The terrible punishment (Am 6:12-6:14)

“Do horses run

On rocks?

Does one plow the sea

With oxen?

But you have turned

Justice

Into poison.

You have turned

The fruit of righteousness

Into wormwood.

You who rejoice

In Lo-debar!

You who say,

‘Have we not

By our own strength

Taken Karnaim

For ourselves?’

Indeed,

I am raising up

Against you

A nation.

O house of Israel!’

Says Yahweh!

The God of hosts!

They shall oppress you

From Lebo-Hamath

To the Wadi Arabah.”

Amos asked whether horses could run on rocks? Do you send oxen to plow the sea? While this may seem stupid, it is not sillier than turning justice into poison or the sweetness of righteousness into the bitterness of wormwood, which the Israelites had done. While the Israelite King Jeroboam II (783-743 BCE) had captured Lo-debar and Karnaim on the west side of the Jordan, that happiness would come to an end. They thought that they had done it by themselves. Now Yahweh, the God of heavenly armies, was going to send the Assyrians to wipe out the northern kingdom of the house of Israel, from its northern border in Syria at Lebo-Hamath to the southern border of the Wadi Arabah. Yahweh, the God of heavenly hosts, would put an end to the northern kingdom of Israel.

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The king will lose his kingdom (Dan 4:31-4:32)

“While the words

Were still

In the king’s mouth,

A voice

Came from heaven.

‘O King Nebuchadnezzar!

To you

It is declared!

The kingdom has departed

From you!

You shall be driven away

From human society!

Your dwelling

Shall be with

The animals

Of the field!

You shall be made

To eat grass

Like oxen!

Seven times,

It shall pass

Over you,

Until you have learned

That the Most High

Has sovereignty

Over the kingdoms

Of mortals!

He gives it

To whom he will.’”

While the prideful words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice from heaven told the king that he had lost his kingdom. His punishment was coming. He was going to be driven out from human society. He would live among the wild animals and eat grass like oxen. However, it would pass over him 7 times, until he realized that the Most High God ruled all the human kingdoms. Thus, God was able to give his kingdoms to whomever he wanted.

The king will lose his kingdom (Dan 4:24-4:25)

“‘This is the interpretation!

O king!

It is a decree

Of the Most High,

That has come upon

My lord!

The king!

You shall be driven away

From human society!

Your dwelling

Shall be with

The wild animals!

You shall be made

To eat grass

Like oxen!

You shall be bathed

With the dew

Of heaven!

Seven times

It shall pass

Over you,

Until you have learned

That the Most High

Has sovereignty

Over the kingdoms

Of mortals!

He gives it

To whom he will.’”

Daniel then gave his shocking interpretation of the watcher’s cry to the king. He said that this was a decree that came from the Most High God. The king, Daniel’s lord, would be driven away from human society. He was going to live with the wild animals. He was going to eat grass like oxen do. He would be washed in heavenly dew for 7 years, until he would come to recognize that the Most High God ruled over all the mortal kingdoms. God was able to give his kingdoms to whomever he wanted.

Opposition to worship cults (Isa 66:3-66:4)

“Whoever slaughters an ox is

Like one who kills a human being.

Whoever sacrifices a lamb is

Like one who breaks a dog’s neck.

Whoever presents a cereal offering is

Like one who offers swine’s blood.

Whoever makes a memorial offering

Of frankincense is

Like one who blesses an idol.

These have chosen their own ways.

They take delight in their abominations.

I also will choose to mock them.

I will bring upon them

What they fear.

Because,

When I called,

No one answered.

When I spoke

They did not listen.

But they did

What was evil in my sight.

They chose

What did not please me.”

Yahweh seems to rebuke those who sacrifice animals, saying that killing oxen is like killing humans. If they sacrificed lambs, they are sacrificing dogs. A grain offering was compared to unclean pig’s blood. The use of the frankincense was compared to worshiping idols. They have chosen their own ways that are an abomination to Yahweh. He would continue to mock and punish them because no one answered when he called. No one listened when he spoke. They continued to do evil and not please God.

Peaceful times (Isa 65:24-65:25)

“‘Before they call,

I will answer.

While they are yet speaking,

I will hear.

The wolf shall feed together

With the lamb.

The lion shall eat straw

Like the ox.

But the serpent’s food shall be dust.

They shall not hurt.

They shall not destroy anyone

On my holy mountain.’

Says Yahweh.”

Everything will be wonderful in the New Jerusalem. Yahweh, in the first person singular, says that he will answer before they call. He will hear them while they are still speaking. The wolf and the lamb would eat together, while the lions would eat straw like oxen. However, the food for the serpent would be dust. They will not hurt or destroy anyone on his holy mountain.

The sword of Yahweh on Edom (Isa 34:5-34:7)

“When my sword has drunk

Its fill in the heavens,

It will descend upon Edom.

My sword will descend

Upon the people I have doomed.

Yahweh has a sword.

It is sated with blood,

With the blood of lambs,

With the blood of goats.

It is gorged with fat,

With the fat of the kidneys of rams.

Yahweh has a sacrifice in Bozrah.

There was a great slaughter

In the land of Edom.

Wild oxen shall fall with them.

Young steers shall fall with them.

Mighty bulls shall fall with them.

Their land shall be soaked with blood.

Their soil made rich with fat.”

Isaiah has Yahweh talk about his sword that was going to descend on the country of Edom, southeast of Judah, where the twin brother of Jacob, Esau, had settled as in Genesis, chapter 36. Yahweh’s heavenly sword would fall upon the doomed country of Edom. This sword would be full of blood from goats and rams as well as fat from their kidneys. There was going to be a great sacrificial slaughter in Bozrah, the capital city of Edom. There was going to be such a sacrifice of oxen, steers, and bulls that the land would be soaked with blood and fat so that the soil would become rich.

The call of Yahweh (Isa 22:12-22:14)

“In that day,

Yahweh,

God of hosts,

Called for weeping.

He called for mourning.

He called for baldness.

He called for putting on sackcloth.

But instead

There was joy.

There was festivity.

They killed oxen.

They slaughtered sheep.

They were eating meat.

They were drinking wine.

‘Let us eat!

Let us drink!

For tomorrow we die!’

Yahweh of hosts

Has revealed himself

In my ears.

‘Surely

This iniquity

Will not be forgiven you

Until you die.’

Says Yahweh,

God of hosts.”

On that day, Yahweh called on his people to weep and mourn. He wanted them to shave their heads and put on sackcloth because of the impending disaster. Instead, the people of Jerusalem decided to have a joyous festival. They killed oxen and sheep for their celebration, as they drank wine and ate meat. Then we have the famous saying that has endured through time. They cried out, “Let us eat and drink because tomorrow we die.” Yahweh of hosts was not pleased at this response. In fact, he told Isaiah explicitly that their iniquity would not be forgiven as long as they lived.