Challenge 3: Prophets and Poets

Challenge Summary

Learn about God’s ambassadors and liaisons between nations.

In the Old Testament, some of God’s communicators were prophets who relayed his messages concerning missions, tasks, and status updates, as well as consequences, incentives and rewards. Prophets are similar to ambassadors or liaisons. The Old Testament also contains poetry or songs, such as the books of Job or Psalms. These books teach us a great deal about the character of God, and how he interacts with his people. Studying the prophets and poetry of the Old Testament is important to have a deeper understanding of our Commander.

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Readings

Day 01: Bear True Faith

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Job 42:1-17

Job’s Confession and Repentance

Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.

‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’

I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”

The Lord Rebukes Job’s Friends

After the Lord had spoken these words to Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “My anger burns against you and against your two friends, for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has. Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves. And my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly. For you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite went and did what the Lord had told them, and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.

The Lord Restores Job’s Fortunes

And the Lord restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.

And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers. And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. And Job died, an old man, and full of days.

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

Satan argued with God that Job was blameless only because God had blessed him with an abundance of possessions, good health and a loving family. He contended that if these items were taken away, Job would deny God right to his face. So God permitted Satan to strip Job of all his material belongings, his livestock, and his family. Job remained faithful to God. God then allowed Satan to inflict Job with immense physical pain, but he would not allow Satan to kill him. As Job struggled with heartbreaking loss and pain, his friends and wife told him to curse God. But, Job was steadfast and would not listen to them. He continued to be faithful to God. Why did God tell Job’s friends that he would not answer their prayers? Why did he say he would answer Job’s prayers? In what ways has God blessed me?

Respond

Father, I know you care for me. When I go through difficult times or face tough challenges, I know I can trust you to get me through. Thank you. Amen.

Day 2

Day 02: Missing Briefing

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Psalm 22

Why Have You Forsaken Me?
To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn.
A Psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
“He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.

Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

But you, O Lord, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!

For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the Lord!
May your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
For kingship belongs to the Lord,
and he rules over the nations.

All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

David was the second king of Israel and he lived from approximately 1040-970 BC. In this prayer, David cries out in despair, prays for deliverance from his troubles, and ends with praising God’s mercy and redemption. But, most importantly, it is a clear prediction of the crucifixion of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Consider how Jesus fulfilled this prophesy. Which verses portray Christ’s suffering? -God’s mercy? -Christ’s triumph? How do these verses impact my life?

Respond

My God, I am a sinner. Thank you for your forgiveness and mercy expressed in the death and resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ. Help me to live to honor you. Amen.

Day 3

Day 03: Follow the Leader

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Psalm 23

The Lord Is My Shepherd
A Psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

Sheep are helpless and need a shepherd. A good shepherd cares for his sheep and leads them so that they find pasture. He watches over them and keeps them safe. If they stray, he pursues them and brings them back to the flock. In this psalm, David compares himself to a sheep and God as a good shepherd. Why does David call God his shepherd? Why doesn’t David fear evil? Is the Lord my shepherd?

Respond

Lord God, I am lost without you. Help me to follow you as my shepherd. Help me to listen to your voice, and your voice alone. Amen.

Day 4

Day 04: SOS

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Psalm 70

O Lord, Do Not Delay
To the choirmaster. Of David, for the memorial offering.

Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let them be put to shame and confusion
who seek my life!
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
Let them turn back because of their shame
who say, “Aha, Aha!”

May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”
But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay!

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

David’s life is in peril so he cries out to God to quickly help him. Just like David, we can use this prayer to call out to God in times of grave danger and trouble. This is a powerful prayer that you can pray any time. What does this prayer say that worshippers should do? What does this teach me about God?

Respond

O Lord, I am weak, but you are strong. Help me through this time in my life. You alone are my Savior and my Lord. Amen.

Day 5

Day 05: Force Protection

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Psalm 91

My Refuge and My Fortress

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

This psalm reminds us that the Lord has a purpose for our lives. Nothing physically or spiritually outside of ourselves can stop us from fulfilling it. God offers us shelter from harm and his full protection. But, the “Lord’s will” comes first and he protects us in order to fulfill his ultimate purpose for our lives. Why do you think service members often call this the “Warrior’s Psalm?” What promises does God make in this psalm? Which promises are important to you?

