Spirit Calling

How to hear the voice of God in Old Testament prophecy

I’ve been skiing exactly one time in my life, during an eighth-grade field trip. On the way to the Wisconsin ski resort, I remember thinking, How hard could it be to slide down a snowy hill?

Brimming with the unbridled optimism of a 13-year-old, I clomped in my rental skis from the lodge to the bunny hill, the beginner’s slope that was about as steep as the driveway at my parents’ suburban home. I spent most of that long, cold afternoon proving the power of gravity as I fell again and again. I was bruised and weary by the end of the day and on the bus home decided to retire from my skiing career.

When I watch the Winter Olympics, I recall my miserable experience as I witness world-class skiers slicing down impossibly steep inclines. Those slopes, tagged with double black diamond signs, warn all but experts away from dangerous runs.

I suspect there are some Christians who approach their Bibles by ranking different sections of Scripture in the same way ski resorts mark their trails: beginner, intermediate, expert, and “Seriously! This is for the pros!” The analogy breaks down a bit because even the most familiar passages of Scripture aren’t necessarily simple when it comes to how we understand, obey, and live them. But the narrative of Genesis, the music of the psalms, or the frank directives of Paul’s letters seem more accessible to most Bible readers than the prophetic books of the Old Testament. Are these books exclusively the domain of Bible experts like pastors, theology professors, and historians?

There are no loopholes in the call to handle the Word of God correctly. (See 2 Tim. 2:15.) The prophetic books cover nearly a third of the pages in our Bibles, and they reference people, places, and things that may not be familiar to contemporary readers. The good news is that with a bit of orientation, these rich books allow us to see afresh the way in which our just, loving God responds to both the faithful and the rebellious. They also let us hear more plainly His unchanging call to return wholeheartedly to Him.

Written for whom?

There are a few common ways in which beginning readers of the prophetic books can veer off course and miss the message of these writings. The first is to dip into biblical prophetic literature to pull verses for modern, personal application. This usually flows from the best of intentions, such as a desire to encourage someone with a word straight from Scripture. (I’ve done it myself.) However, when we cherry-pick from passages that seem to echo our own sentiments, we can develop a habit of thinking the prophetic books are all about us.

Are the prophetic books exclusively the domain of Bible experts like pastors, theology professors, and historians?

Imagine the prophet Jeremiah entering a Christian bookstore and seeing a few words from his message to Israel emblazoned on a graduation card. When he proclaimed, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jer. 29:11), he was speaking to the chosen people living in captivity in Babylon. They had no hope of ever being able to return home. But Jeremiah brought word that as they accepted God’s discipline for their unfaithfulness to Him, they would learn of His unchanging faithfulness.

A second way we veer off course is by indulging in “ripped from today’s headlines!” speculation. Certain streams in the church are fixated on analyzing prophetic passages that point toward the end times, with the purpose of having the inside track on how things will all come down. I suspect most of these self-proclaimed prophecy experts mean well. They want to prepare modern audiences to be ready for the Lord’s return.

A generation ago, a former NASA engineer turned Bible prophecy teacher named Edgar Whisenant had thousands of believers convinced that Jesus would return during the Jewish feast of trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) in 1988. His elaborate dating system was a mash-up of Bible passages, modern calendars, and current events tied to the founding date of the modern State of Israel. Throughout history, there have been end-times date-setting movements within the church, as well as cults that may have started in the church but eventually moved outside the bounds of theological orthodoxy. The temptation to decode blood moons and modern geopolitical movements through ancient prophecy is often rooted in our fear of the future, especially when the present seems to be growing ever darker.

The penchant for some prophecy buffs to attempt to decode passages like the 70 “weeks” of Daniel 9:24-27, or to relentlessly seek proof the end is near from this or that current event, misses the larger story the prophets have been proclaiming for over 2,500 years. As Bible scholars Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart noted, less than one percent of the passages in the prophets point to events yet to happen at that point in history: “The prophets did announce the future. But it was usually the immediate future of Israel, Judah, and other nations surrounding them that they announced, rather than our future. One of the keys to understanding … therefore, is that for us to see their prophecies fulfilled, we must look back upon times which for them were still future but for us are past.”

