    the more they went away from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals
    and they burned incense to images.
Israel has rejected LORD's love, and the nation deserves no mercy. Next, Ephraim is represented as an ungrateful child, responding to God’s loving care with ingratitude.

We get a glimpse into the LORD's mind here - where He says He is the Holy One among us.

LORD is torn between love and justice, neither of which can be denied. He shares His deep pain.
Hosea 11:12 Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,
    Israel with deceit.
And Judah is unruly against God,
    even against the faithful Holy One.

Hosea 10

On the outside, Israel put up a great show of religion. However, inwardly people were too far away from the LORD. As their wealth increased, they built several altars. Their only fear is towards the calf-idol.
Hosea 10:5 The people who live in Samaria fear
    for the calf-idol of Beth Aven.
Its people will mourn over it,
    and so will its idolatrous priests,
those who had rejoiced over its splendor,
    because it is taken from them into exile.
Prophet Hosea calls out to his people to do what is right - to sow righteousness and reap the fruit of unfailing love. He encourages everyone to seek the LORD until He comes and and showers His righteousness on them. However, they have done the opposite, and depended upon their own strength.
Hosea 10:13 But you have planted wickedness,
    you have reaped evil,
    you have eaten the fruit of deception.
Because you have depended on your own strength
    and on your many warriors,
He encouraged them to sow an altogether different crop and reap it's fruits. 

Hosea 9

It is during the grape festival that Hosea mentions Israel not to be jubilant. He tells them, "The days of punishment are coming, the days of reckoning are at hand." For spreading this message, people consider him as a fool and a maniac.

Idolatry and sin has become habitual, and ingrained to a point where LORD has decided to withdraw His love. LORD did not approve them becoming vile by going towards Baal Peor.
Hosea 9:11 Ephraim’s glory will fly away like a bird—
    no birth, no pregnancy, no conception.
12 Even if they rear children,
    I will bereave them of every one.
Woe to them
    when I turn away from them!
Prophet Hosea has become angry at his own people due to their deeds that he prays to the LORD to give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. He prayed for their mercy - fewer the children, few will face the judgement of LORD.

LORD sends wandering and dryness upon Israel.
Hosea 9:16 Ephraim is blighted,
    their root is withered,
    they yield no fruit.
Even if they bear children,
    I will slay their cherished offspring.
People went after Baal Peor and Asherah because they were fertility gods. LORD reminds His people that He is the one who gifts fruits in the wombs. 

Hosea 8

LORD is angry and Israel will be caught up in a whirlwind of His Judgement. They have become wise in their own eyes, and chosen leaders without LORD's consent, on their own accord. Next, they have aroused LORD's anger because of idols - calf of Samaria.

In order to rival Jerusalem as religious center, Israel's kings had set up two of their own religious centers. Calf has been part of pagan culture from the days of Moses.

LORD is not willing to accept their offerings, because Israel has forgotten its maker.
Hosea 8:11 Though Ephraim built many altars for sin offerings,
    these have become altars for sinning.
12 I wrote for them the many things of my law,
    but they regarded them as something foreign.
13 Though they offer sacrifices as gifts to me,
    and though they eat the meat,
    the LORD is not pleased with them.
Now He will remember their wickedness
    and punish their sins:
    They will return to Egypt.
He calls their altars 'altars for sinning'. He rebukes their people as they want their own law, and not His original written law. They want to run their religious institutions their own way and expect LORD to be present in their midst. 

Hosea 7

Prophet Hosea continues to narrate the catalog of evil using vividly pictorial images.

Israel thinks the LORD has forgotten their wickedness. Kings are falling at the hands of conspirators, and Israel's heart is heart is inflamed after idols, like a baker’s oven. Nobody is turning to the LORD.
Hosea 7:5 On the day of the festival of our king
    the princes become inflamed with wine,
    and he joins hands with the mockers.
6 Their hearts are like an oven;
    they approach him with intrigue.
Their passion smolders all night;
    in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.
7 All of them are hot as an oven;
    they devour their rulers.
All their kings fall,
    and none of them calls on Me.
Next, the biggest sin of Pride - Israel has mixed itself with other people - i.e., foreign powers and foreign gods.

