Bibliography for God in the Ruins: The Message of the Minor Prophets

When I conclude a sermon series, I usually share the resources I used to help me study and prepare my sermons. Here is that bibliography for our recently completed series, “God in the Ruins: The Message of the Minor Prophets.”

Bibliography for “God in the Ruins: The Message of the Minor Prophets”

Elizabeth Achtemeier. Minor Prophets I. NIBC. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996.

________. Preaching from the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.

Robert Alter. The Hebrew Bible, Volume 2: Prophets. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2019.

Joyce G. Baldwin. Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. TOTC. Downers Grove, IL: 1972.

Stuart Briscoe. Taking God Seriously: Major Lessons from the Minor Prophets. For Washington, PA: CLC Publications, 1986.

Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton. “Introduction to Prophetic Literature.” In A Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009.

Paul R. House. Old Testament Theology. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2018.

Walter C. Kaiser. Preaching and Teaching from the Old Testament: A Guide for the Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2003.

James Luther Mays. Hosea. OTL. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1969.

A. Schart. “Twelve, Book of the: History of Interpretation.” In Dictionary of the Old Testament Prophets. Eds. Mark J. Boda and J. Gordon McConville. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2012.

Douglas Stuart. Hosea-Jonah. WBC. Waco, TX: Word Books, 1987.

M. A. Sweeney. “Twelve, Book of the.” In Dictionary of the Old Testament Prophets. Eds. Mark J. Boda and J. Gordon McConville. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2012.

Bruce K. Waltke. A Commentary on Micah. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007.

Nicholas Wolterstorff. Justice: Rights and Wrongs. Princeton, NJ: Princeton U. P., 2008.

A Prayer inspired by the prophet Zechariah

Lord our God, you are great.
You are clothed with splendor and majesty,
glorious beyond our comprehending
and always worthy of praise.

Even as we seek You,
we admit our limitations.
Our life is like a vapor upon this earth,
yet You are eternal.
Our understanding is limited,
yet You are the all-wise God.
Like Job, we often speak words without knowledge
as we try to peer into Your ways that are higher than ours.

Give us vision, like Zechariah,
to see, through the mists of our limitations,
the glory of Your presence, blazing like the sun,
which brings light and life to all things.

Strengthen us to persevere in seeking You,
that, like a deer panting for streams of water,
our needy souls might be satisfied in You alone,
who is our Creator, Savior, and Sustainer.

All this we pray, through Jesus Christ,
to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit
be all honor and glory, now and forever.
Amen.

 


This is part of a series of posts with prayers based upon the message of the Minor Prophets:

Does God Still Speak Today?

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Working through a preaching series on the minor prophets, again and again I come across a phrase, “The word of the Lord that came to…”

That phrase appears more than twenty times in the minor prophets (at least 10 of those are in Zechariah alone!):

  • “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri” (Hosea 1:1)
  • “The word of the Lord that came to Joel son of Pethuel” (Joel 1:1)
  • “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai” (Jonah 1:1)
  • “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time” (Jonah 3:1)
  • “The word of the Lord that came to Micah of Moresheth” (Micah 1:1)
  • “The word of the Lord that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi” (Zephaniah 1:1)
  • “the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel” (Haggai 1:1)
  • “the word of the Lord came to the prophet Haggai” (Haggai 2:10)
  • “The word of the Lord came to Haggai a second time” (Haggai 2:20)
  • “the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo” (Zechariah 1:1)
  • “Then the word of the Lord came to me” (Zechariah 4:8; 6:9)
  • “The word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi” (Malachi 1:1)

Many times the word was unexpected, but it was always clear.

We see this throughout the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, in characters like Noah, Moses, Hannah, David, Mary, Zechariah, Peter, and Paul. Again and again, we see these people having encounters with God that are clear, in which God clearly speaks to them and they are truly hearing from God.

This raises several questions for us about what it means to hear from God.  Over the course of the next week on my blog, I want to wrestle with a few of those questions as a way to engaging more deeply with God in a lively, dynamic relationship of faith. Here is the first question I want us to wrestle with today:

Can we hear God like the prophets and these many other characters in Scripture?  To put it another way: does God still speak to His people today as He did in Scripture?

This question immediately raises two more:

  • If no, why not?
  • If yes, how can we experience it?

So, let me do my best to walk through some answers to this question a little bit at a time.

Some would answer that question with a resounding “NO.”

  • No, God does not speak to us and we cannot hear Him today like the prophets and others in the Bible
  • The biblical characters are unique in a way that we are not
  • They received special revelation so that we don’t need to
  • The Bible is sufficient – it is enough – and we shouldn’t look for some additional revelation from God

But, I think that the answer to that question is YES.

