Tag Archives: prophets

Bible Overview Series: Zechariah

Zechariah

If only you could have lived to see the day he read your scroll, and loved it, and told his friends to fetch a donkey.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)
 

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Zechariah

When God had a message for the people, He sent His prophets. The prophets would then speak forth the word of God to kings, priests, and the people. The prophets warned the people of God’s need to punish sin, and pleaded with the people to turn to God. But the Jews almost never listened (2 Ki 17:13–14).

So God exiled them to foreign lands. The northern tribes were carried off by Assyrians; the southern tribes went to Babylon for 70 years. Now the Jews had been released to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple of the Lord.

The city is in ruins. The royal family has been reduced to governor status. The temple is under construction. But the words of the prophets still remain.

And now the Jews have another chance to pay attention. God sends them a new prophet: Zechariah. This prophet has colorful visions—messages of comfort and hope to the Jews. It all begins with a simple request: “Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I may return to you” (Zec 1:3).

Zechariah’s writings encourage and admonish the Jews of Jerusalem. He specifically affirms the governor and priest of that time (Zec 3, 4). He chastises the foolish leaders among them (Zec 11), and calls all the people to follow God and remember the words of the prophets before (Zec 1:6).

But most importantly, he anticipates a full restoration of God and His people. The temple will be rebuilt, Israel will be purified, the enemies will be overcome, and the Lord Himself will dwell in Jerusalem. But this restoration isn’t only for the Jews: the Lord will rule the whole earth, and all the nations will worship Him (Zech 8:2214:9).

Theme verse in Zechariah

“Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the LORD of hosts. (Zec 1:3b)

Zechariah’s role in the Bible

Zechariah is the eleventh of the Minor Prophets, the last 12 books of the Old Testament. When God had a message for the people, He spoke through the prophets. His word came in visions, oracles, dreams, parables, and the like.

Most of the Minor Prophets wrote about the coming destruction of Judah, Israel, or the surrounding nations, but Zechariah is different. Like Haggai and Malachi, Zechariah shows up on the scene long after the destruction took place.

Of the Minor Prophets, Zechariah is easily the hardest to understand.

This is partially due to the dense symbolic nature of his writings. Whereas Hosea, Micah, and others give direct instructions and warnings of what is to come, Zechariah “lifts up his eyes” to see scenes, characters, and strange objects. Zechariah is one of only two Minor Prophets who records his visions in this way; the other one is Amos (Am 7:8; 8:2; 9:1).

Zechariah uses a few different ways to communicate God’s word to the people in this book:

  • Visions. Zechariah has vivid visions, similar to those that you see in the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. He sees lampstands (Zech 4:2), horses(Zech 6:2), flying scrolls (Zech 5:2), and other images that symbolize the spiritual landscape. Lucky for Zechariah—and us!—an angel interprets many of these symbols (Zech 4:4–6).
  • The word of the Lord. This is your typical prophetic discourse, which you’ll find in almost every book of the Minor Prophets (except Jonah). This is God using Zechariah as His mouthpiece to the people through word alone.
  • Symbolic demonstrations. Sometimes, Zechariah will do something in the physical world that represents the spiritual side of things. In one example, Zechariah forges a crown for the high priest Joshua (not the one who fought at Jericho) to remind Him that one day, there will be a Man who is both king and high priest in Jerusalem.

The prophets Zechariah and Haggai were contemporaries: the book of Ezra notes that these two prophets compelled the Jews to finish rebuilding the temple of the Lord, even thought he surrounding nations were opposing them (Ezr 5:1–2). Haggai’s recorded ministry seems to conclude after three months, but Zechariah continues to preach for at least two more years (Zech 1:1, 7:1).

Here’s something interesting: while Ezra sees Haggai and Zechariah motivating the Jews toward one goal, the two books of prophecy show some striking differences:

  • Haggai gives brief, almost clipped messages. Zechariah is the longest book of the Minor Prophets.
  • Haggai focuses explicitly on the present temple work, while Zechariah deals with the larger picture of Israel’s history and future.
  • Haggai is very literal, directly addressing the economic decline and the tangible solution (building the temple). Zechariah is highly symbolic, instead pointing to the spiritual activities behind the scenes.

Zechariah is ultimately a message of assurance: God has brought the Jews back to Jerusalem, and His work of restoration is far from over.

Quick outline of Zechariah

  1. Zechariah’s first visions (Zech 1–6)
    • The Lord calls Jerusalem to return to Him (Zech 1)
    • The Lord will return to Jerusalem (Zech 2)
    • The Lord affirms Jeshua and Zerubbabel (Zech 3–4)
    • The Lord’s judgment on other nations (Zech 5–6:8)
    • The Lord promises a priestly king (Zech 6:9–15)
  2. Zechariah’s teaching to Israel (Zech 7–8)
    • Learn from the former days (Zech 7)
    • The Lord’s return to Zion (Zech 8)
  3. Zechariah’s oracles (Zech 9–14)
    • Judgment on the nations, blessings on Israel (Zech 9–10)
    • Warnings against foolish shepherds (Zech 11)
    • Victory for God and His people (Zech 12–14)
Did you like this? Share it:

Bible Overview Series: Jeremiah

Jeremiah2


Jeremiah 
by Joseph Novak

The Word is at the bottom of the well, burning like a naked flame in the mouth of the weeping prophet.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

 

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Jeremiah

The temple of the Lord had stood in Jerusalem for more than 300 years. The nation was known by God’s name: the surrounding nations had heard of the wonders Israel’s God had worked for them in Egypt, in the wilderness, and in their own land. Israel’s God was a great God, and His throne was in Jerusalem.

