A Call to Worship in a Day of Fear (Psalm 33)

May 11, 2016

Psalm 33, a hymn of praise, expresses hope and joy in a time of fear. Israel’s circumstances, whatever their precise character, generated a deep need for God’s help and protection (“shield”) in the face of death and famine (Psalm 33:19-20). This fear was possibly occasioned by the threat of war or battle (Psalm 33:16-17). Given […]

Jonah 3:3b-6: Nineveh Repents!

December 10, 2015

Perhaps it is the shortest sermon in the Bible, but it might also be the most effective: “Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” Only five words in Hebrew, it is terse, and it also appears rather unenthusiastic. It appears in Jonah more like a wish-announcement rather than one delivered with evangelistic fervor. But […]

Reading Jonah

October 21, 2015

“The word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai” (1:1) Shipmates, this book containing only four chapters—four yearns—is one of the smallest strands in the mighty cable of the Scriptures. Yet what depths of the soul does Jonah’s deep sealine sound! What a pregnant lesson to us is this prophet! What a […]

Joel 3:1-17 — The Nations Held Accountable

May 16, 2014

In the first half, Joel called Israel to lament and repentance, to fasting and assembly (Joel 1:1-2:17). In the second half, Joel assures Israel that their gracious and compassionate God will “restore their fortunes.” Yahweh promised a new creation where even the soil and animals as well as the people will rejoice (Joel 2:18-27). Yahweh […]

Micah 1:2-7 — Yahweh is Coming!

September 9, 2013

The small-town prophet receives a big-time message from Yahweh. Micah announces that Yahweh is coming to Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom Israel. This, however, is about more than Israel. It is  Yahweh’s witness against the nations even though it is the nations who devastate Israel. The opening address functions as a lawsuit where […]

Amos 1:11-2:3 — Amos Addresses Edom, Ammon and Moab

January 16, 2013

Amos continues his prophetic word against the sins of the nations in Amos 1:11-2:3. He first addressed Damascus, Gaza and Tyre (Amos 1:3-10) which lie to the north and southwest of Israel and Judah.  Now he addresses Edom, Ammon and Moab which lie to the east and southeast of Israel and Judah. The pattern of […]

Amos 1:3-10 – Amos Addresses Damascus, Gaza and Tyre

January 9, 2013

International ethics are important to Amos.  He condemns violent aggression (perhaps even torture and wanton killing), enslavement of populations, and the slave trade. The oracles against the nations are intricately structured. They each follow the same rhetorical pattern. Address:  “The Lord Says” Proverb:  “Because of the three transgressions of … and because of four,  I […]

Amos Addresses the Nations: Amos 1:3-2:3

January 7, 2013

The first section of Amos startles us. The editorial heading prepared us to hear a word from Yahweh to Israel. Instead, the first six of eight proverbial sayings are addressed to regional nations. How does a Yahwehist prophet speak to the nations, on what basis, and about what? To be sure, he does finally get to […]

Haggai 2:20-23 — Shake the Nations, Lord!

June 29, 2012

Haggai’s fourth oracle comes on the same day as his third, that is, the day on which the foundation of the temple is laid. As Judah gathered to celebrate the occasion (cf. Ezra 3:10-13), Haggai addressed first the priests and people (2:10-19) and now he specifically addresses Zerubabel who is the governor of Judah (2:20-23). […]

Zechariah 12:1-8 — Jerusalem and the House of David Redeemed

April 20, 2012

Zechariah 12-14 is the second oracle of the second half of the book of Zechariah. The first half of Zechariah contained eight visions (Zechariah 1-6) and four messages (Zechariah 7-8). The second half of Zechariah comes in the form of two oracles (the Hebrew term only occurs in Zechariah 9:1, 12:1 and Malachi 1:1). The […]