June 1


Joel 1

We are starting a new book in the Exile Stream today. We are reading from the Modern English Version this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

God’s response to the nations sinfulness is the theme that Joel is driving at.  There are hints of restoration and promises that God will come and pour Himself out and bless in ways the world had yet to see.  But the theme that arises in this book is “the day of the Lord.” The Lord is going to come and bless those who are His. He is also going to come and judge those who are against the Lord and His workings.  Many may remember those dreaded hours of in trepidation when they had disobeyed and mother when she stated, “wait until your father gets home!”  The time between that statement and the arrival was uh, rather stressful for youngsters.  There is an element of that here when Joel articulates “the day of the Lord.” They should be scared and/or in total awe of this imminent event.  Perhaps we are jumping ahead,  as we will be in Joel today and for the next two Wednesdays.  Be that as it may. It is one of the earlier prophecies to Judah.  It was written a century after the nation split [at the earliest]. ca. 830 B.C. nothing specific of the date is known beyond that.

1 – Joel is the son of Pethuel and that’s all that is assured of his identity.
A plague of locusts have stripped the country and the vineyards are devastated, the wheat harvest is gone, food is scarce and there is nothing to eat as well as there being nothing to sacrifice to the Lord on the altar.  The Lord is not concerned with that part -the absent sacrifices-  for the people have been offering sacrifices to God and yet having hearts that were NOT THERE.  They may as well be dropping an offering in the plate and then shaking their fists and hollering, “hey God, you got my offering now leave me alone this week, ok!, you hear me, ‘sky-guy’ ?”     … pretty bad, huh? yes it is. So God is getting their attention  These locusts left nothing green and Joel is using the situation to teach a colossal lesson.        Joel, speaking for God, wants repentance. He wants Judah to change and have a transformed heart for Him.  He wants prayer, a mind for him, fasting, He wants Judah seeking His face.  God is dead serious with these Judeans.  He wants them hungry for Him, and he’s made them hungry to prove His point.  The granaries and storehouses are empty as are the fields, the animals are so hungry that they are dizzy, the grasses have been devoured by fire. Joel states some rather piercing symbolism when he writes that even the beasts of the field are longing for God.  Now to get the Judeans to long for God – it’s a great plan, but how?

May 25


Hosea 13-14

Today we finish the book of Hosea in the Exile Stream. We are reading from the New International Version this week.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Lord we hear your heart today in this – Hosea’s finale~  You so long to bless and heal and be with and shower good upon your own.  May we be a people who hear and obey and let you touch our lives.  Amen.
We finished the words of Hosea today.  He began his ministry around 760 B.C. and prophesied to the northern Kingdom until it’s final end in 722 B.C.   He lived in the north and, by God’s command, lived in and among the Israelites; a nation turned completely pagan.  Hosea knew the pain that this paganism was causing God. The adultery hit home even for him as his wife was committed to adultery as a lifestyle.  He had seen seven kings come and go. All were wretched.

13 – The people of the north had been so regal (until rebelling). Ephraim was a noteworthy place – once upon a time it was noteworthy for a good reason – now it is noteworthy for a bad reason. The Kingdom splitting was the occasion for calf worship to be instituted. [This was ca. 160 years before Hosea showed up.]  Jeroboam wanted all loyalty to be up north and away from the Temple. <–[This was the late 900’s B.C.] About two generations later, King Ahab added Baal worship to the calf worship. The calf worship started the spiritual bleeding whereas with the Baal worship, an artery had been “nicked”.  The story of Ahab doing this is told in I Kings 16:30-33. Ahab had been gone for just over a century now and Israel was about to bleed out and be a lifeless place. The death of a nation is at hand. And this is what Hosea is speaking to to begin the reading today.  They will be pounced as if by a wild animal, the wells will go dry, even the babies will draw no compassion from the hoards that will pour in to kill everything they see.

