The Gospel of Obadiah

I’ve been anticipating all year that when I came to Obadiah, I would have a challenge finding the Gospel.  We won’t find specific promises concerning the Messiah or any details of the heart of the Gospel, the death and resurrection of Jesus.

So what Good News is to be found in Obadiah?

Obadiah is a common name meaning “servant of the LORD.” The name is found twenty one times in the Bible, but nothing necessarily links the prophet to any of the others by the same name. His prophecy is just one lonely chapter of twenty-one verses, the only singular chapter in the Old Testament and only matched in the New Testament by Philemon, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude. Continue reading “The Gospel of Obadiah”

The Gospel of Amos

About forty years ago when I was in seminary, I heard a sermon based on the prophecy of Amos, chapters one and two.   

Thus says the Lord“For three transgressions of Damascus and for four, I will not revoke its punishment, Because they … Amos 1:3a NASB  

This is followed by the specific reason for this judgment on Damascus, the capital of Syria (known also as Aram), and the specific acts of judgments that will be carried out against her, both the city and the whole nation.

This sequence of listing the sins of a people and the consequent judgment is applied to several cities and nations around Israel.

First, Syria to the northeast of Israel; then Gaza (Philistia), southwest of Israel along the Mediterranean; then Tyre, to the west and northwest of Israel, also along the Mediterranean; then Edom, southeast of the Dead Sea; then Ammon, east and southeast of Israel; then Moab, south of Israel on the east side of the Dead Sea.

Each of these six surrounding nations were condemned for their sins and subject to divine judgment.  In the sermon I heard forty years ago, the speaker postulated that the prophet was probably cheered after each section of judgment on Israel’s enemies.  They liked this preacher.  He had his listeners hanging on to every word with delight as he preached against their enemies. Continue reading “The Gospel of Amos”

The Gospel of Joel

Is there “justice for all” in America?  In the aftermath of the Grand Jury investigation in Ferguson, Missouri clearing Officer Darren Wilson of all charges in the shooting death of Michael Brown, that is the unresolved question for many. Unfortunately, the larger issue of inequality in America has clouded this case so that opinions were formed apart from facts.

Ironically, the emphasis on judgment in the Old Testament prophets is what gives hope in this world of injustice and inequality. This is Good News, part of the Gospel, that one day, there will be justice for all. God is the judge of all nations and all people. No injustice in any society will be left unresolved on the day of God’s final judgment. Continue reading “The Gospel of Joel”

The Gospel of Hosea

We come to the last twelve books of the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures, the section commonly called The Minor Prophets.  But let’s clarify. They are “minor” only in length, not in importance.  As I read through these books, I’m still asking the question, “How does this illustrate, prophesy or relate to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?”

We’ve felt compassion for Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel, all of them witnessing the destruction of their nation, Judah, and her capital city, Jerusalem. Being a prophet of God is no easy gig, but Hosea faced what is arguably the most difficult challenge of any of the prophets,  God told him to marry a prostitute. Was she really a prostitute or did she become one after Hosea married her? Continue reading “The Gospel of Hosea”

The Gospel of Daniel

Next up is Daniel in our journey, The Gospel in the Old Testament.  In the history and prophecy of Daniel, we discover one of the most impressive figures in all the Bible. He stands out so much that Ezekiel, his contemporary who was also exiled to Babylon in the second exile of 597 BC, refers to Daniel along with Noah and Job as the best of the best in terms of being blameless and righteous. Ezekiel 14 Further, it is Daniel, not Solomon, who is Ezekiel’s example of excelling in wisdom, Who is wiser than Daniel? Ezekiel 28:3. Continue reading “The Gospel of Daniel”

The Gospel of Ezekiel

Like his contemporary, Jeremiah, Ezekiel lived and prophesied in the darkest days of the Jewish people, during the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Unlike Jeremiah, who was in Jerusalem during this time until he eventually ended up in Egypt, Ezekiel’s ministry was in Babylon, the capital of Babylonia.  However, through visions, he observed Jerusalem and witnessed the devastating experience of the Glory of God departing from the city. Ezekiel 11:23 .

Ezekiel was a priest, exiled from Jerusalem to Babylon in 597 BC, His call to prophetic ministry at the age of thirty was in Babylon, where he lived throughout and presumably died. He was married. He had a house in Babylon and apparently suffered no major hardship there, unlike Jeremiah’s suffering back in Jerusalem.

Similar to other prophets, but more sharply delineated, there are three sections:

1. Judgment on Judah and Jerusalem
2. Judgment on the surrounding nations
3. Restoration for Judah and Jerusalem Continue reading “The Gospel of Ezekiel”

The Gospel of Lamentations

How deserted lies the city, once so full of people!
How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave.
Bitterly she weeps at night, tears are upon her cheeks.
Among all her lovers there is none to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her; they have become her enemies.

So begins the book called Lamentations.

Powerfully descriptive language describes the city and the people that God loved, but who rejected Him for other lovers and now has reaped the consequences.

Please read it through before you go on to get a feel for the misery of it all.

But you have to wonder… How can Gospel (Good News) and Lamentations (grieving) fit in the same title? Where is there any good news in all this anguish and despair? Continue reading “The Gospel of Lamentations”