This letter was written shortly after 1 Thessalonians and deals with some of the same topics (the coming of the Lord and work).
Paul is thankful for the Thessalonians’ growing faith and love, and their perseverance in the face of persecution. This leads to an uncomfortable section in 1:5-10 regarding the day of judgment. This section hangs on a phrase in verse 6: God is just. He will bring retribution for some and relief for others. Does the fact of the coming Lord dictate how you live in the midst of trials and suffering, as it did for the apostle? Continue reading →
In Acts 17:2, we read that he was in Thessalonica for 3 Sabbaths before he was run out of town. This letter was written shortly afterwards.
In the long sentence (in the original) that is verses 2-10, Paul introduces the ‘Christian trinity’: faith, hope and love. The Thessalonians had a faith that works, a love that labours and a hope that endures (v3). These virtues were the basis of the assurance of their salvation. Other proofs of their salvation were to be found in how they received and relayed the gospel message. They received it with power, conviction and Holy Spirit joy (1:5-6); from them the message of God rang out to all Greece (1:7-8). The change in their lives was evident to all (1:9-10). Continue reading →
We’re introduced to Jeroboam (“the people contend”) in chapter 11. He too is called to obedience, but he would go down in history for his sin. The Lord sent an unnamed prophet and Ahijah—the same prophet who’d told him he would be king—to Jeroboam, but he didn’t change his evil ways. The word of God was very clear, but he chose to ignore it.
Less is told of Rehoboam (“enlarger of the people”). He was an evil king in the Lord’s eyes and wasn’t militarily great either. The king of Egypt attacked and carried off a number of temple treasures, just one generation after they’d been installed by Solomon.
15:1-16:34: Many kings
In Judah, there’s Abijah and his son Asa. Abijah (“my father is Yahweh”) was a wicked king; Asa (“physician/ healer”) wasn’t.
In Israel, there’s a succession of leaders. First is Nadab (“generous”), with whom Jeroboam’s dynasty ended. He was killed by Baasha (“wicked” or “boldness”), whose dynasty likewise ended after his son Elah (“oak” or “terebinth”) was killed by Zimri. Zimri (“my gift” or “my music”) reigned seven days before committing suicide. A four-year power vacuum followed in which Tibni and Omri fought for control. Omri (“pupil/servant of Yahweh”) won.
Historical records from neighbouring nations tell us that Omri was politically and militarily strong, ushering in a period of prosperity that continued under his son Ahab (“the father is my brother”). However, they both failed where it mattered: obedience to God. Continue reading →
1 & 2 Kings cover the history of Israel from the rise of Solomon to the fall of Jerusalem. After the rays of hope seen in David in 1 & 2 Samuel, we descend into rather dreary times. The narrative of 1 Kings is dominated by Solomon, Jeroboam, Ahab and Elijah. This post covers chapters 1-11, all about Solomon.
1:1-2:46: Solomon’s accession
The story opens up with Adonijah (“my Lord is Yahweh”), David’s eldest surviving son, pulling an Absalom. Like Absalom, he dies. His co-conspirators, Joab and Abiathar the priest don’t fare too well. Joab is killed, and Abiathar dishonourably discharged from his priestly duties. I was dismayed that Abiathar took sides against David, with whom he’d been since the days of running from Saul.
Before his death, David gives Solomon some advice. Part of it was political and part of it was religious. Solomon speedily carried out the political, and as time would tell, he failed in the exhortation to walk in the ways of the Lord. Continue reading →
Ezekiel, whose name means ‘God strengthens’ or ‘may God strengthen’ was one of the exiles carried off to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar 10 years before the fall of Jerusalem. He was from a priestly family, and had his first vision from God at age 30 (1:1). His last dated vision (40:1) takes place when he is 50 years old. Numbers 4:34-45 contains references to men aged from thirty to fifty years working in the Tent of Meeting. Thus his prophetic ministry coincides with what would have been his priestly service had he been back in Jerusalem!
Here’s a possible outline for the book:
The call of the prophet
Prophecies against Judah
Prophecies against the nations
Prophecies of restoration
Vision of a new temple
Like Isaiah a century before, Ezekiel’s call hinged on a vision of God. The significance of this first vision was that Ezekiel was seeing God outside of Jerusalem and outside the temple there. For the exiles, it was inconceivable that He would would be found anywhere else. The Lord promised He would be with His exiled people, and so it was.
As he describes what he saw, Ezekiel is clearly groping for words. He uses the word ‘like’ a lot, especially in 1:24-28. After that visual and aural spectacle, the vision climaxes in… a voice.
[I mentioned this in my Jeremiah post, but I’ll do it again. The commissioning of the three prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel had something to do with their mouths. Another similarity is they were all warned that the people wouldn’t listen. Despite that, they remained faithful!] Continue reading →