Israel is like a silly dove, who is senseless and easily deceived. They are calling upon Egypt and Assyria for help. They are working against their own LORD.
Hosea 7:15 I trained them and strengthened their arms,
    but they plot evil against Me.

Hosea 6

When people go through sufferings, they return to the LORD. This chapter calls for a return to the LORD.

Let us return to the LORD; as surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like rain.

Like a dew, the love of Ephraim will evaporate in the hot sun. LORD wants His people to know Him rather than merely sacrifice to Him.
Hosea 6:6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice,
    and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
Priests are like a band of robbers who lie in wait for a man, and carry out their wicked schemes.

In Ephraim, lewdness and harlotry is committed, and Israel is defiled.

Hosea 5

Due to Israel's idolatry, priests are rebuked for the sinful state of the nation. Despite stumbling, the tragedy is that the nation does not respond to LORD's rebuke. They are not paying attention to Him at all.
Hosea 5:4 Their deeds do not permit them
    to return to their God.
A spirit of prostitution is in their heart;
    they do not acknowledge the LORD
People are filled with arrogance and pride. Therefore, LORD has withdrawn from them. When a time comes for them to seek Him they will not be able to find Him.
Hosea 5:6 When they go with their flocks and herds
    to seek the LORD,
they will not find him;
    he has withdrawn Himself from them.
Ephraim is defiled, and comparatively, Judah is little better. On the day of rebuke, Ephraim will be desolate. The LORD will be to Ephraim like a moth, and to Judah like rottenness.

Like a lion, LORD will tear them down and bring destruction, until they seek the LORD’s face in their affliction.

Moth and Lion are mentioned as they bring destruction in different ways. 

Hosea 4

No further mention about Hosea's family is made in the book, but the reader is given a lasting impression.

Hosea then speaks about those charges brought against Israel, including no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land. All the land sees is cursing, lying, murder, stealing and adultery.

LORD's people have been destroyed due to lack of knowledge. The priests who are supposed to lead them are instead misleading them. A host of corrupt Priests are encouraging and misleading people into wickedness. They have utterly failed to let people know the LORD's law. Instead, they have feathered their own nests in the bargain.
Hosea 4:7 The more priests there were,
    the more they sinned against me;
    they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful.
8 They feed on the sins of my people
    and relish their wickedness.
Temple prostitution and sexual degradation has reached it's heights under idol worship. The LORD condemns idolatry and harlotry, sometimes conjoined in ritual harlotry.
Hosea 4:14 “I will not punish your daughters
    when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
    when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots
    and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes -
    a people without understanding will come to ruin!
LORD holds the men accountable. Israel is like a stubborn calf, difficult for LORD to pasture them like lambs in a meadow. 

Hosea 3

LORD commanded Hosea to go back and love his wife Gomer. He said, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”

Raisin cakes were dried grapes offered to those pagan fertility gods, during idol worship, in hopes of a wonderful harvest.

Therefore, Hosea "bought" his wife Gomer for about 6 ounces of silver and 430 pounds of barley. He then put her on probation for a while.
Hosea 3:3 Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.” 
Israel will be deprived of their idol worship and cultic practices. They will return to seek the LORD. 

Hosea 2

Israel is depicted as an adulterous wife, and her children are the children of harlotry. Hosea's voice, pleading with his unfaithful wife is that of the LORD pleading Israel.

Israel like Gomer, has a broken relationship with LORD - her relationship is dysfunctional. The nation of Israel is worshiping Baal. Due to this, LORD will take away those provisions He provided her. He will punish her by taking away His grain, wine, wool and linen, and her vines and fig trees will be destroyed. Her party days will be over.
Hosea 2:13 I will punish her for the days
    she burned incense to the Baals;
she decked herself with rings and jewelry,
    and went after her lovers,
    but me she forgot,”
declares the LORD.
Then, LORD will take her and speak to her using the tender language of love.
Hosea 2:17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
    no longer will their names be invoked.
Then He will restore her, returning her vineyards. He then plans to betroth her in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.. He will then plant her for Himself, in His land. The people of LORD will be restored, and the land will become fruitful.