Yet they did not follow Him. They worshiped other gods, perverted justice in the land, and ignored His laws. Once in a while, a king, a descendant of David, would turn the people back to God, but the other kings led the people into all kinds of disobedience.

The people have gone far enough. God promised to exile His people from their land if they turned from Him, and now Jerusalem’s time has come. The Babylonians will destroy the city, raze the holy temple, and carry the Jews away.

But even as the Lord plans Jerusalem’s destruction, He sends his people a prophet to warn, challenge, and comfort them. That prophet is a young man named Jeremiah.

Jeremiah ministers to the Jews for about 40 years, and his career is a sad one. He is, for the most part, the only prophet of God in the land: everyone else who claims to have a word from the Lord is a fake.

That’s especially difficult for Jeremiah, because while the false prophets preach peace, safety, and victory over Babylon, Jeremiah insists that the Babylonians will destroy everything. The false prophets tell everyone that God is with His people; Jeremiah tells everyone that God is on the enemy’s side. You can imagine which message is more popular.

Jeremiah endures mockery, imprisonment, kidnapping, and death threats from the people he desperately tries to help.

But God’s word comes true: Nebuchadnezzar defeats the Jews, and carries off the royal family. The temple is destroyed. The city is burned with fire. The Babylonians set up a new governor over the area and go back to their land. They also release Jeremiah from prison and tell him to live a happy life.

But it doesn’t end there. A neighboring nation assassinates the governor, and the Jews are left with two options:

  1. Stay in their land
  2. Emigrate to Egypt as refugees

They ask Jeremiah what the Lord would have them do, and He promises them that if they stay in the land of Israel they will flourish. They will live in peace under Babylonian rule, and God Himself will have compassion on them. But if they disobey, God will bring the Babylonians against the Egyptians, and the Jews will perish when Egypt is conquered.

The Jews choose to go to Egypt anyway.

Theme verse in Jeremiah

“See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To pluck up and to break down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant.” —God, to Jeremiah (Je 1:10)

Jeremiah’s role in the Bible

Jeremiah is the second of the Major Prophets. When God had a message for the people, He spoke to them through prophets: men moved by the Holy Spirit to speak God’s words.

Jeremiah is also the longest book of the Bible by word count in the original language.

Jeremiah is known as the “weeping prophet,” and for good reason. Jeremiah’s message is heartbreaking: the people of God have forsaken Him, and now He will destroy them. And even as Jeremiah preaches to the people, they do not listen. Jeremiah’s tragic writings don’t end in this book, either: the weeping prophet is the traditional author of Lamentations, a collection of funeral dirges for Jerusalem.

Jeremiah mixes prophetic discourse with narrative, and the narratives are not arranged chronologically. He speaks to kings, priests, commanders, and the people, and travels to many nations. As you read Jeremiah, you’ll learn to anticipate Jeremiah’s advice and the people’s response—and you’ll see just how many chances God gives His people to follow His voice and keep His covenant.

But the covenant is broken. The people are broken.

And it’s in Jeremiah that we learn about God’s plan to make a new covenant with His people. His law will be on their hearts, and they will all know Him. He shall be their God, and they shall be His people. He will forgive their sin and remember it no more (Jer 31:31–34). God makes this covenant through Jesus Christ in the New Testament—the book of Hebrews explores this new covenant in detail.

When the prophet Daniel reads the book of Jeremiah (Dan 9), he prays to the Lord on behalf of Israel—and nicely sums up how the book fits into the rest of the Old Testament:

The Jews were warned that this would happen in the Law of Moses.

But the kings and rulers did not obey.

They ignored the prophets.

Although Jeremiah’s messages focus on the coming punishment of Judah, this book is not without hope. Jeremiah promises restoration and return for the Jews, which comes to pass in the book of Ezra. Jeremiah also looks forward to a righteous king from the line of David to arise in the future, and although He has been born (Mt 2:2), the Lord Jesus Christ has yet to take office in Jerusalem.