Respond

Father, protect me from harm. I know that you will defend me, and answer my prayers. I trust in you. Amen.

Day 6

Day 06: HOOAH, HOOYAH, or OORAH!

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Psalm 100

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever
A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

This psalm identifies God’s attributes and defines the relationship the Lord desires to have with his people. Whatever work you do each day, it is a service to God and should be done with joy and gladness. How am I to worship the Lord? And, how am I to serve him? How does God view me (v.3) and how should I respond?

Respond

God, I know that I have much for which to be grateful. May all that I do today bring you joy, and I will be quick to give you the praise and honor and glory. Amen.

Day 7

Day 07: OJT Proverbs

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Proverbs 1:1-33

The Beginning of Knowledge

The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction,
to understand words of insight,
to receive instruction in wise dealing,
in righteousness, justice, and equity;
to give prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the youth—
Let the wise hear and increase in learning,
and the one who understands obtain guidance,
to understand a proverb and a saying,
the words of the wise and their riddles.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge;
fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The Enticement of Sinners

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.
My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us ambush the innocent without reason;
like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with plunder;
throw in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse”—
my son, do not walk in the way with them;
hold back your foot from their paths,
for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
For in vain is a net spread
in the sight of any bird,
but these men lie in wait for their own blood;
they set an ambush for their own lives.
Such are the ways of everyone who is greedy for unjust gain;
it takes away the life of its possessors.

The Call of Wisdom

Wisdom cries aloud in the street,
in the markets she raises her voice;
at the head of the noisy streets she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused to listen,
have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when terror strikes you,
when terror strikes you like a storm
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
and have their fill of their own devices.
For the simple are killed by their turning away,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

Solomon was the son of David and the third king of Israel. During a dream, God offered Solomon anything he desired. Solomon responded by asking for the wisdom to lead God’s people. As a reward, in addition to great wisdom, God also gave him great power and wealth and his fame was known throughout the world. King Solomon wrote these proverbs to instruct us how to live a righteous life. He compares a life well-lived versus a life wasted. What does King Solomon say is the purpose of the book of Proverbs? If I obey God’s wise instructions, what may I expect in my life?

Respond

Father, my intelligence cannot compare to yours. Give me the wisdom to see your plan for my life, and help me to follow your direction. Amen.

Day 8

Day 08: Commander’s Intent

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Proverbs 3:1-35

Trust in the Lord with All Your Heart

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but let your heart keep my commandments,
for length of days and years of life
and peace they will add to you.

Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
bind them around your neck;
write them on the tablet of your heart.
So you will find favor and good success
in the sight of God and man.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your flesh
and refreshment to your bones.

Honor the Lord with your wealth
and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
then your barns will be filled with plenty,
and your vats will be bursting with wine.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
or be weary of his reproof,
for the Lord reproves him whom he loves,
as a father the son in whom he delights.

Blessed Is the One Who Finds Wisdom

Blessed is the one who finds wisdom,
and the one who gets understanding,
for the gain from her is better than gain from silver
and her profit better than gold.
She is more precious than jewels,
and nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
those who hold her fast are called blessed.

The Lord by wisdom founded the earth;
by understanding he established the heavens;
by his knowledge the deeps broke open,
and the clouds drop down the dew.

My son, do not lose sight of these—
keep sound wisdom and discretion,
and they will be life for your soul
and adornment for your neck.
Then you will walk on your way securely,
and your foot will not stumble.
If you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
Do not be afraid of sudden terror
or of the ruin of the wicked, when it comes,
for the Lord will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being caught.
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to do it.

Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again,
tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you.
Do not plan evil against your neighbor,
who dwells trustingly beside you.
Do not contend with a man for no reason,
when he has done you no harm.
Do not envy a man of violence
and do not choose any of his ways,
for the devious person is an abomination to the Lord,
but the upright are in his confidence.
The Lord’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the dwelling of the righteous.
Toward the scorners he is scornful,
but to the humble he gives favor.
The wise will inherit honor,
but fools get disgrace.

