One item on my wishlist is to have read the WHOLE Bible.
I got my very first Bible when I was 8, or somewhere around there; and I remember spending lazy Sunday mornings reading it like a storybook.
I liked stories, and I read just about every story I could find in the Bible. Sunday School teachers couldn't faze me; I knew my Bible well--or so I thought.
But I had to confess I never really touched the Minor Old Testament prophets, unless there was a sermon preached on them;and even then it was just the verse or chapter being preached on.
OT prophets were tough! OT prophets seemed to rant and rave about the same old topic all the time! And--let's face it--OT prophets were kind of boring.
But as Pastor Stewart Olyott said, "Ecclesiastes [or any other book in the Bible we're tempted to dismiss or discount] was written for us, and we cannot ignore it without impoverishing ourselves." (A Life Worth Living and a Lord Worth Loving: Exposition of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon)
And thank God, I have found this to be true as I start my foray into the Minor OT Prophets.
Search the Scriptures have been immensely helpful in understanding the tough passages, and giving insights I wouldn't have found on my own.
But sometimes the words of the Bible, on their own, are so clear, so powerful, that they leave me wondering--breathlessly--why I never, how could I never have, come across this before.
I have learnt so much already from just these first few steps into the books of the Minor OT Prophets. Yes, they're tough. What on earth does "[Ephraim] is an unwise son, for he should not stay long where children are born" mean? (Hosea 13:13)
And I feel for the prophets; men and creatures like myself, yet understanding the anguish and weight of God's message, and in agony how to preach it--how to make these people understand when their hearts were so hard and the message itself so deep.
Yes, they do 'rant and rave'--but why? Because they watch their people fall away from God, again and again, beyond gratitude, beyond understanding.
O God, I see the anguish I cost You when I fall away, when my love for You is cold--repeatedly! As if I haven't learnt from the last time!
"O my soul, my soul, my soul! I am pained in my very heart!" (Jeremiah 4:19)
And finally, yes, the OT prophets can be boring--if we only see it as the prophets warning the Israelites; something which happened centuries ago, something which we can shake our heads wisely and knowingly at.
But what of us?
Are we any better, any stronger, than the Israelites? Do we make any more sense when we keep, keep, keep falling into sin, drifting from God, serving our own idols rather than Him
--even when we know better?
The first chapter of Amos may tempt us to do just that--shake our heads knowingly and feel 'holy' horror at the terrible sins of the nations God was judging. Oh, dear, how awful! How could anyone be so cruel? They deserve God's punishment, don't they? I'm afraid I did just that.
And then, suddenly, chapter 2:4 hits me in the face. God's own people. Being judged with the same severity--not, this time, for 'obvious' crimes of cruelty and wickedness, but for faithlessness and disobedience to God.
How many of us can dare to say we haven't been disobedient, haven't rebelled against or disrespected God at one time or other--or all--of our lives?
Ouch. I don't like being classed with people who 'ripped open women with child".
We're more like the Israelites than we'd like to realize. Maybe we don't bow down before our idols or offer burnt sacrifices to them, but we certainly give them our time, our energy, our emotions. Don't we cause just as much pain, anguish, to our pastors or the Christians who care for us--the shepherds according to God's heart, whom He gave to us? (Jeremiah 3:15)
God is speaking to us through these oft-forgotten, oft-neglected books of the Bible, as urgently and poignantly as He is through the New Testament or the Gospels.
The prophets of the Old Testament are part of the Bible too.
a quiet voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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