Quick outline of Jeremiah

  • God commissions Jeremiah (Jer 1)
  • Prophecies of God’s wrath against Jerusalem (Jer 2–25)
  • The people reject Jeremiah’s message (Jer 26–28)
  • Messages of hope: God will restore the people (Jer 29–35)
  • The people reject Jeremiah’s message (Jer 36–38)
  • Jerusalem falls, and the remnant flees to Egypt (Jer 39–45)
  • Prophecies of God’s wrath against the nations (Jer 46–51)
  • Chronological summary of Jerusalem’s fall (Jer 52)
Did you like this? Share it:

Bible Overview Series: Job

Job

Job by Joseph Novak

He scrapes himself with broken pots, cursing his mother’s womb. In the distance, Leviathan circles silently in the deep.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

 

 

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Job

Nobody has it better than Job:

  • He’s righteous
  • He’s rich
  • He has a big, happy family

But things abruptly change. In one day, his children die when a building collapses, his employees are slaughtered, and his cattle are stolen. Then, painful boils break out on his skin. Job loses everything, and is left wondering why.

The answer: Satan wants to prove that Job will curse God. This is the central conflict of the book. It’s Job’s test: will he abandon his faith or remain loyal to God?

Here’s how the story plays out:

  1. Satan attacks Job.God points out to Satan that Job is a blameless and upright man, but Satan points out that God has already blessed Job abundantly.  Satan argues that Job is just returning the favor, and asserts that Job would turn on God if his blessings were taken away. God gives Satan a chance to prove it, and Satan immediately rips everything he can away from Job. But Job does not curse God.
  2. Job mourns while his friends accuse him. Job’s three friends come to comfort him, and Job begins to lament his loss to them. Their response stings: “God exacts of you less than your guilt deserves” (Job 11:6). Job’s friends tell him that this suffering must be brought on by Job’s sin, and he should repent. Job argues back that he has not incurred any punishment. Job wishes he could plead his case to God.Still, Job does not curse God. Job and his friends go back and forth three times on this issue, and then a young bystander named Elihu jumps in.
  3. God Himself answers Job.After Elihu weighs in, God speaks to Job. God challenges Job’s understanding by reminding Job of His wisdom, sovereignty, and power.
  4. Job is restored.When God finishes, Job humbly concedes that God’s will is unstoppable, and repents. God also reprimands Job’s friends for misrepresenting Him. Finally, God restores Job: he becomes twice as wealthy, he again is blessed with children, and he dies at a ripe old age.

Throughout the book of Job, we wonder whether Job will stand firm in his faith or abandon it. In the end, Job remains faithful to God, and God remains faithful to Job.

Theme verses of Job

“[Job] said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
And naked I shall return there.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.
Blessed be the name of the LORD.’

Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” (Job 1:21–22)

See the verses and verse art for all the other books of the Bible.

Job’s role in the Bible

Job is the first Old Testament book of poetry (the others are PsalmsProverbsEcclesiastesSong of Solomon, and Lamentations). Although the book of Job is best known for its story, only three of the 42 chapters are narrative. The rest are poetic discourses from Job, his friends, a young bystander, and God Himself.

Job is considered wisdom literature: the book helps us understand God, His creation, our relationship with Him, and how we should respond.

A few features make Job especially unique in the Bible:

  • Job is not said to be Hebrew. All other times the Bible mentions a place called Uz, it is not in the land of Israel (Lam 4:21;Jer25:20).  Job makes sacrifices on behalf of others (Job 1:5)—there is no mention of Levitical priests nor God’s covenant law with Israel.
  • Job focuses on God’s role as sovereign creator. When God answers Job, He asks a series of “Where where you when . . .” questions. The book of Job attests to God’s creative power, wisdom, and authority. Because God made the universe, we can trust that He knows how to rule it.
  • Job pulls back the curtain on Satan’s activities. Until the book of Job, we’ve only seen Satan influence David for Israel’s harm (1 Chr 21:1), but in Job, we see the enemy in full-on attack against God’s servant. We see that Satan can manipulate the weather (Job 1:16,19), a person’s health (Job 2:7), and even groups of people (Job 1:1517). But we also see God setting Satan’s limits (Job 1:122:6).

Job serves as an example of how the righteous are not immune to suffering. In the New Testament, James cites Job as an example to Christians who suffer:

As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. (James 5:10—11)

And like Job, we are Satan’s targets now. Peter warns us that the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” But our response should be the same as Job’s: we must “resist him, firm in [our] faith” (1 Pet 5:8–9).

Quick outline of Job

  1. Job: a righteous and rich man (Job 1:1-5)
  2. Satan strips Job of his blessings to get him to curse God (Job 1:6–2:13)
  3. Job and company discuss his situation (Job 3–37)
  4. Elihu interrupts (Job 32–37)
  5. God speaks to Job (Job 38–41)
  6. Job’s blessings restored (Job 42)
Did you like this? Share it:

Bible Overview Series: Habakkuk

Capture

Habakkuk by Joseph Novak

He sings of joy in God’s salvation, his face wet with indignant tears.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Habakkuk

“How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and you will not hear?”

The people of Judah had grown wicked, violent, and corrupt. There was no justice in the land that was supposed to be known by God’s name. Habakkuk couldn’t take it anymore. These people shouldn’t be allowed to disregard God’s law. Surely God would set things right.

So Habakkuk pleads with God, asking Him to save Judah from her own wickedness. God answers, but not in the way Habakkuk expected.