  • Yes, God does speak to us and we can hear Him today in ways that are similar to the prophets and others in the Bible
  • The overwhelming testimony of Scripture is to a God who speaks
  • In fact, what sets the God of the Bible apart from other purported gods is that our God speaks, uniquely in words
    • Genesis – “And God said…” – God creates with words
    • Exodus – Sinai covenant and the Ten Commandments – God guides with words
    • Prophets – “The word of the Lord that came to…” – God corrects with words
    • Jesus – “the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14) – God is the Word
  • The overwhelming testimony of Scripture is that God speaks and Hs people listen
  • Jesus Himself said, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. ” (John 10:27, NRSV).
  • That is also true in the history of God’s people after the time of the Bible– the pervasive testimony of Christians in history is that God speaks to His people
    • Augustine hears God speaking to Him through Scripture and the song of a child[1]
    • Teresa of Avila, a 16th century nun, speaks of hearing God and receiving visions from him[2]
    • Brother Lawrence, a 17th century French monk, speaks of developing a conversational relationship with God in the midst of his mundane duties, like washing dishes[3]
    • In more modern times, 20th century English evangelical writer Joyce Huggett tells of hearing the voice of God[4]
    • John Piper, a renowned conservative evangelical preacher and author, tells of clearly hearing the voice of God on March 19, 2007, in a way that changed his life.[5]

Again, our first question was “does God still speak to His people today as He did in Scripture?”  The testimony of Scripture itself and the history of God’s people over time and in various places is affirmative. Our God is a God who speaks, and we, His people, can hear His voice.

This, of course, raises the question: what does it mean to “hear God,” and to that question we will turn tomorrow.


[1] Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, VIII.29.

[2] Teresa of Avila, Autobiography and The Interior Castle.

[3] Brother Lawrence

[4] Joyce Huggett, The Joy of Listening to God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1986).

[5] John Piper, “The Morning I Heard the Voice of God,” March 21, 2007; https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-morning-i-heard-the-voice-of-god.

God in the Ruins: The Message of the Minor Prophets

This weekend at Eastbrook Church we began a new preaching series entitled “God in the Ruins: The Message of the Minor Prophets.”

At the end of the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament, we find a collection of twelve small, yet powerful, books known as the Minor Prophets or “the Book of the Twelve.” The title “minor” refers to their length, and not to their significance, as each of these short books brings a powerful word from God to His people that challenges the status quo. As we walk through this entire collection, we will seek to hear God’s message to us today.

This series will eventually coincide with our Lenten journey to the Cross and Resurrection, with a devotional (more info to follow). Join us as we take a journey into the heart of God through this unique portion of the Scriptures.

An Angel at the Altar

Blake - Zecharias and the Angel.jpeg
William Blake, The Angel Appearing to Zacharias, pen and black ink, tempera, and glue size on canvas; 1799-1800.

an angel at the altar
heaven’s glory shatters earth’s sanctity
a voice indescribable yet understandable
a promise of hope unimaginable
confusion for old Zechariah
“our age – my wife – a baby – God – now?”
his call and God’s response
no utterance or voice now
his silence itself a testimony
that speaks of the ineffable
what has happened
what is happening
the first flutter of life within Elizabeth
gestates a voice of hope for humanity

 


 

I wrote these words after reading and reflecting on Luke 1:5-25 as part of my Advent readings. Zechariah has always struck me as a figure we all could relate to from Scripture. He encounters and angel of the Lord in the Temple, the place of all places that it seems like such a thing should happen. Yet Zechariah is so overwhelmed and confused by the message the angel brings that he doubts it could be possible. Struck dumb until the birth of the child, his silence becomes a message, even as the baby that his wife, Elizabeth, carries in her womb will be “a voice of one crying out,” directing attention to the Messiah. There is so much in here about speaking and silence, hearing and responding, as part of God’s work in relationship to humanity.

Finding Joy: John the Baptist

advent 3 - joy.jpg[This is the devotional I wrote for the third week of Eastbrook Church‘s Advent 2018 devotional. Join in with the daily journey through Advent here.]

“You are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth.” (Luke 1:13-14)

“And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.” (Luke 2:18)

In the lead up to Jesus’ birth, John the Baptist is one of the most vital characters, promised as a forerunner to the Messiah and a source of many people’s rejoicing. As a preacher before the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, John preaches to the crowds outside of Jerusalem in rural spaces near the Jordan River. His outfit is eye-catching and his diet is more than a little interesting, but not in the socially acceptable ways: “John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4). His first recorded words at the start of a sermon were “You brood of vipers” (Matthew 3:7). If John is trying to live out the part of an outsider prophet, he is doing a good job. But how does that fit with the promise of rejoicing attached to him in the angel Gabriel’s prophetic message to his father, Zechariah?

