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We have 4 chapters that particularly ‘inspire’ us today and “whoever is wise let him (or her) understand.”  Those words are taken from the last verse in Hosea’s prophecy  and the message in that chapter, which began with the words, “Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God …”  These words are so appropriate for Israel (& us) today  – for a good number of them have returned – physically – but not yet “to the LORD.”

The  2nd verse says, “Take with you words and return to the LORD; say to him, ‘Take away all iniquity …”  We long to see this happening – openly – and then v.4 & 5 will be fulfilled, the LORD will say, “I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.   I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom …”

Israel is blossoming – materially – while all the nations around them are in disarray.  There is some degree of parallel to this in what we are reading in Nehemiah and its description of the dramas associated with the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. We read today of the opposition to what they were doing – just as there was 70 years ago when Israel as a whole was being re-established.  Nehemiah inspires his people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome …. ”   [v.14]

There is message here for us also – in a spiritual sense!  Spiritual battles can be more challenging to fight!  Our ‘minds’ need a ‘helmet’ for protection more than ever!  Let’s memorise Paul’s words to the Ephesians, “… take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” [6 v.17]  The daily absorption of God’s word, keeps that “helmet’ firmly in place – and “a sword” – ready for use whenever it is needed.

Our final chapters today illustrate this wonderfully.  What a wondrous hope and expectation Paul spells out!  Let us not live “as others do who have no hope.” [1 Thess. 4 v.13] And what a wondrous hope and expectation of the resurrection the verses which follow spell out!

Paul tells them (words which surely specially apply to most of us) ” Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air …” [v.17]

This is immediately followed by Paul’s statement ” and so we will always be with the Lord.”    There are several inspiring prophecies that describe the wonder of this time – of always being “with the Lord”!  Ponder the last verse of Isaiah 35 – and be inspired by it! “And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”  Finally, ponder again the final appeal in Hosea’s prophecy: ““whoever is wise let him (or her) understand.”