This week we’ll get to read through several of the Minor Prophets. Do you remember Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel? Those were Major Prophets.
As you read through the Minor Prophets, don’t be deceived into thinking that their messages are not as significant to the overall story of the Bible. They’re messages are still given by God, important for our understanding of faith, and crucial to explaining God’s interactions with his people over time. They are simply called minor because they’re shorter. So while we spent the month of September in Isaiah, we’ll spend a day or two in Joel, Obadiah, Habbakuk, etc.
For a one sentence description of each Minor Prophets’ message, check out Bible.org.
When is the last time you felt completely vulnerable and like you had no control over a situation? In today’s psalm, the psalmist likens the vulnerability of needing to mercy to that of a servant’s position to his master. Vulnerability is difficult for us, but it’s often good for us. We need, at times, to recognize there is nothing we can do to earn or acquire God’s mercy.
- 36-45 – The king of the north will not honor God, but will offer his affections wherever he finds favor. Ultimately, he will die defeated and alone.
- 1-12 – The man in linen explains what will happen in the end times, but Daniel doesn’t understand. The man in linen tells him that it’s ok, he’s not supposed to.
1 John 4:1-21:
- 1-6 – This section encourages us to use discernment in who we trust and listen to. It also explains the difference and reminds us that the Spirit of God is greater than the spirits of the world.
- 7-12 – The love we have for one another is love from God. God loved us first which then shows us how to love others.
- 18 – This is how we can decipher what is true love – it does not operate on fear.
- 1-2 – This is an act of total submission. Just as a servant looks to its master, so the psalmist is looking to God for mercy despite his sins.
- 2 – The righteous treat people well, but the wicked are hard on the people.
Salvation is a free gift, not a free pass. We are not offered salvation so we can keep sinning and not have to worry about it. Today’s 1 John reading reminds us that salvation is actually intended to transform us and shape us more into the likeness of Christ so we don’t keep on sinning.
- 2-35 – This section describes the struggle between the northern king and the southern king. It is describing a time that is to come, not one that has passed. Daniel has a great deal of prophecies that have come to pass and also some that we’re still waiting on.
1 John 3:7-24:
- 3 – “Little children” is how God is referring to us, his children. Not necessarily to children as defined by age
- 16-18 – Jesus didn’t just talk about loving us, he showed us by dying for us on the cross. If we simply say we love our neighbors, our words are worthless. We must show it with our actions.
- 19-24 – Salvation through grace does not exempt us from following God with our lives. We are still to follow his commands and live according to his will – actually even more so because of the gift of salvation.
- 1-9 – Imagine the Israelites marching up to Jerusalem during one of the appointed festivals singing these words. To us, these are just words in the Bible, but to them, these words were part of their rituals.
- 1 – When we don’t listen to correction, we are doomed to destruction.
True repentance requires sincerity and taking responsibility. It is undoubtedly difficult, but absolutely necessary to achieve full restoration. In today’s reading Daniel sets a great example of repentance for not only himself, but also the entire nation of Israel. Do you need to practice repentance for anything?
- 3-15 – Here Daniel repents for all of Israel. His repentance is sincere and takes responsibility understanding that it is the sins of the Israelites that caused their exile.
- 16-19 – Daniel pleas with God for forgiveness and restoration. He longs for the day when God’s sanctuary will be restored.
1 John 2:18-3:6:
- 18-23 – The antichrists seem to be people denying that Christ was the Messiah. They had, at one time, been connected with the believers, so they looked the part, but were not true believers.
- 1-3 – It’s pretty incredible to think of ourselves as children of God. We have been adopted into his family because he loves us and wants us.
- 1-7 – These are poetic words describing the way God cares for and protects us. It’s good for us to remember where our help comes from because we often look everywhere else but to God for help.
- 27 – We are blessed to be a blessing. When we fail to use those blessings to help others, we often cease to receive those blessings.