To judge Judah’s wickedness, God says He will hand them over to the Chaldeans: a nation even more wicked, violent, and corrupt.

Then Habakkuk asks, “Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they (Hab 1:13)? Will they continually slay nations without sparing (Hab 1:17)?”

But God is way ahead of Habakkuk. The Lord shows him that something else is in store for the Chaldeans (Babylonians)—justice:

  • The Babylonians looted many nations, but the remaining ones will loot them (Hab 2:8).
  • The Babylonians cut off other families so that they could secure their own empire, but soon the work of their hands will cry out against them (Hab 2:9–10).
  • The Babylonians built their cities with bloodshed, but their work will be for nothing (Hab 2:12–13).
  • The Babylonians disgraced the nations around them, but the Lord will disgrace them (Hab 2:15–16).
  • The Babylonians crafted idols and then called on them, but all the earth will be silent before the Lord (Hab 2:18–20).
  • When Habakkuk sees God’s master plan, he can only worship. God will correct Judah. God will punish Babylon. But most importantly, God will be known in all the earth (Hab 2:14).

Theme verse of Habakkuk

“Your eyes are too pure to approve evil,
And You can not look on wickedness with favor.
Why do You look with favor
On those who deal treacherously?
Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up
Those more righteous than they?” —Habakkuk, to God (Hab 1:13)

Habakkuk’s role in the Bible

Habakkuk is the eighth of the Minor Prophets, the last 12 books of the Old Testament. When God had a message for the people, He spoke through the prophets. His word came in visions, oracles, dreams, parables, and the like.

In Deuteronomy, God had promised to bless Israel if they loved and obeyed Him, and punish Israel if they chose to go their own way. Later, Israel divided into two kingdoms: the Northern Kingdom kept the name Israel, and the Southern Kingdom was named Judah. Israel turned from God, ignored His prophets, and worshiped idols, and so God handed them over to the Assyrians (2 Ki 17:7).

And Judah followed Israel’s example (2 Ki 17:19), so God would bring a similar fate upon them. But this time, He would discipline them through the Babylonians. Habakkuk saw this happen in his own lifetime (Hab 1:5).

But Habakkuk doesn’t stop at Judah’s punishment. Like Nahum, Habakkuk foresees God’s judgment on those who oppress other nations and lead them into wickedness. Habakkuk speaks of Babylon’s fall: an event which the prophet Daniel witnesses.

Habakkuk isn’t a well-known (or often read) book of the Bible, but it contains one of the most important lines in church history: “The righteous will live by his faith” (Hab 2:4). Paul quotes Habakkuk in his letters to the Romans and Galatians when he explains how faith and God’s justice work together (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11).

Like Daniel, Habakkuk comforts us with a message of God’s sovereignty. God is in control, and He uses the kingdoms of this world to accomplish His purposes. Daniel says it best: “It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings” (Da 2:21).

Quick outline of Habakkuk

  • Habakkuk asks when God will judge Judah (Hab 1:1–4)
  • God will judge Judah with the Chaldeans (Hab 1:5–11)
  • Habakkuk asks why God would use the wicked Chaleans (Hab 1:12–17)
  • God pronounces judgment on the Chaldeans (Hab 2)
  • Habakkuk responds with a song of worship (Hab 3)
Did you like this? Share it:

Bible Overview Series: Nahum

nahum1
Nahum 
by Joseph Novak

Grinning from ear to ear, he sings a lament for the fall of Nineveh.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

 

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Nahum

Nahum: it’s over for Nineveh

When Jonah warned Nineveh of God’s wrath, the Ninevites repented and God spared them. But their repentance didn’t take.

Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and the Assyrian empire had only grown more mighty and more wicked since the time of Jonah. Nineveh continued to lead nations into idolatry (Nah 3:4). Plus, the Assyrians had touched Israel, the “apple of God’s eye.” They had carried off the northern tribes into captivity, and had since oppressed the people of Judah during the time of the righteous King Hezekiah (Is 36:1).

The people of God must have wondered, “are they really going to get away with this?”

Not a chance.

God sends the prophet Nahum to reveal Nineveh’s future: utter desolation. With Jonah, there was a chance to repent. Now the time for repentence is over. God is good and compassionate (Nah 1:7Jon 4:2), but He will not leave the guilty unpunished (Nah 1:3).

Why would a loving God send such a harsh message? The structure of Nahum’s oracle gives us a clue. The book doesn’t begin with a simple description of the judgment to come; instead, Nahum leads by describing God in the following ways:

  1. There is one God, and there are none equal to Him. He allows no room for idols, and although Nineveh had recognized Him in Jonah’s day, they viewed Him as just another god (Is 36:20).
  2. Avenging and wrathful against His enemies. Historians recognize Assyrians as a brutal people even today, and these violent people had to answer for their crimes.
  3. Slow to anger. God had plans to punish Nineveh decades earlier  (Jon 3:4), but He had spared them when they repented before Him (Jon 3:10).
  4. Great in power. Nahum points out God’s sovereignty over the sky (Nah 1:3), the sea (Nah 1:4), and the whole earth (Nah 1:5–6).
  5. He’s a stronghold to those who take refuge in Him.

