Sunday, December 18, 2011

Prophets Speak, "Shape up, or ship out!"

“In Wrath, God Remembers Mercy”
As you know, my weekly assignment at the KI is to write a response about what we learned throughout the week in class.  We did not have an assignment last week (which was a very nice break) which means I can talk about one thing I learned from the previous two weeks.  Wow! I don’t know where to begin.  Debbie Jo White came last week and we studied Daniel and this week Blake Holmes from Watermark in Dallas came and we studied all the prophets.  It was incredible.  Blake and his companion, Bobby Crotty, referred to these books of the Bible as the “sticky pages.”  The prophetical books are the most neglected books of the Bible (O God, convict our hearts for ignoring part of your Word).  Before my time here at the KI and my knowledge of the Bible as a whole (through the Bible overview classes and project), I would not have been able to understand the prophetical books either.  The history of Israel is vital to understanding the prophets and the Bible as a whole.  
The 17 prophetical books fall into three categories (pre-exilic, exilic, post-exilic). Now you are probably be thinking, what does that mean? Here’s a little bit of history- creation, the fall of man, the flood, the tower of babel (dispersion of all mankind), and the call of Abram (later changed to Abraham).  God made a covenant with Abraham and told him he would make him into a great nation and would give him land, seed, and blessing.  This starts the history of the nation of Israel.  After God brought his people out of slavery in Egypt, He gave them the law (moral, ceremonial, hygienic) and “the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” (Exodus 24:3 &7) God told them if they obeyed He would bless them, yet they did not obey and repeatedly dishonored the covenant they had made with God.  After many years of disobedience, God allowed Assyria to conquer Israel (northern kingdom) and Babylon to conquer Judah (southern kingdom).  Those in Judah were exiled to Babylon for 70 years. The pre-exilic books (written before Israel was taken into exile) were written to warn the Israelites to turn their hearts back to God and repent.  They did not repent and the exilic prophets are those who spoke during the exile.  The post-exilic prophets spoke to the Israelites after they returned to the Promised Land mostly encouraging them to rebuild the temple.  
Now that you know a little bit more about the Israel’s history, you should be able to read the “sticky pages” with a little bit more understanding (Challenge: read Jeremiah 29).  It’s God’s Word and it is for us today; “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Heb 13:8).  Let us not neglect any part of His Word! I was so convicted about my lack of interest and knowledge of this part of Scripture.  It’s in there for a purpose and these books are applicable for us today.  “All Scripture is God breathed.” (2 Tim 3:16)  I encourage you to study more of Israel’s history and God’s redemptive plan for all mankind; the entire Bible flows and fits together.  

Helpful Information-
As you read the prophets, keep a few principles in mind (given to us this week by Blake Holmes, Watermark Church in Dallas): context is key, 90% is forthtell (speaking truth) and 10% is foretell (what to come), the theme is repentance and restoration, these are oracles (spoken, not letters, etc), and these books are like mountain tops and have double fulfillment (during their time and in the future). 
Pre-exilic: Amos, Hosea (written to Israel, the northern kingdom) & Joel, Isaiah, Micah, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk (written to Judah, the southern kingdom)
Exilic (70 years in exile): Ezekiel, Daniel, Lamentations, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum
Post-exilic (after King Cyrus allowed them to return): Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
The books Ezra & Nehemiah are the accounts of what happened when the people returned (rebuilding of the people, the temple, and the city walls). 

A quick glance at a few of the prophetical books: 
Obadiah-“as you have done, it shall be done to you” (vs 15).  This book was written to Esau’s descendants who did not help the Israelites when in need and God judged them.   God hates the exploitation of others.
Jonah- “salvation is from the Lord”: God called Jonah to Nineveh and he ran.  What area of your life are you not surrendering to Christ?
Amos-“prepare to meet your God”:  God addresses those who are living fat and happy at the expense of others.  He calls the wise “cows.”  (Amos 4:1-3) Complacency, materialism, and idolatry are detestable in God’s sight. What area of your life are you holding more important than Christ? 
Hosea-“playing the whore”: God forgives Israel’s sin of idolatry and rebellion.  He desires restoration.  There is not any sin that is too great for God’s grace and forgiveness.  If you are continual sin, you are already believing one lie (God does not satisfy all your needs), don’t believe a second lie that God cannot forgive you of that sin.
Daniel-“Even if”: This book is INCREDIBLE! It takes place in Babylon during the 70 years of exile.  Daniel and his friends has such amazing faith; “The God we serve is able to save us from it (the furnace), and He will resuce us from your hand O king. But even if he does not, we want you to kno, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18) Do you have “even if” faith?
Haggai-”consider your ways”: This prophet spoke to the people after they had returned home.  They were too busy rebuilding their “paneled houses” that they forgot to build the most important thing, the temple.  What things in your life are you putting before God?  Have you replaced God with the things of God?

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