Book of the Week 46: I Corinthians

Greek Name: PROS KORINTHIOUS A 

Human Author: Paul (and Sosthenes)                          

OT or NT: New Testament 

Number of Chapters: 16

Basic Facts

  1. I Corinthians is the forty-sixth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, I Corinthians is classified as an epistle, or letter.
  3. The Greek name for I Corinthians is PROS KORINTHIOUS A which means “to the Corinthians - one” or “for the benefit of the Corinthians - one.”
  4. I Corinthians was a letter written by Paul that, at least in part, was in response to a letter he received from the Corinthian church.
  5. The book of I Corinthians has more instruction on spiritual gifts than most books of the New Testament.

Story of the Book

Paul begins his letter by greeting the Corinthian church and assuring them of his prayers of thanksgiving for them. Paul confronts the Corinthian church about divisions which exist among them, encouraging them toward unity in faith and in the Holy Spirit. Paul rebukes the Corinthian believers for sexual immorality and for taking one another to court before unbelievers. Next Paul responds to several matters which the believers in Corinth had written to him about including: marriage, widows, and food sacrificed to idols in which Paul encourages the church to flee immorality, to honor God with their body, to remain as they are when called regarding marriage, and to take care not to discourage other believers who have a weak conscience. Paul then surrenders his right as an Apostle to claim material support from the Corinthian church. He encourages believers to do everything to the glory of God. Paul continues his letter by giving advice to the Corinthian believers regarding a variety of topics including: the role of women in the church, head coverings, spiritual gifts, the way of love, keeping order in worship, the necessity of the resurrection of Christ to the Christian faith, and the triumph of Jesus over sin and death in His resurrection. The letter ends as Paul tells the Corinthian church of his plans to visit the Corinthian church, instructions involving a collection for the needy, and a list of personal greetings and commendations for faithful believers.

Jesus Revealed in I Corinthians

In I Corinthians, Paul reveals Jesus’ resurrection to be absolutely essential and indispensable to the Christian faith. Without the resurrection of Jesus there is no new life for believers and no forgiveness of sins. (I Corinthians 15:12-19) Jesus is compared and contrasted with the character of Adam. Adam failed in the Garden of Eden by falling into sin and he and plunged the world into sin, death, and darkness along with him. Where Adam fails, Jesus succeeds by living a sinless life. Just as in Adam all die, so in Christ will many be made alive. (I Corinthians 15:21-22) While Adam became a living soul, Jesus the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (I Corinthians 15:45-49) For Christians, the entire basis for hope in the resurrection of the dead is founded first and foremost in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Victory over death is found only in the resurrection of Christ and not in the law. Next, when believers are united in Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit to live within us. The Holy Spirit unites us as one body in Christ, making us to be alive together with Christ as spiritual persons. The Spirit also empowers us with spiritual gifts which enable us to participate in the body of Christ in order to fulfill our calling within the church’s God-given ministry of reconciliation. (I Corinthians 12:1-28) Since we have a resurrected Savior in the person of Jesus Christ, we as believers not only have hope for our resurrection from the dead, but we are also given the Holy Spirit to unite us with Christ and to empower us for our spiritual mission as the church. Paul proclaims himself as one who personally experienced and encounter with the resurrected Jesus in order to assure believers that this hope of resurrection that we have in Christ is secure.

Book of the Week 45: Romans

Greek Name: PROS ROMAIOUS

Author: Paul                                                                         

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 16

Basic Facts

  1. Romans the forty-fifth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, the book of Romans is classified as an epistle, or letter.
  3. While Paul wrote Romans, the letter was entrusted to a woman named Phoebe who delivered the letter to the church[es] in Rome.
  4. The Greek name for the book of Romans is PROS ROMAIOUS, which means “to the Romans” or “for the benefit of the Romans.”
  5. The faith of the Roman believers was exceptionally important because it was being proclaimed around the world from the Capitol city of the Roman Empire (Romans 1:8).

Story of the Book

Romans is a letter written by Paul to the believers in Rome. Paul begins his letter by greeting believers in Rome and assuring them that he is praying for them. Paul also assures the church in Rome of his desire to visit them in person. Paul teaches that church that God has revealed Himself to the world and that He is going to judge the world on account if its sins. Paul emphasizes that everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23) but that Christ died to save all sinners who are justified through faith in Jesus Christ. Paul uses the example of Abraham being justified by faith to demonstrate that people are justified not by obedience to Torah law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. Paul then goes through a lengthy and complex explanation of how people are justified by faith in Christ and not through works, arguing that the ethnic people of Israel have no special standing; only those who come to Christ through faith do. Paul argues that God is sovereignly in control of all things. The rest of Paul’s letter is spent giving advice to believers on how to live their lives in light of God’s mercy including offering themselves as living sacrifices, being renewed in mind, loving one another with sincerity, blessing those who persecute them, submitting to governing authorities in the Lord, and showing mercy to those who are weak in faith. Paul finishes his letter with a lengthy list of personal greetings to the believers in Rome, often resorting to personal greetings on a first-name basis to express his caring for them. 

Jesus Revealed in Romans

Paul reveals Jesus by explaining to his audience that the way of salvation is not through righteous acts of obedience to the Law of Moses, but rather by faith through Jesus Christ. In Romans, Paul reveals that all have sinned (Romans 3:23), yet Jesus is one who justifies sinners by faith (Romans 5:1). Jesus is the one who died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8) and who fulfilled the righteous requirements of the law in order that we who have faith in Him and might also live according to the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4). There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8:1), and all who confess Jesus as Lord and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead will be saved (Romans 10:9). Paul reveals Jesus as the Messiah through whom this salvation by faith, apart from the works of the Law, is made possible. Jesus is the one through whom salvation is offered not only to Jews, but also to the gentiles so that anyone who has faith in Christ is offered the free gift of salvation that is found exclusively in Him. Paul seeks to strengthen the faith of believers in Rome through proper instruction on the way of salvation, encouraging believers to live self-sacrificially in light of the mercy of God given to them freely in Christ.

Book of the Week 44: Acts

Greek Name: PRAXEIS APOSTOLON

Human Author: Luke                                              

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 28

Basic Facts

  1. Acts [of the Apostles] is the forty-fourth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Acts is classified as a book of history, though it could be classified as a letter written to Theophilus.
  3. Acts is the sequel to the two-part series known as Luke-Acts.
  4. The Greek name for the book of Acts is PRAXEIS APOSTOLON, which means “Acts of [the] Apostles” or “Deeds of [the] Apostles.”
  5. The book of Acts uniquely tells the story of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as foretold by Jesus.

