Stuart Briscoe chose an apt title for his little book on Ezekiel: All Things Weird and Wonderful. You can’t read the prophet Ezekiel’s writings three minutes without encountering the strange, the phenomenal, or the wonderful. In his own unpredictable manner, Ezekiel told his readers about the Lord; he genuinely desired that people understand who God is. How needed are his words in our own day!
Most of us have never been involved in the mop up after a battle or following a calamity. But those who have can testify that it is one of the most painful and pathetic experiences a human can endure. The ravages of war and the consequences of disaster are usually beyond belief or description. Few are those who can capture the tragic scene in words. Jeremiah was one of the few.
Jeremiah wasn't the brightest among the prophets; Isaiah held that distinction. And the book of Jeremiah isn't the most difficult to understand—that award probably goes out to Ezekiel. Neither is Jeremiah the most influential (that’s Daniel) nor the most notorious—Jonah, without a doubt—or even the most to be pitied (hello, Hosea). But of all the prophets, for sure, Jeremiah was the most heroic. He was as a “pillar of iron” and “walls of bronze” (Jeremiah 1:18).
The final decades of the eighth century BC produced several great men, but perhaps the most significant of these was a blue-blooded prophet called Isaiah. That’s quite a statement when you consider his contemporaries were Amos, Hosea, and Micah.
The Old Testament prophets were dynamic figures, who continue to speak to our age with an undeniable relevance. It is doubtful any other group of men in all literature presents a more impressive or colourful picture of courage, godliness, or perception. They were men who knew God and trusted Him against insuperable odds.
This lyric poem in dialogue has been the victim of some of the most ingenious interpretations imaginable. It is probable that Solomon would be stunned to hear some of them! It seems best that we allow Solomon’s song simply to say what it says rather than attempting to force upon these eight chapters some strange, fanciful, or allegorical twist. It is an intimate, tender, romantic expression of physical love between a man and a woman—first, prior to their marriage…then, after the wedding.
The book of Ecclesiastes, as short as it is, is one of the most mysterious works in the Bible. It looms before us as the sphinx of Hebrew literature, with its knotty, unresolved struggles intermingling with its unanswered arguments and cynical observations of life.
A proverb is a pithy statement of bite-sized wisdom. Up until now in this study of the Bible, we’ve found history and biography, prophecy and poetry in Scripture…but not much philosophy except, perhaps, in Job. The book of Proverbs offers a wealth of information to aid us in wise living. What the Psalms are to our devotional life, the book of Proverbs is to our practical life. In terse and striking ways, the profound genius of these maxims lies in their shrewd concentration of truth. As we shall see, they remain to this day a marvellous source of insightful and penetrating information.
Virtually every emotion that ever swept across the human soul is recorded in the Psalms. This book is the epitome, the very nucleus of worship…and yet it drips with the whole gamut of humanity. As we shall see, the Psalms address the full spectrum of human needs. More than any other Old Testament book, we turn to the Psalms for direction, comfort, and encouragement. No richer bank of wisdom and soul-giving peace is found in the whole world.
The subject of pain and suffering is a popular one for a very simple reason—humans experience a lot of it. At this very moment, vast numbers of people around the globe are enduring physical and emotional trauma like heartache, illness, death. Ours is a life of suffering. We enter the world crying. We walk through it with our shoulders bent into the fiery blast and icy blizzard of affliction. And we leave it in death.