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

In this proverb, Solomon explains the need for godly wisdom in our lives. He tells us that God’s wisdom may be gained by keeping the Lord’s commandments, trusting him and living a life that is obedient to the Lord. What does God say will happen if I completely trust him? What does this proverb say my life will be like if I obey God?

Respond

Lord, I know I do not always listen to you. Speak to me your words of wisdom and life, and I will obey. I trust you. Amen.

Day 9

Day 09: Return Fire

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Proverbs 16

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
The Lord has made everything for its purpose,
even the wicked for the day of trouble.
Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord;
be assured, he will not go unpunished.
By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for,
and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
When a man’s ways please the Lord,
he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Better is a little with righteousness
than great revenues with injustice.
The heart of man plans his way,
but the Lord establishes his steps.
An oracle is on the lips of a king;
his mouth does not sin in judgment.
A just balance and scales are the Lord’s;
all the weights in the bag are his work.
It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
for the throne is established by righteousness.
Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves him who speaks what is right.
A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,
and a wise man will appease it.
In the light of a king’s face there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.
How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
The highway of the upright turns aside from evil;
whoever guards his way preserves his life.
Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
The wise of heart is called discerning,
and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.
Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it,
but the instruction of fools is folly.
The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious
and adds persuasiveness to his lips.
Gracious words are like a honeycomb,
sweetness to the soul and health to the body.
There is a way that seems right to a man,
but its end is the way to death.
A worker’s appetite works for him;
his mouth urges him on.
A worthless man plots evil,
and his speech is like a scorching fire.
A dishonest man spreads strife,
and a whisperer separates close friends.
A man of violence entices his neighbor
and leads him in a way that is not good.
Whoever winks his eyes plans dishonest things;
he who purses his lips brings evil to pass.
Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.
Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
The lot is cast into the lap,
but its every decision is from the Lord.

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

Solomon gives us practical instructions on how to live a godly life. He contrasts righteousness and wickedness, and instructs us on how to return fire to avoid falling into sin. What is better than gold or silver (v.16)? If I were truly obeying God, how would people know? Can I remember a time when my pride or temper made it difficult to obey God? How might God help me improve my actions?

Respond

God, I find myself desiring wrong sometimes. Help me to put aside my pride and anger, and to obey your Holy Word. Amen.

Day 10

Day 10: Letter of Reprimand

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Isaiah 1

The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

The Wickedness of Judah

Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth;
for the Lord has spoken:
“Children have I reared and brought up,
but they have rebelled against me.
The ox knows its owner,
and the donkey its master’s crib,
but Israel does not know,
my people do not understand.”

Ah, sinful nation,
a people laden with iniquity,
offspring of evildoers,
children who deal corruptly!
They have forsaken the Lord,
they have despised the Holy One of Israel,
they are utterly estranged.

Why will you still be struck down?
Why will you continue to rebel?
The whole head is sick,
and the whole heart faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head,
there is no soundness in it,
but bruises and sores|
and raw wounds;
they are not pressed out or bound up
or softened with oil.

Your country lies desolate;
your cities are burned with fire;
in your very presence
foreigners devour your land;
it is desolate, as overthrown by foreigners.
And the daughter of Zion is left
like a booth in a vineyard,
like a lodge in a cucumber field,
like a besieged city.

If the Lord of hosts
had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom,
and become like Gomorrah.

Hear the word of the Lord,
you rulers of Sodom!
Give ear to the teaching of our God,
you people of Gomorrah!
“What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?
says the Lord;
I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams
and the fat of well-fed beasts;
I do not delight in the blood of bulls,
or of lambs, or of goats.

“When you come to appear before me,
who has required of you
this trampling of my courts?
Bring no more vain offerings;
incense is an abomination to me.
New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations—
I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.
Your new moons and your appointed feasts
my soul hates;
they have become a burden to me;
I am weary of bearing them.
When you spread out your hands,
I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers,
I will not listen;
your hands are full of blood.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
If you are willing and obedient,
you shall eat the good of the land;
but if you refuse and rebel,
you shall be eaten by the sword;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

The Unfaithful City

How the faithful city
has become a whore,
she who was full of justice!
Righteousness lodged in her,
but now murderers.
Your silver has become dross,
your best wine mixed with water.
Your princes are rebels
and companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
and runs after gifts.
They do not bring justice to the fatherless,
and the widow’s cause does not come to them.

