You ever go into a job interview, a meeting with a doctor, a Q&A session following a lecture, and then afterwards come up with all sorts of questions you wish you’d thought to ask? Moses certainly didn’t. God kinda jumped him with the burning-bush meeting here, but he’s got so many questions and issues that the conversation extends into a second chapter. Say what you will about Moses, but the man can raise a concern.
If you’ve ever wondered what the kingdom of heaven is like, you came to the right chapter. Matthew 13 is over 90% parables by verse, each one a simile comparing the kingdom of heaven to something else. So what is the kingdom of heaven like? It’s like a sower sowing seed, a man whose enemy sows weeds in his wheat field, a mustard seed, leaven, a treasure hidden in a field, a merchant seeking fine pearls, and a dragnet. Need an explanation? If so, you’re in good company, because the disciples ask for one as well.
There’s one last thing I want to talk about concerning the minor prophets, and that’s that they came to an end. The prophets both major and minor preached their messages roughly from the 9th to the 5th century BC, but with Malachi’s prophecy somewhere around 420 BC (scholars for various reasons find it difficult to pin a date on Malachi), they stopped. If you relied solely on the Bible for your history lessons, you wouldn’t know anything from the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Malachi up until the birth of John the Baptist in Luke. As the Old Testament as we know it today drew to a close, Jews were living in Jerusalem again, and the temple had been rebuilt, but the spirit of prophecy simply stopped manifesting.
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!
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.
Angels. What are they? Where do they come from? What’s their deal? Today we are going to answer none of these questions, because the first two chapters of Hebrews don’t answer them either, except as they relate to humanity and Jesus Christ. Angels, for the author of Hebrews, are not that important in themselves. But understanding angels can shed some light on other important topics, so we and the author of Hebrews alike shall concern ourselves with them.
Before we tie a bow on the Timothies, I wanted to revisit one last pair of verses that we haven’t properly examined. I expect most of you will recognize the first of these verses, and you may even have memorized it if you were ever involved in scripture memory programs as a child. It’s one of Paul’s most-quoted lines: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). I memorized it in fourth or fifth grade as part of my church’s after-school program, R.A.D. (Radically Awesome Disciples). It was the 90s.
Remember our primer on mysteries in Paul’s writing? How a mystery in the ancient Mediterranean wasn’t something you call in a detective for, but rather a secret teaching revealed to initiates? And how Paul considers the gospel of Jesus Christ a mystery, a hidden knowledge from God into which he wants to initiate, if possible, every single human being? Yes? Okay, good. Because in his letter to the Colossians, Paul’s talking about the mystery of Christ again.
Let’s talk about mysteries. I’m having trouble getting started today, and we’ve got to talk about something, so mysteries it is.