Hosea 1

The book of Hosea can be broken into two parts:
  • Chapters 1 to 3 - illustrates God’s relationship with Israel.  
  • Chapters 4 to 14 - contains the message LORD spoke directly to the nation of Israel, through the words of Hosea. 
LORD commanded Hosea to marry Gomer, an adulterous woman. This was to illustrate that the land of Israel has committed great harlotry by departing from the LORD.

Harlotry in Hosea has a double meaning - it describes both illicit sexual relationships and religious acts of unfaithfulness.

Hosea dutifully married Gomer and three children are born to her. Hosea is commanded to call the firstborn son Jezreel – referring to 'bloodshed and punishment'. Hosea is told to name the daughter, Lo-Ruhamah - referring to 'no mercy'. The second son is to be called Lo-Ammi which translates, 'not my people'.

However, Judah and Israel will finally be reunified.

My Thoughts
The one thing that separates us from LORD is our sin. LORD is Holy and sin cannot enter His presence. Sinners cannot enter LORD's Kingdom.

Sounds like a 'Catch 22' situation - similar to this: to get a job, one needs work experience, and to have work experience, one needs a job.

For those willing to enter His Everlasting Kingdom, LORD provides a way! 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Daniel 12

As the first Old Testament Prophet, Daniel speaks about the resurrection of individuals. Michael, the guardian angel shall stand up at a time of trouble.
Daniel 12:2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 
The next verse speaks about wisdom and righteousness.
Daniel 12:3 Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
After all those visions, Daniel asked, “My lord, what will the outcome of all this be?”

Daniel was told to seal the book until the end of time.
Daniel 12:9 He replied, “Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealed until the time of the end.
10 Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.
Daniel was then told to go his way, and he would receive his inheritance according to his allotment.
Daniel 12:13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”

Daniel 11

This chapter gives a detailed account of those struggle that took place during Persian and Greek periods.

Prophet Daniel's vision has been linked to events that occurred in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC concerning the struggle between the Ptolemies (the king of the south) and the Seleucids (the king of the north) for the control of Judea, in which the Seleucids were eventually victorious.

Daniel saw three kings arising in Persia. According to Daniel, the fourth shall be richer than them all, and fight against Greece. A mighty king’s empire (Alexander’s) will be divided into four parts at his death. The southern part shall become the strongest (Ptolemy’s). Joined by a marriage, the kings of the North and South will be allies for a while, but the arrangement will not last.

This chapter of Daniel is considered very accurate. All major conflicts are mentioned, and the Sixth Syrian War is described in great detail.

My Thoughts
This chapter shows us how history evolves as a result of LORD's prophecy. This chapter also speaks about the future coming of Jesus Christ.

Due to my limitations, I have not narrated all those that I read. But I am convinced everything Daniel spoke and wrote took place just like that.

After reading this chapter and looking at history, shall we say, History = His Story. 

Daniel 10

This vision, concerning a great war, occurred to Daniel during the third year of Cyrus’ reign. Daniel mourned and fasted for a period of three weeks. Then, on the banks of the Tigris, Daniel saw a glorious man clothed in linen, girded with a golden belt; his face was like lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet were like burnished bronze, and his voice like that of a multitude. When Daniel encountered this awesome person, he fell into a deep sleep with his face down.
Daniel 10:10 A hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees.
11 He said, “Daniel, you who are highly esteemed, consider carefully the words I am about to speak to you, and stand up, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he said this to me, I stood up trembling.
Daniel was about to be foretold regarding the future. He is given insight regarding the continual battle between those who protect LORD's people and those who want to destruct them. The glorious man said that he had faced opposition from the prince of the kingdom of Persia, and was helped by the prince Michael - guardian angel of Jewish people.