Story of the Book

The Book of Acts begins with an introduction given by Luke to Theophilus, along with a brief account of the ascension of Jesus into heaven. Jesus tells His disciples that the Holy Spirit would soon come upon them. The disciples then cast lots and replace Judas Iscariot with a disciple named Matthias. Next, the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles at Pentecost with tongues of fire, and Peter addresses a crowd proclaiming the event to be prophetic fulfillment. Luke then gives some details regarding the practices of the community of the early church including persecution, the solidarity of the community, healings, signs and wonders, and believers praying for boldness. The book continues with many other stories which detail the acts of the Apostles and the early church including for following:

  • The testimony and martyrdom of Stephen
  • Ananias and Saphira,
  • The choosing of servers for the community
  • Persecution under Saul
  • Saul’s conversion
  • The vision of Peter
  • The church of Antioch
  • A meeting in Jerusalem

The rest of the book gives a detailed account of the missionary journeys of Paul and Barnabas to various places in the Roman empire stretching from Jerusalem to Rome as God commissions Paul as a missionary to the gentiles, and the gospel continues to expand throughout the known world.

Jesus Revealed in Acts

 Jesus had promised His disciples that the Father would send another helper in Jesus’ name who would teach them all things, namely the Holy Spirit (John 14:26). After the resurrection, Jesus promises His disciples that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and they would receive power to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:7-9). In Acts, the Holy Spirit comes upon the disciples at Pentecost with tongues of fire and empowers them to fulfill their God-given mission to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. In addition to this, Jesus appeared on the road to Damascus to a man named Saul (Acts 9:1-22). Saul was a Pharisee and a zealous persecutor of the church. After Jesus reveals Himself to Saul, Saul’s heart is radically changed, and he begins to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ that he once tried to destroy (Galatians 1:23). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ mission began to be carried out to the ends of the earth accompanied by signs, miracles, and visions and dreams of Jesus. The Holy Spirit’s coming was a fulfillment of the words of the prophet Joel, who proclaimed that visions and dreams would accompany the Spirit of the LORD (Joel 2:28-32; Acts 2:14-24). In this way, Jesus has and continues to appear to people around the world, spreading the gospel message and proclaiming the good news of himself to the ends of the earth.

Book of the Week 43: John

Greek Name: KATA IOANNEN

Human Author: John                                                           

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 21

Basic Facts

  1. John is the forty-third book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, John is classified as a gospel.
  3. Chronologically, John is the last of the four canonical gospels to be written.
  4. The Greek name for the book of John is KATA IOANNEN which means, “according to John”
  5. Of all four canonical gospels, John contains the most unique information and is considered the only gospel that is not a synoptic gospel.

Story of the Book

The gospel of John begins with an account of the story of Creation with parallels to Genesis chapter 1. John tells his audience that God created all things through His powerful Word, and this Word was made flesh and now dwells among us (John 1:14), and John reveals that this Word that was made flesh is Jesus Christ. Woven into this account of creation is the ministry of John the Baptist, who prepares the way for Jesus. John proclaims Jesus to be the lamb of God and baptizes Jesus. The next several chapters give a detailed account of the life of Jesus including His life, ministry, miracles, and teachings. Jesus heals the sick, raises the dead, proclaims the good news of the Kingdom of God, and gives hope to the destitute. While the synoptic gospels give more detail to the early years of Jesus’ life, John focuses almost exclusively on Jesus’ final years of life concerning His public ministry. John gives an especially detailed account of the last days of Jesus’ earthly ministry starting in chapter 13 through the end of the book. Out of all four gospels, John gives the most detailed account of Jesus’ last supper, prayer in Gethsemane, His arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. The book ends with an acknowledgement that if all the things Jesus did were written down, the world itself could not even contain the books that would be written (John 21:25).

Fulfillments by Jesus in John

John writes about many of the things which Jesus did to reveal His identity as the Messiah, and John states that the purpose of his account is to convince his readers that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:30-31). The ways in which John displays Jesus as the divine Son of God are too numerous to mention them all here. Nevertheless, the following is a short list of examples of the ways in which the divine identity of Jesus is revealed in John: Jesus is the Word of God who is God through whom God the father has made all things (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3), and Jesus is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14). Jesus also makes several “I AM” statements which make a linguistic connection between the person and work of Jesus to the name God assigns to Himself as “I AM who I AM” in Exodus 3:14. Jesus declares:

  • “I AM the bread of life” (John 6:35-48)
  • “I AM the light of the world” (John 8:12)
  • “I AM the door of the sheep” (John 10:7) 
  • “I AM the good shepherd” (John 10:11-14) 
  • “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58) 
  • “I AM the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) 
  • “I AM the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) 
  • “I AM the true vine” (John 15:1-5)

These examples, along with the miracles of Jesus, proclaim Jesus’ divine identity as the Son of God so that through Him we may obtain forgiveness of sins through His shed blood on the cross.

Book of the Week 42: Luke

Greek Name: KATA LOUKAN

Human Author: Luke                                                          

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 24

Basic Facts

  1. Luke is the forty-second book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Luke is classified as a gospel.
  3. The Greek name for the book of Luke is KATA LOUKAN which means “according to Luke.”
  4. The Gospel of Luke is the first part of a two-part series, with the book of Acts as a sequel.
  5. Along with Matthew and Mark, Luke is considered one of the synoptic gospels.

Story of the Book

The story of Luke is a detailed account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, which is followed by the book of Acts which gives a detailed account of the actions of the Apostles and the early church. Luke-Acts (a name for the two-part series containing the books of Luke and Acts) is written in the form of a letter or account addressed to Theophilus. The book begins with the birth of John the Baptist and continues with an account of the birth of Jesus. The book continues with the dedication of Jesus in the Temple, His childhood, the ministry of John the Baptist, and then a lengthy genealogy tracing Jesus’ lineage all the way from Jesus back to Adam. The book continues with a detailed account of Jesus’ life, ministry, teachings, miracles, and parables. The last several chapters of Luke give a detailed account of Jesus’ final arrival in Jerusalem, the Last Supper/Passover, Jesus’ arrest, trial, beatings, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. After the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, Jesus appears to some of His followers on the road to Emmaus and to His disciples. The book ends as Jesus ascends into heaven and His disciples return to the Temple, praising God for the things which they had seen and heard.

