Week Thirty-Nine Reading Assignment:
Hosea 13 - Micah 4
"You must slay the allurements to vice while they are still only thoughts... God will not punish us at once for our thoughts and resolves but will send retribution upon their offspring or upon the evil deeds and habits of sin, which arise of the offspring. As he says by the mouth of Amos, 'For three transgressions of such and such a city and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof.'"
(Jerome, Letter 8)
(Jerome, Letter 8)
This Week's Teaching Video: The Element of Surprise
Bonus Teaching Video: The Element of Surprise on a Map
Charting Our Progress
Character Profile: Unwelcome Revival
You could say that Jonah was the most effective of all the Old Testament prophets. For all of the exhorting and warning that we hear from men like Amos and Jeremiah, we don’t see any other prophet enjoying the kind of response prompted by Jonah’s life and message.
The pagans, who were on the boast with Jonah, ended up bowing down to his God. And, later, the citizens of Nineveh turned to the Lord in response to what they had heard Jonah preach.
On the one hand, there are prophets and preachers who have a heart for God and His work. And there, on the other hand, is where we find Jonah.
Jonah resists God’s call in the first place, packing up and going in the opposite direction. He hasn't the
obedience, the vision, or the heart to respond to God’s call to preach in Nineveh.
Following divinely-applied pressure, Jonah finally does go to Nineveh to do God’s bidding. He preaches a warning of God’s judgment , and then he finds a seat with a view of the city, eager to witness its doom. But the people of Nineveh repent. Though they were not the covenant people of God, still they turn to the Lord God and repent of their sins. And God forgives them.
For Jonah, that is intolerable.
Jonah so feared or so hated the folks in Nineveh that he didn’t want to go in the first place. The only upside of going, evidently, was the opportunity to witness their destruction.
Instead, however, Jonah witnessed their salvation, and he was angry about it. He was angry with God. Like the prodigal son’s older brother, Jonah didn’t want to see God’s forgiveness for the undeserving; he wanted to see God’s punishment. And so, in the end, the man who had God’s word did not have God’s heart.
Good Book Review: The Variable Prophet
The prophet Joel stands out among the canonical prophets of the Old Testa-ment as the most difficult to date.
In most instances, the content of a prophet’s message or story provides contextual evidence for the prophet’s time and place. In Joel, however, we find few helpful references. He doesn’t tell us who was on the throne. He doesn’t name names. And, except for a few cryptic references in 3:4-8, he doesn’t even give us much clue about the dominant empires in the region at the time.
Because Joel is so detached from a historical context, he serves as a kind of “x” prophet for us. A variable. A generic sample.
Joel’s message, though brief, includes several major elements of Old Testa-ment prophecy. His early reference to the destruction by locusts suggests the judgment of God. Then, in the next
chapter, he predicts and depicts still more devastation on the horizon. He exhorts the people to repentance. He promises a lovely post-judgment resto-ration from God. He predicts the judg-ment of God on other nations. And he sees beyond the horizon to what we would call the messianic stage of God’s plan. And, finally, it is the prophet Joel to whom Peter turns in the New Testament in order to understand and explain the Day of Pentecost.
While we do not know the particulars of Joel's time and place, his life and ministry, there is something wholesome about his example. For he does not invite any spotlight on himself. Rather, his book encourages us to focus our attention entirely on God's message, God's will, and God's plan.
Old Testament Prophets Time Line - 1
Old Testament Prophets Time Line - 2
Many dates in Old Testament history are estimates, and some are debated. Question marks on the above time lines help to identify for the student which dates are less certain than the others. These helpful resources were created using the BibleWorks software. Bible time lines copyright © 1996-1999 BibleWorks, LLC.