Monthly Archives: September 2012

The Vibe of Amos

Amos has an activist’s vibe. Despite the prosperous times in which he is living, Amos sees corruption and scandal all around him and feels he has to speak out.

The rich have fattened themselves at the expense of the poor and have crushed the helpless. God doesn’t want these fat cats to worship him, he wants justice. The Day of the Lord is coming – a day when God will pass judgment on his people. But when he comes, God won’t be crushing Israel’s enemies, he will be crushing Israel. The people might feel invincible but God has seen how they have treated the poor and downtrodden and his vengeance will come.

Amos knows that God’s judgment is on its way and that a marauding army will ravage Israel’s women, kill Israel’s children and seize Israel’s land. The vibe is hardcore – there will be no reprieve. However, for the few good souls who will be left after the slaughter, unimaginable blessings will be coming their way. A woeful, doom laden vibe, but a vibe with a small cherry on the top nonetheless.

General vibe of Amos: Hurt the poor at your peril.

Factvibe: Prior to becoming a prophet, Amos was a shepherd.

Fat cats – public enemy number one in this finger wagging vibe.

The Vibe of Joel

There’s a feisty vibe to Joel. He witnesses a swarm of locusts destroying everything in its path and likens this vibe to ‘the Day of the Lord’. This is the day when the world will be judged by God, found lacking and ultimately annihilated. Quite a heavy vibe in fact, and one which makes for some unpleasant reading.

Having made his point, Joel then reminds us that God is only too willing to rescue us if we turn back to him. If we do this, he’ll pour out his blessings on us in what will be the exact opposite of a locust plague. So the choice is ours – a horrible and violent death or mountains running with fresh wine and hills flowing with milk. A tough one, not.

General vibe of Joel: Judgment is coming.

Factvibe: Joel speaks about the Second Coming without mentioning the first one.

Joel forsees a day when rivers will run with this stuff. Not a bad vibe.

The Vibe of Hosea

There’s a hurting vibe that runs right through Hosea. This is the stuff that country and western songs are made of. Hosea finds him a woman but she finds herself another man. But even though he’s hurting, he takes her back and keeps on loving her. The vibe is that this is a metaphor for the love God has for his people and how he feels when they turn away from him. And mama, have they turned away from him. The people are worshipping pagan gods and are turning to foreign rulers for help rather than God. The vibe is deep into the red and Hosea can see that if people don’t turn back to God, his wrath will fall upon them like fire in summer wind. The vibes of doom spill from his mouth faster than the people can build pagan idols but no one listens. The inevitable happens, Israel is pretty much swept away by her enemies and all that remains are Hosea’s words, begging the people to turn back to God. God the faithful lover is always waiting with vibes of forgiveness for his wayward woman to come back.

General vibe of Hosea: It’s never too late.

Factvibe: According to the vibe of the Jewish Talmud, Hosea was the greatest prophet of his generation.

Jilting and heartbreak – the bleeding heart vibe of Hosea

The Vibe of Daniel

Daniel has a hardcore, militant, resistance fighting vibe. Despite being dragged off into Babylonian exile with the rest of the Israelites, his refusenik vibe means he won’t eat unclean animals, choosing to go veggie instead. But, like Joseph before him, he has the gift of interpreting dreams, a skill that impresses Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar so much that he begins worshipping Daniel’s God immediately.

However, the king soon forgets, erects a golden pillar and orders everyone to worship it or be thrown into a furnace. Daniel and his gang refuse, telling the king that God will save them from the fire which, fortunately he does. Now doubly impressed, the king worships God again, only to go insane.

His son Balthazzar is a wayward child and during a feast when he and his buddies are getting drunk using silverware from the Temple, mysterious writing appears on a nearby wall. Daniel interprets it as quite literally the writing on the wall for Babylon and, days later, Darius conquers Babylon for Persia.

Darius understands Daniel’s vibe and promotes him until he is one of the big kahunas at the royal court. The vibe wobbles a bit when Darius is tricked into signing an order that everyone has to worship him or be thrown into a pit filled with ravenous lions. He forgets that this means his trusty advisor Daniel might end up as a snack for wild beasts but rules are rules and in Daniel goes. Luckily, the lions know a good man when they see one and the vibe in the den is pretty chilled. End result, Daniel gets out, the new king worships God and Daniel goes on to help secure the release of the Israelites.

The book finishes with some apocalyptic visions of the future where good battles evil and the end vibe is that God is in control of the universe, which is no bad thing.

General vibe of Daniel: It pays to be loyal to God.

Factvibe: Daniel lived to be over 100 years old.