Fulfillments by Jesus in Luke

The fulfillments Jesus brings are recorded in the Book of Luke to demonstrate Jesus’ miraculous power and identity as the Messiah. The ways in which Jesus fulfills prophecy in the book of Luke are too numerous to mention them all. Never the less, here are some examples of prophecies about the Messiah which were fulfilled by Jesus in order to demonstrate His identity: Jesus was born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 2:34-35), Jesus as Messiah was preceded by an Elijah figure in the person of John the Baptist who would prepare the way of the LORD (Isaiah 40:3-5; Micah 4:5-6; Luke 3:1-6), Jesus was descended from the royal line of king David (II Samuel 7:12-16; Isaiah 11:1; Luke 3:23-38), Jesus performed many miracles by making the deaf hear, the blind see, the lame walk, and the dead were raised (Isaiah 35:1-5; Luke 7:18-23), and Jesus often taught in parables to produce the result Isaiah predicted (Isaiah 6:9; Luke 8:9-10). There are many more examples of how Jesus demonstrated His identity as the Messiah, these are just a few examples. Beyond fulfilling prophecy, God the Father vindicated the cause of Jesus by raising Him from the dead. Through the atoning work of Jesus, we who have faith in Him can receive forgiveness of sins through His blood shed on the cross. Luke gives a detailed account of the life of Jesus in Luke and continues his testimony of the early church in the book of Acts. 

Book of the Week 41: Mark

Greek Name: KATA MARKON

Human Author: Mark                                                         

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 16

Basic Facts

  1. Mark is the forty-first book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Mark is classified as a gospel.
  3. The Greek name for the book of Mark is KATA MARKON, which means “according to Mark.”
  4. Mark was likely the first of the four canonical gospel accounts to be written.
  5. Along with Matthew and Luke, Mark is considered one of the synoptic gospels.

Story of the Book

The story of Mark is a detailed account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Mark’s Gospel opens with the ministry of John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus. Next, Mark gives an account of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan river. The rest of the book gives a detailed account of Jesus’ life including His ministry, the calling of His disciples, miracles, teachings, parables, His entry into Jerusalem, prophecies concerning the end of days, the plot to kill Jesus, the Lord’s Supper, Peter’s denial of Jesus, Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. The book of Mark ends on a low note as Mary and Martha flee from Jesus’ empty tomb after an angel tells them that Jesus has been resurrected. The women flee initially tell no one about what they had seen because they were afraid. **

 ** (The ending of the book in Mark 16:9-20 is likely a later addition to the text that tells of how Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, and she in turn went and told Jesus’ disciples of His resurrection. This later addition to the text tells of signs and wonders which will accompany those who believe in Jesus and are baptized. The very end of the text briefly tells of Jesus’ ascension into heaven at the right hand of God and how the disciples went and proclaimed the Gospel accompanied by signs.)

Fulfillments by Jesus in Mark:

The fulfillments given by Jesus in the book of Mark demonstrate His identity as the Messiah, as the Son of God, and as a prophet like Moses. The ways in which Jesus fulfills prophecy in the book of Mark are too numerous to mention all of them here. Nevertheless, here are a few examples of prophecies about the Messiah which were fulfilled by Jesus in order to demonstrate His identity:

  • God the Father proclaims Jesus to be His son (Psalm 2:7-12; Mark 1:16). 
  • God proclaims Jesus to be His son and commands the disciples to listen to Him (which also gives parallels concerning the identity of Jesus as a prophet like Moses) (Exodus 24:15; Exodus 34:29; Deuteronomy 18:18-19; Mark 9:2-8). 
  • Jesus frequently speaks in Parables in Mark (Psalm 78:2-4; Mark 4:1-12 [and many other examples]). 
  • Jesus proclaims himself to be both the Lord (with authority over king David) and the Son of God (Psalm 110:1; Mark 12:35-36). 

Mark also gives an account of many miracles and signs which Jesus performed which demonstrate Jesus’ divine power. Many of the events recorded in the Gospel of Mark point to the reality of who Jesus is either through a demonstration of His miraculous power or through God the Father proclaiming Jesus to be His son.

Book of the Week 40: Matthew

Greek Name: KATA MATHTHAION

Human Author: Matthew                                        

OT or NT: New Testament

Number of Chapters: 28

Basic Facts

  1. Matthew is the fortieth book of the Bible and the first book of the New Testament.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Matthew is classified as a Gospel.
  3. The Greek name for the book of Matthew is KATA MATHTHAION, which means “according to Matthew.”
  4. While many scholars believe the entire New Testament was originally written in Greek, it is possible that the book of Matthew had an Aramaic original.
  5. Along with Mark and Luke, Matthew is considered one of the Synoptic Gospels.

Story of the Book

Matthew covers a full account of Jesus Christ as the Messiah including Jesus’ lineage, life, youth, ministry, miracles, teachings, prophetic fulfillments, parables, and a full account of His atoning work including His arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. The book begins with a lengthy genealogy of Jesus and continues with stories of Jesus’ birth, youth, an account of the life and ministry of John the Baptist, Jesus being tempted in the wilderness by Satan, the sermon on the mount, and many stories about Jesus’ miracles and teachings. The book ends dramatically with an account of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial, conviction, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. The book ends with the resurrected Jesus commanding His disciples to make disciples of all nations and promising to be with them to the very end of the age.

Fulfillments by Jesus in Matthew

Matthew records the ways in which Jesus fulfills many Old Testament prophecies in order to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Jesus fulfills too many prophecies in Matthew to mention them all here. Nevertheless, here are a few examples of prophecies about the Messiah which Jesus fulfilled in order to demonstrate His identity as the Messiah:

  • Jesus is descended from the royal line of king David (Isaiah 11:1; Matthew 1:1-17). 
  • Jesus was born of a virgin and called Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).
  • Jesus is preceded by an Elijah figure in John the Baptist (Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 11:1-15). 
  • Jesus is the light that has dawned in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali (Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 4:12-17). 
  • Jesus is the one who took our illnesses and diseases (Isaiah 53:4; Matthew 7:14-17). 
  • Jesus is the king who came to Jerusalem on a donkey and a colt (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-5). 
  • Jesus is the stone that the builders rejected that became the chief cornerstone (Psalm 118:22-23; Matthew 21:42).
  • The story of Jesus’ atoning death fulfills the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16; Matthew 27:32-28:20).
  • Jesus is the Son of God under whom God will place all rule and authority (Psalm 110:1; Matthew 22:44).

