July 10 — Isaiah 5-8 — Woes (about 739 – 734 BC). Six times in Isa. 5, judgment is announced on people who insist on holding on to sin and rejecting God. Each of the six, beginning with, “Woe to …,” refers to people who strive for material things (5:8), who run after alcohol (vv. 11, 20), who are bound by sin (v. 18), who switch good and evil (v. 20), and who think they are wise (v. 21). What they strive for results in judgment. There is one other “woe,” which comes from the lips of the prophet himself, however, this one is not “woe to …” but “woe is …” The difference is that the “woe to” statements are for people who want to hang onto their sin and the “Woe is me!” (6:5) statement is from one who wants to be cleansed of sin. Isaiah saw the holiness of God and he was shamed in comparison. Sometimes we want to hang onto our sin more than we want to share in the holiness of God. On the one side, there is only judgment and regret; on the other side, there is forgiveness and relief. Remember that when you are tempted to follow the things the world runs toward!
July 11 — Amos 1-5 — Seek God to Live (about 766 BC). Amos lived at the same time as Isaiah. He was a simple shepherd and fig farmer (7:14) but God called him to deliver a surprising message to the northern kingdom of Israel less than 50 years before they would cease to be a nation. They had enjoyed relative peace and prosperity for many years, which they probably thought was God’s blessing on them because of His pleasure. Amos began his message by pronouncing judgment on Israel’s seven surrounding nations and I can just imagine them shouting, “Yes!” after each one. But the eighth judgment was for them. He listed five forms of discipline God had sent to turn them back to Him, “yet you did not return to me” (4:6, 8, 9, 10, 11). “Therefore,” God concluded, “prepare to meet your God!” (4:12) in judgment. They were still challenged to “Seek me and live” (5:4, 6) and “Seek good, and not evil, that you may live” (5:14). It is so much more pleasant and profitable to seek God than to be disciplined by Him.
July 12 — Amos 6-9 — Disciplined but Not Destroyed (about 766 BC). Israel had been very sinful. They were very proud (6:8), had trampled on the needy (8:4), and dealt “deceitfully with false balances” (8:5). In spite of feeling at ease and secure (6:1), they were in real trouble. Judgment time was coming soon for them. Three times they were told they would go into exile (6:7; 7:11, 17). Their destruction would not be complete, however. God said, “I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob” (9:8) but at a later time, “I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen … and rebuild it as in the days of old” (9:11). God’s discipline can be very severe but His purpose is always to bring people back to Him and restore them. That is the same way He works today, “spanking” us when we persist in doing wrong so we will stop and return to Him in love, obedience, and fellowship. As Paul said, we may be “struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:9).
July 13 — 2 Chron. 27, Isaiah 9-12 — Turning Away Anger (about 750 – 730 BC). Four times in these chapters, Isaiah said of God, “For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still” (9:12, 17, 21; 10:4). Why? What sins bring such anger from God? One is the sin of “pride and … arrogance of heart” (9:9). God hates that. Another is that of not turning to God after being disciplined by Him (9:13), which only increases the level of His discipline. A third sin is a general sin described as “wickedness” (9:18). God sees the wicked motives and intentions of our hearts. The last listed sin is taking advantage of others like the poor, widows, and orphans (10:2). God’s anger is stirred by our sins today as well. We should not wait for His discipline to get us back on track. Let us confess our sin as soon as we recognize it, turning to Him for forgiveness and restoration.
July 14 — Micah 1-7 — “But as for me …” (about 735 BC). Although Micah was a contemporary of other prophets like Isaiah, Hosea, and Jeremiah; he felt like a loner, standing up for God in the midst of an evil environment. He was from Judah but his call for repentance and warning of judgment applied also to the northern kingdom of Israel which fell to the Assyrians during the days of his ministry. His audience was calloused and proud, shouting him down: “Do not preach … disgrace will not overtake us” (2:6) and “Is not the LORD in the midst of us? No disaster shall come upon us” (3:11). Their yes-men prophets were crying, “Peace” (3:5). In the midst of this atmosphere of denial, Micah twice declared in contrast, “But as for me …” The first time, it was because he knew he was “filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD” (3:8). The second time, it was because he knew that “God will hear me” (7:7) when he prayed. You might sometimes feel like a stand-alone Micah in your workplace, family, neighborhood, school, etc., but you also need to remember that the Spirit of power dwells in you and God answers prayer.
July 15 — 2 Chron. 28, 2 Kings 16-17 — Misplaced Worship (about 742 – 722 BC). Judah’s King Ahaz was a very religious man but he was not careful about the object of his worship. He seemed to be superstitious. He made Baal images and even burned his own sons as offerings to false gods (2 Chron. 28:2-3). He “sacrificed … under every green tree” (v. 4), showing his enthusiasm for worship. When he visited the Assyrian king in Damascus, he admired his altar built for another god and had it copied for use in Jerusalem. That was a passion for worship but it had a misplaced focus. He turned his back on Yahweh, even shutting the doors of the temple (2 Chron. 28:25). God created mankind with a desire for worship and He also gave us a worship manual, the Law, but our default sinful nature urges us away from making Yahweh our only God. We can appreciate material things, family, time, etc., but we are not to worship them by placing them first in our attention and love. That is misplaced worship that will lead to destruction.
July 16 — Isaiah 13-17 — Pride Before a Fall (about 725 – 715 BC). These chapters contain oracles of judgment against four nations and pride is a significant factor for two of them. Babylon was a growing power in Isaiah’s time but they would not be strong enough to conquer Judah until about 100 years after Isaiah died. They would be judged for their pride that said, “I will ascend to heaven” (14:13), a passage also attributed to Satan’s boastful desire. A result of their punishment was that “It will never be inhabited or lived in for all generations” (13:20), which continues until today, 2,700 years later! “How you are fallen …!” (14:12) was the result of pride. Moab was the other nation inflicted with massive pride: “how proud he is! … his arrogance … his insolence … his idle boasting” (16:6). Moab also fell and ran to Judah for protection. Pride is tempting because it is motivated by our sinful and selfish nature. Flee from it or you will fall because of it—God will make sure that you do. God opposes the proud (James 4:6).