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The minor prophet Obadiah gives Christians today a glimpse into the past, into God’s character and His promises, and into His work in the future. Read it today!
Last spring, I decided to explore uncommon territory in my Sunday School class. I asked the members how many had read Nahum or Obadiah. A few hands went up, only because they had been on thru-the-bible-in-a-year programs. I then asked who knew what either of them was about. Not a hand was in sight.
I quickly realized that we would have to do a lot of back work to understand either book, so the next few Sundays we covered empires in the ancient near east, including Sumeria, Egypt, the Hyksos, the Hittites, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, and Greece. Fortunately, I read and discuss history for fun and watch historical documentaries for entertainment, so it was no work. Then when studied Jonah, which occurred about a century before Nahum.
Obadiah is one of the neglected books in the Bible, nestled among the minor prophets of the Old Testament between Amos the Shepherd and Jonah the Reluctant Prophet. Only one chapter long, a distinction that it shares with Philemon, 2 & 3 John and Jude, Obadiah reveals the judgment of God on Edom, the descendants of Esau. Measured by how often books are read on Bible Gateway, Obadiah is the least popular book in the Bible, surpassing even Nahum in its obscurity.
Genealogies and census data are some of the most skipped parts of the Bible. They are still important. Here’s why.
Every year my wife and I read through the Bible. Some sections fly by, such as the stories of Goliath, the fiery furnace, and the raising of Lazarus. Other parts crawl, like the sacrificial system in Leviticus. The slowest portions of all are the genealogies and the census data. “How?” we ask ourselves, “does knowing that Mikloth became the father of Shimeam, and that they lived with relatives in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 9:38) impact my life as a Christian?” Likewise, we struggle to care that “The priests, the sons of Jedaiah of the house of Jeshua, (numbered) 973 (Nehemiah 7:39)?” Isn’t this a waste of space in a book that calls itself the word of the Almighty God?
The story behind one of the most infamous crimes in history, and committed by one of the most virtuous men in history.
In the pantheon of world leaders, King David stands at the pinnacle of faithfulness, courage, and honor. Jews, Muslims, and Christians revere David as a warrior, a poet, a prophet, and a man after God’s own heart. God Himself honored King David uniquely among the kings of Israel.
Yet the Bible is clear that David was not a perfect man. In fact, his powerful character was marred by equally powerful iniquities. As recorded in the Bible, 2 Samuel 11, the New American Standard Version:
Statues are coming down all over America, some in a raging mob amidst political pandering, and others with government-directed construction crews. Few memorials are coming down after calm debates and reasoned decisions. Why do we have such statues in the first place? Which ones is it appropriate to remove? Which not?
The mass killing of Jews and other “undesirables” by Nazi Germany during the Holocaust (1939-1945) was one of the worst crimes in modern history. The Holocaust spilled oceans of blood, and its cruelty was beyond imagination. Concentration camps like Auschwitz in Poland and memorials and museums in places like Berlin and Washington DC educate current and future generations on what happened in the hopes that such an atrocity will never occur again.
Regardless of religion, nationality, culture, or theme, historical sites are a precious and irreplaceable legacy of man. They must be preserved.
History is the story of man, who we are and where we came from. More importantly it is the story of God’s work with and for man. As such every part of it is important, even parts that don’t please us or fit our world view. Not every historical location can be saved because man today needs space just as man yesterday did. However, we need to save as much as we can. Sometimes we ruin irreplaceable artefacts through ignorance. Worst of all is the intentional destruction of historical sites by those who disagree with what they represent.
A summary on the bearing and raising of children, and children’s lives, in the Bible and ancient Middle East.
A reader who was preparing a Bible study asked me for some information on children in the Bible. Life in Bible times was centered around the family, and children were a vital part. Our 21st century debates in the West about whether to marry and whether to have children were unthinkable for most people in antiquity. For the vast majority of people, marriage was expected and even required. There were good reasons for this:
Henry Ford may have believed that “history is bunk”, but most people at most places and most times have disagreed with him. History is a record of people, and peoples – who they were, what they did, and why. History tells stories of courage and cowardice, of selfishness and selflessness, and of victory and vanity. Descendants discover who they are, why they are, and what they should do, from their ancestors. As such, history is the record of the universe.
People follow calendars, but they also create and use them to advance their personal and political agendas.
The two primary parameters that shape human thinking, regardless of culture, antiquity, or language, are space and time…spacetime for the physicists among us. It is difficult to understand any communication without a common understanding of these parameters. Such simple phrases as “See you tomorrow” require both parties to have a similar understanding of “tomorrow”.
In the absolute sense, time is dictated by the rhythms of nature as determined by the Creator. In the past it was viewed as the distance in history (as opposed to geography) between events. In that mindset, the idea of saving time was ludicrous. Time progressed at its own rate and rhythm and man could do nothing to change those realities. Ancients wanted tasks to be quick and efficient just like moderns do, and for many of the same reasons, to maximize the duration of pleasant experiences and minimize that of unpleasant ones. However, in the ancient mind time was not like money, which could be stored. It had to be used.
If we lived one or two hundred years ago, many of us would have died long before we reached our current age. Medical knowledge has exploded, and we are the happy beneficiaries. But studying the past still holds clues for the future.
This summer my family and I explored Fort Ligonier, an eighteenth century British fort in Western Pennsylvania, and the Bushy Run Battlefield, a historic site of the Seven Years War (1756-1763). My children opined about what it must have been like to live in those days. As we looked at the hospital buildings, however, my daughter said “the thing that I would miss the most is 21st century medicine. “
She is not alone. Some people attend Renaissance Fairs and pretend to live in Medieval Europe. Others reenact the Civil War or other major conflicts. No one that I have ever spoken to, however, wants to give up modern medicine. Not that modern medicine is perfect. Too often it is impersonal, profit driven, complicated and expensive. However, compared to much of existed before, it is miraculous. We would do well to remember that, and be thankful for it.
God made the universe and He created it in accordance with His love, righteousness and infinity. However each person sees the universe differently depending on his or her culture and other factors. In my study of world religions, philosophy and history, I have reviewed many works on culture and how to study it. I have included some reviews here.