God is good—that’s the twist.

Because God is about to display all His wrath and might and jealousy, but the Assyrians have not taken refuge in Him. God is safety to those who fear Him, but danger to those who disregard Him.

And because the Assyrians disregard Him, they cannot be safe.

Nahum is a brutal prophecy against the enemies of God and His people, but Nahum’s name means “comforter.” This oracle comforts God’s people by showing them that He is still in control. He still watches over His own. And even when justice seems completely out of balance, He has a plan to right the scales.

Theme verse of Nahum

The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, And the LORD will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. (Na 1:3)

Nahum’s role in the Bible

Nahum is the seventh of the Minor Prophets, the last 12 books of the Old Testament. When God had a message for the people, He spoke through the prophets. His word came in visions, oracles, dreams, parables, and the like. Most of these book were written to the people of Israel and Judah, but Nahum, Obadiah, and Jonah are more concerned with surrounding nations.

We don’t know much about the prophet Nahum. The other books of the Bible don’t mention him, and we aren’t even sure where his town (Elkosh) was located, though it was probably a town in Judah, since the Northern Tribes had been taken into exile by the time Nahum wrote his book.

Nahum was written after the Assyrians sacked the Egyptian city of Thebes, or No-amon (Nah 3:8). It was likely written before the Babylonians took over Nineveh in 612 B.C.

It might help to think of Nahum as a follow-up to the book of Jonah. Both prophets speak God’s word regarding the city of Nineveh. Both warn that the Lord will judge them for their wickedness. But while God extends compassion to Nineveh in Jonah, He only promises to punish and avenge in Nahum.

Nahum is similar to Habakkuk, too. While Nahum foretells the downfall of a world empire, Habakkuk anticipates the empire that takes its place: Babylon.

Quick outline of Nahum

  1. The Lord: Nineveh’s vengeful enemy (Nah 1)
  2. The siege of Nineveh (Nah 2)
  3. The inevitable judgment of God (Nah 3)
Did you like this? Share it:

Bible Overview Series: Micah

 

Micah

Micah by Joseph Novak

We call you a minor prophet. But you are mountains rising behind mountains; all the world’s wealth is minor next to you.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

 

 Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Micah

God had made Israel His own special nation, and He had special expectations of them. God is holy, and His people were to be holy. God is faithful, and His people were to be faithful to Him. God is merciful, and His people were to be merciful.

God is just, and His people should exercise justice.

But the prophet Micah feels that there are no righteous people, there is no justice in the land (Mic 7:2). The judges accept bribes (Mic 7:3), the rulers oppress the poor (Mic 3:1–3), the prophets lead the people astray (Mic 3:5), and the priests are easily bought (Mic 3:11).

Israel’s behavior is unacceptable, and Micah tells the people that they have no excuse:

He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the LORD require of you
But to do justice, to love kindness,
And to walk humbly with your God? (Mic 6:8)

They know better, and God will not sit by while they treat one another this way.
So He comes to the prophet Micah with a twofold message:

Israel and Judah must be disciplined for their injustice.

God Himself will rule Israel with justice someday.

Because God is just, even when His people have no justice.

And because God is merciful, even when His people show no mercy.

Theme verse of Micah

I will bear the indignation of the Lord
Because I have sinned against Him,
Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me.
He will bring me out to the light,
And I will see His righteousness. (Mic 9:9)

Micah’s role in the Bible

Micah is the sixth of the Minor Prophets, the last 12 books of the Bible. When God had a message for the people, He gave his message through the prophets. These messages came in visions, oracles, dreams, parables, and the like.

While most of the Minor Prophets spoke to one nation, Micah called out both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

Like Amos, Micah calls the people’s injustice to light. Micah admonishes the people, telling them that they should have known better.

And in light of the other Old Testament documents they had at the time, they indeed should have known better.

In Deuteronomy, Moses laid out what social justice should look like for God’s people:

For the LORD your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God who does not show partiality nor take a bribe. He executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and shows His love for the alien by giving him food and clothing. (Dt 10:17–18)

But instead, this is what God sees in Israel:

Recently My people have arisen as an enemy—
You strip the robe off the garment
From unsuspecting passers-by,
From those returned from war.
The women of My people you evict . . . . (Mic 2:8–9a)

In Micah, we see how seriously God takes justice among His people. We also get a glimpse of God’s future redemptive work  in Jesus.

God had laid out His expectations of man:

  • Do justice
  • Love kindness
  • Walk humbly with Him

Man did not meet God’s expectations, and although God would punish them, God also promises to meet His own expectations:

  • He would rule in justice (Mic 4:3).
  • He would show mercy (Mic 7:19).
  • He would lead them in the ways of God (Mic 5:4).

How does that work? How does God meet His expectations for mankind?

In Jesus.

We know that Jesus was that ruler promised from long ago. He was born in Bethlehem (Mt 2:8–11), He showed us kindness, He satisfied the justice of God (Ro 3:23–26), and He humbled Himself, even to death (Php 2:8).

