Letting go is always difficult. And the closer we are to the thing (or person) being released, the more difficult it is to let go. We must hold everything loosely. Some of the most poignant examples of letting go come in the context of parent-child relationships. Upon receiving God’s command to offer his son as a sacrifice, Abraham let Isaac go and obeyed without resistance, illustrating his allegiance to God above all.
Struggling through reading the lesser-known Old Testament passages and long prophetic oracles may seem to have little relevance to everyday 21st-century life. But there are important things we can learn from the Old Testament. First, the New Testament is based on the Old Testament. Second, the Old Testament reveals the character of God. Third, the Old Testament has transformational power. Its message transcends time, geography, and culture. It speaks to everyone, everywhere, in every situation.
The story of Cain and Abel is tossed around rather generally in both Christian and non-Christian circles. Many folks are aware of the big picture aspect of the account—namely, that the older brother murdered the younger—but beyond that, little is known and even less is applied to everyday life. But woven within and between the lines of this amazing story are several insights that await our discovery.
Somewhere back in time, you and I were given a faulty set of instructions. Somewhere we learned that only the most famous or the star athlete or the most publicly gifted individual is worth our time and attention, our respect and our loudest applause. But in reality, if it wasn’t for the people who surround them, these well-known individuals would quickly fade in popularity and become among the most commonplace.
What do I do when the Bible offends me? Here are a few tips that may be helpful.
Whenever I read Proverbs I desire to become a wiser person. But how? A quick Google search reveals I'm not the only one wondering. Although obtaining wisdom is an ancient goal, it is no less important today.
The reality is, true biblical faith is based on knowledge of God and His Word. You can't believe in the promises of God if you don't know what they are or trust a God whom you know little about.
If you aren’t Jewish, then you’re what the Bible calls a “Gentile.” Most folks who follow the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, are just that—Gentiles. And as Gentiles, most of us don’t always understand Jewish Scripture, the Old Testament. This is particularly true when it comes to reading the prophetic books of the Bible. However, it’s helpful to keep in mind that the Old Testament makes the first announcements of Messiah’s coming and ministry. And few prophetic books have more prophecies about Messiah Jesus than the book of Isaiah.
Malachi was the last call of the Old Testament. Prophesying after the days of Nehemiah, Malachi witnessed the settled, stagnant, corrupt indifference of God’s people, which the prophet deplored. The people’s intermarrying with foreigners (non-Jews), neglecting to pay tithes, and offering blemished sacrifices at the altar caused Malachi to confront and warm them of the consequences of their actions.
The prophet Haggai had led the way in rebuilding the temple…but the people lost focus during the process. The prophet Zechariah rolled up his sleeves and plunged, with reckless abandon, into the work of helping his friend Haggai. But Zechariah’s style was very different. Rather than rebuking the workers, he relied on words of inspiration and positive encouragement to motivate the people.
Haggai was God’s spokesman sent to awaken and arouse the post-captivity Jews from their lethargy. With determined focus, he pursued one major goal: to complete the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. He was a “get it done” leader; a highly motivated man who attacked indifference as the enemy it was. Haggai (and later Zechariah) was used by the Lord to afflict the comfortable, convincing them there was no excuse for delay.