Daniel felt overwhelmed by weakness, but was reassured and told to be strong. The glorious person said he must fight the prince of Persia and then the prince of Greece. Michael assisted him. He has confirmed and strengthened Darius.

My Thoughts
A wonderful chapter, that narrates the encounter with LORD's messenger. Daniel accurately notes down his emotions and feelings during that encounter. 

Daniel 9

The year is 538 BC, and Babylon had kept Judah captive since 605 BC. The 70 year period Prophet Jeremiah mentioned has almost reached.

Daniel fasted and prayed, confessing the sins of his people. Those curses mentioned in the Law of Moses have come to pass. Daniel asked LORD that He forgive and restore Jerusalem.
Daniel 9:7 “LORD, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame - the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you..." 
Daniel's prayer is a long one, and he pleads to LORD for the return to their homeland. His request is solely based on LORD's mercy, and righteousness. This is how he concluded his prayer:
19 LORD, listen! LORD, forgive! LORD, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people bear Your Name.”
LORD then showed what lay ahead. Gabriel, who appeared in Daniel's earlier vision came to him, and told him,  “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision:.."

NOTE: this next part is difficult to understand, and there are numerous interpretations. For the sake of the reader, I will try to make it simple.

Gabriel said that in 490 years (70 X 7), reconciliation will be made for iniquity, everlasting righteousness will be brought in, and the Most Holy anointed. From the command to restore Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah, there will be 483 years ((7+62) x 7 years = 483 years). The Messiah will be cut off, but for the sake of others, not for himself. The temple will be destroyed.

Daniel 8

Daniel saw a ram with two horns, one longer than the other. The ram charged west, north, and then south. The ram was powerful, none could stand against it. He did what he pleases and became great.

Then a goat came from the west, having a single large horn, crossing the earth without touching the ground. It hit the ram, broke its two horns, knocked it down, and trampled him. But at the height of his power, the goat's horn was broken and in its place, four horns grow toward the four winds of heaven.

One of the horns is small but grew great, like the prince of host. It prospered in everything, threw stars down to the ground and trampled on them, stopped the daily sacrifice, destroyed the sanctuary and threw truth to the ground.

Daniel was then told that it will take 2300 days and nights for this vision to be fulfilled. The sanctuary will then be cleansed and reconsecrated.

After Daniel has seen the vision, someone looking like a man, called Gabriel, appeared to Daniel. Daniel fell down in fear.
Daniel 8:17 As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. “Son of man,” he said to me, “understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.”
Gabriel told Daniel the meaning of the vision, giving him "skill and understanding" regarding the vision about the time of the end, but Daniel was exhausted and passed out. Gabriel woke him up and again told him that the vision is about the time of the end.
Daniel 8:27 I, Daniel, was worn out. I lay exhausted for several days. Then I got up and went about the king’s business. I was appalled by the vision; it was beyond understanding.

Additional Info:
The goat becomes great in power, but its horn is broken, and replaced by four others = the four successors to Alexander the Great.
One horn = Antiochus IV Epiphanes grows great towards the south, east and Glorious Land.
The two horns of the ram = Kings of Media and Persia; the male goat is the Greek empire.
The Antiochus horn will destroy many, and then be destroyed without human means.

Julius Caesar identified as the king in Daniel 8:23-25, depicted in armor and with a laurel wreath, on horseback, bearing a standard depicting an eagle; the horse trampling three kings with standards depicting a lion, a ram and a goat. 

My Thoughts
Daniel's visions are complex to understand. Even Daniel himself had a tough time understanding them. One needs that superior and divine understanding to interpret such visions. 

Daniel 7

Daniel’s vision is a pictorial representation of history. During in the first year of Belshazzar’s reign, he saw four beasts coming from the sea. The first (Babylonian empire) was like a lion with eagle’s wings. Its wings were plucked off, it was lifted up and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it.