And soon, Jesus will return as King to rule in justice and peace forever.

Quick outline of Micah

  • Israel’s injustice (Mic 1–3)
  • The Lord’s promise to rule Israel with justice (Mic 4–5)
  • The Lord’s expectations and judgment (Mic 6)
  • The Lord’s compassion and everlasting love (Mic 7)

 

Did you like this? Share it:

Bible Overview Series: Jonah

 

Jonah
Jonah 
by Joseph Novak

When the prophet disobeys, even the fish of the sea are against him. When Nineveh repents, even the animals fast and pray..

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Jonah

God had created all mankind, but He’d chosen one special nation as His own: Israel. Through Israel, all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Gn 12:3). God had given Israel His laws through Moses (back in Exodus), and called them by His name (2 Sa 7:23). Through Israel, the world would know who God is.

Nineveh, on the other hand . . .

Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, and a place of great wickedness. So the Lord tells a prophet named Jonah to “Arise, go to Nineveh, and cry against it” (Jon 1:2).

But Jonah does something entirely unexpected: he boards a ship headed in the opposite direction. The Lord sends a mighty storm after him, which threatens to destroy the vessel. Jonah confesses to the sailors that he is a Hebrew, and that he is trying to escape Yahweh’s presence.

His proposed solution: “Pick me up and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will become calm for you, for I know that on account of me this great storm has come upon you” (Jon 1:12). They do so, and the sea calms—and all the sailors recognize the God who spared them.

Then comes the part everyone remembers: Jonah is swallowed by a “great fish.” He prays from within the fish, and God has it vomit him onto the land.

Now we’re back to square one. God tells Jonah to arise and go to Nineveh, and this time Jonah obeys. He walks through the evil city, heralding Nineveh’s impending doom: in just 40 days, Nineveh will be overthrown.

The Ninevites do the unexpected: they repent.

And God relents.

And Jonah is not OK with this.

Theme verse in Jonah

“[. . .] Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.” (Jon 4:2)

Jonah’s role in the Bible

Jonah is the most widely known of the Minor Prophets, the last 12 books of the Old Testament. When God had a message for the people, He spoke through the prophets. His word came in visions, oracles, dreams, parables, and the like. Most of these book were written to the people of Israel and Judah, but Jonah, Obadiah, and Nahum are more concerned with surrounding nations.

These Minor Prophet books record those messages. They outline the people’s sins, the consequences of those sins, and the proper response to God.

Well, except the book of Jonah. It’s a story, not a sermon. It focuses on the prophet, not the people. And Jonah contains hardly any prophecy at all . . . only one line: “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jon 3:4).

But fast-forward to the New Testament, and you’ll see Jesus referring to Jonah as a sign of the Messiah:

  • Just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. “The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” (Mt 12:40–41)
  • Jonah’s life events told some of Christ’s story, and his message foreshadowed Christ’s message: repent!

But Jonah isn’t all about repentance. It’s also a story of God’s compassion for all peoples, not just Israel. The book of Jonah can be divided down the middle to show two short episodes: God’s compassion to Jonah and God’s compassion through Jonah.

Jonah 1–2, God’s compassion to Jonah

  • God sends Jonah to Nineveh.
  • Jonah goes in the opposite direction.
  • God comes after Jonah in a storm.
  • Jonah explains to this destructive storm is from Yahweh, the Hebrew God.
  • The sailors pray to Him, “do not let us perish.”
  • The storm subsides.
  • Jonah prays to Yahweh.
  • Jonah is saved.

Jonah 3–4, God’s compassion through Jonah

  • God sends Jonah to Nineveh.
  • Jonah obeys.
  • Jonah warns that Nineveh will be destroyed.
  • Nineveh repents and calls on God “so that [they] will not perish.”
  • God relents.
  • Jonah prays to God.
  • Jonah is answered.

In both episodes, the Hebrew (Jonah) gets people from other nations to recognize God’s sovereignty and compassion . . . even when he disobeys.

The book of Second Kings tells us that Jonah had prophesied about Israel’s king Jeroboam II (2 Ki 14:25), which means his ministry may have overlapped with those of Hoesa (Hos 1:1) and Amos (Am 1:17:11), who also preached to Israel during Jeroboam’s reign.

Through the book of Jonah, we see God’s compassion for Nineveh when they repent. But Nineveh doesn’t stay on that path. Instead, they continue in violence and wickedness. The Assyrians (whose capital is Nineveh) come against Israel and carry her off into exile (2 Ki 17:6). Nineveh becomes so wicked that the Lord chooses another prophet, Nahum, to speak against it. But this time, there’s no way out (Na 2:13).

However, God’s story of compassion for the nations has only just begun. Later, there will arise yet another prophet who will obey and submit to God (Php 2:8), who will be a light to the Gentiles (Lk 2:32), who will make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19–20) . . .

