Thread – Zephaniah

ZEPHANIAH

Who wrote it?

Zephaniah 1:1 identifies the author as the Prophet Zephaniah. The name Zephaniah means “defended by God.”

When(ish) was it written?

The book of Zephaniah was written during the reign of King Josiah, likely in the early part of his reign, between 635 and 625 BC.

Why was it written?

Zephaniah’s message of judgment and encouragement contains three major doctrines:

  • God is sovereign over all nations.
  • The wicked will be punished and the righteous will be vindicated on the day of judgment.
  • God blesses those who repent and trust in Him.

Some Key Verses

Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the Lord. In the fire of his jealousy, all the earth shall be consumed; for a full and sudden end he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
– Zephaniah 1:18
Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord.
– Zephaniah 2:3
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
– Zephaniah 3:17

A Quick Summary

Zephaniah pronounces the Lord’s judgment on the whole earth, on Judah, on the surrounding nations, on Jerusalem and on all nations. This is followed by proclamations of the Lord’s blessing on all nations and especially on the faithful remnant of His people in Judah.

Zephaniah had the courage to speak bluntly because he knew he was proclaiming the Word of the Lord. His book begins with “the word of the Lord” and ends with “says the Lord.” He knew that neither the many gods the people worshiped nor even the might of the Assyrian army could save them. God is gracious and compassionate, but when all His warnings are ignored, judgment is to be expected. God’s day of judgment is frequently mentioned in the Scriptures. The prophets called it the “Day of the Lord.” They referred to various events such as the fall of Jerusalem as manifestations of God’s Day, each of which pointed toward the ultimate Day of the Lord.

Foreshadowings

The final blessings on Zion pronounced in Zephaniah 3:14-20 are largely unfulfilled, leading us to conclude that these are messianic prophecies that await the Second Coming of Christ to be completed. The Lord has taken away our punishment only through Christ who came to die for the sins of His people (Zephaniah 3:15; John 3:16). But Israel has not yet recognized her true Savior. This is yet to happen (Romans 11:25-27).

The promise of peace and safety for Israel, a time when their King is in their midst, will be fulfilled when Christ returns to judge the world and redeem it for Himself. Just as He ascended to heaven after His resurrection, so will He return and set up a new Jerusalem on earth (Revelation 21). At that time, all God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled.

What does this mean?

With a few adjustments in names and situations, this prophet of the 7th century BC could stand in our churches today and deliver the same message of judgment of the wicked and hope for the faithful. Zephaniah reminds us that God is offended by the moral and religious sins of His people. God’s people will not escape punishment when they sin willfully. Punishment may be painful, but its purpose may be redemptive rather than punitive. The inevitability of the punishment of wickedness gives comfort in a time when it seems that evil is unbridled and victorious. We have the freedom to disobey God but not the freedom to escape the consequences of that disobedience. Those who are faithful to God may be relatively few, but He does not forget them.
 

Discussion Questions

  • Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Zephaniah 2:3, 3:3-17, Judges 15:16, Colossians 3:16, and Psalms 96. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
  • What are some songs you remember singing during your childhood? How did you learn them? Who sang along with you?
  • What are your favorite songs to sing Sundays at FBC? Why are you drawn to those particular songs?
  • Read Zephaniah 3:16-17. Zephaniah says that the “mighty One who will save” (that’s Jesus) is so filled with joy over being able to save us that He will celebrate with “loud singing.” Take a few moments to imagine the Lord Himself singing over His people. How does God’s rejoicing over you in the Gospel encourage you to rejoice over Him as well?

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Thread – Haggai

HAGGAI

Who wrote it?

Haggai 1:1 identifies the author of the book of Haggai as the Prophet Haggai.

When(ish) was it written?

Haggai was written in approximately 520 BC.

Why was it written?