The second beast (Medes empire) was a bear with three ribs between its teeth – it is commanded to devour much flesh.

The third beast (Greek empire) was a leopard with four heads and four bird’s wings on its back. It was given dominion.

The fourth beast (Greek empire) has iron teeth, and ten horns, which are then replaced by a single conspicuous horn. There are a man’s eyes in his horn, and a mouth speaking pompous words. This beast is then slain and burnt. One like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven. He comes to the Ancient of Days, and is given everlasting dominion.
Daniel 7:13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 
The interpretation: the four beasts are four kings – they are conquered by God, and their kingdoms are given to the people of God. The ten horns of the fourth beast (which made war on the saints) represent ten kings, to be succeeded by another, who shall subdue three kings, before being defeated by the Most High.

Michelangelo - Fresco of Last Judgement based on Daniel 7:13 

Daniel 6

Daniel was made one of three governors over the 120 satraps (regional rulers) under Darius’ administration. Daniel was so distinguished due to his exceptional qualities, that Darius planned to make him responsible over the entire kingdom.
Daniel 6:4 At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.
5 Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
Other administrators became jealous at Daniel, and they hatched a plot. They approached the king and persuaded him to sign a decree saying that anyone petitioning a god or man other than Darius will be thrown into a den of lions.
Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
Report reached Darius that Daniel has prayed to his God, and violated the King's decree. Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den. Darius wished no harm to Daniel and told him that his God will protect him. That night, the king fasted, was not entertained, and did not sleep all night.

The next morning, at the crack of the dawn, the king hurried to the lion's den.
When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”
Daniel 6:21 Daniel answered, “May the king live forever!
22 My God sent His angel, and He shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in His sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
Those who accused Daniel were thrown to the lions, along with their families. Darius decreed that all must honor the God of Daniel. Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and Cyrus.

My Thoughts
Daniel was sent to the "lion's den" for doing what was right. Anytime someone does things right, there will be opposition and schemers will plan out traps for such individuals.

When I look back into my life, what are my "lion's den" experiences that I have encountered in my life?

Hasn't the loving LORD delivered me from all those beasts?

Am I offering sufficient praise and gratitude, for His faithful deliverance throughout these past years?

If I am in a "lion's den" at present, I should just ask for the strength to endure the ordeal until He chooses to provide a way out?

Regardless of whether I am in a "lion's den" or not, I should praise Him for those blessings He has bestowed upon me.

Daniel 5

The year is 593, and this incident took place 23 years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar. King Belshazzar is in charge of Babylon.

A great feast - a drunken orgy is going on in the place of Belshazzar, with his wives and concubines, along with the nobles. The king's guests were using those gold and silver vessels taken from the temple at Jerusalem.
Daniel 5:3 So they brought in the gold goblets that had been taken from the temple of God in Jerusalem, and the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines drank from them.
4 As they drank the wine, they praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone.
As the party progressed, a mysterious hand began to write a message on the wall.
Daniel 5:5 Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote.
6 His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.
Belshazzar was troubled, and wished to have the writing read and interpreted. The queen, who came into the banquet hall, recommended Daniel.
Daniel 5:10 The queen, hearing the voices of the king and his nobles, came into the banquet hall. “May the king live forever!” she said. “Don’t be alarmed! Don’t look so pale!
11 There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the time of your father he was found to have insight and intelligence and wisdom like that of the gods. Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, enchanters, astrologers and diviners.
12 He did this because Daniel, whom the king called Belteshazzar, was found to have a keen mind and knowledge and understanding, and also the ability to interpret dreams, explain riddles and solve difficult problems. Call for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.”
Daniel was brought in, and offered 'purple clothes', a gold chain around his neck, and the position of the third highest ruler of his kingdom.
Daniel 5:17 Then Daniel answered the king, “You may keep your gifts for yourself and give your rewards to someone else. Nevertheless, I will read the writing for the king and tell him what it means.
Daniel said that Belshazzar has not humbled his heart like Nebuchnezzar. He condemned the king's action of his guests partying using those vessels from the temple. He then went on to interpret that handwriting:
25 “This is the inscription that was written:
26 “Here is what these words mean:
Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.
27 Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.
28 Peres: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
Belshazzar honored Daniel, but that night he was slain, and the kingdom fell to Darius the Mede.
Daniel 5:29 Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom.
30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Babylonians,was slain,
31 and Darius the Mede took over the kingdom, at the age of sixty-two