Beyond the Bunny Slope

The Old Testament has different types of God-breathed literature, collected over the span of more than a thousand years. The first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Pentateuch (“five scrolls” in Greek), contain God’s revelation of Himself through the Law. The historical books, which span Joshua through Esther in our Bibles, detail the way in which God’s covenant people, Israel, responded to the Law and the Lawgiver. The wisdom and poetic writings, including Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon, offer us the full human scope of devotional response to God. The final grouping of books contains the prophetic writings, and these describe the way in which God the Lawgiver deals with both His covenant people and the surrounding nations—when they obeyed, and when they violated, His good call to love and obey Him.

It can be helpful to keep these categories in mind when we consider how to approach the prophetic books. Even as we affirm that all Scripture is divinely inspired, we must recognize that different genres of biblical literature require us to read them in light of their style as well as their purpose.

The 16 books attributed to the prophets underscore for readers the way in which obedience to God carries with it blessing, and disobedience to Him carries grave consequences. These books also highlight that God is in the reclamation business, offering a way of return to Him throughout. Sometimes, the books are subdivided into the categories of major and minor prophets. Isaiah, Jeremiah (and the book of Lamentations, ascribed to Jeremiah), Daniel, and Ezekiel are called major prophets, only by virtue of the length of their collected messages. Additional prophetic literature in the Old Testament consists of 12 small-in-size books that have been dubbed “minor prophets.” Their oracles may have been shorter in length, but they carried the same divine DNA as the longer books.

These books highlight that God is in the reclamation business, offering a way of return to Him throughout.

For some of us, the word prophecy conjures images of future forecasting. In the Bible, however, the primary role of the prophet was simply to speak for God. There have always been men and women who have been used by God to speak His word to their community. These include Samuel, Nathan, Miriam, and Deborah. (See 1 Samuel 3:1-21; 2 Sam. 12:1-31; Ex. 15:20; and Judg. 4:4.)

The men who would become known to us as the writing prophets came onto the scene in the years after King Solomon died (around BC 931). A power struggle between Jeroboam and Solomon’s son Rehoboam split the nation of Israel in two. (See 1 Kings 12:1-33; 2 Chronicles 10:1-19.) Rehoboam became king over the southern territory containing Jerusalem—land that had been allotted to the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. This new nation became known as Judah. Jeroboam ruled over the region allotted to the other 10 tribes, and this nation continued to be known as Israel. This massive family feud and the subsequent moral decay in both kingdoms led to the rise of the writing prophets’ ministry, from approximately BC 890 to BC 440. Authors Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen note, “The prophetic office thus appears in Israel as a counterbalance to the powerful office of kingship … we often find a prophet in bitter confrontation with the king of his day.”

Truth Showdowns

Understanding when, where, and to whom a prophet was speaking can offer a helpful framework for understanding the nature of that confrontation. Academics have varying opinions about the dating of some of these books, so I present the dates below to give you a general sense of the flow of events surrounding each man’s ministry.

After the nation divided in the years following Solomon’s death, the northern and southern kingdoms followed similar trajectories, but at different speeds.

 

Israel: In the two and a half centuries or so after the split, Israel was ruled by a series of 19 kings who mixed and matched parts of God’s Law with the religion of pagan neighboring nations, a flagrant violation of the first commandment (Ex. 20:3-4). Hard-hearted Israel refused to listen to the prophets’ call to turn back to God. In BC 722, the Assyrians conquered Israel. The invading army carried the best of them into slavery and dispersed the rest of the people among Assyria’s landholdings. Because of spiritual compromise, the Israelites were predisposed to assimilation and lost their unique identity as chosen people within a couple of generations.

Judah: After the division of the land, Judah fared only marginally better than her sibling to the north. Perhaps because of the presence of the temple in Jerusalem, Judah’s spiritual decline through compromise and idolatry was a bit slower. God sent Judah a series of prophets calling for a return to God, but their words fell on deaf ears, and by BC 586 the Babylonians had conquered the southern kingdom. In the Law, one of God’s promised consequences for disobedience was that the chosen people would be uprooted from the Promised Land (Deut. 28:15-68).