Haggai sought to challenge the people of God concerning their priorities. He called them to reverence and to glorify God by building the Temple in spite of local and official opposition. Haggai called them not to be discouraged because this Temple would not be quite as richly decorated as Solomon’s. He exhorted them to turn from the uncleanness of their ways and to trust in God’s sovereign power. The book of Haggai is a reminder of the problems the people of God faced at this time, how the people courageously trusted in God, and how God provided for their needs.

Some Key Verses

Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?
– Haggai 1:4
Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.
– Haggai 1:5-6
The latter glory of this house shall be greater than the former, says the Lord of hosts. And in this place I will give peace, declares the Lord of hosts.
– Haggai 2:9

A Quick Summary

Will the people of God reconsider their priorities, take courage, and act on the basis of God’s promises? God warned the people to heed His words. Not only did God warn them, but He also offered promises through His servant Haggai to motivate them to follow Him. Because the people of God reversed their priorities and failed to put God in first place in their lives, Judah was sent into Babylonian exile. In response to Daniel’s prayer and in fulfillment of God’s promises, God directed Cyrus the Persian king to allow the Jews in exile to go back to Jerusalem. A group of Jews returned to their land with great joy, put God first in their lives, worshiped Him and began to rebuild the Temple of Jerusalem without the aid of the local people who lived in Israel. Their courageous faith was met with opposition from the local people as well as the Persian government for about 15 years.

Foreshadowings

As with most of the books of the minor prophets, Haggai ends with promises of restoration and blessing. In the last verse, Haggai 2:23, God uses a distinctly messianic title in reference to Zerubbabel, “My Servant” (Compare 2 Samuel 3:18; 1 Kings 11:34; Isaiah 42:1–9; Ezekiel 37:24,25). Through Haggai, God promises to make him like a signet ring, which was a symbol of honor, authority, and power, somewhat like a king’s scepter used to seal letters and decrees. Zerubbabel, as God’s signet ring, represents the house of David and the resumption of the messianic line interrupted by the Exile. Zerubbabel reestablished the Davidic line of kings which would culminate in the millennial reign of Christ. Zerubbabel appears in the line of Christ on both Joseph’s side (Matthew 1:12) and Mary’s side (Luke 3:27).

What does this mean?

The book of Haggai draws attention to common problems most people face even today. Haggai asks us:

  • To examine our priorities to see if we are more interested in our own pleasures than doing the work of God
  • To reject a defeatist attitude when we run into opposition or discouraging circumstances
  • To confess our failures and seek to live pure lives before God
  • To act courageously for God because we have the assurance that He is with us always and is in full control of our circumstances
  • To rest secure in God’s hands knowing that He blesses us and we’re called to faithfully serve Him.
 

Discussion Questions

  • Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Haggai 1, Ephesians 1:13-14, John 14:27, Philippians 4:6-7, and Haggai 2:20-23 What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
  • What are the broken areas of your life that need rebuilding? What prevents you from taking action?
  • What are some strategies you’ve used in your life to allow you to regularly “consider your ways?” Are you able to find consistent time to stop and reflect on your life? Who helps you in this process?
  • In what ways can your life be a “signet ring” for others, so they might see God’s imprint on your life and as a result believe in God’s promise to save?
  • Do you have Jesus, and therefore the Holy Spirit, living in your heart? How does His presence specifically affect your ability to see change happen in your life?

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May 2020 Newsletter


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Thread – Habakkuk

HABAKKUK

Who wrote it?

Habakkuk 1:1 identifies the book of Habakkuk as an oracle from the Prophet Habakkuk.

When(ish) was it written?

Habakkuk was likely written between 610 and 605 BC.

Why was it written?

Habakkuk was wondering why God was allowing His chosen people to go through the current suffering at the hands of their enemies. God answers and Habakkuk’s faith is restored.