In lion folklore, Daniel is known as ‘the one who got away’

The Vibe of the Valley of the Dry Bones

The Dry Bones have got a foot tapping singalong vibe to them. Ezekiel is taken to a valley which is littered with human bones.

What starts as a bit of a graveyard vibe becomes an all action Academy Award winning special effects extravaganza. Urged on by God, Ezekiel tells the bones to come alive and after lots of loud rattling, the bones join together in anatomically correct fashion. With God in his ear, Ezekiel continues the choreography as sinews, flesh and skin cover the skeletons.

Finally, a divine wind blows breath into the bodies and they get to their feet, a vast army of living people. The vibe is that this is a metaphor – many of the captives in Babylon think that Israel is dead and buried but God is promising to bring the nation back to life. A reassuring vibe with a nice bit of showbiz thrown in.

General vibe of the Valley of the Dry Bones: The kneebone’s connected to the…

Factvibe: The song ‘Dem Bones’ was first written down in 1925.

As graveyard vibes go, it’s an energetic one

The Vibe of Ezekiel

Part of an advanced party of elite Jews to be carted off to Babylon, Ezekiel realises that the ultimate downfall of Israel is inevitable. Despite this, he is roundly ignored and even when he gets into a role play vibe and personally acts out the last days of Israel, nothing changes. As the rest of the Jews are rounded up and led away to Babylon, Ezekiel shakes his fist at the way they have rebelled against God.

There is a symbolic vibe to Ezekiel; the prophet speaks in pictures. Fires, swords, eagles, vines and lions all represent God, Israel and the enemies who hate them. Ezekiel rages at Israel’s neighbours and warns them of their own impending doom, but it’s not all bad vibes. Ezekiel can see far enough ahead to a time when desolate, ruined Israel will be filled with people again, when the Temple will be rebuilt and when God will bring a ‘Son of David’ to look after his people like a good shepherd.

The vibe of Ezekiel is a tough one that warns of terrible events to come. However, there is a cup of cocoa at the end as Ezekiel reminds us that we are all personally responsible for our own happy ever after vibe with God, and assures us that God will make everything OK again.

General vibe of Ezekiel: Don’t give up hope.

Factvibe: The inscription on the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Israel is Ezekiel Chapter 37, verse 14.

Despite the rage, Ezekiel packs a hearty ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ vibe.

The Vibe of Lamentations

The clue’s in the title – Lamentations doesn’t pack the most upbeat of vibes. God’s people have been deported to BabylonJerusalem is in ruins and God’s Temple has been destroyed. The writer is mourning the vibe that God has abandoned his people and may not come back.

There really is no light at the end of this vibe

It’s as bleak, desolate and black as the vibe gets in the Old Testament. There is no ray of hope and no light at the end of the tunnel in this book. What’s done is done. Man’s wilfulness and arrogance means God has turned his back on his people and now they’ve been left out with the trash.  This is what rejection feels like and it’s miserable. All the lamenter can do is hope that this isn’t ‘it’ and that it’s not too late for a last minute ‘happy ever after’ reprieve. Still, no breath is being held.

General vibe of Lamentations: Doom and gloom.

Factvibe: In the original, the first line of each verse begins with a new letter of the Hebrew alphabet. This vibe is known as ‘acrostic verse.’

The Vibe of Jeremiah

Jeremiah has a very black and white vibe. The prophet can see disaster coming and he doesn’t care who knows it.

Jeremiah’s message is given an emphatic thumbs down by his fellow Jews, especially when he suggests they buddy up to the hated Babylonians. This is seen as treachery by some and wins Jeremiah the robust dislike of Israel. Despite this, he rages through the reigns of five kings, a lonely zealot preaching a gospel of doom that no one wants to hear.

Dark, gloomy vibes prevail as Jeremiah explains to anyone who will listen that destruction and death are coming their way if they don’t turn back to God. It’s not all bad news: if they do get their God vibe back and admit they’ve messed up, God will save them. Sadly, this doesn’t happen and Jeremiah’s vibes of woe become bona fide, ironclad, a priori fact when Judah is utterly and emphatically laid waste by the Babylonians and the Temple is destroyed.

Jeremiah continues to rant at all the nations whose ends will also be messy, including Babylon. On a more hopeful vibe, Jeremiah looks forward to the time of Jesus when God’s vibes will be written on mens’ hearts, not in a box in a Temple, but it’s all a waste of breath as no one is listening. Fortunately someone wrote it all down and proved Jeremiah right, but that didn’t stop him dying a lonely and unloved old man. A short straw but someone had to pull it.

General vibe of Jeremiah: Woe.

Factvibe: Jeremiah still had enough gloom left in his quill to write the book of Lamentations.

Jeremiah – a bit of a down vibe.