After Jesus is resurrected, He proclaims that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. Jesus uses this authority to command His disciples to make disciples of all nations in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. By these proofs and many more, Matthew proclaims Jesus to be the Messiah and the Son of God.

Book of the Week 39: Malachi

Hebrew Name: Malakhi

Human Author: Malachi                                                     

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of chapters: 4

Basic Facts

  1. Malachi is the thirty-ninth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Malachi is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Malachi is Malakhi, which means “my messenger.”
  4. Malachi was a prophet to the returned exiles of Judah who returned from Babylon/Persia.
  5. Malachi may have been a contemporary of the prophet Nehemiah.

Story of the Book

Malachi contains three basic parts: a word against Judah’s priests for their sin and corruption (Malachi 1:1-2:9), a word against the sinfulness of the people of Judah (Malachi 2:10-3:15), and a word to the faithful remnant of Judah (Malachi 3:16-4:6). The book begins with God’s rebuke of the priesthood of Judah. God criticizes the priests for offering blemished sacrifices. God warns the priests that He is not pleased with them. Next, God rebukes the people generally for their sin and disobedience. God rebukes the people for failing to honor Him with their words, by failing to tithe, and failing to take obedience to God’s commands seriously. Finally, the book ends with a scroll being written regarding a remnant of faithful Jews among the people. God promises that the faithful remnant of the nation will be His and will be His treasured possession on the day when He judges all people with fire—namely the day of the LORD. The book ends as God promises to send Elijah before the day of the LORD comes and that this Elijah figure will turn the hearts of people toward one another.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Malachi

Jesus is foretold in Malachi in more than one place but in a way that is somewhat veiled and vague. Only later would he be fully revealed as the Messiah in the New Testament. Here are a few examples of the ways in which Jesus is foretold in the book of Malachi: God promises to send a messenger who will prepare the way before Him, and then the LORD and messenger of the covenant will appear (Malachi 3:1; Matthew 11:7-14; Mark 1:1-8; Luke 7:24-28). God also promises that Elijah will proceed the day of the LORD; this Elijah is revealed as John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus Christ (Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 11:11-15; Luke 1:78). In addition to these examples, Malachi was a prophet to the returned exiles of Judah who had come back from Babylon/Persia. God was gathering His people back to the promised land in order to fulfill His promises to them in the Messiah. It is possible to interpret God’s warnings to the people through Malachi as both a message of hope and of judgment. Even after being punished in exile, the people were continuing to disobey God. When God would come in the person of Jesus Christ, He would refine those who trust in Him like a refiner of gold and silver (Malachi 3:2-4), but God also warned that those who were disobedient would face judgment at the coming of Jesus as Malachi writes, “or else I will come and strike the land with a curse” (Malachi 4:6). Malachi is one of the clearest examples in the Old Testament of how the Messiah, later revealed as Jesus Christ, would bring both hope and purification for the righteous and judgment against the wicked. In this way Jesus is foretold to be a bringer of both hope and judgment.

Book of the Week 38: Zechariah

Hebrew Name: Zachar’Yah

Human Author: Zechariah son of Berechiah                      

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 14

Basic Facts

  1. Zechariah is the thirty-eighth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Zechariah is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Zechariah is Zachar’Yah, which means, “Yah remembers” or “God remembers.”
  4. Zechariah was a prophet to the returned exiles of Judah during the Persian period.
  5. Zechariah receives revelation from God in the form of several visions.

Story of the Book

The book of Zechariah opens with God giving Zechariah a series of visions. These visions include: the nations around Judah being at ease, the vision of four horns, a man measuring the wall of Jerusalem, accusations against the High Priest, a vision of the lampstand, the vision of the flying scroll, a woman in a basket, and finally a vision of four horsemen and four chariots. Through these visions, God is pronouncing judgment upon the nations which have oppressed Israel/Judah. Next, God offers words of encouragement to Zechariah and tells him that God will bless Jerusalem and see the Temple rebuilt if the people (and especially Joshua the high priest) diligently obey Him. The rest of the book is recorded after the Temple is completed. It tells of the coming of a king who would bring salvation to Israel/Judah and that God will bring judgment and destruction upon the nation’s enemies. God closes the book with a promise of cleansing, saying there will no longer be a merchant in the Lord’s Temple.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Zechariah

According to some Biblical scholars, the book of Zechariah contains more prophecies concerning the person, work, and coming glory of Jesus Christ than all of the other minor prophets combined. There are too many prophecies concerning Jesus in Zechariah to list them all here, but here is a list of a few of them: the coming king of Israel would bring salvation and would arrive on a donkey and a colt (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:5, John 12:15), the house of David will be like God by having a king who is both God and the Lord’s anointed (Zechariah 12:8; possibly connected to the divinity of Christ in passages like John 8:58), the people will look on the one they have pierced and mourn for him like a firstborn son (Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34,37), a fountain will be opened to the line of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem which will cleanse from impurity and sin (possibly referring to the words of Jesus) (Zechariah 13:1; John 7:38), God will allow the shepherd to be struck and the sheep will scatter (Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:31), and the LORD will be king over the whole earth and His name will be the only name (Zechariah 13:9; Revelation 11:15). In many ways, Zechariah foretells the coming of the Messiah who would bring salvation in ways that are only partially revealed in his day. It is not until Jesus Christ came and fulfilled each of the passages above that it became clear that Jesus is the messiah who brings salvation to all who believe in Him. Zechariah is given these revelations concerning the Messiah after the Temple is completed. At this point in history, the stage was beginning to be set for the time when the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, would appear.

Book of the Week 37: Haggai

Hebrew Name: Chagi

Human Author: Haggai                                                       

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 2

Basic Facts

  1. Haggai is the thirty-seventh book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Haggai is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Haggai is Chagi which means “My Feast.”
  4. Haggai was a prophet to the exiles of Judah who had returned from Babylon/Persia.
  5. Haggai was called to encourage the returned exiles to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem.

