The final decades of the eighth century BC produced several great men, but perhaps the most significant of these was a blue-blooded prophet called Isaiah. That’s quite a statement when you consider his contemporaries were Amos, Hosea, and Micah.
Struggling through reading the lesser-known Old Testament passages and long prophetic oracles may seem to have little relevance to everyday 21st-century life. But there are important things we can learn from the Old Testament. First, the New Testament is based on the Old Testament. Second, the Old Testament reveals the character of God. Third, the Old Testament has transformational power. Its message transcends time, geography, and culture. It speaks to everyone, everywhere, in every situation.
The Old Testament prophets were dynamic figures, who continue to speak to our age with an undeniable relevance. It is doubtful any other group of men in all literature presents a more impressive or colourful picture of courage, godliness, or perception. They were men who knew God and trusted Him against insuperable odds.
The Song of Solomon is an intimate, tender, romantic expression of physical love between a man and a woman—first, prior to their marriage…then, after the wedding. If anything other than this is to be safely seen here, it’s an analogy related to Christ and His devoted love for His bride, the church.
The book of Ecclesiastes, as short as it is, is one of the most mysterious works in the Bible. Its content marks a decided departure from the orthodox, a bold and even imprudent alienation from Jehovah…and yet in a few verses, we read strong words in defense of a life devoted to the living Lord.
What the Psalms are to our devotional life, the book of Proverbs is to our practical life. In terse and striking ways, the profound genius of these maxims lies in their shrewd concentration of truth. As we shall see, they remain to this day a marvellous source of insightful and penetrating information.
Virtually every emotion that ever swept across the human soul is recorded in the Psalms. This book is the epitome, the very nucleus of worship…and yet it drips with the whole gamut of humanity.
“Man is born for trouble, / As sparks fly upward.” Who offered this insight? A philosopher in an ivory tower or a monk in cloistered monastery? No. These words dripped with pain from the pen of a flesh and blood sufferer. These words came from the pen of Job.
The book of Esther is a vital link in the chain of Jewish history, as it reveals what neither Ezra nor Nehemiah includes: crucial experiences of the Jews who remained in Persia. As we dig into this account, keep an eye on the central crisis driving the work.
Nehemiah was a man who saw a need—a need to travel from his home in Babylon and rebuild the destroyed walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah couldn’t do this alone; he needed the king’s support. And with much prayer, he approached the king and received the backing he needed. What Nehemiah didn’t realize was his toughest tasks were still before him.
Given the responsibility of leading a group of God’s people back to Israel from Babylon to reestablish the proper way of worship, Ezra performed admirably—not because he was an electric personality but because he was a true man of the Word.