Major Concerns of Post-Exilic Prophets

What were the major concerns of the post-exilic prophets for the restoration of Israel?

Answer:

The concerns of the post-exilic prophets for the restoration of Israel were as follows. One of the main concerns was rebuilding the temple. There was a great need to rebuild the temple in order for worship of the Lord to resume according to the law of Moses. This can be seen in the book of Haggai when the people gave up rebuilding the temple, and the prophet Haggai reminded them of the importance of rebuilding the temple, saying that, “The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former.” Another concern was the spiritual formation of the people by forsaking sin, cleansing of iniquity, returning to obeying the Lord’s laws and commands, establishing justice and mercy, the promise of the coming king out of Zion, and the promise of the destruction of Jerusalem’s enemies. This is seen in Zechariah. We can identify another concern. It’s clear that the people of Judah didn’t commit to obeying the Lord, and they returned to a life of sin. The priests defiled the worship and corrupted the people. So, there was a promise that the Lord would protect the faithful remnant among his people. This can be seen in the book of Malachi. These were the concerns of the post-exilic prophets.

Hosea’s Marriage and Children

What did God intend to convey through Hosea’s marriage and their children’s names?

Answer:

The message God intended to convey through Hosea’s marriage and his children was to illustrate to the people of Israel the covenant relationship between God and his people. God entered into a covenant relationship through which he took the initiative to show mercy and benevolence to his people. But, just as Hosea’s wife was unfaithful and an adulteress, the people were unfaithful in their relationship with God. They were worshiping other gods and committing various sins that kindled the Lord’s wrath. The names of Hosea’s children, in particular, demonstrated God’s judgment against sin, the people’s sin. Each time Gomer bore Hosea a boy or a girl, the severity of the judgment gradually increased. For instance, we read about the first son Gomer bore in Hosea 1:4, where it says:

And the Lord said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel” (Hosea 1:4).

Actually, there are at least two reasons behind choosing the name Jezreel. The first reason is that it sounds similar to Israel in pronunciation — yiz-RAH-eel and YIZ-rah-eel. The other reason is that there was a valley in Israel called the valley of Jezreel. This valley is associated with many bloody events. We read about it, for example, in Judges 6:33 and 1 Samuel 29:1. Also, the name Jezreel is related to the story of Ahab and Jezebel and the killing of Naboth. We can find this in 1 Kings 21. We also read about it in the killing of Ahab’s family through Jehu the son of Jeshoshaphat in 2 Kings 10:11. Actually, there is a very important passage in 2 Kings 10:28-31 that, although Jehu son of Jeshoshaphat obeyed God’s command and killed the family of Ahab, he did that for his own personal purposes and ambitions. That is why the Lord said in the book of Hosea: “I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel.” We read in 2 Kings 10, beginning with verse 28:

Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel. But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin — that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan. And the Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin (2 Kings 10:28-31).

Although Jehu destroyed the altars of the Baals, he erected idols and walked in the sins of Jeroboam. That is why Hosea’s first son stands for the judgment of God on the Israelites, for the bloody events that were related to Jezreel, especially against the house of Jehu, and for the corrupt religious and behavioral practices that were in the kingdom at that time. The second child, the daughter, whom Gomer bore to Hosea, was called “Lo-Ruhamah.” We read about her in Hosea 1:6:

She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the Lord said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all” (Hosea 1:6).

The name “Lo-Ruhamah” in Hebrew means “no mercy.” The Lord declared that he would remove his mercy from the people of Israel. Mercy, here, is related to the covenant faithfulness of the Lord. So, the Lord here says that he will remove his mercy from the midst of the people. We read about the last child that Gomer bore Hosea in verses 8 and 9:

When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. And the Lord said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God” (Hosea 1:8-9).

The Hebrew name “Lo-Ammi” means “not my people.” This was the highest level and the hardest of the Lord’s judgments. Within the covenant, God had entered into a relationship in which he adopted Israel as his people, and he was their God. Through this covenant, he declared his name to Moses saying, “ehyeh asher ehyeh” or “I am who I am.” So God, through Hosea’s last child, was saying to Israel, “You are not my people” — “Lo-Ammi.” Moreover, he said, “I am not your God.” In Hebrew, “I am not” is the reversal of his covenant name that he declared to Moses. He was saying, “I am not,” or “not ehyeh.” I will not be your covenant God. Thus, Hosea’s marriage and children illustrate how God dealt with his covenant people. He declared his judgment over the people because of their sins and because they had acted contrary to the conditions of the covenant, conditions that required their loyalty in response to the covenant mercy and grace that God had initiated and shown them.

