This is part of the 66 in 52 Bible Journaling Challenge. Over the course of the 52 weeks in 2018, I am focusing in on one verse from each book of the Bible with many others who have signed up to join me. Each week I will post a summary page with some thoughts about that week’s book(s) of the Bible along with some links that may help our reflection. Click here to sign up if you want to join us at any point along the journey! Click here to see where we’ve been so far!
The Big Picture of Joel:
When you first start reading Joel it might seem a little weird. By the forth verse we’re hearing about an invasion of different kinds of locust and it can leave us confused about what this book is even about. To give a little history, Joel is considered one of the minor prophets. This label (vs a major project) only references the length of the writings not the importance of the message. As is the case with many of the prophets God was sending them to proclaim a message about what will happen to them if they don’t return to God. They’ve been wandering their own ways and God wants them back. The book of Joel has this call to repentance in chapter 1, talks about the Day of the Lord in chapter 2 (the first time in Scripture this phrase is used), and proclaims the restoration he will bring in chapter 3.
The Big Picture of Amos:
The first verses of Amos (another minor prophet) make it clear that he wouldn’t even consider himself a prophet. Rather he mentions that he lived “among the shepherds” (1:1) and calls himself a “herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs” (7:14-15). Just like each of us Amos was just an ordinary guy that God was using for extraordinary purposes. Amos was fed up with the way people who called themselves God’s people treated those around them, especially the oppressed. He was sick of it and wanted them to know it wasn’t okay and was evidence that they had walked away from God. It’s a pretty harsh book with only a few verses of consolation given at the end. However, this little nine chapter book hidden in the middle of Scripture seems pretty relevant in today’s world as I also look around and see people who call themselves God’s people treating others in ways that reflect the opposite of God’s love and compassion.
The Big Picture of Obadiah:
Obadiah is the shortest book in the Old Testament coming in at only 21 verses, but again, we can’t miss the fact that God has it here for a reason. Sometimes clear, concise, and too the point has more power than pages and pages of content. Obadiah chooses to use most of his words to talk about Edom. Where many of the prophets are speaking messages against God’s people, Obadiah joins only Habakkuk and Nahum in proclaiming judgment on other nations. Pride and humility seem to be contrasting themes in Obadiah, a reminder that humility is our proper attitude in the presence of the God of the universe.
A Few Key Verses and Possible Reflection Questions/Prayers:
Some of us are planning to read through the whole book(s) each week, while others are just focusing in on one verse. This section of the weekly intro post might help you narrow down a verse to reflect on for the week, but you do not have to choose one of these verse, pick any section of the book you want! These are just some ideas.
- “Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their generation and their children to another generation.” (Joel 1:3)
REFLECTION: What messages do you hope pass down for generations after you? Are they only of the “good” things or do they include some warnings or challenges as well?
- “Yet even now” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster. (Joel 2:12-13)
REFLECTION: How has shame kept you from returning, confessing, or repenting before our God? How could the truths we learn in this verse about God’s character help us take that hard step?
- “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eating, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God and there is none else. And my people shall never again be put to shame.” (Joel 2:25-26)
REFLECTION: What “years” or seasons in your life do you need God to restore?
- “For behold, he who forms the mountains and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought, who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth–the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name! (Amos 4:13)
REFLECTION: How does a big view of God bring a right view to our current situation?
- “Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, ‘I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, “Go prophesy to my people Israel.”‘” (Amos 7:14-15)
REFLECTION: How might be calling you right in the middle of your ordinary life to speak up on behalf of the oppressed around you?
- “The pride of your heart has deceved you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in your lofty dwelling, who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?'” (Obadiah 1:3)
REFLECTION: Where do you feel invincible in life? How can you ask God to bring humility and dependence on Him to that area of your life?
- “But in Mount Zion there shall be those who escape, and it shall be holy…”
REFLECTION: How can we be a holy place of refuge for those in need?
Some Other Resources:
- The Bible Project summary video of Obadiah
- A Pinterest board with resources and pictures for Obadiah
So now it’s your turn! Pick a verse and settle in this week, or read through each of the books. If you post any picture or blogs on social media, tag them with #66in52challenge so we can all share in this journey together!