Luke 2:1-20 “Today, you will find Him and so find your hope”. That was the message of the Angel of the Lord to the shepherds (slightly paraphrased!). It’s a message we need to hear in the midst of our Christmas celebrations. The Big Debate.
KEY VERSE: – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. The commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6)
Our key verse for this teaching series highlights the importance of being able to hold the word of the Lord securely in our hearts and live differently in response.
Throughout the span of the Old Testament, God used different ways of relating to His people to enable them to hold and live by His word.
Judges were appointed to hold in place and administer the details of God’s covenant with his people.
Kings were to protect the relationship God has with his people.
Priests were appointed to give the right example of holy living and to act as intermediaries between God and his people.
And prophets were tasked with speaking out the word of God in ways that ensured everyone understood it properly, responded to it appropriately, and allowed it to shape their lives.
These 4 roles are not to be seen as one being more superior to the others, but they are 4 different kinds of leadership that would help God’s people maintain the fullness of their relationship with Him.
I’ve always thought it a bit harsh to describe the 12 books at the end of the Old Testament as the “minor” prophets! That word could be understood as being of less importance than the writing of other prophets, but far from it. Just because these 12 books are shorter in length than the writings of other prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel or Jeremiah, doesn’t mean that they are any less significant in content or impact.
In the book “Prophets & Poets” (edited by Grace Emmerson), Michael Tunicliffe writes: “For the early Christians the coming of Jesus was a new and stupendous event, but not unheralded. The words of the prophets enabled them to make sense of the story – they ‘read’ the prophets in the light of Jesus’ life, and they interpreted that life through the sayings of the prophets” (p.19).
That will be our aim with this teaching series. As we spend time noticing how the 12 prophets at the end of the Old Testament experienced God, spoke out for Him, and encouraged those around them to respond to the word of the Lord, we will be reading these books in light of what we already know about Jesus. Be ready to go further than that, though, because it’s as we share an experience of God with the prophets that we’ll be challenged to consider how we need to respond to the word of the Lord in our own time.
Today our children & young people will lead us through the Nativity story with their usual creativity and enthusiasm!
Zechariah Chaps 9 to 14. Luke 1:26 – 56. With the groundwork done in the first half of Zechariah, the remainder of his message is focused on the coming Messiah. Chapters 9 & 10 focus on the personal nature of the King, not just His presence as a national figurehead. He will be the one […]
Zechariah 1-8, Luke 3:1-20 The message of Zechariah is perhaps the most Messianic in nature of all of the prophets. The prophet’s name is significant. It means “The LORD (Yahweh) remembers”. “Yahweh” is the personal, covenant making name for God. That gives us an immediate “heads up” that we’re dealing here with the unbroken continuity […]
Zephaniah, Matthew 1:18-25 After a little respite whilst we were with Haggai from harsh messages of judgement delivered by the other prophets, we’re back to it with Zephaniah. The repeated phrase “on that day” warns of a time to come when the Lord will act decisively. Yet, chapter 3:9-20 seems to talk of a new […]
Micah. The message of Micah speaks into the circumstances of a once united nation that is now split into two kingdoms. There is now godlessness in the midst of prosperity, and God’s sovereign rule is set against the apparent security offered by worldly kings. Chapters 1-3 set out the brokenness of the covenant bond that […]
Malachi. There’s a fascinating heading in the NIV, half way through chapter 3. It says, “Robbing God”. It seems strange in some ways to think that we can steal from God, but the message of Malachi makes it clear that we can. He focuses on the need to teach faithfully (chp 1 & 2) because […]
Nahum. Soon after Nineveh had seemed to repent in response to Jonah’s message, they were back to their old ways of extreme wickedness, brutality and pride. They were smug in their own achievements having destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel, and continued to pose a threat to Judah. They’d had their chance to change their […]
Jonah. Once we get past Jonah’s every desire to want to run away from the calling of the Lord on his life, we get to the main emphasis of his message. Jonah was mostly concerned for himself to begin with. The Lord was asking him to take His word to the people of Nineveh, but […]
Habakkuk Habakkuk is pretty confused about God’s ways, and doesn’t hold back from telling Him so through his complaints. He questions why it is that his experience of God doesn’t match up to what he expected, and why the good suffer whilst the unrighteous prosper. The Lord’s response wasn’t one of rebuke for being complained […]