Matthew Harmon – How the Minor Prophets Help Us Enjoy Jesus

When it comes to true joy, Jesus was deadly serious. He tells his disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). His words are the key to experiencing fullness of joy in our lives. But the words of Jesus are not merely what the Gospels record him saying. Jesus makes it clear that in some way everything in the Bible relates to him — his life, death, and resurrection, and his message of repentance and forgiveness (Luke 24:44–49).

If we’re honest, though, we can find parts of the Bible confusing, and even boring. We encounter strange customs, different kinds of literature, lists of unfamiliar names, and complicated systems of laws. As a result, we often gravitate toward certain parts of the Bible and avoid the uncomfortable terrain.

But if we believe what Jesus says about our joy in him hinging on the words of God, then we need the whole Bible. To maximize our joy in him we need maximal Scripture. So let’s look at how one often-neglected section of the Bible helps us enjoy Jesus: the Minor Prophets.

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Matthew Harmon – 10 Things You Should Know about Reading the Bible

1. The Bible is both a divine and a human book.

Every word of the Bible is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16). He spoke through the various human authors, using their unique personalities and writing styles to communicate exactly what he wanted to say (2 Pet. 1:20–21).

2. The Bible is a story.

The Bible is not simply a collection of religious sayings or an anthology of various people’s religious experiences. The Bible tells us the true story of the world, the way things truly are and should be. Understanding the basic plot of the Bible that runs from Genesis to Revelation helps us better understand every passage in between.

3. The Bible focuses on God and his plans for the world.

God is the main character of the Bible. He created humanity to reflect his image by ruling over creation as stewards under his authority. But Satan deceived Adam and Eve into rebelling against God, plunging all of creation under the curse of sin and death. The rest of the Bible gradually unfolds God’s plan to redeem his people from their sin, defeat their greatest enemy Satan, and transform creation for his redeemed people to enjoy forever.

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Matthew Harmon – 4 Questions You Should Ask When Reading the Bible

What Questions Are You Asking?

What we get out of the Bible largely depends on the kinds of questions we ask when reading the text. But how do we know what are the right questions to ask? Jesus provided a good starting point when he summarized the two greatest commandments: (1) love God with our whole being, and (2) love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:34–40). From these two commandments we can ask four basic questions to help us grow in our relationship with God.

What Do We Learn about God?

God is the main character of the Bible, the hero of the story. So it makes sense that the first question we ask is what we learn about him. Scripture reveals who God is in at least three different ways.

First, it shows us his character, or his attributes. Sometimes the Bible states these directly (e.g., Isaiah 6:3). At other times you need to infer truths about his character (e.g., 1 Kgs. 22:1–40). Even in a book like Esther, where God is never directly referred to, there is much to learn about him.

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Matthew Harmon – Why Study the Book of Jeremiah?

why-study-jeremiah

Why Study Jeremiah?

On one level, the answer to the question “Why study Jeremiah?” is straightforward. On the day of his resurrection, Jesus appeared to his startled disciples as they hid from the authorities (Luke 24:36-49). In that appearance, Jesus reminded them of what he taught them before his death and resurrection: “Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44). Paul explained to the Romans that “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). So we should study Jeremiah because we want to know Christ better and see God deepen our endurance in the gospel so that our hope in God and his promises will grow.

But that is true of every book of the Bible. So what are some specific ways that the book of Jeremiah produces endurance and deepens our hope? Let me just mention four.

1. Jeremiah shows us the fullness of God’s character.

We live in a world that has an impoverished view of God. Jeremiah challenges us by putting on display the full range of God’s character. In contrast to the false gods and idols that the nations worship, the LORD is the only true God (Jer. 10:1–16). God is sovereignly working out his purposes for human history. Before Jeremiah was even born God had set him apart to be his mouthpiece (Jer. 1:1–19). Through this prophet, God announces his plans to raise up and destroy nations (Jer 1:10), as well as his plans for his people (Jer. 29:1–23). The LORD sits in judgment over his own people as well as the nations, pouring out his wrath on their rebellion (Jer. 25:1–38; 46:1–52:34).

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