Story of the Book

The story of Haggai is one of both warning and of hope. The book opens as God warns the returned exiles of Judah through the prophet Haggai that they must be careful to do what God commands them to do and to quickly rebuild the Temple of the LORD or else face continual hardship. God specifically warns that if the people to not diligently turn and rebuild the Temple that He will withhold the blessings of a bountiful harvest from them. God then encourages the exiles and their leaders to be strong and to diligently complete the work of rebuilding the Temple. God promises that in the place of the Temple God will gather the nations and bring greater glory to this second Temple than there ever was in the first Temple. God also promised peace to the people from the place of the Temple. God promises blessing and the bounty of the harvest to the exiles if they are obedient in their work to complete the Temple. The book of Haggai concludes as God promises to overthrow the nations and to make Zerubbabel His signet ring, His chosen instrument in fulfilling His promises.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Haggai

In large part, the message of Haggai is a message of hope for the returned exiles of Judah. God promises to bless His people and to give them a rich harvest if they carefully consider God’s ways and rebuild God’s Temple. After God reassures the exiles that His Spirit is among them, He tells the people not to be afraid. God tells Haggai that He will “once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Haggai 2:6-7). What is vaguely foreshadowed here in Haggai is later revealed to be the work of Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews quotes Haggai 2:6 to describe how the work of Jesus to shake the heavens and the earth was for the purpose of establishing an eternal kingdom through the new covenant established in the blood of Christ (Hebrews 12:22-29). After God has shaken the heavens and the earth, and established His eternal kingdom through a new covenant in Christ, Christ Himself tells his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). The language employed in the Greek translation of Haggai 2:6-7 in the Septuagint and Matthew 28:18-20 in the Greek New Testament is exact. Jesus Christ is the one through whom God shook all nations, and it is in Christ that God is bringing everlasting glory to Himself.

Book of the Week 36: Zephaniah

Hebrew Name: Zefan’Yah

Human Author: Zephaniah                                                 

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 3

Basic Facts

  1. Zephaniah is the thirty-sixth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Zephaniah is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Zephaniah is Zefan’Yah which means “Yah hides” or “God hides.”
  4. Zephaniah was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah.
  5. Zephaniah ministered during the time of king Josiah of Judah.

Story of the Book

The story of Zephaniah is one of wrath and of hope. The book opens with a warning about the coming day of God’s wrath against several nations, including Judah, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Cush, and Assyria. God then turns His warnings directly against the city of Jerusalem and rebukes the unfaithfulness of its people. God proclaims that after He has poured out His wrath upon the nations on account of their sin, He will gather His scattered people together and purify them. The book finishes with a word of the LORD in which He gives hope to His people by telling them of a day of hope not only for the remnant of Judah, but for the nations. God proclaims that the day is coming when all the nations will glorify God in their own lands. After God has punished the nations for their sin, God will destroy their “gods,” and He alone will be the God of the nations. The book closes as God proclaims that He will give His people honor and praise as He restores their fortunes in the midst of the nations.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Zephaniah

The message of Zephaniah is one of both coming judgment and of hope. God’s promise to ultimately restore the fortunes of Israel included a promise that God would not only restore the fortunes of Israel but that the nations would also worship God (Zephaniah 2:11; 3:9). This promise looks both backward and forward in time. First, it looks back to the Covenant God made with Abraham in which all nations of the earth would be blessed through him (Genesis 12:1-3). In large part, throughout the history of the nation of Israel, the people of Israel did not reach all the nations of the earth in such a way that caused them to worship God and therefore be blessed through Abraham. Zephaniah, when he proclaims the word of the LORD that all of the nations would one day worship Him, he is proclaiming a future fulfillment of God’s Covenant commitment to Abraham. What Zephaniah looks forward to in a future time of fulfillment when God would be worshiped among the nations is seen only vaguely in his time. However, in Christ, this reality is revealed and brought to continually greater fulfillment as the resurrected Jesus proclaims, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). This command of Jesus, and the church’s obedience to it, is the ongoing and continual fulfillment of the day that Zephaniah saw as the gospel reaches the nations and as the nations worship God.

Book of the Week 35: Habakkuk

Hebrew Name: Chav’kuk

Human Author: Habakkuk                                                  

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 3

Basic Facts

  1. Habakkuk is the thirty-fifth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Habakkuk is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Habakkuk is Chav’kuk, which means “Embracer.”
  4. Habakkuk was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah.
  5. Habakkuk’s ministry may have taken place during the time of king Josiah’s reforms.

Story of the Book

The structure of Habakkuk includes two series of complaints given by Habakkuk to God and then God’s response back to him. The book opens with Habakkuk addressing God and asking God why He allows the people of Judah to suffer injustices at the hands of the Assyrians. God then responds by telling Habakkuk that He is about to raise up the Babylonians to conquer the Assyrians and take their place. Habakkuk then asks God why He allows injustices to continue against the people of Judah by allowing the wicked Assyrians to plunder those more righteous than themselves (presumably the people of Judah). God responds to Habakkuk, telling him to wait upon the LORD for justice that is swiftly coming upon the enemies of Judah. The rest of the book is composed of a prayer given by Habakkuk to God in which he professes hope and faith in God in the midst of extremely trying circumstances. Through all the hardships that Habakkuk faces, he ends the book praying, “yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:18).

Jesus Foreshadowed in Habakkuk

The central message of Habakkuk is about the need for Habakkuk to have hope and faith in God in the midst of suffering. In Habakkuk 2:4 he writes, “but the righteous will live by faith.” This statement sums up the attitude Habakkuk needs to have in the midst of suffering when the Assyrians are oppressing the people of Judah. Later on, Paul quotes this verse in order to make that case that, “all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse.” Paul continues by saying, “as it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because ‘the righteous will live by faith.’ The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, ‘The person who does these things will live by them.’ Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.’ He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (Galatians 3:10-14). The righteous must live by faith in every generation, and Paul uses this principle as something that is pointing forward to the fact that none of us will ultimately be justified through obedience to the Law. Rather, we are justified by faith in Christ, who became a curse for us by dying on the cross. In this very indirect way, the principle that the righteous must live by faith as affirmed by Habakkuk points forward to the means of our salvation that is later revealed in Christ, a principle of faith that is later written about in more detail by the Apostle Paul.

Book of the Week 34: Nahum

Hebrew Name: Nachum

Human Author: Nahum                                                      

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 3

Basic Facts

  1. Nahum is the thirty-fourth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Nahum is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Nahum is Nachum which means “comforter.”
  4. Micah was a prophet who spoke of the coming destruction of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire.
  5. Nahum prophesies judgment against Israel’s enemy, the kingdom of Assyria, for its oppression of Israel/Samaria and Judah.