In what must have seemed at the time an impossible promise, the prophet Jeremiah spoke these words to his heartsick people as they were being uprooted from their homes in Judah and marched hundreds of miles into Babylon: “For thus says the Lord, ‘When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good promise to you, to bring you back to this place’” (Jer. 29:10).

For some of us, the word prophecy conjures images of future forecasting. In the Bible, however, the primary role of the prophet was simply to speak for God.

In BC 538 Cyrus, the Persian who’d become ruler of Babylon, miraculously gave his permission for captives to return home. A good number of the Jewish people stayed on in Babylon (what is now modern-day Iraq) for the next 2,500 years, until shortly after World War II, when the community was uprooted by persecution.

The historical books of Ezra and Nehemiah describe the subsequent return to Judah and rebuilding of Jerusalem. A quick skim of those books is a stark reminder that despite the joy of being restored to their homeland, the people’s propensity to wander from God was only one spiritual compromise away.

Not for Experts Only

Parts of Scripture may seem to become double black diamond slopes when the reality that we need additional tools and expert guidance crashes into our expectations. If the Bible is God’s love letter to us, its meaning should be clear and simple, right? Fee and Stuart challenge those assumptions: “In accordance with the fact that God’s thoughts are profound compared with human thoughts (Psalm 92:5; Isa. 55:8), it should not be surprising that some parts of the Bible will require time and patient study to understand.”

The books penned by the prophets are definitely in that category. Modern readers will find a Bible dictionary or Bible handbook of value in order to get a sense of the historical setting, the prophet’s background (if known), and a general outline of the book. In addition, a good commentary or two will offer insight as to the prophet’s message, shades of meaning in the original language, and cultural information.

For instance, Amos, prophet to the northern kingdom, addresses the sins of Israel’s neighbors as well as those of Judah and Israel. He uses the phrase “for three transgressions of [place] and for four” a total of eight times in the first two chapters of his oracle, as he names the sins of each people group. The number four was used in literature of the period to represent all aspects of a thing, such as the four seasons or the four phases of the moon. In his commentary on Amos, Bob Utley explains that in the Old Testament, the number four represented compass directions, wind directions, or corners of the earth. “From these came its implied meaning of completeness or fullness. Also the numbers three and four equals seven, which is another OT way to show completeness; the sins of these nations were full/complete!” Such information adds richness to the meaning of Amos’ rhythmic numerical pronouncements.

Doing a bit of homework not only gives us insight into the prophets’ messages; it will also illumine our reading of the New Testament, which contains at least 99 direct quotations from the prophets. Jesus honored the prophets as ones who faithfully expressed the heart and goodness of the Law. When a first-century religious expert questioned Jesus about what He thought was the greatest commandment in the Law, Jesus replied, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37-40). The prophetic books were a part of the Bible Jesus read, and they were integral to His ministry.

I affirm Fee and Stuart’s encouragement to avail yourself of study tools to orient yourself to the prophetic books. But I believe that even without such resources, you can glean much from these books if you approach your reading with a seeker’s heart—one that comes to Old Testament prophecy with questions such as:

• To whom were these words originally addressed?
• What behaviors and beliefs did God commend?
• What did He condemn?
• What warnings of discipline or consequences did God give to the people He was addressing?
• What promises did He make to the people?
• What do I discover about the character of God?
• Are there areas of my life that need to change as a result of the words I’ve read?

Historical context is a great help, but it is essential to remember that God hasn’t changed. The words of the prophets regarding God’s character and the kind of relationship He wants with us are just as timely today as they were at the moment they were given. The call to repent and return to God in order to live a life of single-minded devotion to Him has no expiration date.

He promised the Holy Spirit would lead us into truth (John 16:13-14). Doing our homework is important when it comes to the study of the prophets, but it is essential that we seek to listen to the Spirit’s voice in our journey through these books. He is our faithful Guide and Teacher, and for that very reason, the prophetic books of the Bible are not something reserved for experts only; they are meant for each of us.

 

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15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

11 For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, `plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.

24 Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy place.

25 So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress.

26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined.