Sometimes, real joy requires a wake-up call. A study of people who had breakthroughs to greater meaning and joy in their lives, sometimes called “awakening experiences,” showed that these breakthroughs were often triggered by some form of psychological turmoil, such as stress, loss, or bereavement. While the breakthrough was an overwhelmingly positive experience, the pathway to get there was intensely difficult. As C. S. Lewis writes in The Problem of Pain: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Difficulty, even suffering, can serve as a wake-up call to joy.

And so, John the Baptist stands by the Jordan River’s edge, issuing a wake-up call to humanity. He refuses to mince words about what is distracting them from God’s best, whether it be specific sins or the pleasures of life. Even today, John’s words call us out of zombie-like distraction and back to attentive anticipation as we prepare for the joyful wonder of Christmas. All around us the frenzy of activity and acquisition ratchets up higher and higher in this holiday season. But do we hear the grating words of that camel-skin-wearing, locust-eating prophet cutting through the false promises of the sales pitch?

He tells us that there is another way to joy, a way that is found in Jesus the Messiah, who has come and will come again. John the Baptist reminds us that Jesus prayed we “may have the full measure of joy” (John 17:13), and that it is found in Him who is the bringer of “great joy for all people” (Luke 2:10).

Reflect:

  • Have you experienced a “wake-up call” that has led to greater joy in your life? If so, how did God turn it around into something to rejoice over?
  • How specifically has the arrival of Jesus in your life brought you joy? List as many ways as you can.

A Prayer for the third Sunday of Advent (from the Revised Common Lectionary):

God of timeless grace,
you fill us with joyful expectation.
Make us ready for the message that prepares the way,
that with uprightness of heart and holy joy
we may eagerly await the kingdom of your Son, Jesus Christ,
who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Join in with the daily Advent devotional here.

Finding Hope: Elizabeth

finding hope elizabeth.jpg

[This is the devotional I wrote for the second week of Eastbrook Church‘s Advent 2018 devotional. Join in with the daily journey through Advent here.]

“But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old…Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. ‘The Lord has done this for me,’ she said. ‘In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.’” (Luke 1:7, 24-25)

At the very beginning of Luke’s Gospel, we encounter Zechariah and Elizabeth, an older Jewish couple living during Herod’s reign in Judea. Of the few things we are told about them, Luke mentions that they live righteous lives before God but also that they have no children. Why does Luke tell us this? Certainly, it is at least to help us understand, in the midst of Zechariah fulfilling his priestly duties in the Jerusalem Temple, the significance of the angel Gabriel’s message of an unexpected miracle baby given to them in their later years. Perhaps it is also serves to remind us that righteous people do not always get what they desire. That theme lingers throughout the Bible from the book of Job through the Psalms and into the New Testament. Along with that, it is likely that Luke wants to emphasize how God often reveals Himself in a special way to those who have something missing from their lives. In fact, that is a special theme in the Gospel of Luke: God is close to those who seem on the outside, who carry a wound, or who only have the smallest thread of hope to which they cling.

In the midst of all the grand things God does in Scripture, and in the midst of the story God is writing in the human history, sometimes we may wonder if as human beings we remain too insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Even if we believe in God, we may wonder if we are simply hidden, unnoticed beings before the Divine Majesty.

The story of Elizabeth interrupts that strain of thinking like a hurricane. An angelic messenger blows in from the presence of God to say that hidden prayers have been heard and that God will indeed bring about their fiercest hopes for a child. Not only that, but the wild winds of the message will blow through human history as this miracle baby, John the Baptist, will come in the same untamable power of Elijah the prophet. He will speak words of hope to all people as a forerunner of the promised Messiah. You cannot cage that wind and, as it blows, Elizabeth sees the sails of her life refilled with the billowing winds of hope.

During Advent, Elizabeth’s story reminds us that the coming of Jesus brings hope to us. Jesus brings a “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3) that serves as “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Hebrews 6:19). As we take the journey of Advent, reminded that God sees us and God enters into our world through Jesus Christ, may the sails of our lives be refilled again with the wild winds of living hope through Christ Jesus.

Reflect:

  • What is an area of your life where you are “clinging to a thread of hope” about what God can do?
  • How do you think you can “feed” the hope God has brought to you to increase your experience of it?

A Prayer for the second Sunday of Advent (from the Revised Common Lectionary):

God of hope, you call us home from the exile of selfish oppression
to the freedom of justice, the balm of healing, and the joy of sharing.
Make us strong to join you in your holy work,
as friends of strangers and victims,
companions of those whom others shun,
and as the happiness of those whose hearts are broken.
We make our prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Join in with the daily Advent devotional here.