Story of the Book

At the time when Nahum’s ministry as a prophet begins, Assyria is the dominant power in the fertile crescent of the middle east. The northern kingdom of Israel has been conquered and taken into exile, and the southern kingdom of Judah has been reduced to a vassal state of the kingdom of Assyria. Nahum prophesies about God’s coming judgment against the people of Assyria, particularly against the city of Nineveh. God is about to judge Assyria for its idolatry and its acts of oppression against both God’s people and the nations. God is about to bring the kingdom of Assyria to an end. In the midst of God’s warning to the people of Assyria and the city of Nineveh, God also tells His people to keep the feasts of the LORD and to fulfill their vows to God, looking forward to the time when God would restore the fortunes of His people (Nahum 1:15-2:2). God is not only going to judge Assyria, but He is about going to bring them to complete destruction. This extends even to the point where there will be no descendants of the people of Nineveh, and the nation of Assyria will be completely destroyed (Nahum 1:14). The book ends by declaring that Assyria has done evil oppression to all peoples; therefore, God will judge and destroy them utterly.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Nahum

Jesus is foreshadowed somewhat vaguely in Nahum. In Nahum 1:15, the prophet writes, “Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace!” (NIV). This passage proclaims the coming of one who will proclaim good news and peace to the people of Judah, and it is very similar to Isaiah 52:7 in Hebrew. Therefore, when Paul paraphrases Isaiah 52:7 as he writes, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!....so faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ…” (Romans 10:15,17), Paul may be referring to Nahum 1:15 as well. The one who brings good news is the messiah, who is Jesus Christ. He is the one through whom the kingdom of Israel is restored. In Christ, we as gentile believers are adopted into the kingdom of God as beloved children. Jesus is the one who proclaims peace, and through the spread of the good news of the gospel we as Christians are furthering the cause of Christ. Just as Nahum proclaimed one who would bring good news and peace for the restoration of Judah, Paul would later connect this passage to Christ and the spread of the gospel. In this way, Nahum foreshadowed the coming of messiah in the person of Jesus Christ, even as God was about to judge Assyria and restore the fortunes of Judah.

Book of the Week 33: Micah

Hebrew Name: Mikhah

Human Author: Micah                                                        

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 7

Basic Facts

  1. Micah is the thirty-third book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Micah is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Micah is Mikhah, which means, “who is like Yah.”
  4. Micah was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah.
  5. Micah does briefly pronounce judgment over both Samaria and Jerusalem even though he was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah.

Story of the Book

God called Micah as a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah. Micah was called to warn the people of Judah regarding God’s coming wrath on account of their sin. The book begins with a pronouncement of God’s judgment over the cities of Samaria (capital of Israel, which was conquered by Assyria toward the beginning of Micah’s ministry) and Jerusalem (capital of Judah). God then proceeds to rebuke the leaders of the nation including false prophets who mislead God’s people. God then promises a ruler for His people who will come from the town of Bethlehem and will shepherd God’s people Israel. God calls His people to repent and foretells their coming destruction for their sins. God lays out simple demands for the people of Israel: to act justly, to love kindness, and to walk in humility before God (Micah 6:8). Despite coming judgment and destruction, God promises ultimately to show mercy to the people of Israel and to restore the nation through His mercy and compassion in which He will lead His people like a shepherd (Micah 5:2-4; Matthew 2:6).

Jesus Foreshadowed in Micah

In the book of Micah, the prophet foretells the coming a ruler who will be from Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 says, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.” Later, Matthew 2:1-8 alludes to this passage. When king Herod hears that Magi had come from the east to worship the one who had been born as king of the Jews (that is, Jesus Christ), he inquires of the chief priests and the scribes where the messiah is to be born. They respond to Herod and say, “in Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: ‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel’” (Matthew 2:5-6). Even though the quote here is not exact, most scholars agree that this quote of a prophet in Matthew 2:5-6 is essentially taken from Micah 5:2. The text of Matthew 2:1-8 makes it clear that the Jews of the first century believed that Micah 5:2 foretold the birth place of the Messiah. Due to a Roman census, Jesus Christ was born in a stable in Bethlehem, and this fulfilled the Biblical requirement for the place of His birth. In this way, Micah foretells an important prophecy that Jesus would later fulfill in His role as messiah.

Book of the Week 32: Jonah

Hebrew Name: Yonah

Human Author: Jonah son of Amittai                                

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 4

Basic Facts

  1. Jonah is the thirty-second book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Jonah is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. Jonah is a prophet to the city of Nineveh, the capitol of Assyria.
  4. The Hebrew name for the book of Jonah is Yonah, which means “dove.”
  5. Jonah is initially disobedient when God calls him to be a prophet.

Story of the Book

The book of Jonah tells the story of Jonah’s calling as a prophet to the city of Nineveh. (Nineveh is the capital of Assyria.) God calls Jonah to preach a message of repentance to Nineveh, but Jonah is initially disobedient and sets sail in order to flee to Tarshish and escape from God’s call. God causes a storm which threatens Jonah’s ship to come up on the sea. Jonah, with a guilty conscience, volunteers to be thrown overboard in order to assuage God’s anger over his disobedience. God sends a large fish which swallows Jonah whole. After three days and three nights, the fish vomits Jonah upon the shore, and God renews Jonah’s call to give a message of warning to Nineveh. This second time, Jonah obediently preaches God’s message to Nineveh, and the people of Nineveh repent. God relents from sending judgment upon Nineveh because of their repentance, and Jonah is angry with God for showing mercy. God rebukes Jonah and says that it is right that He (God) should be concerned about the spiritual welfare of the great city of Nineveh.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Jonah

Jesus is foreshadowed in Jonah in a way that is not immediately apparent in the Old Testament text. Jonah’s initial disobedience when he tries to run from God’s call results in Jonah's being swallowed by a great fish (Jonah 1:12-2:10). Later, in the ministry of Jesus, this event in the life of the prophet Jonah is described as a sign. When a group of Pharisees asks Jesus to perform a sign, Jesus responds saying: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here" (Matthew 12:39-41). In this way, Jesus describes the time Jonah spent in the belly of a fish as a sign of Jesus’ time spent in the grave between His death and resurrection (Matthew 17:22-23; Luke 9:21-22). Jesus also commends the people of Nineveh in a way, for they repented at Jonah's warning concerning God’s coming judgment, but the people Jesus is speaking to do not repent even though they see Jesus face to face.

