Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Timeline for this Week

This week we will begin reading 4 new books of the Bible: Joel, Hosea, Jude, and I John. Let's consider a brief synopsis for each and try to place them within a historical timeline.

Not much is known about the author, Joel, himself other than what he tells us (which isn't much). Nor can a definite period of time although it is assumed that this is a pre-exilic book since the Babylonians and/or Assyrians are not mentioned. Judah and Israel were often being invaded or experiencing border skirmishes with neighboring countries like Philistia, Syria, or Tyre. Not much has changed through the centuries, has it? Just some of the names.

It is probable that the land was also plagued by a literal swarm of locusts, grasshopper type insects, that consumed all of the growing vegetation and ravished the land. This literal occurrence was the object lesson that Joel then used as the basis of his prophecy. Joel's theme is the Day of the Lord. Like many prophecies in the Old Testament, there are multiple times of fulfillment. Peter mentioned Joel's prophecy in Acts chapter 2 but this would only be an example of a time yet to come.

Another of the minor prophets, Hosea, seemed to have been used by the Lord for a lengthy period of time having spanned the reign of several kings and in both the northern and southern kingdoms. (The term "minor" prophet has to do with the length of the prophecy and in no way implies that the message or the messenger were unimportant!) Like Joel, little is known about the actual man, Hosea, other than what is given in the first verse. The time the man lived and prophesied can be determined by the same verse.

The theme of Hosea is God's faithfulness in spite of man's unfaithfulness. God used Hosea's own marriage to an adulterous woman as the object lesson.

Like the author of the book of James, Jude was one of the half-brothers that came to believe on Jesus as the Messiah after having witnessed the events of the death, burial, and resurrection. One can only imagine what a shock it must have been for these siblings who were formerly embarrassed by their outspoken older brother to be faced with the evidence that He was Who He said He was! Once confronted they became His followers and outspoken witnesses themselves. As a matter of fact, encouraging others to become outspoken about their faith, and fighting to protect the integrity of the true faith, was the reason that Jude wrote his brief letter to believers.

It is not possible to place an exact date on the time of writing, but many feel that it was written after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 which would most likely place it between A.D. 70-80.

I John
Returning to the writings of John, the Beloved Apostle, whose writings were the first that we read at the beginning of our New Testament studies, we come to John's first epistle. While his gospel was an account of the life, ministry, and death of the Good Shepherd this book is more of the encouragement from an under shepherd to his sheep. Many of the word analogies of light, life, and love are reminiscent of his earlier writing. Also mentioned are his previous themes about the world, sonship, fellowship, and true belief.

John was the last surviving apostle. It is therefore believed that this letter was written about A.D. 90.

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Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Psalms 19:14 (KJV)