Since I last wrote, we’ve studied 1&2 Kings, Job, Amos, Jonah and Joel! I feel so incredibly close to God and filled with His peace and presence as I study the word and walk out in obedience with whatever He’s saying. Recently He’s told me to lay down some things that are normal to my daily routine. For instance, He’s led me to fast one meal a day throughout the week to spend time in His presence listening to His voice and grow in my hunger for Him. I have found that to be essential in keeping sane in the midst of the crazy amount of work we have due each week. I definitely look more and more forward to my quiet times with Him every day!
So here’s a brief synopsis on each one of the books I’ve studied over the past three weeks. I’ll try my best to keep each one short.
1&2 Kings – After the epic reign and life of King David, very few kings after
him followed his example in fear of the Lord. But God was so patient and merciful. Although His people rebelled for centuries, He kept reaching out to them through the prophets to get them to turn back to their first love. In the end, their disobedience led to their exile.
How often do people today reject God even though deep down they know the truth, but continue in their ways that lead to destruction? I know that was me for so long, and by His grace I was able to trust God instead. He only wants the best for us!
Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the law that I commanded your ancestors and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” They would not listen but were stubborn, as their ancestors had been, who did not believe in the Lord their God.
2 Kings 17:13,14
Job – Although he was a lover of God and God loved him, Job went through terrible affliction. His friends basically argued it was his own fault and it was because of his wickedness that God had done this to him. But this shows how limited our human perspective can be (and what bad counsel looks like!).
There are tons of different views on why suffering happens, but in this book, God never directly answered Job the “why.” While I don’t think that God intentionally afflicted Job to “teach him a lesson,” I don’t think the point of the book was to answer the “why suffering happens” question. Rather, God wanted to show how to respond to trials and negative circumstances. God Himself will give us exactly what we need in terms of comfort and counsel and wisdom into circumstances that seem to make no sense because He has the highest perspective. Human perspective and insight is limited, and at times hurtful and incorrect, especially in regards to tragedy. This has really taught me to not judge other people’s lives or world events because God alone is sovereign and in control. I can’t assume I know the reason “why” – I must rely on God’s understanding.
Amos – This was our first book of the prophets! We had to learn a new way to study the prophetic books but the concept is the same.
In this book, Amos denounces the Israelites for practicing social injustice and neglecting the poor. They only cared about their own wealth and comfort and nothing about God’s laws for the poor (listed out in Leviticus and Deuteronomy). As a result, they experienced the covenant curses He told them would surely happen if they neglected to follow His law.
Through studying Amos, God has begun to give me His heart for social justice. Even though people have taught me to care about the poor and lost, until discovering God’s heart for it in the Bible, I’ve never been as convicted (in a good, non-condemning way) as I am now! This really is something that God cares about A LOT, and I want to care about what God cares about!
Hate evil and love good,
and establish justice in the gate;
it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts,
will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.
Jonah – This is an awesome book to study! I never realized how intimate Jonah’s relationship was with God. Though Jonah had a heart issue (he was unwilling to see Nineveh forgiven since they were hard to forgive), God never gave up trying to talk to Jonah about it. He was so merciful and patient. Even though Jonah ran away and became bitter, God kept pursuing Jonah, wanting to confront his feelings so that God could heal him and give him His perspective.
God knows that are our hearts aren’t always aligned with His – we can’t just hide them or pretend our desires are His desires when they aren’t. It’s best just to be honest with God. For instance, as the church, we “should” care about making God known. But maybe in truth, we don’t live that out because we actually don’t care.
Instead of pretending, I want to be honest with God, because God is so patient and loving, and unless I’m honest about my heart, God won’t have the opportunity to give me His perspective.
He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” And the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”
Joel – Although God’s people were prophesied against, in this particular prophetic book I saw that God was more concerned about making His grace known than He was about focusing on the people’s sins. He was saying, “Although you guys have experienced a lot of hardship because of your own disobedience, don’t worry, I have a plan that will enable you to obey me and never again go through what you have gone through.”
Isn’t that the grace of God? Even though God’s people “deserved” their destruction because of their bad choices, God was comforting them with promises! He would establish them and never reject them. He would send His spirit that would ensure their eternal deliverance. Yeah, they had made the mess they were in, and yeah, God definitely noticed their sin and was grieved over it. But in spite of all of that, He was determined to remain faithful to His promise to them as His chosen people. God remains faithful to His children even we aren’t faithful to Him:
I will repay you for the years
that the swarming locust has eaten,
the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter,
my great army, which I sent against you.
You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied,
and praise the name of the Lord your God,
who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
and that I, the Lord, am your God and there is no other.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
I will pour out my spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female slaves,
in those days, I will pour out my spirit.