Therefore the Lord declares,
the Lord of hosts,
the Mighty One of Israel:
“Ah, I will get relief from my enemies
and avenge myself on my foes.
I will turn my hand against you
and will smelt away your dross as with lye
and remove all your alloy.
And I will restore your judges as at the first,
and your counselors as at the beginning.
Afterward you shall be called the city of righteousness,
the faithful city.”

Zion shall be redeemed by justice,
and those in her who repent, by righteousness.
But rebels and sinners shall be broken together,
and those who forsake the Lord shall be consumed.
For they shall be ashamed of the oaks
that you desired;
and you shall blush for the gardens
that you have chosen.
For you shall be like an oak
whose leaf withers,
and like a garden without water.
And the strong shall become tinder,
and his work a spark,
and both of them shall burn together,
with none to quench them.

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

Isaiah was a great prophet who lived in Jerusalem around 740 BC. Through Isaiah’s prophesies, God makes a solid case against the people of Jerusalem and Judah, and foretells their coming judgment. But, through his mercy, God offers them a way out. What does Isaiah say is going to happen to Israel? Why? What does Isaiah teach about God’s forgiveness (v.18)? How should I act when I am forgiven (v.16,17)?

Respond

Lord God, I know that I commit wrongs. Please forgive me, pick me up, and give me the strength to do right, even when it is not popular. Amen.

Day 11

Day 11: Incoming Commander

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Isaiah 9

For to Us a Child Is Born

But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Judgment on Arrogance and Oppression

The Lord has sent a word against Jacob,
and it will fall on Israel;
and all the people will know,
Ephraim and the inhabitants of Samaria,
who say in pride and in arrogance of heart:
“The bricks have fallen,
but we will build with dressed stones;
the sycamores have been cut down,
but we will put cedars in their place.”
But the Lord raises the adversaries of Rezin against him,
and stirs up his enemies.
The Syrians on the east and the Philistines on the west
devour Israel with open mouth.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.

The people did not turn to him who struck them,
nor inquire of the Lord of hosts.
So the Lord cut off from Israel head and tail,
palm branch and reed in one day—
the elder and honored man is the head,
and the prophet who teaches lies is the tail;
for those who guide this people have been leading them astray,
and those who are guided by them are swallowed up.
Therefore the Lord does not rejoice over their young men,
and has no compassion on their fatherless and widows;
for everyone is godless and an evildoer,
and every mouth speaks folly.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.

For wickedness burns like a fire;
it consumes briers and thorns;
it kindles the thickets of the forest,
and they roll upward in a column of smoke.
Through the wrath of the Lord of hosts
the land is scorched,
and the people are like fuel for the fire;
no one spares another.
They slice meat on the right, but are still hungry,
and they devour on the left, but are not satisfied;
each devours the flesh of his own arm,
Manasseh devours Ephraim, and Ephraim devours Manasseh;
together they are against Judah.
For all this his anger has not turned away,
and his hand is stretched out still.

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

Jerusalem and Judah were completely ransacked by the enemy. Here Isaiah offers the struggling Israelites hope by telling of a coming Savior. He also declares that their enemies will be defeated. Who is the child whose birth Isaiah predicted? What will this child be called (v.6)? Why does Israel rebel against God? How do I rebel against God?

Respond

Father, thank you for the gift of your Son, sent to cleanse me from my sinful stubbornness, and to bring me closer to you. Help me to be faithful to you. Amen.

Day 12

Day 12: Relief in Place

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Isaiah 53

Who has believed what he has heard from us?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

In this chapter, Isaiah prophesies about the coming Savior, Jesus Christ. Isaiah foretells the appearance of Jesus and how he will be treated by the world. What did Isaiah predict would happen to Jesus? How does Jesus fulfill these predictions? For whose sins did Jesus die? What does this sacrifice mean to me?

Respond

God, I cannot imagine how much Jesus suffered for my sins. Thank you for the gift of eternal life. May I show others how they can come to you. Amen.

