On Sundays at St. Matthew’s United Methodist Church, we are going through a series entitled “Long Story Short” where we look at the Bible as Bookshelf. Each Monday through this series, I’ll layout for what you basic details about the shelf we looked at. And just a reminder you can listen to my podcast of this sermon here or stream it below:
This week we talked about The Prophets. The Prophets are the words of those individuals on whom the spirit fell, and they had a word from the Lord. Pre-Pentecost, the Spirit was not widely available to everyone, it would fall upon certain people. In the Prophets, you’ll see things such as “the Spirit fell upon…”. The Spirit would come upon individuals and they would share the word the Lord had for them. We’ll talk in a minute about the broad sweep of what the Lord said, and the commands that He had for them.
We often think about Prophets as dealing with the future, and while there is some of that, it is not their only purpose. The Prophets are speaking the Word that God has for His people.
There are two groups of Prophets, the Major Prophets, and the Minor Prophets. This has nothing to do with importance, this is simply about the length of the books. The Major Prophets are longer, the Minor are shorter. In fact, in some Jewish traditions, the Minor are sometimes called “The Twelve” and combined into one book. The Major Prophets and their major themes are:
- Isaiah – this book deals with Judah, its faithfulness and sin, as well as the judgment for those persecuting God’s people.
- Jeremiah – this deals with God’s judgment against the people for their sin and their exile to Babylon.
- Lamentations – this is a book of lament and pain about the fall of Jerusalem. It was written by Jeremiah, this is why he is often called the weeping prophet.
- Ezekiel – this book is written in Babylon, we see that God speaks even in a foreign land. He tells the people that they will return but they are to be faithful.
- Daniel – this books od’s plans to save all Israel in the same way He saved Daniel.
The Minor Prophets and their major themes are:
- Hosea – through Hosea’s marriage to Gomer, God demonstrates His unfailing love for His people.
- Joel – God will restore His people, but there will be great trials and troubles.
- Amos – God will judge every nation (Israel included) that rebels against His authority. But there is grace for all who turn to Him.
- Obadiah – Pride goes before the fall.
- Jonah – the story of God calling Jonah to preach repentance to Jonah’s enemies and Jonah’s refusal and ultimate obedience. God loves even our enemies.
- Micah – the people have not kept the covenant and they will be punished. Because God loves them, He will restore them in time.
- Nahum – God will judge and destroy those who oppose and oppress His people.
- Habakkuk – how can a holy God use an unholy people to further His purpose? There is a mystery to how God works.
- Zephaniah – judgment is coming for sin that has been committed, but there is redemption and restoration with God.
- Haggai – the temple must be rebuilt after the exile and God will bless those who place their trust in Him.
- Zechariah – as the Temple is rebuilt after the exile, so is God’s relationship with His people rebuilt.
- Malachi – it isn’t just enough to go through the motions of worship, but God demands our heart and our obedience to Him in every part of our lives!
As you look through this, you see some themes emerge – punishment for sin and a commitment to God first. One of the great sins that the prophets condemned over and over again was idolatry. In our minds, this has to do with graven images and golden calves. What it really has to do is with allegiance. What is the thing that we trust in more than God?
The people didn’t worship idols because wasn’t that they didn’t trust in God. They did. But they didn’t fully trust in God. They worshiped idols to cover all their bases, to hedge their bets. They worshiped idols because they didn’t trust in God to truly take care of them.
Our idols are those things in our lives that are what (if we are being honest) give us peace. Money. Job. Popularity. These things. What is the thing in your life that really gives you peace? That thing, other than God, that is your hope and peace?
That is your idol.
And that’s what you have to lay at the altar.
For mean, it’s my savings account. I want so much saved up at all times, or else I worry. That’s my idol. I combat it by making myself be generous. I have to smash that idol.
The prophets call us to faithfulness and remind us that God loves us and will always redeem us when we turn to Him. May we take their message into our lives!
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