27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate."

1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD before Eli. And word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent.

2 It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well),

3 and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was,

4 that the LORD called Samuel; and he said, Here I am."

5 Then he ran to Eli and said, Here I am, for you called me." But he said, I did not call, lie down again." So he went and lay down.

6 The LORD called yet again, Samuel!" So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, Here I am, for you called me." But he answered, I did not call, my son, lie down again."

7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor had the word of the LORD yet been revealed to him.

8 So the LORD called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, Here I am, for you called me." Then Eli discerned that the LORD was calling the boy.

9 And Eli said to Samuel, Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, `Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, Speak, for Your servant is listening."

11 The LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.

12 In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.

13 For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them.

14 Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever."

15 So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli.

16 Then Eli called Samuel and said, Samuel, my son." And he said, Here I am."

17 He said, What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you."

18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD; let Him do what seems good to Him."

19 Thus Samuel grew and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fail.

20 All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD.

21 And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

1 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him and said, There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.

2 The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.

3 But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb Which he bought and nourished; And it grew up together with him and his children. It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom, And was like a daughter to him.

4 Now a traveler came to the rich man, And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd, To prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him; Rather he took the poor man's ewe lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."

5 Then David's anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die.

6 He must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion."

7 Nathan then said to David, You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel, `It is I who anointed you king over Israel and it is I who delivered you from the hand of Saul.

8 I also gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your care, and I gave you the house of Israel and Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added to you many more things like these!

9 Why have you despised the word of the LORD by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the sons of Ammon.

10 Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.'

11 Thus says the LORD, `Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household; I will even take your wives before your eyes and give them to your companion, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.

12 Indeed you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and under the sun.'"

13 Then David said to Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, The LORD also has taken away your sin; you shall not die.

14 However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die."

15 So Nathan went to his house. Then the LORD struck the child that Uriah's widow bore to David, so that he was very sick.

16 David therefore inquired of God for the child; and David fasted and went and lay all night on the ground.

17 The elders of his household stood beside him in order to raise him up from the ground, but he was unwilling and would not eat food with them.

18 Then it happened on the seventh day that the child died. And the servants of David were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they said, Behold, while the child was still alive, we spoke to him and he did not listen to our voice. How then can we tell him that the child is dead, since he might do himself harm!"

19 But when David saw that his servants were whispering together, David perceived that the child was dead; so David said to his servants, Is the child dead?" And they said, He is dead."

20 So David arose from the ground, washed, anointed himself, and changed his clothes; and he came into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he came to his own house, and when he requested, they set food before him and he ate.

21 Then his servants said to him, What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food."

22 He said, While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, `Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.'

23 But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me."

24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and went in to her and lay with her; and she gave birth to a son, and he named him Solomon. Now the LORD loved him

25 and sent word through Nathan the prophet, and he named him Jedidiah for the LORD'S sake.

26 Now Joab fought against Rabbah of the sons of Ammon and captured the royal city.

27 Joab sent messengers to David and said, I have fought against Rabbah, I have even captured the city of waters.

28 Now therefore, gather the rest of the people together and camp against the city and capture it, or I will capture the city myself and it will be named after me."

29 So David gathered all the people and went to Rabbah, fought against it and captured it.

30 Then he took the crown of their king from his head; and its weight was a talent of gold, and in it was a precious stone; and it was placed on David's head. And he brought out the spoil of the city in great amounts.

31 He also brought out the people who were in it, and set them under saws, sharp iron instruments, and iron axes, and made them pass through the brickkiln. And thus he did to all the cities of the sons of Ammon. Then David and all the people returned to Jerusalem.

20 Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing.

4 Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth, was judging Israel at that time.

1 Then Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king.

2 Now when Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it, he was living in Egypt (for he was yet in Egypt, where he had fled from the presence of King Solomon).

3 Then they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and spoke to Rehoboam, saying,

4 Your father made our yoke hard; now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you."

5 Then he said to them, Depart for three days, then return to me." So the people departed.

6 King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, How do you counsel me to answer this people?"

7 Then they spoke to him, saying, If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever."

8 But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him.

9 So he said to them, What counsel do you give that we may answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, `Lighten the yoke which your father put on us'?"