My Thoughts
The queen seems to have some wisdom in her and directs the king towards Daniel. It is always a good idea to get the opinion of women. They see things quite differently than men. Using their perspective, we can "see" the other side of any puzzle, and make a final decision. Having a God-fearing, trusted female partner, filled with wisdom is a blessing. 

Daniel 4

This chapter is authenticated by Nebuchadnezzar himself, where he narrates his extraordinary story. He recounts the dream he had, regarding a mighty tree that was ordered to be cut down, and it's stump bound with a band of iron and bronze. Daniel was called in to interpret this dream.
Daniel 4:24 “This is the interpretation, Your Majesty, and this is the decree the Most High has issued against my lord the king:
25 You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like the ox and be drenched with the dew of heaven. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes.
26 The command to leave the stump of the tree with its roots means that your kingdom will be restored to you when you acknowledge that Heaven rules.
27 Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue.”
In about twelve month's time, Daniel’s interpretation if fulfilled. Nebuchadnezzar, while he was walking on his roof top, heard a voice from the heaven. Next, he is driven from men and eats grass. His hair grew like eagle’s feathers, and his nails like bird’s claws. Nebuchadnezzar is finally restored to power, and praises God. In the closing verse, Nebuchadnezzar says,
Daniel 4:37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything He does is right and all His ways are just. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble.

Daniel 3

This is that popular chapter regarding the ordeal of the fiery furnace. Several years passed by and Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten about Daniel's God. Nebuchadnezzar made his gold covered image, 90 ft high, and invited all dignitaries of Babylon to come gather for it's dedication service.

Nebuchadnezzar then issued a command to worship the statue, or be thrown into a fiery furnace.
Daniel 3:4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do:
5 As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up.
6 Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
Everyone fell down and worshiped the statue, except Daniel's companions. They calmly refused to worship the statue.

They said, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”

The king changed his mind and decided to heat the furnace seven times it's normal heat and wanted to execute this order immediately by throwing them in to the furnace. The heat of the furnace even killed those soldiers who took up Daniel's companions.
Daniel 3:21 So these men, wearing their robes, trousers, turbans and other clothes, were bound and thrown into the blazing furnace.
22 The king’s command was so urgent and the furnace so hot that the flames of the fire killed the soldiers who took up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,
23 and these three men, firmly tied, fell into the blazing furnace.
Nebuchadnezzar and his counselors saw four men, unbound, and walking in the midst of the fiery furnace, and the form of the fourth One was like the Son of God. The three men were called out to leave the furnace, and they came out unharmed. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the greatness of the Hebrew God, who protected those three men. He then proclaimed that nothing evil should be said against the Hebrew God.

My Thoughts
Where did this large quantity of gold for Nebuchadnezzar golden statue come from? This was right after he plundered King Solomon's Temple.

Today, if we were told to fall down and worship such a statue, how many of us would think, "Everyone is doing it, including all my friends - so let me and my family do the same, and stay away from trouble." How many of us would have the courage to stand up and speak up?

Image Credit: Ted Larson

Daniel 2

Right after his graduation, Daniel was faced with a huge test. In those days, Babylonian magicians were well-versed with the skill of 'dream interpretation'. However, anybody can come up with interpretations.