Quick outline of Jonah

  • God directs Jonah, Jonah disobeys (Jon 1)
  • God has compassion on Jonah (Jonah 2)
  • Jonah preaches to Nineveh, Nineveh repents (Jonah 3)
  • God has compassion on Nineveh, but Jonah does not (Jonah 4)

 

Did you like this? Share it:

Bible Overview Series: Amos

Amos


Amos 
by Joseph Novak

Hallelujah! The Lord is here! Run for your lives!

 (Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

 Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Amos

Amos was a simple shepherd in the Southern Kingdom of Judah (Am 1:1). He wasn’t a prophet. There were no prophets in his family. But God had a message for the rebellious Northern Kingdom of Israel, and He chose Amos to deliver it (Am 7:15).

God had made Israel His chosen people (back in Exodus), and He was to be their God. But when the kingdom divided, the northern tribes turned their backs on Him. The Lord’s temple and priests were still in Zion, but Israel worshiped new idols at the cities of Bethel and Dan (1 Ki 12:28–30) and created a new order of priests (1 Ki 12:31), and listened to false prophets.

And now, while God had mercifully given them peace and prosperity under King Jeroboam II (2 Ki 14:26–28), the nation was abusing its own people. The rich were oppressing the poor (Am 4:15:11). The judges were accepting bribes (Am 5:116:12).

God had promised to bless the nation if they obeyed Him and curse them if they rebelled (inDeuteronomy). Israel rebelled, and now judgment is coming. But God isn’t going to punish Israel without explaining what’s going on (Am 3:7).

So Amos, the shepherd, the tree trimmer, goes to Bethel (a royal city of idol worship) and proclaims God’s message of justice, punishment, and restoration. He makes two bold prophecies:

  • King Jeroboam II will die.
  • Israel will be carried off into exile. (Am 7:11)

As you can imagine, this message doesn’t sit well with Jeroboam II and his false priests. But Amos answers to the Lord, not Israel (Am 3:8):

A lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?

And when Israel rebels at Bethel, the Lord roars from Zion (Am 1:2).

Theme verse in Amos

“‘Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom,
And I will destroy it from the face of the earth;
Nevertheless, I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob,’
Declares the LORD.” (Am 9:8)

Amos’ role in the Bible

Amos is the third of the Minor Prophets, the last twelve books of the Old Testament. When God had a message for the people, He gave his message through the prophets. These messages came in visions, oracles, dreams, parables, and the like.

Amos’s ministry may have been the earliest of the Minor Prophets’. He preached during the reigns of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam II in Israel (probably no later than 750 B.C.), two years before a major earthquake *(Am 1:1). The prophets Hosea (Hos 1:1) and Jonah (2 Ki 14:23–25) also ministered to Israel during Jeroboam II’s reign.

Amos was a prophet from the South (Judah) whom God sent to the North (Israel). This book focuses on God’s sovereign justice:

  • God is sovereign. He created the universe (Am 5:8). He is the one who allows cities and nations to fall (Am 3:6). He is the one who rescued Israel from Egypt (Am 9:7). “The Lord of hosts is His name” (Am 4:13).
  • God is just. Before the nation of Israel entered the promised land, they made a covenant with God. God promised blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience (in Deuteronomy). Israel has disobeyed, and the judgment is on the way.

Amos claims that Israel will be carried away into exile as punishment for their rebellion. His prophecies come true when the Assyrians conquer the Northern Kingdom (2 Ki 17:6–23).

The writer of Second Kings tells us that God’s prophets urged Israel and Judah to turn from their evil ways and keep God’s commandments, but the people stubbornly ignored them (2 Ki 17:13–14). Amos is an example of this. When God sent Amos with a message of judgment, the false priest tries to silence him (Am 7:10–13).

Amos gave his message during a time of prosperity in Israel—prosperity that God had mercifully given them through the wicked king Jeroboam II (2 Ki 14:24–28). The book of Amos reminds us that God’s blessings don’t always coincide with our obedience (and are often in spite of our disobedience).

Amos also shows us that God demands justice for the poor. During their time of God-given security, Israel had abused her most insecure citizens (Am 4:15:11–12)—a crime God considers worthy of punishment. God’s standards on this haven’t relaxed with time. According to the apostle James, God still expects the rich to deal justly with those around them, and will punish those who oppress the poor and the righteous (Ja 5:1–6).

Even though the book of Amos is a message of impending doom, it isn’t without notes of hope and restoration. Amos urges the people to “seek the Lord that [they] may live” (Am 5:4–614–15), and even foretells of a day when Israel will be restored from captivity (Am 9:14–15) and reunited with Judah under David’s line of kings (Am 9:11).

Quick outline of Amos

  • Judgment on surrounding nations (1–2:3)
  • Judgment on Israel (2:4–4:13)
  • The dirge against unrepentant Israel (5–6)
  • Amos’ visions against Israel (7–9:10)
  • God’s promise of restoration (9:11–15)
Did you like this? Share it:

Bible Overview Series: Isaiah

Isaiah2


Isaiah 
by Joseph Novak

When the four corners of creation are picked up like a tablecloth, all the crumbs will slide into the middle, into Zion.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)

 


Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Isaiah

The nation of Israel has long been split into two nations: North and South, Israel and Judah.  They’d weathered wars against each other and the surrounding nation for a few hundred years, but neither kingdom can stand through the storms to come.