10 The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, Thus you shall say to this people who spoke to you, saying, `Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!' But you shall speak to them, `My little finger is thicker than my father's loins!

11 Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.'"

12 Then Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day as the king had directed, saying, Return to me on the third day."

13 The king answered the people harshly, for he forsook the advice of the elders which they had given him,

14 and he spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions."

15 So the king did not listen to the people; for it was a turn of events from the LORD, that He might establish His word, which the LORD spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

16 When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse; To your tents, O Israel! Now look after your own house, David!" So Israel departed to their tents.

17 But as for the sons of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.

18 Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the forced labor, and all Israel stoned him to death. And King Rehoboam made haste to mount his chariot to flee to Jerusalem.

19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

20 It came about when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had returned, that they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. None but the tribe of Judah followed the house of David.

21 Now when Rehoboam had come to Jerusalem, he assembled all the house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin, 180,000 chosen men who were warriors, to fight against the house of Israel to restore the kingdom to Rehoboam the son of Solomon.

22 But the word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God, saying,

23 Speak to Rehoboam the son of Solomon, king of Judah, and to all the house of Judah and Benjamin and to the rest of the people, saying,

24 Thus says the LORD, You must not go up and fight against your relatives the sons of Israel; return every man to his house, for this thing has come from Me."'" So they listened to the word of the LORD, and returned and went their way according to the word of the LORD.

25 Then Jeroboam built Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and lived there. And he went out from there and built Penuel.

26 Jeroboam said in his heart, Now the kingdom will return to the house of David.

27 If this people go up to offer sacrifices in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then the heart of this people will return to their lord, even to Rehoboam king of Judah; and they will kill me and return to Rehoboam king of Judah."

28 So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt."

29 He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.

30 Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan.

31 And he made houses on high places, and made priests from among all the people who were not of the sons of Levi.

32 Jeroboam instituted a feast in the eighth month on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast which is in Judah, and he went up to the altar; thus he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves which he had made. And he stationed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made.

33 Then he went up to the altar which he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day in the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised in his own heart; and he instituted a feast for the sons of Israel and went up to the altar to burn incense.

1 Then Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king.

2 When Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was in Egypt where he had fled from the presence of King Solomon), Jeroboam returned from Egypt.

3 So they sent and summoned him. When Jeroboam and all Israel came, they spoke to Rehoboam, saying,

4 Your father made our yoke hard; now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke which he put on us, and we will serve you."

5 He said to them, Return to me again in three days." So the people departed.

6 Then King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, How do you counsel me to answer this people?"

7 They spoke to him, saying, If you will be kind to this people and please them and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever."

8 But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him.

9 So he said to them, What counsel do you give that we may answer this people, who have spoken to me, saying, `Lighten the yoke which your father put on us'?"

10 The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, Thus you shall say to the people who spoke to you, saying, `Your father made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter for us.' Thus you shall say to them, `My little finger is thicker than my father's loins!

11 Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.'"

12 So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam on the third day as the king had directed, saying, Return to me on the third day."

13 The king answered them harshly, and King Rehoboam forsook the counsel of the elders.

14 He spoke to them according to the advice of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to it; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions."

15 So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of events from God that the LORD might establish His word, which He spoke through Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

16 When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them the people answered the king, saying, What portion do we have in David? We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse. Every man to your tents, O Israel; Now look after your own house, David." So all Israel departed to their tents.

17 But as for the sons of Israel who lived in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them.

18 Then King Rehoboam sent Hadoram, who was over the forced labor, and the sons of Israel stoned him to death. And King Rehoboam made haste to mount his chariot to flee to Jerusalem.

19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

3 You shall have no other gods before Me.

4 You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.

15 But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes with which I charge you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:

16 Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.

17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

18 Cursed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.

19 Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.

20 The LORD will send upon you curses, confusion, and rebuke, in all you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken Me.

21 The LORD will make the pestilence cling to you until He has consumed you from the land where you are entering to possess it.

22 The LORD will smite you with consumption and with fever and with inflammation and with fiery heat and with the sword and with blight and with mildew, and they will pursue you until you perish.

