Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Well, Lent is over, which means that my discipline of reading the minor prophets is finished. But my Lenten discipline included writing reflections on the minor prophets, so my discipline is not quite finished yet.

Today we come to Nahum, who writes about another one of Judah’s enemies, Nineveh. The book opens with Nahum proclaiming God’s judgement upon sinful Assyria. Nahum describes the Lord in 1:3 saying, “The LORD is slow to anger and great in power, and the LORD will by no means clear the guilty.” Through the reading of the other minor prophets I have become very aware no nation or people, whether Israelite or otherwise, was innocent of sin. I have also become aware of how I, myself, am not innocent of sin and wandering after idols. We are all guilty of sin and God will not clear the guilty. So once again Nahum directs us to the question: How then are we to be saved? God certainly doesn’t clear the guilty, but rather than punish the guilty God punishes His Son on the cross. Jesus takes the punishment for our guilt and give us His righteousness in exchange.

One other part that intrigued me as I read Nahum was the mention of a wound for Nineveh (3:19). I couldn’t help but thinking that I had heard this sort of thing before. Yes, I had heard this before, it’s in Micah 1:9. Except in Micah the wound was supposed to be Judah’s wound, a wound that only the Great Physician is able to heal. It turns out that it’s not only Judah whose hurt by this wound, but those outside Judah as well. Indeed, all people are inflicted by this wound, all those affected by sin and death. And God’s healing power will be upon them as well, given first to the Jew and then to all the world (Rom 1:16).

Both Nahum and Jonah speak to Nineveh, yet they both give drastically different messages. Jonah gives a message of hope and mercy, while Nahum gives a message of judgement and impending doom. What’s going on? Apparently, the people of Nineveh are not as willing to hear and receive God’s message from Nahum as they were for Jonah. Yet they were still proclaiming the same message of repentance that God has given us, He tears us down by the threat of the Law, and shows us hope and mercy in Christ, the Messiah, who heals our wound that leads to death.

Friday, April 22, 2011

God's Will

Here's my sermon from Maundy Thursday. The text is Matt. 26:36-46 and the Third Petition of the Lord's Prayer (Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Micah is one of those books that comes out swinging with massive amounts of law that beat you into submission. Then as you keep reading it starts to get a little better until the sweet gospel is laid out in the final chapter.

Micah opens by describing the destruction that is about to come upon Judah. Micah makes it clear that what is coming can only be blamed on themselves and their constant chasing after idols. Throughout the first chapter there is this idea of God Himself coming down to earth to punish Judah and Samaria for her sin. The destruction that God will bring with Him will destroy Samaria down to the foundations, nothing will be left standing and all the idols that the people lusted after would be shattered completely. Yet there is also a sense of regret and mourning in these verses for the punishment that God must now bring to His wayward people. “For her wound is incurable, and it has come to Judah,” (1:9) God says. Sin spreads throughout the human race, bringing with it a wound that we can’t cure, a wound that leads to death. Yet God has mercy on His people by taking that wound upon Himself and in so doing, gives us the cure for our sin and death.

Micah’s preaching then turns from the general sins of Samaria and Judah to the more specific sins of the leaders and the people who attempt to silence God’s prophets and the preaching of His Word (2:6). Because sometimes God’s Word tells us what we don’t want to hear, sometimes God’s Word convicts and condemns us. And so the people of Israel have become God’s enemy, outright rejecting His Word and persecuting His prophets who come them calling for repentance and declaring punishment for the unrepentant. We too turn into God’s enemies when God’s Word and the preaching of His Word becomes despised and neglected. We no longer hold it sacred, or gladly hear or learn from it because there are times that what the Bible tells us isn’t very pleasant for us to hear. Like the people of Israel we prefer the preaching of wine and strong drink (2:11), of fun and prosperity, health and wealth. Yet God makes it clear that such a preacher is a preacher of lies.

Since the leaders of Judah aren’t doing their jobs, but are leading God’s people into sin, God Himself will be their leader and gather them all to Himself (2:12-13). God displays Himself in the image of a shepherd throughout this section, as one who gathers His flock and leads them to pastures and protecting them. It is the image of the Good Shepherd that Jesus uses to describe Himself in John 10.

Micah calls out the rulers of Judah who oppress the people and gives a pretty graphic and gory description of the oppression they impose on the people:

Hear, you heads of Jacob
   and rulers of the house of Israel!
Is it not for you to know justice?—
2you who hate the good and love the evil,
who tear the skin from off my people
   and their flesh from off their bones,
3 who eat the flesh of my people,
   and flay their skin from off them,
and break their bones in pieces
   and chop them up like meat in a pot,
   like flesh in a cauldron.

So God will turn His back on them and will come to rule and judge from Mt. Zion, as the king of His people. It is a return to the days before the monarchy, when God was the king of Israel and personally lead His people. His rule will be a rule of peace where swords and spears will no longer be needed, but beaten into farm equipment (4:1-5). And God will manifest His rule, His reign through the birth of this king/judge/shepherd in Bethlehem (5:2-5), in other words JESUS! The one who brings God’s reign through His cross and gathers all people to Him and the peace of His mercy and grace. And who will return once again with the new Jerusalem to judge the living and the dead and reign of His kingdom forever.