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Dec 7, 2017

AMOS 5-6:
One device that Amos used in yesterday’s reading was rhetorical questions. He asked a whole series of them like this one:

3:4 GNT Does a lion roar in the forest unless he has found a victim?

All of his rhetorical questions expect the unspoken answer, No. And they all led up to this one:

Amo. 3:8 NLT The lion has roared—
so who isn’t frightened?
The Sovereign LORD has spoken—
so who can refuse to proclaim his message?

And, surprisingly, the message the Lord proclaimed next was an invitation to Israel’s enemies to come and witness Israel’s destruction. After the unforgettable denunciation against Israel’s wealthy women— whom he calls ‘cows’, he lists some of the previous acts of judgment against Israel— things like drought. And after each one are the words, “but you still would not return to me.” Chapter 4 ended with these awesome words:

Amo. 4:12 GNT “So then, people of Israel, I am going to punish you. And because I am going to do this, get ready to face my judgment!”
13 God is the one who made the mountains
and created the winds.
He makes his thoughts known to people;
he changes day into night.
He walks on the heights of the earth.
This is his name: the Lord God Almighty!

God continued speaking in Isaiah 46 about how He alone reveals his plans to mankind through prophecy. The section about Babylon’s idols being led off on a heavy ox cart was dripping with irony:

Is. 46:1 GNT “This is the end for Babylon's gods!
Bel and Nebo once were worshiped,
but now they are loaded on donkeys,
a burden for the backs of tired animals.
2 NLT Both the idols and their owners are bowed down.
The gods cannot protect the people,
and the people cannot protect the gods.
They go off into captivity together.

Thomas Constable points out that 3rd John is the shortest letter in the New Testament and it is also the most personal. Certainly 2nd Timothy, for instance, was an intensely personal letter, but at the end, Paul greeted everyone— showing that he knew his letter would be read to the church or churches. In 3rd John, the recipient seems to be Gaius alone, and this letter follows a pattern like a normal secular letter of the time— not including a ‘grace and peace’ salutation that Paul seems to have made standard for Christian letters. The time of the writing and the themes of this letter are like John’s two other letters.

GNT Translation notes:
3Jn. 1:3 I was so happy when some [fellow believers//Christians] arrived and told me how faithful you are to the truth—just as you always live in the truth.
5 My dear friend, you are so faithful in the work you do for other [brothers and sisters in Christ//Christians], even when they are strangers.
8 We [believers//Christians], then, must help these people, so that we may share in their work for the truth.
10 When I come, then, I will bring up everything he has done: the terrible things he says about us and the lies he tells! But that is not enough for him; he will not receive the [travelling brothers who minister in the name of Christ//Christians] when they come, and even stops those who want to receive them and tries to drive them out of the church!