In a more general sense, Jesus is foreshadowed in Jonah as a picture of God’s mercy and compassion. When the people of Nineveh repent of their sins, God relents from sending disaster (Jonah 3:3-4:11). All who repent and believe in Christ receive mercy and grace from God and deliverance from our sins on account of Him (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Book of the Week 31: Obadiah

Hebrew Name: Oved’Yah

Human Author: Obadiah                                                     

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 1

Basic Facts

  1. Obadiah is the thirty-first book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Obadiah is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. Obadiah was a prophet to the people of Edom—the descendants of Esau.
  4. Obadiah is the shortest book of the Old Testament and has only one chapter.
  5. The Hebrew name for the book of Obadiah is Oved’Yah which means “servant of Yah.” (Yah is a generic name for God in Hebrew.)

Story of the Book

The book of Obadiah tells of a vision which God gives to Obadiah concerning the kingdom of Edom. Edom was the tiny nation east of the Jordan river which was made up of the descendants of Esau. God warned the people of Edom through Obadiah that He was about to punish them for their sins and that their day of reckoning was near. What Edom had done to oppress Israel, other nations would in turn do the same to Edom. When God’s judgment is complete, the people of Israel would be returned to prosperity and would possess the land of Edom as a blessing from God. The text goes into some considerable detail about which portion of the Israelites would control each portion of the lands of southern Israel, Judah, and Edom. In the end, however, Israel would gain control of Edom, and the kingdom of Edom would belong to the LORD (Obadiah 1:21).

Jesus Foreshadowed in Obadiah

Jesus is foreshadowed in a very indirect way in Obadiah. There was an ancient rivalry between the people of Israel and the people of Edom. Israel was descended from Jacob (whom God renamed Israel), and Edom was descended from Esau. It was prophesied in Genesis 25:23 that “the older would serve the younger.” In other words, Esau would ultimately serve Jacob. This prediction is carried a step further in Obadiah as Obadiah prophesies that the descendants of Esau (Edom) would be left with no survivor (Obadiah 1:18) and the land of Edom would be possessed by the descendants of Jacob (Israel) (Obadiah 1:19-21). However, the kingdom of Edom would belong to the LORD (Obadiah 1:21). In God’s seemingly harsh judgment of the people of Edom in handing them over to their enemies and restoring the nation of Israel, God is merely expressing His sovereignty. Paul later reveals in Romans 9:12 that the prophecy concerning Jacob and Esau is an expression of God’s sovereign choice in choosing Jacob (Israel) over Esau. God is the one who will restore the fortunes of Israel because “To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever” (Romans 9:5). In God’s sovereign choice to restore Israel and judge Edom, He is preserving the nation in order that the Christ (who is a Jew) would be born as the Savior of the world. It is through Christ that all nations would ultimately receive redemption, and a remnant of every tribe, language, and nation would be saved—including a remnant of both Israel and of Edom (Matthew 28: 18-20; Romans 9:27-28; Revelation 7: 9-12). 

Book of the Week 30: Amos

Hebrew Name: Amos

Human Author: Amos                                                         

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 9

Basic Facts

  1. Amos is the thirtieth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Amos is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Amos is Amos (ah-mose), which means “burden bearer.”
  4. Amos was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel.
  5. The ministry of Amos took place during the reign of Uzziah king of Judah and Jeroboam II king of Israel.

Story of the Book

Amos begins with God’s pronouncement of judgment for sin against Israel, Judah, and several neighboring cities and small nations including Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab. Then God turns His focus directly upon the nation of Israel and pronounces that He will judge the people of Israel for their sins. God calls the northern kingdom of Israel to repent with lamentation or face judgment. Next, God elaborates on His reasons for judging Israel. God is punishing the people of Israel for refusing to repent of their sins and failing to care for the poor and needy. Amos’ ministry focuses on a call for social justice on behalf of the poor and oppressed in Israel. The book continues with several visions of coming judgment upon Israel, using a plumb line and a basket of ripe fruit as symbols of judgment. The book concludes with a brief description of Israel’s coming destruction, followed by God’s ultimate promise of restoration for the nation. This promise of restoration includes a promise to restore the “fallen booth of David” (Amos 9:11-12) as a vague reference to the restoration of the Davidic kingship of Israel.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Amos

Jesus is very subtly foreshadowed in Amos. When God reveals to Amos that He will ultimately give restoration to the nation of Israel after its destruction, God says, “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in days of old” (Amos 9:11). The word translated as booth in Amos 9:11 could also be translated as Tabernacle. There is an ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament (called the Septuagint) that uses the Greek term skenoo for Tabernacle in Amos 9:11. However, the physical Tabernacle of God was never restored in a literal sense at any point in Israel’s history after the time of David. Therefore, the fulfillment of this verse cannot be found in the rebuilding of the physical Tabernacle. However, in John 1:14 the Gospel writer says, “The Word [that is, Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” The word translated as dwelt in John 1:14 is also skenoo. Thus, the fulfillment of Amos 9:11 is not to be found in the physical tent/Tabernacle erected in the book of Exodus, but rather in the Tabernacle of God dwelling in human form in the person of Jesus. Jesus is revealed as the dwelling of God among men, and Jesus is the one who restores the presence of God in the mist of His people. In Jesus we find the redemption of the true Israel of God, those who live by faith in Jesus Christ.

Book of the Week 29: Joel

Hebrew Name: Yo’el

Human Author: Joel son of Pethuel                                    

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 3

Basic Facts

  1. Joel is the twenty-ninth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Joel is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for the book of Joel is Yo’el, which means, “Yah is God.”
  4. The dating of the ministry of Joel is uncertain.
  5. Joel was a prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah.