The Assyrians are rising in power, and the Babylonians will overthrow them in time. And the people hadn’t remained faithful to their God, and so their security as a nation cannot last.

The North will fall soon. The South will fall later.  God raises up the prophet Isaiah to tell the people this message.

But by His grace, the message doesn’t end there.

Yes, God is going to bring the Assyrians against the North. He will bring the Babylonians against the Assyrians. He will send the South into exile in Babylon.  He will bring the Persian Cyrus against the Babylonians.

But He will also bring Israel back home. He will also rule Israel as Immanuel: God with us. He will judge Israel’s enemies, and bring all the nations to Himself, too.

And somehow, a mysterious Servant will bear the sins of many, reconciling Israel and the world to the Lord.

That’s Isaiah’s message. God’s judgment is coming, but so is His comfort.

Theme verse of Isaiah

Zion will be redeemed with justice
And her repentant ones with righteousness. (Is 1:27)

Isaiah’s role in the Bible

Isaiah is the first of the Major Prophets. When God had a message for the people, He spoke to them through prophets: men moved by the Holy Spirit to speak on God’s behalf.

Isaiah is the only Major Prophet whose story takes place before the fall of Jerusalem. While Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesy about these events before and while they happen, Isaiah looks into the future to see Judah’s Babylonian captivity.

And the other writers of the Bible look back at Isaiah when telling the story of Israel. Isaiah personally interacts with the kings of Judah, the Southern Kingdom, and so his story covers some of the events in in Kings and Chronicles:

  • The writer of Chronicles cites Isaiah as a source of information on kings Uzziah and Hezekiah (2 Ch 27:2232:32).
  • Isaiah describes the spiritual conflict surrounding Ahaz’ war against Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and Aram (Is 72 Ki 16:5–92 Ch 28).
  • Isaiah goes into much detail on Hezekiah’s reign: including his run-in with Sennacherib and miraculous recovery.
  • Isaiah foretells the downfall of Israel at Assyria’s hand, which we learn about in more detail in Second Kings (2 Ki 17).
  • Isaiah anticipates Judah’s fall, too. He predicts that the Babylonians will carry the Jews away. We see this come true in Second Chronicles and Daniel (2 Ch 36Da 1:1–2).
  • Lastly, Isaiah makes the incredible prediction that Cyrus, the Persian emperor, will send the Jews back home. Second Chronicles ends on this note, and the story continues in Ezra (2 Ch 36:22–23Is 44:28–45:7).

Isaiah’s most famous prophecies, however, concern Jesus. No other prophet is referenced in the New Testament as much as Isaiah. Isaiah preaches of the coming King who will rule Israel and the nations in justice and peace. He also looks forward to a special Servant of God: one who will fulfill all Israel’s duties and bear their sins.

Here are just a couple of famous things Isaiah said about Jesus:

“Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Is 7:14). This prophecy ultimately points to Jesus, as the Gospel of Matthew points out (Mt 1:22–23).

“All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Is 53:6). The entire fifty-third chapter is a beautiful prophecy of Jesus.

Isaiah’s words also have a special meaning for today’s church (which is made up of Jews and Gentiles). Paul quotes Isaiah extensively in his letter to the Romans as he explains salvation, the sovereignty of God, and the new relationships between the Lord, the Gentiles, and the Jews.

Quick outline of Isaiah

  • Messages of righteous judgment (1–35)
  • Judgment on Israel and Judah (1–12)
  • Judgment on the other nations (13–24)
  • Promised restoration of all nations (25–27)
  • Woe and judgment on Jerusalem (28–33)
  • Woe to nations, blessings to Jerusalem (34–35)
  • Isaiah’s ministry to Hezekiah (36–39)
  • Messages of comfort and salvation (40–66)
  • Israel’s coming restoration (40–45)
  • Babylon’s judgment (46–48)
  • Salvation through the Servant (49–56:8)
  • Rebuke for the wicked (56:9–59:21)
  • Zion glorified (60–65)
  • God’s righteous, final judgment (66)
Did you like this? Share it:

Third Week of Advent: Thursday, December 19th

Isaiah 40:1–11

1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. 3 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” 6 A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field. 7 The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” 9 You who bring good tidings to Zion, go up on a high mountain. You who bring good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up your voice with a shout, lift it up, do not be afraid; say to the towns of Judah, “Here is your God!” 10 See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. 11 He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

Again and again the Old Testament prophets declare that “good news” (or “good tidings”) are coming to a lost Israel.  The New Testament points us to Jesus as the anointed one who brings us this good news (or “gospel”).

And yet many Christians today have a very stunted and meager understanding of the good news Jesus brings.  Here’s an incredible video by Lisa Sharon Harper explaining the breadth and depth of the good news available to us through Jesus.

 

Did you like this? Share it: