Memory verse: Nahum 1:7: ‘The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.’
As you can tell, the bulk of this week’s reading was in the Minor Prophets. My goal for this post is to create a clear overview or study guide; one that clearly points out the purpose and themes of each book. I will quote a lot from the Life Application Study Bible (all denoted with an *), summarizing what is in each of these books and sharing some of my favorite verses. There is some great stuff in here; all of these books I want to go back and study at some point in the future.
Summary: The book of Hosea is a love story-real, tragic, and true. Transcending the tale of young man and wife, it tells of God’s love for his people and the response of his “bride.” A covenant had been made, and God had been faithful. His love was steadfast, and his commitment unbroken. But Israel, like Gomer [Hosea’s wife], was adulterous and unfaithful, spurning God’s love and turning instead to false gods. the after warning of judgment, God reaffirmed his love and offered reconciliation. His love and mercy were overflowing, but justice would be served.*
Main message: The people of Israel had sinned against God, as an adulterous woman sins against her husband. Judgment was sure to come for living in total disregard for God and fellow humans.*
Importance of message: When we sin, we sever our relationship with God, breaking our commitment to him. While all must answer to God for their sins, those who seek God’s forgiveness are spared eternal judgment.*
“The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.’”
Summary: Joel begins by describing a terrible plague of locusts that covers the land and devours the crops. The devastation wrought by these creatures is but a foretaste of the coming judgment of God, the “day of the Lord.” Joel, therefore, urges the people to turn from their sin and turn back to God. Woven into this message of judgment and the need for repentance is an affirmation of God’s kindness and the blessings he promises for all who follow him.*
Main message: A plague of locusts had come to discipline the nation. Joel called the people to turn back to God before an even greater judgment occurred.*
Importance of message: God judges all people for their sins, but he is merciful to those who turn to him and offers them eternal salvation.*
“Rend your heartJoel 3:16b
and not your garments.
Return to the Lord you God,
for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
and he relents from sending calamity.”
“But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.”
Summary: Amos begins with a humble shepherd watching his sheep. God then gave him a vision of what was about to happen to the nation of Israel. God condemned all the nations who had sinned against him and harmed his people. Beginning with Aram, he moved quickly through Philistia, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab. All were condemned. And then, even Judah, Amos’s homeland, was included in God’s scathing denunciation. Suddenly, however, Amos turned to the people of Israel and pronounced God’s judgment on them. Then, after all the chapters on judgment, the book concludes with a message of hope. Eventually God will restore his people and make them great again.*
Main message: Amos spoke against those who exploited or ignored the needy.*
Importance of message: Believing in God is more than a matter of individual faith. God calls all believers to work against injustices in society and to aid those less fortunate.*
Summary: Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament, is a dramatic example of God’s response to anyone who would harm his children. The book begins with the announcement that disaster was coming to Edom. Despite their “impregnable” cliffs and mountains, they would not be able to escape God’s judgment. Obadiah then gave the reasons for their destruction-their blatant arrogance toward God and their persecution of God’s children. This concise prophecy ends with a description of the “day of the Lord,” when judgment will fall on all who have harmed God’s people.*
Main message: God will judge Edom for its evil actions toward God’s people.*
Importance of message: Just as Edom was destroyed and disappeared as a nation, so God will destroy proud and wicked people.*
Summary: Jonah was a reluctant prophet given a mission he found distasteful. He chose to run away from God rather than obey him. Like Jonah, we may have to do things in life that we don’t want to do. Sometimes we find ourselves wanting to turn and run. But it is better to obey God than to defy him or run away. Often, in spite of our defiance, God in his mercy will give us another chance to serve him when we return to him.*
Main message: Jonah, who hated the powerful and wicked Assyrians, was called by God to warn the Assyrians that they would receive judgment if they did not repent.*
Importance of message: Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh, so he tried to run from God. But God has ways of teaching us to obey and follow him. When Jonah preached, the city repented and God withheld his judgment. Even the most wicked will be saved if they truly repent of their sins and turn to God.*
Purpose: To warn God’s people that judgment is coming and to offer pardon to all who repent.*
Main message: Prediction of the fall of both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. This was God’s discipline upon the people, actually showing how much he cared for them. Hezekiah’s good reign helped postpone Judah’s punishment.*
Importance of message: Choosing to live a life apart from God is making a commitment to sin. Sin leads to judgment and death. God alone shows us the way to eternal peace. His discipline often keeps us on the right path.*
Micah 5:4 & 5
“He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of of the name of the Lord his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.
And he will be their peace.”
Micah 7:18 & 19
“Who is a God like you
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.
You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.”
Purpose: To pronounce God’s judgment on Assyria and to comfort Judah with this truth.*
Main message: The mighty empire of Assyria that oppressed God’s people would soon tumble.*
Importance of message: Those who do evil and oppress others will one day meet a bitter end.*
"The Lord is slow to anger and great in power;
the Lord will not leave the guilty unpunished."
"The Lord is good
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him."
Purpose: To show that God is still in control of the world despite the apparent triumph of evil.*
Main message: Habakkuk couldn’t understand why God seemed to do nothing about the wickedness in society. Then he realized that faith in God alone would supply the answers to his questions.*
Importance of message: Instead of questioning the ways of God, we should realize that he is totally just and we should have faith that he is in control and that one day evil will be utterly destroyed.*
“Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.”
“The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.”
Purpose: To shake the people of Judah out of their complacency and urge them to return to God*
Main message: A day will come when God, as judge, will severely punish all nations. But after judgment, he will show mercy to all who have been faithful to him.*
Importance of message: We will all be judged for our disobedience to God; but if we remain faithful to him, he will show us mercy.*
“Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land,’
you who do what he commands.
Seek righteousness, seek humility;
perhaps you will be sheltered
on the day of the Lord’s anger.”
“The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Purpose: To call the people to complete the rebuilding of the temple*
Main message: The people returned to Jerusalem to begin rebuilding the temple, but they hadn’t finished. Haggai’s message encouraged the people to finish rebuilding God’s temple.*
Importance of message: The temple lay half-finished while the people lived in beautiful homes. Haggai warned them against putting their possessions and jobs ahead of God. We must put God first in our lives.*
“Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”
Purpose: To give hope to God’s people by revealing God’s future deliverance through the Messiah*
Main message: Zechariah, like Haggai, encouraged the people to finish rebuilding the temple. His visions gave the people hope. He told the people of a future king who would one day establish an eternal kingdom.*
Importance of message: Even in times of discouragement and despair, God is working out his plan. God protects and guides us; we must trust and follow him.*
Zechariah 9:16 & 17
“The Lord their God will save them on that day
as the flock of his people.
They will sparkle in his land
like jewels in a crown.
How attractive and beautiful they will be!
Grain will make the young men thrive,
and new wine the young women.”
Purpose: To confront the people with their sins and to restore their relationship with God*
Main message: The people’s relationship with God was broken because of their sin, and they would soon be punished. But the few who repented would receive God’s blessing, highlighted in his promise to send a Messiah.*
Importance of message: Hypocrisy, neglecting God, and careless living have devastating consequences. Serving and worshiping God must be the primary focus of our life, both now and in eternity.*
Malachi 3:6a, 10
“I the Lord do not change.”
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”
See ya next time for some New Testament action :)