Some Key Verses

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
– Habakkuk 1:2
Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.
– Habakkuk 1:5
Are you not from everlasting, O Lord my God, my Holy One? We shall not die.
– Habakkuk 1:12
And the Lord answered me: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.
– Habakkuk 2:2-4
But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.
– Habakkuk 2:20
O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.
– Habakkuk 3:2
God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.
– Habakkuk 3:19

A Quick Summary

The book begins with Habakkuk crying out to God for an answer to why God’s chosen people are allowed to suffer in their captivity (Habakkuk 1:1-4). The Lord gives His answer to Habakkuk, essentially stating, “You wouldn’t believe it if I told you” (Habakkuk 1: 5-11). Habakkuk then follows up by expressing, “Ok, you are God, but still tell me more about why this is happening” (Habakkuk 1:17-2:1). God then answers him again and gives him more information, then tells the earth to be silent before Him (Habakkuk 2:2-20). Then Habakkuk writes a prayer expressing his strong faith in God, even through these trials (Habakkuk 3:1-19).

Foreshadowings

The Apostle Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 on two different occasions (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11) to reiterate the doctrine of justification by faith. The faith that is the gift of God and available through Christ is at once a faith that saves (Ephesians 2:8-9) and a faith that sustains throughout life. We attain eternal life by faith and we live the Christian life by the same faith. Unlike the “proud” in the beginning of the verse, whose soul is not right within him and whose desires are not upright, but we who are made righteous by faith in Christ are made completely righteous because He has exchanged His perfect righteousness for our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21) and has enabled us to live by faith.

What does this mean?

The application to the reader of Habakkuk is that it is permissible to question what God is doing, although with respect and reverence. Sometimes it is not evident to us what is going on, especially if we are thrown into suffering for a period of time or if it seems our enemies are prospering while we are just barely getting by. The book of Habakkuk affirms that God is a sovereign, omnipotent God who has all things under control. We just need to be still and know He is at work. He is who He says He is and does keep His promises. He will punish the wicked. Even when we cannot see it, He is still on the throne of the universe. We need to stay focused on this: “God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places” (Habakkuk 3:19). Enabling us to go on the heights is taking us to the higher places with Him where we are set apart from the world. Sometimes the way we have to go to get us there is through suffering and sorrow, but if we rest in Him and trust Him, we come out where He wants us.
 
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Habakkuk 1:2-17, 2:1-4, 3:2-19, Hebrews 10:32-39, Romans 1:16-18, and Galatians 3:10-13. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
  • Read Habakkuk 1:2-4 and Habakkuk 1:12-2:1. Describe a time where you felt this way toward God. How did it affect your faith?
  • What season of life are you in currently? What does it mean for you to “live by faith” in your current season?
  • Read Habakkuk 3:17-19. In light of everything God said and did, Habakkuk’s response to God was one of celebration and rejoicing. How can you have this posture in your spiritual life right now?
  • Take time to share prayer requests and pray for the season of life you are walking through with your life group.

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Thread – Nahum

NAHUM

Who wrote it?

The author of the book of Nahum identifies himself as Nahum (in the Hebrew “consoler” or “comforter”) the Elkoshite (1:1). There are many theories as to where that city was though there is no conclusive evidence. One such theory is that it refers to the city later called Capernaum (which literally means “the village of Nahum”) at the Sea of Galilee.

When(ish) was it written?

Given the limited amount of information that we know about Nahum, the best we can do is narrow the timeframe in which the book of Nahum was written to between 663 and 612 BC. Two events are mentioned that help us to determine these dates. First, Nahum mentions Thebes (No Amon) in Egypt falling to the Assyrians (663 BC) in the past tense, so it had already happened. Second, the remainder of Nahum’s prophecies came true in 612 BC.

Why was it written?

Nahum did not write this book as a warning or “call to repentance” for the people of Nineveh. God had already sent them the prophet Jonah 150 years earlier with His promise of what would happen if they continued in their evil ways. The people at that time had repented but now lived just as bad if not worse than they did before. The Assyrians had become absolutely brutal in their conquests (hanging the bodies of their victims on poles and putting their skin on the walls of their tents among other atrocities). Now Nahum was telling the people of Judah to not despair because God had pronounced judgment and the Assyrians would soon be getting just what they deserved.

Some Key Verses

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.
– Nahum 1:7
The Lord has given commandment about you: “No more shall your name be perpetuated.”
– Nahum 1:14
Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace!
– Nahum 1:15
Behold, I am against you, declares the Lord of hosts.
– Nahum 2:13
There is no easing your hurt; your wound is grievous. All who hear the news about you clap their hands over you. For upon whom has not come your unceasing evil?
– Nahum 3:19

A Quick Summary

Nineveh once had responded to the preaching of Jonah and turned from their evil ways to serve the Lord God. But 150 years later, Nineveh returned to idolatry, violence, and arrogance (Nahum 3:1–4). Once again God sends one of His prophets to Nineveh warning of judgment in the form of the destruction of their city and exhorting them to repentance. Sadly, the Ninevites did not heed’s Nahum’s warning, and the city was brought under the dominion of Babylon.

Foreshadowings

Paul repeats Nahum 1:15 in Romans 10:15 in regard to the Messiah and His ministry, as well as the apostles of Christ in His time. It may also be understood of any minister of the Gospel whose business it is to “preach the good news.” God has made peace with sinners by the blood of Christ, and has given to His people the peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). The preacher’s work is also to “preach the good news” (Romans 10:15) of reconciliation, righteousness, pardon, life, and eternal salvation by a crucified Christ. “How beautiful are the feet” of those who preach the Gospel, and bring such news (Romans 10:15). The imagery here is of one who runs to others, eager and joyful to proclaim the Good News.

What does this mean?

God is patient and slow to anger. He gives every country time to proclaim Him as their Lord. But He is not mocked. Any time a country turns away from Him to serve its own motives, He steps in with judgment. As Christians it is our duty to stand up for biblical principles and scriptural truth, for the Truth is our only hope.
 

Discussion Questions

  • Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Nahum 1:1-7, Song of Solomon 8:6-7, and Ephesians 2:1-6. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
  • A “jealous” person holds feelings of envy toward others due to their achievements or possessions. How do you struggle with jealousy? How is our sinful jealousy “of” others different from God’s righteous jealousy “for” us?
  • Nahum describes God as “avenging” and “wrathful.” Do you consider these attributes to be positive or negative? How does the fact that God is “all powerful” impact the way we experience His vengeance and wrath?
  • The Lord is “slow to anger.” Are you? How short (or long) is your fuse before you “explode” in anger? Consider how God’s patience with you could have an impact on your willingness to choose patience with others.

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Thread – Easter

 EASTER

Discussion Questions
 
  • Share your favorite childhood memory of Easter
  • What Easter traditions – religious or secular – do you currently observe? What meaning do they hold for you?
  • Is it easier for you to believe in Jesus’ teachings than in his resurrection? Why or why not?
  • Read 1 Corinthians 15:16-17. Discuss the connection between Jesus’ resurrection and our faith. Do you agree with Paul’s assertion?
  • Read Matthew 7:13-14. How does  Jesus’ statement in this passage relate to Paul’s teaching on the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:14-20?
 
*Thank you to NorthPoint Church for sharing these questions

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Thread – Micah Questions

MICAH

Who wrote it?

The author of the book of Micah was the Prophet Micah (Micah 1:1).

When(ish) was it written?

Micah was likely written between 735 and 700 BC.

Why was it written?

The message of Micah is a complex mixture of judgment and hope. On the one hand, the prophecies announce judgment upon Israel for social evils, corrupt leadership, and idolatry. This judgment was expected to culminate in the destruction of Samaria and Jerusalem. On the other hand, the book proclaims not merely the restoration of the nation, but the transformation and exaltation of Israel and Jerusalem. The messages of hope and doom are not necessarily contradictory, however, since restoration and transformation take place only after judgment.

