We continue to study the 400 year history of God’s covenant people, the Israelites, as found in the books of first and second Kings, but as seen through the eyes of Yahweh’s prophets. Our most current study? The prophet Amos, and his poetry, sermons, and oracles.
The benefit of moving through this prophetic literature by covering a book each Sunday is that it is easier to identify some themes. For example, a common progression in each book is the identification of covenant failure by Israel, a proclamation from Yahweh via a prophet of his accusations, a description of judgment, the opportunity for repentance, and the promise of salvation and restoration for the repentant.
One of the most encouraging things I am learning about God in The Whole Story is his steadfast love for his people expressed through his promise of salvation and restoration for those who repent. It is remarkable to see that, no matter how long the list of sins and accusations against his people, no matter how abhorrent their failure, regardless of the amount of time that has passed, the steadfast love of Yahweh never ceases, and his mercies never come to an end.
And that is really good news.
Because we are no better than Israel.
And we are all really ‘good’ sinners.
So I need this kind of repeated, consistent message:
1 Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God,
for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
2 Take with you words
and return to the Lord;
say to him,
“Take away all iniquity;
accept what is good,
and we will pay with bulls
the vows of our lips.
3 Assyria shall not save us;
we will not ride on horses;
and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’
to the work of our hands.
In you the orphan finds mercy.”
4 I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
6 his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
7 They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
Joel 3:16—18; 21b
16 The Lord roars from Zion,
and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
and the heavens and the earth quake.
But the Lord is a refuge to his people,
a stronghold to the people of Israel.
The Glorious Future of Judah
17 “So you shall know that I am the Lord your God,
who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain.
And Jerusalem shall be holy,
and strangers shall never again pass through it.
18 “And in that day
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and the hills shall flow with milk,
and all the streambeds of Judah
shall flow with water;
and a fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord
and water the Valley of Shittim.
….Yahweh dwells in Jerusalem.”
11 “In that day I will raise up
the booth of David that is fallen
and repair its breaches,
and raise up its ruins
and rebuild it as in the days of old,
12 that they may possess the remnant of Edom
and all the nations who are called by my name,”
declares the Lord who does this.
13 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“when the plowman shall overtake the reaper
and the treader of grapes him who sows the seed;
the mountains shall drip sweet wine,
and all the hills shall flow with it.
14 I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel,
and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine,
and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit.
15 I will plant them on their land,
and they shall never again be uprooted
out of the land that I have given them,”
says the Lord your God.
Over and over again, his promise to those who would turn to him is that he is faithful to forgive, heal, and restore. And for us, that means trusting in the Messiah that Israel could only look forward to, but that we now celebrate — Jesus. When we embrace the Christ, all the promises are ours. One day we will enter into the joy of our Master, because of his finished work and perfect life and spotless righteousness given to us in exchange for our incomplete works and imperfect life and corrupted souls, so that we might live with him in a new heavens and new earth that will be glorious beyond our imagining and which will never end.
If you’d like to listen to a song celebrating and articulating a stunning vision of that King, and our future, I highly recommend heading over to the Rabbit Room, with Andrew Peterson, to take in “Remember Me.” It’s always a good thing for our theology to lead to doxology.
And, for further study on Amos, head over to our friends at The Bible Project. A great way to start your weekly reading of a book that we are working on (or to review it after the sermon) is to visit their website. There you will find videos, milestones, study resources, and recommendations for further reading and study on all the books found in The Whole Story, including Amos.
Finally, just a reminder that this coming Sunday we will study our smallest book yet, weighing in at just one chapter — the prophetic proclamation of Obadiah. Be sure to read it a few times this week (every day if you can), so you may come with a ready and expectant heart as we gather together Sunday morning at 10:30am at Calvary.
Grateful with you for a loving and merciful Father,
Child Dedications May 2017
Six children were dedicated this past Sunday. We pray God's blessings upon these children and their parents!
The main aim of the sermon series we are currently in, The Whole Story, is to inspire you to read through the whole Bible over the course of about eighteen months, which began in January 2018. A foundational reason for this is that we believe that on this journey we will experience, week by week, the exciting truth that the Bible is a unified story that points us to Jesus.
The book of the prophet Hosea. Honestly, in first reading, it can be difficult to grasp. There are quite a few movements and shifts in thinking, and our author mixes various styles of writing and a multitude of images and themes. So as I spent time over the course of a week with this book as a reader, and studier, what struck me was that I needed to process and meditate on Hosea as a whole. To step back and see the larger picture. To not get lost in the details. And I kept asking the question, “Is there a major theme here that you are trying to communicate, Father?”
We are now making our way into the “Prophets Before the Exile” section of The Whole Story. I really like the way our Read Scripture plan breaks a bit here from the order of the books of the Old Testament in our common English translation of the bible. For the Read Scripture plan is more in line with how the story actually unfolded.
On Easter Sunday, the Calvary family got to witness God working in the lives of two men who publicly affirmed their faith through baptism. It was a joy to see!
As the Bible is an ancient text, it makes sense that much of it is a recording of history. But to respond by merely reading it as a textbook would be a mistake, for this is history written with a very particular purpose. Namely, it is a theological history — its authors, under the inspiration of God, make theological arguments by the way they tell the stories, and what they include in them.