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,
Samuel Johnson was born on September 18, 1709, and was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.
How Can We Pursue A Long Repentance In The Same Direction?
This last Sunday, in Calvary’s morning gathering, we studied the book of Haggai together as part of God’s Whole Story. Together we heard God speak through his prophet to his people after the exile, challenging them to remain faithful and to rebuild the temple.
The book of Haggai is the second shortest book in the Old Testament. It has 4 oracles (think: sermons), 2 chapters, and about 1,100 words.
In the book of Jeremiah we read of God’s intention for Daniel and all of those with him who have been exiled from the land of promise.
We are in a sermon series called The Whole Story, so named because we started off with the assumption, and belief really, that the whole Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. Each and every book is a bit like a chapter that contributes to the overall story that God is telling.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.