Lamentations

Lamentations

Some Tips on How To Read the Book of Lamentations Destruction and devastation These are 2 words to describe Jerusalem when you read through the book of Lamentations. In the writing, Jerusalem is personified as a woman who was once known as a queen. Many of us might not fully grasp the full feeling of the people of God for most of us have not gone through wars that destruct our nation. Jerusalem was taken captive by the Babylonian. The city was destroyed, the temple has broken down, some faced death. Nothing else was left and some hopes for God were nearly dead. In this setting, Lamentations was written. As we examine the writing of Lamentations, it’s amazing to see the highly structured and emotionally powerful poems that lament the destruction of Jerusalem. All the chapters were written acrostics based on the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet except Chapter 5 not in acrostics arrangement. The writer has skillfully expressed the feeling to give us the entry point to their experience. As we read Lamentations, remember that this book is written as a poem, expressing the emotion of the people of God during the exile period. Capture the feeling. We can read this book in one sitting, picking out the feeling of the people of God. When we done it, take a second reading and at this reading, capture the God of exile highlighted by the writer. May we begin to feeling like to the people of Jerusalem and to see the God of the exile. It’s interesting how the writer end the book of Lamentations with questions to...
Malachi

Malachi

The people were living in an uneventful period where God seems to be far away or have forgotten His people. It was after the exile and the Israelites have finished rebuilding the temple and the wall, but the land they live in is still barren and life is hard. So the people continued their religious duties monotonously. The Messiah that had long been promised still didn’t turn up. As you begin, picture the situations the Israelites were in. Again, comb through the whole book first, and then as you re-read, ponder upon the questions below. Malachi 1:1-5 The Word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi whose name means ‘Messenger’. It begins with Israel questioning God’s love and God affirming them that ‘He had loved them’. But… Malachi 1:6 – 2:17 The Israelites have shown contempt for God’s name. As you read this portion, List down the things that the people and the priests did not showed contempt for God’s name. Think about ‘how will God’s name or honour would be at stake if the people and priest continue to do what they did. Malachi concluded by bringing Moses (the Law) and Elijah (the Prophets) into the picture. Why did he end it this way? If God says ‘I Love You’ If God says ‘I have loved you’, what will my response be? I asked myself how much do I really love God? The least I can do is to give Him the honour due His name. But the Israelites – the people and the priests, both the individual and community, showed disrespect to God by offering blemished animal...
Haggai

Haggai

Some Tips on How to Read the Book of Haggai Haggai can be read in one sitting. To read Haggai, we need to know the history of the people of God. Background : THE RETURN TO JERUSALEM Haggai was a great encourager to the depressing situation in Jerusalem. When King Cyrus, Persian King conquered Babylon, he allows the Jews to return to their homeland, Jerusalem. He even provided materials for them to go back and rebuild the temple so that the Jews can pray to their God on his behalf. The Jews went back to Jerusalem, going home to ruins. Most who went back were the priests with the hope to rebuild the temple again. The rebuilding was not easy for there were too many ruins. They also face opposition from the Samaritans living in Jerusalem. After rebuilding the foundation of the house of God for 2 years, it has been deserted for 14 years. When King Darius became king, the subsidy and resources provided has put to a stop.  The people continue to build their own lives but leaving the work of rebuilding the temple behind. In this dimming situation, Haggai the prophet spoke.  He encourages the people to continue the work of rebuilding to its completion. Questions to ponder as you read What do you notice about Haggai the prophet? How did Haggai encourage the people to rebuild? What were the promises of God through the prophet Haggai   Reflection THE RETURN GLORY OF GOD God’s house must be a priority Haggai and gang return home to Jerusalem with the hope of rebuilding the temple of God....
Zephaniah

Zephaniah

Some Tips on How to Read the book of Zephaniah “The LORD has taken away your punishment…” ~Zephaniah 3:15~ The book of Zephaniah is an oracle given to the people of Judah to warn them of the day that the Lord will come and bring His judgment on them and also an oracle of restoration for a remnant of Judah. It is good to note first as you start reading this oracle to know that the style this oracle is written is in a poetic way and do take some time to ask yourselves why is such symbols and meaning used? Note that such pattern of writing brings out a sense of feeling that God means business here when He declares His coming judgment and also His promise of restoration. i) As you read through the first part of the oracle; the series of judgment from the LORD (1:1-3:8), do take some time to go through this different section and discover what is the Word of the LORD saying?  Destruction awaits for those who neglect the LORD as their first love (1:1-13)  Nothing can save us from the LORD’s wrath (1:14-18)  The LORD’s mercies for Jerusalem and His judgment is just (2:1-3:8) ii) Reading the second part of the oracle; the promise of restoration of the remnant of Judah (3:9-20), do take some time to go through this section and discover what is the Word of the LORD saying?  The LORD’s mercies and grace for His people (3:9-20) Reflection Reading the short book of Zephaniah leaves me with different questions as I try to see and understand how God,...
Habakkuk

Habakkuk

No, I’m not sure if he’s a cook but he is definitely a prophet of Judah! His name means ‘embrace’, thus he embraces what he saw around him and had conversations with God over the injustices that he saw. Later on he also embraces what God is going to do. As you begin, put yourself in Habakkuk’s shoes and have a conversation with God. Look through the whole book first. Then as you re-read, ponder upon the questions below: Habakkuk 1:1-4 “Sin has taken control!!! There’s violence! Injustice!” Look at what Habakkuk complains to the Lord about, and the things that are bothering him. Habakkuk 1:5-11 See how the Lord answers by asking Habakkuk to fix his eyes on something else – to look at the nations and that nothing can prevent God’s judgments. Habakkuk 1:12-2:1 “Surely God can’t do that??” Look at how Habakkuk asked this question and at the same time, what was his posture / attitude towards God? Habakkuk 2:2-20 The Lord’s revelation will surely come true. How will it all end? Habakkuk 3 What was Habakkuk’s response to the Lord in the end? Doubts and Question Habakkuk’s doubts centered on two painful problems: How would God allow the sins of Israel to go unpunished? God’s answer: He will raise up the Babylonians to overpower them (1:5-11) How could a just God allow a godless nation destroy a nation, where there are people who are more righteous? God’s answer: The godless nation will be punish and Babylon would indeed be judged for their sins. Shouts and Praise Habakkuk’s doubts turned into certainty: The soul of the prophet...