Though we often associate the Bible with difficult concepts and miraculous occurrences, so much of it follows along with common sense. Look at today’s Proverb, for example. Of course it makes more sense to rely on the infinite wisdom and knowledge of God rather than our own very limited knowledge. Why do we struggle to do so?
- 15-26 – Like Revelation in the New Testament, Daniel has some apocalyptic literature. This vision interpretation, which reveals what will happen to various nations, is expected to happen long after it was written.
1 John 2:1-17:
- 1-6 – In order to say we follow Christ, we actually have to do the things he did. It’s ridiculous to say that we’re believers and not live as he taught us to.
- 8-11 – This is convicting. If we hate our brothers and sisters (biological, spiritual, etc.) we can’t claim to be faithful. Darkness is sin and the light is walking with Christ.
- 15-17 – Loving the world means putting those things first and, in essence, worshipping them. We worship things when our thoughts, time, energy and resources go towards those things.
- 1-4 – A deceitful tongue, whether ours or someone else’s, is always destructive.
- 25-26 – When we really think about it, it does seem ridiculous to choose to follow our own finite wisdom instead of that of the God of the universe.
Don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize the remainder of Daniel. Today’s reading marks a major shift in the content of Daniel. The second half of the book focuses on apocalyptic literature. It is the only Old Testament book with a significant emphasis on the apocalypse.
- This chapter shifts the book from the stories we learned as kids to the apocalyptic portion of Daniel.
- 1-8 – Foreign powers are no longer depicted favorably in Daniel.
- 9 – The Ancient of Days is God.
- 19-27 – The fourth beast represents Antiochus. Antiochus rises to power overtaking the faithful folks for a time, but ultimately, God prevails.
1 John 1:1-10:
- 1-4 – Here John confirms that God was made flesh in the person of Jesus. And John wants to share that message with everyone, which will make his joy complete.
- 5-7 – We can’t call ourselves faithful and continue to blatantly walk in sin. There’s also a rockin DC Talk song about this.
- 157-158 – The psalmist doesn’t allow others to turn him away from his commitment to God’s law.
- It’s pretty incredible that this is by far the longest psalm and it is almost exclusively about the psalmist’s love and commitment for God’s word.
- 23 – This contrasts a true friend versus someone who just offers lip service. One is helpful. The other is not.
Both Proverbs and 2 Peter remind us just how easy it is to fall into unfaithful traps. There are so many opportunities and influences asking us to walk away from the Lord. We have to be diligent and pay attention to our decisions and what’s going on around us in order to keep our eyes on Jesus.
- 1-5 – What a wonderful thing to be able to say about someone. We can’t find fault in him unless we make up something about regarding how faithful he is to God. Daniel was so faithful that there was no fault to be found in him.
- 6-9 – King Darius doesn’t think through the implications but makes a decision based on ego.
- 10-18 – King Darius is greatly distressed because of the consequences of his actions. He wants to save Daniel but he’s tied his own hands.
- 19-28 – Like with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel’s faithfulness and God’s power work together to create a miracle that draws the king and so many others to faith.
2 Peter 3:1-18:
- 1-10 – The author addresses the concerns people were having regarding Jesus not having returned yet. The people at the time thought his return was imminent and some were getting impatient.
- 14-18 – We are to pay attention so we don’t follow anyone who twists God’s words or instructions.
- 136 – It should be painful to us to see others break God’s law. We should have great empathy for them and to hope to help them return to God in any way we can.
- 21 – This is an interesting verse because it tells us something not to do while also acknowledging how easy it is for us to slip into doing that wrong thing.
Remember the Garden of Eden way back in Genesis in January? That was something perfect and wonderful God gave Adam and Eve. As we know, they found a way to use what was good for evil. They ate the forbidden fruit, bringing sin into the world, and ultimately got kicked out of the garden. Twice in today’s readings we’ll learn about people using good things in ways they weren’t intended by God. First, the golden vessels from the temple in Daniel, and then money in Proverbs. How can you relate in your own life?
