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...
Nahum

Nahum

Some Tips on How to Read the Book of Nahum The book of Nahum is a carefully crafted, brilliantly executed piece of poetry in which a whole variety of prophetic forms – hymn, salvation, doom, taunt, dirge – are carefully interwoven so as to effect what is basically “woe oracles” over Nineveh (Assyria), along with a salvation oracle to Judah. One hundred years earlier, Jonah had preached in the streets of the great city Nineveh. The people had heard God’s message and had turned away from their evil. But generations later, evil was again reigning, and the prophet Nahum pronounced judgment on this wicked nation. For the biblical/historical background to Nahum, you may want to read 2 Kings 17-23 and 2 Chronicles 33-34. As you read Nahum, Sense God’s wrath as he avenges sin and brings about justice. Notice the character of God; mercy and judgment – these seemingly opposite traits actually reflect God’s consistent stance toward His people. Reflection From Jonah, we see a God of mercy who forgives all who repent and whose love is for everyone. But, when we come to the book of Nahum, we also see God as judge. He will not allow evil to persist forever. Although the book seems to be addressed to the Assyrians, Nahum’s message is also for God’s people, the nation of Judah – a nation threatened and frequently oppressed by the mighty Assyrians. Time and again they must have wondered if God truly protects those who worship Him and if He would ever judge the Assyrians for their pride, idolatry, murder, lies, treachery and social injustice. We too,...
Micah

Micah

Some Tips on Reading the Book of Micah Micah is a unique book – this 6th book of the prophets is carefully and uniquely arranged. You will notice a series of oracles arranged carefully but not necessarily chronologically and over a long span of time. His ministry covers a long time from 742 BC to 686 BC during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Micah, the master wordsmith Micah’s contemporary is Isaiah. While Isaiah moves among the court of Kings and has some kind of nobility, Micah is a much more an average man, a farmer who is more or less equivalent to the man on the street in our day. As such he identified readily with the sufferings and probably experienced injustices as well. He identified himself with his hometown Moresheth rather than a family lineage. Such identification may further indicate his family name may not be so well-known. As he is probably a farm man, he is able to identify more readily with many of the judgment. His own hometown (1:14) is among those named in Yahweh’s judgment. Micah’s message is much shorter. The brevity however only magnified the intensity of his message and preaching. There is a sense of urgency in his message and the pace is unrelenting. Sometimes the impact is lost when translated into English. Check out the amazing wordplay in chapter 1:10-16 of Eugene Peterson’s Message. It captures the approximation to what the wordplay of the original text. Imagine the irony! Structure of Book The literary structure highlights Micah's main themes of Israel's social sins, the moral failure of its leadership, and Yahweh's...
Jonah

Jonah

Jonah and Nahum are categorized under the Minor Prophets of OT…but there is nothing minor about their message! The term ‘minor’ refers to their length rather than their importance or that stature of the prophets. Do you know that both Jonah and Nahum spoke about Nineveh? Read on… Some TIPS on How to Read the Book of Jonah Ever thought that some people are beyond hope because they seem so evil and incapable of change – perhaps a serial killer or drug kingpin or terrorist? Like us, Jonah viewed the Assyrians in similar manner. The Assyrians were known for their gruesome torture acts. Yet, God asked him to love them. At this time in Israel’s history, the northern kingdom had its traditional borders restored by King Jeroboam II. He had been able to recover territory lost in earlier times. Nevertheless, Assyria remained a very real threat from the north at this time. It is against this historical backdrop that God sent Jonah to Nineveh to warn it of the imminent danger of divine judgment. As you read Jonah, Notice the changes that occur in the city of Nineveh and in Jonah. Observe how God pushes him to make these Look out for God’s compassion for all people and the great lengths to which He will go to get our attention. Reflection Jonah’s reluctance to go to Nineveh hinged on his view that the cruel Assyrians did not deserve to be saved and that God would surely relent if they repented. Through Jonah’s distress in the belly of the fish and his encounter with the withering vine, God slowly changed him....
Obadiah

Obadiah

Some TIPS on How to Read the Book of Obadiah Obadiah is the shortest book in OT & has only 21 verses. It can be divided into 3 parts where the Lord speaks about different aspects regarding Edom and what they have done. The Lord spoke to them through Obadiah (his name means servant of God). So I suggest that you study the book following the 3 parts each a day to have a deeper insight on what really happened and use the 4th day to reflect and ponder how the story of Edom is applicable to our life. Day 1 - Verse 1-9 As you read, try to find the tone God is speaking to the people. Why and what is God going to deal with them? What are the severities they are going to face? Try to imagine the metaphorical examples that were used & how realistic it is. Day 2 - Verse 10-16 Find out what really Edom has done to Israel in the past (you may need to do some background & historical research. Eg: Origin of Edom, what they did to Israel, their relationship & etc…) Day 3 - Verse 17-21 How great and glorious will the restoration and reward for Israel will be in the end? Why & what are they being rewarded with? Once upon time exiles now OWNERS? Day 4 – Reflection & applications What does the story means to us? How is Edom related to us as Christians now? Maybe it is a good time to examine what pride and unkind character can cause& do to us? Reflection Obsessed with...