Some Key Verses

Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord God be a witness against you, the Lord from his holy temple.
– Micah 1:2
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
– Micah 5:2
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
– Micah 6:8
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
– Micah 7:18-19

A Quick Summary

The prophet condemns the rulers, priests, and prophets of Israel who exploit and mislead the people. It is because of their deeds that Jerusalem will be destroyed. The prophet Micah proclaims the deliverance of the people who will go from Jerusalem to Babylon and concludes with an exhortation for Jerusalem to destroy the nations who have gathered against her. The ideal ruler would come from Bethlehem to defend the nation, and the prophet proclaims the triumph of the remnant of Jacob and foresees a day when Yahweh will purge the nation of idolatry and reliance on military might. The prophet sets forth a powerful and concise summary of Yahweh’s requirement for justice and loyalty and announces judgment upon those who have followed the ways of Omri and Ahab. The book closes with a prophetic liturgy comprising elements of a lament. Israel confesses its sin and is assured of deliverance through Yahweh’s mighty acts.

Foreshadowings

Micah 5:2 is a messianic prophecy quoted when the magi were searching for the king born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:6). These kings from the East were told that from the tiny village of Bethlehem would come forth the Prince of Peace, the Light of the world. Micah’s message of sin, repentance, and restoration finds its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ who is the propitiation (or payment) for our sins (Romans 3:24-25) and the only way to God (John 14:6).

What does this mean?

God gives warnings so we will not have to suffer His wrath. Judgment is certain if God’s warnings are not heeded and His provision for sin in the sacrifice of His Son is rejected. For the believer in Christ, God will discipline us—not from hate—but because He loves us. He knows that sin destroys and He wants us to be whole. This wholeness–which is the promise of restoration–awaits those who choose Him.
 

Discussion Questions

  • Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Micah 6, Romans 2:1-4, and Romans 3:21-26. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
  • What does it mean to “do justice?” Where do you see injustice? How can you as a follower of Jesus be a model of living “how the world ought to be?”
  • What does it mean to “love kindness?” Consider the enduring, patient, and unconditional kindness of God. How can you grow in your love for the practice of relentlessly having a posture of kindness toward others?
  • What does it mean to “walk humbly with the Lord?” What role does God’s Word play? Do you consistently rank yourself (or “humble” yourself) under the truth of God’s Word?
  • God uses Micah to remind His people how He has repeatedly saved them. Has God saved you? What good thing has God done in your life that you tend to forget? Remember together God’s gracious goodness, exampled to us by Jesus, and pray for opportunities to show Jesus to others as well.

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Sunday Service Changes

FBC Family,

Good morning.
As stated by our Lead Pastor, Kris Tarkiewicz, in his previous email: “I am thankful for a God who is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. This is the faithful and steady God we know, love, and serve.”
We rest in that assurance and we also have been seeking God’s guidance for our services tomorrow (3.15.20). 
You were told that the deacons and staff would continue to “listen to recommendations and direction from reliable sources” and we have done just that. Governor Whitmer handed down the ban this past Friday of no gatherings of 250+ or more in light of the spread of the coronavirus. We, as followers of Christ, are reminded of this in Titus 3:1-3 – Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.
 
