These last six books sounded like they were arranged chronologically – Nahum speaking of Judah’s rescue from Assyria, Habakkuk and Zephaniah of the exile & restoration, and the final three speaking both encouragement and rebuke to the returned exiles. Zechariah and Malachi had an interesting blend of exhortation to the returnees blending into striking prophecies of Christ’s first and second comings. In listening, I felt these books build a sense of anticipation for the coming Messiah, which is strengthened by Malachi’s closing prophecy of Elijah’s coming as Christ’s forerunner. It makes me want to start reading the New Testament right away!
I don’t think I realized before that Hosea was writing to the apostate northern kingdom; that makes God’s anguished declarations of love for them seem more poignant to me. Joel has several passages that I have usually heard associated with end-times teaching, such as the beginning section about locusts. But reading them in context, I wasn’t so sure that they were meant as end-times teaching; they seemed more connected with current judgments on the nation. Jonah’s narrative form really stood out as a contrast to the poetic oracles of the other books, and to be honest, it was much easier to understand and relate to my life. One theme that jumped out at me as common to this whole group of books was the emphasis on social justice and how you treat others. Even the judgments pronounced against neighboring nations were because of how cruelly they treated Judah and Israel.
(This was a seminary class assignment originally dated November 29, 2006. I made minor edits before posting it in this blog. For an introduction and table of contents for this series, see New Series: Old Testament Reading Journal)
Ezekiel was so dramatic and his visions so incredible, I wonder if I would have believed him, or if I would have thought he was insane! Even though his language is more metaphorical, his message reminds me of Jeremiah: Judah and Jerusalem will be destroyed, but a remnant will be saved, and ultimately Judah’s enemies will be destroyed for what they had done. Again I see God’s sovereignty in the predictions, as He shows Ezekiel even the details of what He was about to do. After our discussion about context in class, I can see that the passages that seem to deal with eternal security (e.g., 18:24; 33:12-13, 18) are actually about whether individual Jews would live or die in the coming destruction under Babylon, in accordance with the covenant blessings and curses of Deuteronomy.
Daniel reminds me of Joseph: God caused both to rise to political power in their country of exile by giving them the ability to interpret dreams. The dramatic shift in Daniel 7 from third person to first and from narrative to prophecy jumped out at me as never before. I must admit that I gave in to reading the study Bible notes in the prophetic section! Both Ezekiel and Daniel include end times prophecies; I wonder if that relates at all to the fact that both were exiles?
(This was a seminary class assignment originally dated October 28, 2006 for Ezekiel and November 28, 2006 for Daniel. For an introduction and table of contents for this series, see New Series: Old Testament Reading Journal)
The first part of Jeremiah, with its predictions of Judah’s exile & return, sometimes seems to ping-pong between the two rather quickly. To be honest, I found the narrative portions somewhat confusing for my western mind to listen to because they are not in chronological order. I’d definitely have to spend some time with the written version before I could see the reason for putting them in that order. The main lesson I see is an insight into God’s character: although He is incredibly patient, He will punish those who continue to resist Him; but He will not completely abandon His people. Lamentations seems relatively straightforward in comparison, with its poetic expression of grief for the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem and for Jeremiah’s experience of persecution. The word pictures do a wonderful job of portraying Jeremiah’s feelings.
(This was a seminary class assignment originally dated October 18, 2006. I made minor edits before posting in this blog.For an introduction and table of contents for this series, see New Series: Old Testament Reading Journal)
The form of the book strikes me as an anthology containing “The Collected Works of Isaiah” and vignettes from his life and ministry. Parts were confusing, but other parts contain some of my favorite passages in the entire Bible. I love the wonderful, exalted view of God in chapter 6 and chapter 40 and following! I don’t know how anyone can read the last third of the book and still deny God’s foreknowledge and sovereign control of not just the broad strokes of history, but specific details regarding both good and evil!
(This was a seminary class assignment originally dated October 17, 2006. I made minor edits before posting it in this blog. For an introduction and table of contents for this series, see New Series: Old Testament Reading Journal)