Jacob’s descendants were called the Israelites, because God had given Jacob the name “Israel.” In Egypt, the Israelites had babies. And after Joseph and the former Pharaoh were long dead, there were so many Israelites that the new Pharaoh enslaved them and tried to kill all their male babies. One of the male babies was named Moses, and his family saved him from death by sending him down the Nile River in a basket, where Pharaoh’s daughter found him and had him raised in the Egyptian palace.
Welcome to the second installment of our new interstitial study, God’s Little Deconstruction Book. The verse from God’s Little Instruction Book for today is 1 Samuel 16:7b, “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” It’s part of a larger story that you’re likely familiar with, in which God, having rejected Saul as Israel’s king, leads Samuel to look for a new king to anoint from among Jesse the Bethlehemite’s sons. So as not to draw Saul’s ire, Samuel has a cover story: he comes together with Jesse and his sons to sacrifice a cow to God. And by the end of the tale, of course, Samuel has anointed the youngest son, David.
Congratulations to us: we’ve made our way through the corpus of the Minor Prophets in its entirety. One of my patrons on Patreon requested that I take some time to review the study and share some of my personal highlights from it. And as I’m all about servicing the customer, I’m going to dish out my big-picture reflections right now. Pledge to my Patreon and you can be a serviceable customer too!
I didn’t expect Habakkuk to open as it did, especially just coming from Nahum. Nahum’s prophecy begins with forceful, evocative statements of God’s strength and righteous judgment. Habakkuk, however, begins with a question, and he follows it with further questions. Where Nahum confidently asserts God’s strength against his enemies, Habakkuk asks: don’t you hear me, God? Why won’t you save us? What are you doing?
Lies! Lies and cannibalism!
You don’t have to ask me twice, as the saying goes. Unless you’re God, and I’m Jonah, and what you’re asking me is to go to Nineveh and deliver your message to them. But after the whole incident with the disobedience and the sea storm and the huge fish, when God tells Jonah it’s time to give Nineveh the prophetic business, Jonah doesn’t have to be told a third time. He gets up and goes.
If there’s one minor prophet you’re already familiar with, it’s probably Jonah. While the bulk of the minor prophets comprises divine messages of judgment, mercy, and calls to repentance, Jonah is largely historical narrative. When you add that it requires very little background knowledge to understand, you’ve got a prime candidate for a children’s Bible story lesson. Plus, it’s got a big ol’ miracle fish.
The book of Hosea begins with Hosea marrying a prostitute.
I often go into the background of the Biblical passages I’m reading, but you don’t need to break out a six-volume history of the ancient Near East to get something out of the Bible. In a matter of lines, Isaiah sets the tone for the message he’s delivering from God to Israel: “Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me” (1:2). You don’t need to know a thing about Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah; Isaiah tells you all you need to know. They’re kings of Judah, and Judah is a nation of rebellious sons.