So in an effort to listen to our governing authorities and to be considerate for all of the men, women and children in our congregation we have decided to NOT hold public services this Sunday at FBC.
However, we are so very grateful that God moved on our hearts this last year to improve upon our live streaming capabilities so that we can offer our services to you online. So, while we may not gather in person this Sunday, we do plan to gather in our homes with the use of technology.
We plan to broadcast ONE LIVE service Sunday morning at 9am. We will immediately broadcast a replay when it is available after the LIVE 9am service. During this service we will start by singing some hymns of praise. We want to encourage you to sing out loud with us and worship our God together. We will also have announcements, teaching and prayer as usual. We will then close with contemporary worship with a full praise team. I am praying that God does something powerful in our homes through all of this. I believe there is great potential for the Spirit of God to move in a new and unusual way. There are many churches around the USA who are taking this approach and we could see a radical movement of God as a result.
So please be in prayer that, although we have to make this difficult decision, God would do something powerful in our homes and in our world tomorrow. 
HOW TO WATCH THE LIVE STREAM:
1. YOUTUBE – Google is well aware of the heavy use that could happen on Sunday morning and we have been told that they are doing work on their end to ensure that more churches than usual can broadcast. So we recommend this as the number ONE option. Go to www.youtube.com and search: FAMILY BIBLE CHURCH MARSHALL. Click on the church icon and then click SUBSCRIBE followed by the BELL ICON. You will be notified when we go live.
2. FACEBOOK – Again, with the heavy traffic of churches broadcasting on Sunday, we are unsure of how Facebook will handle the load. So this would be a SECONDARY option. Go to www.facebook.com and search: FAMILY BIBLE CHURCH and find our page. Click LIKE and ask to be notified. Join us at 9am and scroll down on the page until you see our live video and click on it to listen along.
3. WEBSITE/APP – On our website www.familybible.church there is a link under MEDIA called LIVE STREAM. On that page you will find an embedded video player where you can follow along with the service.
If you still have questions on how to do this please contact jon@familybible.church before Sunday morning and I will try to walk you through it or set you up with someone who can. 
As an added bonus we plan to have some online “hosts” who will be on chat with you as we are live to answer any questions you may have.
HOW TO GIVE: 
We will also be taking OFFERING via the website at www.familybible.church/give where there is a form you can fill out. Again, if you have questions please ask. If you would rather give your money in person you are more than welcome to drop that off on Monday in a sealed envelope with your information on it.
We appreciate all of you and we hope and pray that you know we want to be with you this Sunday in any way possible. At this point, we feel that this is the best option and we will keep you notified about other potential cancelations of events during the week.
Our God is HEALER, He is POWERFUL, he is ABOVE ALL and HE WILL SEE US THROUGH this time.
Have faith and keep seeking Him,
Jon Gerten
Creative Arts Pastor

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Thread – Jonah

JONAH

Who wrote it?

Jonah 1:1 specifically identifies the Prophet Jonah as the author of the book of Jonah.

When(ish) was it written?

The book of Jonah was likely written between 793 and 758 BC.

Why was it written?

Disobedience and revival are the key themes in this book. Jonah’s experience in the belly of the fish provides him with a unique opportunity to seek a unique deliverance, as he repents during this equally unique retreat. His initial disobedience leads not only to his personal revival, but to that of the Ninevites as well. Many classify the revival which Jonah brings to Nineveh as one of the greatest evangelistic efforts of all time.

Some Key Verses

But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish.
– Jonah 1:3
And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
– Jonah 1:17
I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice.
– Jonah 2:2
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
– Jonah 3:10

A Quick Summary

Jonah’s fear and pride cause him to run from God. He does not wish to go to Nineveh to preach repentance to the people, as God has commanded, because he feels they are his enemies, and he is convinced that God will not carry out his threat to destroy the city. Instead he boards a ship for Tarshish, which is in the opposite direction. Soon a raging storm causes the crew to cast lots and determine that Jonah is the problem. They throw him overboard, and he is swallowed by a great fish. In its belly for 3 days and 3 nights, Jonah repents of his sin to God, and the fish vomits him up on dry land. Jonah then makes the 500-mile trip to Nineveh and leads the city in a great revival. But the prophet is displeased (actually whines) instead of being thankful when Nineveh repents. Jonah learns his lesson, however, when God uses the wind, a gourd, and a worm to teach him that He is merciful.

Foreshadowings

That Jonah is a type of Christ is clear from Jesus’ own words. In Matthew 12:40-41, Jesus declares that He will be in the grave the same amount of time Jonah was in the fish’s belly. He goes on to say that while the Ninevites repented in the face of Jonah’s preaching, the Pharisees and teachers of the Law who rejected Jesus were rejecting One who is far greater than Jonah. Just as Jonah brought the truth of God regarding repentance and salvation to the Ninevites, so too does Jesus bring the same message (Jonah 2:9; John 14:6) of salvation of and through God alone (Romans 11:36).

What does this mean?

We cannot hide from God. What He wishes to accomplish through us will come to pass, despite all our objections and foot-dragging. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that He has plans for us and will see to it that we conform to those plans.