God as Warrior in Joshua

What does Joshua teach us about God’s character as a warrior for his people?

Answer:

Asking about how to learn or what to learn about God’s character as a warrior for his people in the book of Joshua is an important question because from the beginning of the book, in chapter 1, we see God giving instructions to Joshua to prepare for the war and prepare the people for the war. Here we see God as the military leader, the commander-in-chief of the army, the marshal who lays out the strategies for his people. Not only this, we also see through the entire book and through the wars in which Joshua led the people, we see God’s authority and sovereignty over the events. And we see that every step the people took was by an order and clear instruction from the Lord. So, not only did the Lord call Joshua to prepare the people, but he also was the one who laid out the plan and instructed the people on how to move. Additionally, we see the Lord himself fighting for his people. The Lord is the military leader, the warrior who leads his people in victory, because he has the mighty hand over all the events. Victory was related to the obedience of the people. When the people disobeyed the Lord — like what happened with Achan the son of Carmi — we see that there is punishment and condemnation because of disobedience. It’s important to the Lord, as a fighting warrior, that his people be committed and consistent in their obedience, loyalty, and faithfulness to him. So, because God is the leader and Lord over events, victory is guaranteed, even if the people disobey, because the Lord corrects this disobedience. Once more, he comes to assert victory, and victory, as I said, is related to the obedience of the people and their faithfulness and loyalty to the Lord. The image of God’s character as a mighty warrior is repeated in various places in the Bible. One of the best and most magnificent texts, or the most comprehensive text that shows the image of God as a warrior, is found in Revelation, the book of Revelation, when it talks about Christ who is sitting on a white horse. In his second coming, he is coming to launch a war against the ungodly, among either angels or human beings, and he will accomplish the victory he inaugurated on the cross, and he will provide this victory to all his faithful followers who faithfully obeyed his commands. As a result, because the Lord is a warrior, he is just, he never oppresses, and victory is always guaranteed through the Lord, because he is the military leader who puts strategies in place and accomplishes them by his mighty hand, which has the absolute authority.

Israel’s Land Inheritance

How is the promise of Israel’s land inheritance fulfilled in Christ?

Answer:

The promise of the land to Abraham and his offspring is fulfilled in Christ. How do we know this? There is an important verse in Galatians 3:16:

Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ (Galatians 3:16).

The apostle Paul tells us that Abraham’s offspring, to whom the land was promised, is Christ. Christ is Abraham’s offspring. Not only this, but we learn also from 2 Corinthians 1:20:

For all the promises of God find their Yes in him [in Christ]. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory (2 Corinthians 1:20).

So, the promises were given to Christ who is Abraham’s offspring and were fulfilled in Christ who is also Abraham’s offspring. The promises were given to Christ and fulfilled in Christ. But Paul also takes it a further step in the same chapter. Galatians 3:9 says:

Those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith (Galatians 3:9).

And then in verses 13-14 he says,

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” —

And then verse 14 is so important,

… so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:13-14).

Paul here tells us that we, as believers in Christ, receive Abraham’s blessing by faith, the promises given to Abraham. That is why Jesus for example said, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Even Abraham himself, as we learn from Hebrews 11, was not looking forward to the land as the final fulfillment of the Lord’s promises to him. That’s why we learn that, “he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” We also learn from Hebrews 11 that the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “all died not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” So, although the fathers and then Israel possessed the land of Canaan, they lived as strangers on earth, for they desired a better heavenly country.

National Unity in the Book of Joshua

How is the theme of national unity highlighted in the book of Joshua, for instance, in stories like the construction of an altar by the Transjordan tribes?

Answer:

From the beginning of the book of Joshua, the Lord asserts that all Israel be consecrated before the Lord, and all Israel be prepared for war, and all Israel be united in worshiping the Lord. That’s why, for example, in chapter 22 we see that the tribes to the east of the Jordan — the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh — built for themselves an altar as a witness before the Lord. The rest of the tribes, on the west side of the Jordan, thought that these tribes had rebelled against the Lord by building an altar other than the one in the tabernacle of Moses. What happened is that Joshua addressed this issue by sending Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, and sent with him ten chiefs of Israel to evaluate the situation. The result was a reassurance of the unity of all Israel in their worship of the Lord. Consequently, the unity of Israel — all Israel together — was very important regarding conquering the land, distributing the land, and worshiping the Lord. It was a very important issue before the Lord.