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Monday, April 25, 2016

Who is your favorite minor prophet?

Habakkuk is one of my favorite minor prophets, for the not terribly spiritual reason that one of my favorite choruses is based on a verse from Habakkuk. I'll leave you to try and guess which verse. Anyway, I was kind of pleased to see we're finally reaching Habakkuk in our journey through Biblical prophets. I hope you're still enjoying the journey.

(24) Josiah Falls and Judah will soon follow - Habakkuk

1.       Read 2 Chronicles 35:20-22. What might have tempted Josiah to fight against Egypt? What might have confirmed, for him, that this was God’s will? How do we recognize God’s will?

2.       Read 2 Kings 23:25, Deuteronomy 6:5, 34:10-12. How does the author view King Josiah?

3.       Read 2 Kings 23:28-30. How do we feel when we think we know what God’s doing, and everything changes?

4.       Read 2 Kings 23:31-32, 2 Chronicles 21:10. What efforts did Josiah take to ensure his sons would be faithful? (Libnah had become a bastion of faithfulness by then.) Can we expect our kids to be made faithful by our efforts?

5.       Read 2 Kings 23:33-34 Pharaoh Necho is the one Josiah attacked. Judah now becomes a vassal state of Egypt.

6.       Read 2 Chronicles 35:23-25, Jeremiah 22:10 Who are the people to weep for? Who do we feel sorry for?

7.       Read Jeremiah 22:11-12. Shallum would be Jehoahaz’ home name (like Eliakim), rather than his throne name.

8.       Read Jeremiah 22:15-16. What trappings do we mistake for signs of God’s favor?

Around this time, the prophet Habakkuk looks at world events and presents his questions to God. He’s sometimes called the philosopher’s prophet, thought his questions might equally be priestly or psalm-ly.

1.       Read Habakkuk 1:2-4 Is this question relevant today?

2.       Read Habakkuk 1:5-6 How might Habakkuk have felt hearing this? What message from God might provoke the same feelings in us?

3.       Read Habakkuk 1:12-13. How does Habakkuk’s response begin? What might that teach us about prayer?

4.       Read Habakkuk 2:1. How does Habakkuk’s response end? Does that teach us something too?

5.       Read Habakkuk 2:2-3. How do we feel about waiting? When people try to predict when the end-times will come, what does that tell us about waiting?

6.       Read Habakkuk 2:4-5. What characterizes a proud man or nation?

7.       Read Habakkuk 2:6-8. Habakkuk asked God how long, and God echoes the question, but who is being asked now? Some translations start “...all these will take up a proverb... a riddle against him...” What is the answer to the “riddle”?

8.       Read Habakkuk 2:9,12,15,19. Together with verse 6, who are the five woes aimed at?

9.       Read Habakkuk 2:11,14,20. Are these verses familiar? What message does God “hide” amid the woes?

Habakkuk responds with a prayer, just as the psalmists respond at the end of their laments.

1.       Read Habakkuk 3:2. Why might this be a good prayer to repeat today?

2.       Read Habakkuk 3:3, Deuteronomy 33:2 Paran, between Edom and Sinai, beside the Gulf of Aqaba, was considered the birthplace of the Hebrew nation. What might outsiders see as the birthplace of American faith?

3.       Read Habakkuk 3:4-6. What images does the prophet convey? How might people of that time have interpreted them? How might a computer-gaming child today view them? Does that change your view of computer games?

4.       Read Habakkuk 3:7. Cushan was a Midianite tribe – not too far away. Why might Habakkuk mention them?

5.       Read Habakkuk 3:8-9. So... do God’s arrows strike randomly because nature has sinned or fallen? Read verses 10-11. What image sticks in your mind? Does it remind you of Revelation?

6.       Read Habakkuk 3:12-13,16. How eager are you to see God bring justice now? Would you repeat “in wrath remember mercy” at this point?

7.       Read Habakkuk 3:17-19. How does this fit with the “in wrath remember mercy” theme?

Read 2 Kings 23:35-37 Jehoiakim becomes king in 509BC. He’s deeply indepted to Egypt, and rules a land that’s basically a buffer zone between two warring nations. Jeremiah preaches what is known as his “temple sermon” at this point.

1.       Read Jeremiah 26:1-6. Jeremiah is still young (maybe around 18). He’s a familiar face in the temple, and his father was very important in the days of Josiah. But he’s probably not Jerusalem born and bred. He probably doesn’t have the accent of “power.” So how well-received do you think his sermon would be?

2.       Read Jeremiah 7:1-7. Why might some historians believe Jeremiah 7 gives a longer version of the Temple sermon?

3.       Read Jeremiah 7:8-10. Is there any sense in which “cultural Christians” do these things?

4.       Read Jeremiah 7:11. Who quoted this? When and why?

5.       Read Jeremiah 7:12. When was God’s tabernacle in Shiloh, and what will they see if they go there?

6.       Read Jeremiah 7:18-19, 44:15-18. The queen of heaven, in this context, seems to be a goddess worshiped by women in the home. When Judah fell to Babylon, refugees from Jerusalem carried their house gods with them, including the queen of heaven, just as Jacob’s family carried theirs. They seem to think their worship of the queen of heaven protected them under Josiah’s reign, rather than crediting God. When are we tempted to credit our own skills instead of crediting God for protecting us? Does that mean we’re making gods of our skills?

7.       Read Jeremiah 7:21-23. Which matters more, obeying the letter of God’s law as it’s relayed to us, or obeying God?

8.       Read Jeremiah 7:30. What abominations might we see in houses called by God’s name today?

9.       Read Jeremiah 7:31-34. A cultic temple has been excavated in Carthage where babies were burned on altars and bones buried in urns. How do you feel, knowing that “good” Jerusalem, which had just had such a good king, still enjoyed a similar cult? Whose rejoicing was silenced?

10.   Read Jeremiah 8:1-2. Does this include the good guys’ bones, or does it refer to the present generation?

11.   Read Jeremiah 26:7-9. Are you surprised by the priests’ response?

12.   Read Jeremiah 26:10-11. Does “This man deserves to die” remind you of a later time? (Read Matthew 26:66)

13.   Read Jeremiah 26:12-16. Bearing in mind that priests also speak in the name of the Lord, are they swayed by argument or by God?

14.   Read Jeremiah 26:18-19, Micah 3:12. How might this help them judge Jeremiah? How can we test prophesy?

15.   Read Jeremiah 26:20-23. So Uriah died. How does this help Jeremiah’s case? Read Acts 5:36-39

16.   Read Jeremiah 26:24, 2 Kings 22:11-13. A long-standing faithful priest protects Jeremiah and the story continues.

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