23 The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron.

24 The LORD will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.

25 The LORD shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you will go out one way against them, but you will flee seven ways before them, and you will be an example of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.

26 Your carcasses will be food to all birds of the sky and to the beasts of the earth, and there will be no one to frighten them away.

27 The LORD will smite you with the boils of Egypt and with tumors and with the scab and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed.

28 The LORD will smite you with madness and with blindness and with bewilderment of heart;

29 and you will grope at noon, as the blind man gropes in darkness, and you will not prosper in your ways; but you shall only be oppressed and robbed continually, with none to save you.

30 You shall betroth a wife, but another man will violate her; you shall build a house, but you will not live in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but you will not use its fruit.

31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you will not eat of it; your donkey shall be torn away from you, and will not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you will have none to save you.

32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and yearn for them continually; but there will be nothing you can do.

33 A people whom you do not know shall eat up the produce of your ground and all your labors, and you will never be anything but oppressed and crushed continually.

34 You shall be driven mad by the sight of what you see.

35 The LORD will strike you on the knees and legs with sore boils, from which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head.

36 The LORD will bring you and your king, whom you set over you, to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone.

37 You shall become a horror, a proverb, and a taunt among all the people where the LORD drives you.

38 You shall bring out much seed to the field but you will gather in little, for the locust will consume it.

39 You shall plant and cultivate vineyards, but you will neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes, for the worm will devour them.

40 You shall have olive trees throughout your territory but you will not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives will drop off.

41 You shall have sons and daughters but they will not be yours, for they will go into captivity.

42 The cricket shall possess all your trees and the produce of your ground.

43 The alien who is among you shall rise above you higher and higher, but you will go down lower and lower.

44 He shall lend to you, but you will not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you will be the tail.

45 So all these curses shall come on you and pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the LORD your God by keeping His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you.

46 They shall become a sign and a wonder on you and your descendants forever.

47 Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things;

48 therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you.

49 The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,

50 a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young.

51 Moreover, it shall eat the offspring of your herd and the produce of your ground until you are destroyed, who also leaves you no grain, new wine, or oil, nor the increase of your herd or the young of your flock until they have caused you to perish.

52 It shall besiege you in all your towns until your high and fortified walls in which you trusted come down throughout your land, and it shall besiege you in all your towns throughout your land which the LORD your God has given you.

53 Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom the LORD your God has given you, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you.

54 The man who is refined and very delicate among you shall be hostile toward his brother and toward the wife he cherishes and toward the rest of his children who remain,

55 so that he will not give even one of them any of the flesh of his children which he will eat, since he has nothing else left, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you in all your towns.

56 The refined and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground for delicateness and refinement, shall be hostile toward the husband she cherishes and toward her son and daughter,

57 and toward her afterbirth which issues from between her legs and toward her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of anything else, during the siege and the distress by which your enemy will oppress you in your towns.

58 If you are not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the LORD your God,

59 then the LORD will bring extraordinary plagues on you and your descendants, even severe and lasting plagues, and miserable and chronic sicknesses.

60 He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt of which you were afraid, and they will cling to you.

61 Also every sickness and every plague which, not written in the book of this law, the LORD will bring on you until you are destroyed.

62 Then you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, because you did not obey the LORD your God.

63 It shall come about that as the LORD delighted over you to prosper you, and multiply you, so the LORD will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you; and you will be torn from the land where you are entering to possess it.

64 Moreover, the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.

65 Among those nations you shall find no rest, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot; but there the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and despair of soul.

66 So your life shall hang in doubt before you; and you will be in dread night and day, and shall have no assurance of your life.

67 In the morning you shall say, `Would that it were evening!' And at evening you shall say, `Would that it were morning!' because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you will see.

68 The LORD will bring you back to Egypt in ships, by the way about which I spoke to you, `You will never see it again!' And there you will offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but there will be no buyer."

10 For thus says the LORD, `When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place.

5 How great are Your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep.

8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD.

37 And He said to him, `YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.'

38 This is the great and foremost commandment.

39 The second is like it, `YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'

40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

14 He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.

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