God’s love manifests itself in His accessibility to all, regardless of our reputation, nationality, or race. The free offer of the Gospel is for all people in all times. Our task as followers of Christ is to be used by God to tell the world of the Gospel and to rejoice in the salvation of others. This is an experience God wants us to share with Him.
 

Discussion Questions

  • Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Jonah, as well as Romans 8:28-30. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
  • Give an example from your life of how God has used something “negative” (disobedience, sin, suffering) to bring glory to Himself.  How do these moments affect your ability to trust God in all areas of your life?
  • Share a bit of your own faith story.  How did you come to decide to put your trust in Jesus?  
  • Read Romans 8:28-30.  For some people, the truth of “for those who love God all things work together for good” actually causes them to stop working toward obedience because they believe what they do doesn’t matter anyway.  How about you? Are you willing to be responsible for your part, and trust God with His?

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Thread – Obadiah

OBADIAH

Who wrote it?

Obadiah verse 1 identifies the author as the Prophet Obadiah.

When(ish) was it written?

The book of Obadiah was likely written between 848 and 840 BC.

Why was it written?

Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament, is only 21 verses long. Obadiah is a prophet of God who uses this opportunity to condemn Edom for sins against both God and Israel. The Edomites are descendants of Esau and the Israelites are descendants of his twin brother, Jacob. A quarrel between the brothers has affected their descendants for over 1,000 years. This division caused the Edomites to forbid Israel to cross their land during the Israelites’ Exodus from Egypt. Edom’s sins of pride now require a strong word of judgment from the Lord.

Some Key Verses

Though you soar aloft like the eagle, though your nest is set among the stars, from there I will bring you down, declares the Lord.
– Obadiah 4
But do not gloat over the day of your brother in the day of his misfortune; do not rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their ruin; do not boast in the day of distress.
– Obadiah 12
For the day of the Lord is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head.
– Obadiah 15

A Quick Summary

Obadiah’s message is final and it is sure: the kingdom of Edom will be destroyed completely. Edom has been arrogant, gloating over Israel’s misfortunes, and when enemy armies attack Israel and the Israelites ask for help, the Edomites refuse and choose to fight against them, not for them. These sins of pride can be overlooked no longer. The book ends with the promise of the fulfillment and deliverance of Zion in the Last Days when the land will be restored to God’s people as He rules over them.

Foreshadowings

Verse 21 of Obadiah contains a foreshadowing of Christ and His Church, “saviors shall go up to Mount Zion to rule Mount Esau, and the kingdom shall be the Lord’s.” These “saviors” (also called “deliverers” in several versions) are the apostles of Christ, ministers of the word, and especially the preachers of the Gospel in these latter days. They are called “saviors,” not because they obtain our salvation, but because they preach salvation through the Gospel of Christ and show us the way to obtain that salvation. They, and the Word preached by them, are the means by which the good news of salvation is delivered to all men. While Christ is the only Savior who alone came to purchase salvation, and is the author of it, saviors and deliverers of the Gospel will be more and more in evidence as the end of the age draws near.

What does this mean?

God will overcome on our behalf if we will stay true to Him. Unlike Edom, we must reflect Christ and be willing to help others in times of need. We have nothing to be proud of except Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.
 

Discussion Questions

  • Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Obadiah (the whole book). What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
  • Obadiah says, “Your arrogant heart has deceived you.” In what ways are you tempted with pride to believe that you can sustain yourself? Obadiah mentions security, crew (powerful friends), power, wisdom, and money/possessions. When are you tempted to trust more in yourself than in God?
  • Obadiah mentions eight “do not” statements that deal with our temptation to be boastful, vindictive, or to rejoice in the failure of others. Do you struggle with these? When are these temptations the strongest?
  • When Obadiah says, “But, there will be a deliverance on Mt. Zion,” through the house of Jacob, he’s referring to Jesus. Take a few moments to thank God for fulfilling His promises, that through Jesus, He has delivered us in spite of our pride and boastfulness.

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