Story of the Book

Joel opens with a warning to the people of Judah. He warns Judah of the coming nation of Assyria, which will largely destroy the nation, and later warns that the kingdom of Babylon will carry Judah into exile. Joel uses figurative language to describe these invading nations as a swarm of locusts. Joel calls the nation to repent and cry out to God, proclaiming that God is rich in mercy and relents from sending calamity. Joel then describes the coming wrath a second time as a swarm of locusts: one who will destroy the nation if it does not repent. God proclaims that He would rise and deliver Judah and provide for its needs if the people would repent with all their hearts. The text then shifts to a future time called the “day of the Lord” (Joel 2:28-32) in which God makes a promise of deliverance and a promise to send the Holy Spirit upon the remnant of Judah who survive the exile. The book concludes with God’s proclamation that He will judge the nations, and then He gives a blessing to His chosen people. God concludes the book by promising to ultimately destroy Egypt and Edom, who oppressed God’s people. God proclaims that it is He who dwells in Zion, and it is He who will forgive the sins of His people.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Joel

Joel 2:28-32 describes a time called the “day of the Lord” in which God will pour out the Spirit of the Lord upon His people as he writes: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit” (Joel 2:28-29). This passage is later brought to fulfillment in the book of Acts as the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the Apostles at Pentecost. Peter then quotes Joel 2:28-32a, proclaims Jesus Christ who was crucified to be both Lord and Christ, and tells his audience that the Holy Spirit being poured out on the Apostles that day was the beginning of the fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32. Peter’s audience is cut to the heart by his testimony, and they ask him what they should do. Peter replies to the crowd saying, “repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The crowd of people does repent, and thousands believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Messiah that day. Ever since this prophecy of Joel was fulfilled at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, Jesus has not stopped appearing to people in visions and dreams to reveal Himself to unbelievers and to draw them to Himself. In this way, Jesus is actively fulfilling the prophecy given in Joel 2:28-32.

Book of the Week 28: Hosea

Hebrew Name: Hoshea 

Human Author: Hosea                                                        

OT or NT: Old Testament 

Number of Chapters: 14

Basic Facts

  1. Hosea is the twenty-eighth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Hosea is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for Hosea is Hoshea, which means “God save[s]” or “salvation.”
  4. Hosea was a prophet of God to the northern kingdom of Israel.
  5. Hosea was called by God to marry a prostitute in order to symbolize the unfaithfulness of Israel toward God.

Story of the Book

The ministry of Hosea takes place during the reigns of Jeroboam II and Joash, kings of the northern kingdom of Israel. God called Hosea to marry Gomer, an unfaithful adulteress. The marriage between Hosea and Gomer symbolized the faithfulness of God and unfaithfulness of Israel toward God. Just as Gomer committed adultery, Israel had committed spiritual adultery against God through the sin of idolatry. Despite Gomer’s unfaithfulness, God called Hosea to reconcile with Gomer, symbolizing God’s faithfulness despite the sins of Israel. The rest of the book details the sins which Israel committed against God, God’s coming punishment against the Israelites for their sins by sending them into exile in Assyria, and a call to repentance. The book ends by contrasting the love of God for His people and a call for Israel to repent and to return to the Lord. Despite all of Israel’s sins and unfaithfulness, God still loves His people. Even in the midst of punishing Israel and sending the nation into exile, God calls the people of Israel to return to God in order that He might show them mercy and ultimately forgiveness and restoration.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Hosea

During the ministry of Hosea, Israel had sinned greatly in many ways and rebelled against God. God’s call on Hosea to marry an unfaithful wife was to symbolize both Israel’s unfaithfulness and God’s faithfulness. In this, we ultimately have a picture of the Gospel. When Israel sinned and was punished by being sent into exile in Assyria, God was still faithful to offer forgiveness in restoration later on in the person of the messiah. In Hosea 11:1, God says, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” When Israel sinned and rebelled, the nation was punished by God. However, God provided a way in Jesus Christ—who embodies true and obedient Israel as a representative—to live a sinless life and to remain faithful despite the unfaithfulness of the nation (Hosea 11:1; II Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; Matthew 2:13-15). Through the sinless life of Jesus, the righteous requirements of the law were fully satisfied, and God the Father called Jesus to take the punishment for sin in our place. All who believe in Christ receive reconciliation with God through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. Just as Hosea was earlier called by God to forgive his unfaithful wife for her sins, God has offered forgiveness to us in Christ. In this way, through the ministry of Hosea we have a warning against sin and a foreshadowing of the Gospel.

Book of the Week 27: Daniel

Hebrew Name: Dani’el 

Human Author: Daniel                                                       

OT or NT: Old Testament

Number of Chapters: 12

Basic Facts

  1. Daniel is the twenty-seventh book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Daniel is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for Daniel is Dani’el, which means “God is my judge.”
  4. Daniel was a prophet living among the exiles of Judah in Mesopotamia during the Babylonian and Persian periods.
  5. Daniel was given prophetic visions concerning both the future and the Messiah.

Story of the Book

Daniel is broken up into two basic sections: 1) the life and ministry of Daniel and 2) the prophetic visions of Daniel concerning both the future and the Messiah. The section on the life and ministry of Daniel includes these stories:

  • The fall of Jerusalem
  • Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego find favor with Nebuchadnezzar
  • Daniel interprets the king’s dream
  • The fiery furnace
  • Nebuchadnezzar’s madness
  • The writing on the wall
  • Daniel in the lion’s den

All these stories demonstrate God’s power and wisdom as God works through Daniel and his friends to reveal His power and sovereignty.

The next section includes the dreams and visions God revealed to Daniel including the following:

  • The four beasts
  • The ram and the goat
  • The prayer of Daniel for mercy
  • The seventy “sevens” 
  • The kingdoms of Greece in the south and the north
  • The abomination of desolation
  • The end of days

These visions of Daniel conclude the book as God reveals to Daniel the kings and kingdoms which were coming in the future, including a vision of the end of days when all of the visions of Daniel would be fulfilled.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Daniel

The Book of Daniel prophesies about the final victory over evil that God will have once and for all. Daniel receives visions about a figure who is described as the son of man in Daniel 7:13-14, which says, “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” This son of man is later revealed to be Jesus Christ as He is to come on the clouds of heaven (Matthew 26:64). Jesus is given dominion and glory and a kingdom (Revelation 11:15), all peoples and nations and languages are to serve Him (Matthew 28:18-20; Revelation 7:9-12), His dominion and His kingdom will be everlasting (Psalm 45:6-7; Hebrews 1:8-9), and His kingdom would never be destroyed and would last forever (Revelation 11:15; Revelation 22:3-5). There are more examples of the way Jesus is foreshadowed in the book of Daniel, but this is one of the most prominent. Here in the book of Daniel we get a powerful glimpse of the eternal scope and dominion of the reign of the coming messiah. It is later revealed in the book of Revelation that this messiah is Jesus the Christ, and His kingdom and his dominion will last into all of eternity. All those who have faith in Christ will reign with Him in paradise forever (Revelation 22:3-5).