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.
You see, the books of the Kings give us this four hundred year story of forty kings ruling over the divided kingdom of Israel to the north and Judah to the south, a multitude of prophets, and the runaway covenant disobedience of God’s people. With that now established in our minds, we will focus in on that one set of characters — the prophets — and hear the details of what God had to say through them in that same four hundred year period before the exile (2 Kings 25).
Eugene Peterson has this to say about the prophets:
The unrelenting reality is that prophets don’t fit into our way of life. For a people who are accustomed to fitting God into our lives or, as we like to say, “making room for God,” the prophets are hard to take and easy to dismiss. The God of whom the prophets speak is far too large to fit into our lives. If we want anything to do with God, we have to fit into God.
The prophets are not reasonable, accommodating themselves to what makes sense to us. They are not diplomatic, tactfully negotiating an agreement that allows us a say in the outcome. What they do is haul us unceremoniously into a reality far too large to be accounted for by our explanations and expectations. They plunge us into mystery, immense and staggering.
Their words and visions penetrate the illusions with which we cocoon ourselves from reality. We humans have an enormous capacity for denial and self-deceit. We incapacitate ourselves from dealing with the consequences of sin, from facing judgment, from embracing truth. Then the prophets step in and help us first to recognize, and then to enter, the new life God has for us, the life that opens up hope in God.
As he says there at the end, we will see much over the next ten books of God speaking through the prophets against our sin, describing its consequences, leading us to truth, and making it possible for us to enter “the life that opens up hope in God.”
And it all begins with the magisterial work of Isaiah. If you’d like a primer on what many scholars have called “the most complex book in the Bible” and “the fifth Gospel,” I highly recommend heading over the The Bible Project’s page on Isaiah. There you will find a whole page of videos, milestones, study resources, and recommendations for further reading and study on this stunning and wide-ranging prophetic word.
To prepare for this coming Sunday, be sure to read through the book of Hosea, prayerfully meditating on its fourteen chapters.
It is my prayer that you will continue to grow in your understanding of, love for, and hope in God as we continue to make our way through The Whole Story. And, as always, please feel free to email me with questions about or ideas for The Whole Story.
Hoping in GOD,
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.