Day 13

Day 13: Memorandum of Agreement

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Jeremiah 31

The Lord Will Turn Mourning to Joy

“At that time, declares the Lord, I will be the God of all the clans of Israel, and they shall be my people.”

Thus says the Lord:
“The people who survived the sword
found grace in the wilderness;
when Israel sought for rest,
the Lord appeared to him from far away.
I have loved you with an everlasting love;
therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.
Again I will build you, and you shall be built,
O virgin Israel!
Again you shall adorn yourself with tambourines
and shall go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.
Again you shall plant vineyards
on the mountains of Samaria;
the planters shall plant
and shall enjoy the fruit.
For there shall be a day when watchmen will call
in the hill country of Ephraim:
‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion,
to the Lord our God.’”

For thus says the Lord:
“Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,
and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;
proclaim, give praise, and say,
‘O Lord, save your people,
the remnant of Israel.’
Behold, I will bring them from the north country
and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,
among them the blind and the lame,
the pregnant woman and she who is in labor, together;
a great company, they shall return here.
With weeping they shall come,
and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble,
for I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn.

“Hear the word of the Lord, O nations,
and declare it in the coastlands far away;
say, ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him,
and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.’
For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall be like a watered garden,
and they shall languish no more.
Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy;
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.
I will feast the soul of the priests with abundance,
and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness,
declares the Lord.”

Thus says the Lord:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
because they are no more.”

Thus says the Lord:
“Keep your voice from weeping,
and your eyes from tears,
for there is a reward for your work,
declares the Lord,
and they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
There is hope for your future,
declares the Lord,
and your children shall come back to their own country.
I have heard Ephraim grieving,
‘You have disciplined me, and I was disciplined,
like an untrained calf;
bring me back that I may be restored,
for you are the Lord my God.
For after I had turned away, I relented,
and after I was instructed, I struck my thigh;
I was ashamed, and I was confounded,
because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’
Is Ephraim my dear son?
Is he my darling child?
For as often as I speak against him,
I do remember him still.
Therefore my heart yearns for him;
I will surely have mercy on him,
declares the Lord.

“Set up road markers for yourself;
make yourself guideposts;
consider well the highway,
the road by which you went.
Return, O virgin Israel,
return to these your cities.
How long will you waver,
O faithless daughter?
For the Lord has created a new thing on the earth:
a woman encircles a man.”

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I restore their fortunes:

“‘The Lord bless you, O habitation of righteousness,
O holy hill!’

And Judah and all its cities shall dwell there together, and the farmers and those who wander with their flocks. For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”

At this I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. And it shall come to pass that as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring harm, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, declares the Lord. In those days they shall no longer say:

“‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’

But everyone shall die for his own iniquity. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.

The New Covenant

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Thus says the Lord,
who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
the Lord of hosts is his name:
“If this fixed order departs
from before me, declares the Lord,
then shall the offspring of Israel cease
from being a nation before me forever.”

Thus says the Lord:
“If the heavens above can be measured,
and the foundations of the earth below can be explored,
then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel
for all that they have done,
declares the Lord.”

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the Lord from the Tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the brook Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the Lord. It shall not be plucked up or overthrown anymore forever.”

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

Jeremiah, one of the great prophets, lived around 620 BC. He warned the people of Jerusalem that unless they turned from idolatry, their city would be destroyed and the temple would be plundered by the Babylonians. Indeed, the Jews were driven from their land and forcibly taken to Babylonia. They would remain there for 70 years before they would return. Even though the Israelites had turned their backs on God, how does God describe his feelings towards them? Did God ever ignore them? What new agreement does God make with Israel (v.33,34)? How does this promise change my life?

Respond

Thank you, Lord, that in spite of my wanderings, you always welcome me back to you. Thank you for your promises. Help me to stay close to you. Amen.

Day 14

Day 14: AWOL

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Jonah 1

Jonah Flees the Presence of the Lord

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish. So he paid the fare and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish, away from the presence of the Lord.

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. But Jonah had gone down into the inner part of the ship and had lain down and was fast asleep. So the captain came and said to him, “What do you mean, you sleeper? Arise, call out to your god! Perhaps the god will give a thought to us, that we may not perish.”