Nebuchadnezzar is troubled with a dream, and could not sleep. In the morning, he was left with an uneasy impression. Magicians, enchanters, sorcerers and astrologers were summoned to interpret the dream. When they asked what his dream was, he first gave them a word of caution:
Daniel 2:5 The king replied to the astrologers, “This is what I have firmly decided: If you do not tell me what my dream was and interpret it, I will have you cut into pieces and your houses turned into piles of rubble.
6 But if you tell me the dream and explain it, you will receive from me gifts and rewards and great honor. So tell me the dream and interpret it for me.”
They inquired what the dream was. But the king objected to reveal that. He wanted them to first tell him what his dream was.
Daniel 2:10 The astrologers answered the king, “There is no one on earth who can do what the king asks! No king, however great and mighty, has ever asked such a thing of any magician or enchanter or astrologer.
11 What the king asks is too difficult. No one can reveal it to the king except the gods, and they do not live among humans.”
Nebuchadnezzar ordered the slaughter of all wise men in Babylon. When the officer came looking for Daniel to be executed, he asked for some more time. Along with his friends, he prayed to the LORD, and during the night, the mystery was revealed to Daniel. He praised the LORD for this revelation.

Daniel was taken to the presence of Nebuchadnezzar. When asked if he was able to tell him what he saw in his dream, Daniel answered:
Daniel 2:27 Daniel replied, “No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about,
28 but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries. He has shown King Nebuchadnezzar what will happen in days to come. Your dream and the visions that passed through your mind as you were lying in bed are these:
An image appeared, having a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, feet of iron and clay. A stone, cut out without hands, struck the feet, so the rest of the image was crushed together, became as chaff, and was blown away. The stone became a great mountain and filled the earth.

The interpretation was that that Nebuchadnezzar was the golden head, and the other parts of the image’s body were subsequent kingdoms (Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman). When the fourth kingdom, represented by the feet, was destroyed, all other kingdoms would be destroyed along with it. The iron and clay of the feet indicated that the kingdom was partly strong, and partly weak. The fourth kingdom will be divided into ten smaller kingdoms, each represented by a toe. At that time, LORD will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.

After hearing this, Nebuchadnezzar was so impressed:
Daniel 2:46 Then King Nebuchadnezzar fell prostrate before Daniel and paid him honor and ordered that an offering and incense be presented to him. 
Nebuchadnezzar praised Daniel’s God, and promoted Daniel.

My Thoughts
Dreams have been held in considerable importance through history by most cultures. The actual state of dreaming is physiological. However, the content of the dream is psychological and is a product of the dreamer’s unconscious mind in collaboration with conscious experience.

Tap here to take you to a popular 'dreamer' site. You'll find a tab 'Common Dreams' and under that are listed chasing, cheating, death, falling, flying, naked, snake, teeth.. etc.

Being able to understand that LORD is the One who grants us wisdom, and reveals us everything, is an eye-opener.

Daniel 1

Daniel, a young Judean exile teenage boy, belonged to a noble/royal family. He was exceptionally able and wise. He arrived in Babylon in 605 BC.

Nebuchadnezzar commanded Ashpenaz to put few Israelites into the king's service from the royal family. He was looking for youngsters with the following traits:
Daniel 1:4 young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.
5 The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.
His good looks and natural ability ensured him a place for him and his friends in that special training.
Daniel 1:6 Among those who were chosen were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.
7 The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.
The Babylonians do not follow Jewish rules on clean or unclean food. They do not drain away the blood while slaughtering animals. With an ardent mind to follow Jewish observations, Daniel and his friends chose to restrict themselves to a course of vegetarian diet.
Daniel 1:8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 
The officer was at first reluctant to do so, as the king would be angry. For this, young Daniel came up with a solution.
Daniel 1:12 “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink.
13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”
14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food.
16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead. 
During the training, Daniel and his friends, LORD gave them knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

They graduated the King's school with honors.

My Thoughts
When we stand for the truth and respond with adversity, courage and courtesy, LORD will melt the hearts of our adversaries.

Those who want to be servants of the LORD, will show an aptitude for every kind of learning. The key is to know that we don't know everything.

At the beginning of learning cycle, we ought to know this - learning and understanding comes from the LORD. He is the source of that supreme treasure.