Because of our media saturated culture, most people believe a prophet is someone who tells the future. In the Bible, a prophet is someone who delivers a message from God. It might involve a message about something in the future, but not necessarily. In fact, Stephen pointed out in his teaching it usually doesn’t. There are major (longer) and minor (shorter) prophets and they are all found in the Old Testament.
The seventeen prophets are sometimes discounted because they are often hard to follow and understand. As Stephen pointed out, this is because they aren’t linear or follow a narrative format. Often they are written in a visionary and poetic way. However, just because something is hard to follow does not mean they should be discounted! As one of the major prophets (Isaiah) wrote, “the word of God will not return void…” it is always worthy of our time and effort to spend time in God’s word. Stephen recommended a “guide” as you read through the prophets and specifically mentioned www.thebibleproject.com.
INVITATION: This week you are invited into a big picture look of some of the major and minor prophets. Hopefully this overview will whet your appetite to dig deeper into these fascinating books. They have much to teach us and show us about the character of God. Stephen summarized the basic themes this way: 1) God cares about justice and how we interact with others; 2) God truly knows what is going on and is personally involved in our lives, and; 3) God is always willing to forgive and desires ALL to know him and come to him in relationship.
MONDAY: Isaiah 7:14 & Isaiah 9:1-7: As you can see from these readings Isaiah was instrumental in prophesying the virgin birth and many events surrounding the birth of Jesus - the coming messiah. In fact, that is probably the primary theme in Isaiah, i.e. that God will come in the form of a messiah. Take time today to enter into these verses deeply. Consider reading them aloud and then prayerfully allow your imagination to give life to the sequence of images contained in these vivid texts. Envision the light dawning on the people who live in great darkness; the breaking of the bar of oppression, the stilling of the fever of war; the appearance of the divinely given child who promises a time of justice and peace. Imagine the light around Jesus and that light touching your life - today and in the here and now. Spend some time meditating on lightness vs. darkness today. How has Jesus been the light in your life? Consider spending some time in grateful prayer for God’s light in your life.
TUESDAY: Jeremiah 29:11: Isaiah’s basic stance was “here I am, send me.” Jeremiah’s was more “send anyone but me!” However, God assured Jeremiah he would be given the words and guidance needed for the journey. The promise for Jeremiah remains the same today for you and for me. Regardless of the data that might cause despair, God wills your well-being. He is not surprised by the “monsters” in your life. They are not occurring outside his realm. His plan has not changed nor has his power been diminished. Even though you may not visually see or feel certain about the plan God has for you, can you trust him with it today?
WEDNESDAY: Daniel 3:1-30: This is one of the most well known stories from the Bible. “But if not” is a phrase used in these verses and one we all may have occasion to use. “God will heal my friend of this disease, but if not…” God will keep our business from failing, but if not…” Consider an area of your life where you expect or want God to do something specific and in a certain way. On a piece of paper, write down a phrase or perhaps draw a symbol that represents this area and your desire concerning it. Hold all this before God in prayer. Then, take a dark pen or felt tip marker and write over your phrase or symbol. Can your prayer be: “Gods will be done, no matter what might happen.” This is sometimes called a position of indifference. Of course you have your preferences, but can you trust God and His plan - no matter what might be the ultimate outcome?
THURSDAY: Jonah 4:1-11: Jonah is a picture of God’s incredible heart for the lost, as seen through his attempt to reach the people of Nineveh. In these verses, Jonah is pouting and basically throwing a tantrum. All because God’s sweeping and inclusive loves extends to “those people” whom Jonah has been conditioned to hold in low regard. God’s ways are not Jonah’s ways - or ours. Dig deep today and think of a person, a family, or a group of people you resent or hold in low esteem. It could even been for some good reason. Paraphrase Jonah 4:11 including information about the people or the group that has come to your mind. IN prayer, can you express concern for them by using God’s own words from this verse?
FRIDAY: Micah 5:2 & Micah 6:6-8: Micah was a prophet who spoke in basic language to the common, perhaps more rural people. Like Isaiah, he was focused on the coming Messiah, and many of his prophecies are known to us today. The verse from chapter five is such a verse. It is the prophecy that guided the Magi to the newborn messiah. The verses from chapter six are some of the most telling statements about true, authentic faith. Let this passage speak directly to you. You are invited to read it multiple times slowly, and perhaps even out loud. Is there a word or phrase or image that particularly draws your attention? If so, reflect on that. Ask the Lord why it seems to stand out to you as you spend time in these verses. Wait silently. Is there an invitation from God to know, do or become from this time today?
SATURDAY: Habakkuk 2:1-4: Habbakuk stands apart in that all the others spoke God’s words to the people. Habakkuk spoke the people’s words to God. Verse 4 alone communicates an idea about how to live this Christian life that is repeated throughout the New Testament. Living by faith. How might you live by faith today and trust God? Consider saying a prayer of surrender as you begin your day.