Jonah Is Thrown into the Sea

And they said to one another, “Come, let us cast lots, that we may know on whose account this evil has come upon us.” So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah. Then they said to him, “Tell us on whose account this evil has come upon us. What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? And of what people are you?” And he said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the dry land.” Then the men were exceedingly afraid and said to him, “What is this that you have done!” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.

Then they said to him, “What shall we do to you, that the sea may quiet down for us?” For the sea grew more and more tempestuous. He said to them, “Pick me up and hurl me into the sea; then the sea will quiet down for you, for I know it is because of me that this great tempest has come upon you.” Nevertheless, the men rowed hard to get back to dry land, but they could not, for the sea grew more and more tempestuous against them. Therefore they called out to the Lord, “O Lord, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not on us innocent blood, for you, O Lord, have done as it pleased you.” So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows.

A Great Fish Swallows Jonah

And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

Jonah was a prophet of God who lived around 793 – 753 BC. God asked Jonah to go to the city of Ninevah and speak to the people. Ninevah was such a wicked city that Jonah feared for his life and was afraid to go. God gave Jonah a dangerous solo mission, so Jonah went AWOL out of fear. What things happened to Jonah when he tried to run from God? What could happen in my life if I try to run away from God?

Respond

Father, I am so tired of running away from you. Draw me close to you, and help me to do as you say. I need you. Amen

Day 15

Day 15: No Surrender

Pray

Lord God, quiet my soul and open my mind and heart to receive your Word. Amen.

Read

Daniel 6

Daniel and the Lions’ Den

It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps, to be throughout the whole kingdom; and over them three high officials, of whom Daniel was one, to whom these satraps should give account, so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel became distinguished above all the other high officials and satraps, because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom. Then the high officials and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him. Then these men said, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God.”

Then these high officials and satraps came by agreement to the king and said to him, “O King Darius, live forever! All the high officials of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions. Now, O king, establish the injunction and sign the document, so that it cannot be changed, according to the law of the Medes and the Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Therefore King Darius signed the document and injunction.

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. Then they came near and said before the king, concerning the injunction, “O king! Did you not sign an injunction, that anyone who makes petition to any god or man within thirty days except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions?” The king answered and said, “The thing stands fast, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked.” Then they answered and said before the king, “Daniel, who is one of the exiles from Judah, pays no attention to you, O king, or the injunction you have signed, but makes his petition three times a day.”

Then the king, when he heard these words, was much distressed and set his mind to deliver Daniel. And he labored till the sun went down to rescue him. Then these men came by agreement to the king and said to the king, “Know, O king, that it is a law of the Medes and Persians that no injunction or ordinance that the king establishes can be changed.”

Then the king commanded, and Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions. The king declared to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” And a stone was brought and laid on the mouth of the den, and the king sealed it with his own signet and with the signet of his lords, that nothing might be changed concerning Daniel. Then the king went to his palace and spent the night fasting; no diversions were brought to him, and sleep fled from him.

Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.” Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. And the king commanded, and those men who had maliciously accused Daniel were brought and cast into the den of lions—they, their children, and their wives. And before they reached the bottom of the den, the lions overpowered them and broke all their bones in pieces.

Then King Darius wrote to all the peoples, nations, and languages that dwell in all the earth: “Peace be multiplied to you. I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,

for he is the living God,
enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.”

So this Daniel prospered during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian

© 2001 by Crossway Bibles

Reflect

In 606 BC, Daniel, of noble birth, was carried captive to the city of Babylon. Daniel was further educated there and went on to hold high offices in that empire. Despite his rank, Daniel remained obedient to God. What was Daniel ordered to do? How did he respond? What happened to Daniel as a result? How might others try to distract me from following God? What may I expect when I stand up for God?

Respond

Almighty God, forgive me for listening to others more than I listen you. Help me to obey you, even when that is difficult. I am ready to be your servant. Amen.

Now that you have finished: We hope Prophets and Poets was insightful and challenging for you. Now, we encourage you to continue the rest of your Basic Training. There are two units left. You can complete them in any order you wish, and each also contain 15 devotionals. Once you have completed all five units of Basic Training, let us know and we will send you a Commander’s Coin for Excellence. Now, let’s move out!

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