- 1 – King Belshazzar followed King Nebuchadnezzar.
- 2-4 – Clearly, this was not the original intent for the gold vessels. They were dedicated to God and now King Belshazzar is defiling them by throwing parties with them.
- 5-31 – Through a freaky happening, King Belshazzar gets bad news. Daniel is the only one who can explain the message from God. He is raised to a high rank in the kingdom.
2 Peter 2:1-22:
- 4-11 – We often think those who do evil get away with a lot, but this reminds us that God offers good things to the righteous and those who do evil receive punishment. It may not always be obvious.
- 17-22 – It is really bad to begin a life of righteousness and commit to Christ but then turn and act as if you never did.
- 114-120 – The psalmist contrasts his love for the law and the ability of those around him to draw him and others away from God.
- 19-20 – Like with many things, being rich is not bad and God doesn’t hate us for it. God looks at our intent and focus. He looks at what we put before him. If pursuit of money is before him, that’s a problem.
Because one time isn’t enough to hear this song, enjoy the musical version of a portion of today’s psalm:
- 1-3 – Remember, Nebuchadnezzar turned his allegiance to God after witnessing the miracle of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego not burning up in the fire.
- 4-27 – The king calls on Daniel to interpret his dream and it’s not favorable. Daniel must have been understandably scared to deliver the bad news to the king.
- 28-37 – Nebuchadnezzar still takes credit for the power of Babylon, which destroyed Israel and captured their people. God humbles him and reminds him who is truly in control.
2 Peter 1:1-21:
- 3-4 – God gives us insight into faithful living and what he wants from us for our own good and so we can follow him.
- 19-21 – This confirms that prophecies were given by God through the Holy Spirit. At this point, many prophecies had come true, but this was encouragement to continue to trust those that hadn’t.
- 97-104 – The psalmist continues to show great love for God’s commands. He realizes that this is where he can receive wisdom and protection.
- 105 – A familiar and beautiful verse proclaiming the great help Scripture can give us.
- 17 – Guilt of this kind of sin cannot be taken away.
Are there things you long for? A new job? A spouse? A child? Do you long for God? This isn’t how we normally talk and maybe isn’t how we think or act either. But the cool thing is, the psalms, specifically today’s psalm, describe longing for God. This is a deep need and desire to be close to him. What might it look like for you to long for God.
- 24-30 – Daniel is careful not to take credit for the incredible act he will perform. He gives glory to God for this ability.
- 31-45 – Babylon had been a great power that had conquered Israel and other lands. God reveals that they will soon crumble despite their current might.
- 46-49 – Daniel and his friends worked for the king but still remained faithful to God.
- 13-18 – Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego are given another chance by the king. This is probably not an act of grace, but a desperate attempt to get everyone to do what he says. Even amidst the threat of certain death, they give a powerful response in verses 17&18.
- 24-25 – Many believe this fourth person with the three friends to be Jesus or an angel of protection.
- 24-30 – Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego’s incredible faith ends up turning even those who would openly and intensely defy God.
1 Peter 4:7-5:14:
- 8 – Ain’t that the truth?
- 10-11 – This is a great way of looking at our gifts – that they should be used to bless others. Often, we use our gifts for our own betterment or enjoyment.
- 12-19 – We are told to relish our sufferings if they are received due to faithfulness. Not all suffering is because we’ve been faithful.
- 6-11 – We are encouraged to always be ready for a time when Christ can raise us up. We must be watchful, however, for stumbling blocks along the way.
- 81-82 – People in the Bible frequently describe their desire for God as one of “longing”. We rarely long for God. We often feel as if we’re doing him a favor by praying, reading Scripture, or living faithfully. What if we saw our position more like the folks who wrote the Bible?
- 16 – Leaders are appointed to protect their people and have higher standards upon them.