14 – It has been a terrible 200 years for Israel.  “The curtain” is about to be drawn. Not much good at all if any has come out of a land that has dedicated itself to being rebellious to the Lord, to the south, to the Temple and all else that God stands for. The Assyrians are coming. Israel will be decimated. This is where rebellion ends up 100% of the time when God is being rebelled against.  Does that make God mean? Not at all. Listen to the beauty of what God wants to do with His people. Were His people to repent, all would be forgiven. And He still beckons them to repent!  Their gracious God would heal them and their wayward hearts. They would be loved and know love.  Wow, were they to listen to God -the wonders and rejuvenation, the communication with God, the fruitfulness – good heavens what can happen at the hands of a loving God!  God wants them to walk again; walk with Him. This invitation stands for all of us.

May 18


Hosea 11-12

We are in the Exile Stream and reading from the Common English Bible.

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Dear Lord,

We know that You are compassionate to those who follow after You. We want to follow You. Help us to stay on the straight and narrow and to not be distracted by the temptations of this world. May Your compassion flow through us to reach more for Your Kingdom. Amen.

Just to pause for some review, Hosea was sent as the final prophet to the North; to Israel.  They split from the south because they were tired of the taxes and of being told by the new young leaders [in the south] that taxes would only go up; way up. To secure the division, the north (Israel) had set up the the golden calf as their national symbol and had immersed themselves in Baal worship. This deliberate paganism was a 200 year run from ca. 920 BC to 720 BC.  During these two centuries God sent Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Amos and finally Hosea.  All tried to get the northern Kingdom to repent of its idol worship. It was as feckless of results as trying to get dogs to stop digging through garbage or to keep pigs out of mud. ?How to get these people to stop their transgressions? We read Hosea 11 and 12 today and will finish Hosea next week.

11 – begins that God called his son out of Egypt. This is a theme; a motif in the long process of redemption.  Moses was called out of Egypt, the Israelites were called/delivered out of Egypt, Jesus was called out of Egypt as a toddler when the angel told Joseph/Mary to return to Israel now since Herod was gone.  The phrase “Leaving Egypt” can virtually mean to depart from slavery and come into freedom. God had called Israel out of slavery and … they dove back into it around 920 B.C. and told themselves that they were doing this to symbolize their independence. It’s quite the “whirling dervish” mentality and it wasn’t taking them where they might have thought it would.

God has cared for them for so long; from the start! and all they do is run away. They are a frustration to God.  And since they think it’s their right to dabble in spiritual slavery, they will return to slavery. Assyria will swarm in and when the swords flash all over over their country it won’t be some display or Memorial Day exposition.  Swords will flash for their death! Horror of horrors. God really doesn’t want to see this happen to Israel, his chosen people. But what is God to do when Israel has chosen wrong? The two mentioned cities of Admah and Zeboiim were sister cities of Sodom/Gomorrah, mentioned in Gen. 10:19. They had joined in S Gs’ sin.  They were burned into oblivion too in Genesis along with the other ungodly populations. Again, God doesn’t want to treat Israel this way but what choice is Israel’s behavior offering to God when they had joined in such diabolical behavior? Their satanic behavior must be addressed. Does God love them? He never stopped loving them. This is pain for the divine one who would so prefer to save them.  However their life of lies cannot go on.

12 – Ephraim, in Israel (remember Absalom and his army perishing in the forests of Ephraim a few days ago?) Ephraim was a cultural center in Israel.  Let’s put it this way, they put the “cult” in cultural. At any rate, Ephraim is doing deals with Egypt and Assyria (both menacing countries on either side of them) and they are thinking that they are going to triangulate a clever deal and thereby keep punishment at bay. It is as if they think that some tricky chess playing or maneuvering is going to keep them out of trouble. They were being like Jacob; Israel their forefather who was constantly conjuring something v.s. dealing with matters in a forthright manner. God had dynamically met Jacob at Bethel [Gen. 28] – now that area is “sin-central”, they are ungodly in every way.  God has worked so long to establish His people in Israel but they seem to prefer to return to lostness.  They will, – and blood is going to be spilt.

Don’t you wish things had gone differently? Yeah. God does too.