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Thursday with Tabitha

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Thursday with Tabitha


Introduction by Tabitha Smith

I met Jesus when I was 11-years-old. God had blessed me with a believing family and I sung in church choirs from the time I could read. But I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus until a certain day in 1990. I’d gone to a violin exam, which was being held in a local church. Waiting nervously for my turn to perform for the examiners, I picked up some leaflets that were sitting on a table in the church foyer. I read one of these leaflets on my own later that day. The message of Jesus dying and rising again for the sins of all people was not brand new to me, as I’d heard it many times before, but at that moment, it was like I heard it and understood it for the first time. I cried my 11-year-old eyes out and then asked my mum if I could get my own Bible. Of course, she agreed! I’ve always identified very strongly with the words in Amazing Grace, “I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see”, because that’s exactly what it felt like. I made the decision to follow Jesus from that day onwards.


Over the last couple of decades God has been teaching me from the Bible with the help of the Holy Spirit and many great human teachers. It’s gradually become clear to me that my primary spiritual gift is teaching. I feel very privileged to be able to share in the ministry of Partakers.


Over the next few months I’m going to be taking a tour through the books of the minor prophets. I reckon that if you lined up the Bibles of a sample of believers (myself included!) and looked at the pages that looked least worn and thumbed you would find that the minor prophets account for a substantial proportion of the most pristine pages! Even those prophets that we feel more familiar with, like Jonah, have often only featured in our Christian lives in the form of Sunday school stories. Well, it’s time to do something about that! The books of the minor prophets are full of incredible truths which will help us to understand the character and heart of God. If you’ve ever felt intimidated or confused by these particular books in the Bible then I hope you will join me as I give an overview of each book and I really hope you’ll be inspired to have a closer look at each one for yourself.


The minor prophets are no less important than the major prophets (such as Isaiah and Jeremiah) but their prophetic books are shorter in length and therefore referred to as ‘minor’. The books of the minor prophets were written over a long time span, ranging from the eighth century BC to the fourth or fifth century BC. We’re going to look at them in roughly chronological order, which is a little different to the order they appear in the Bible. The dating of certain books, such as Obadiah and Joel, is uncertain and scholars disagree about when these books were written. So please forgive me if the order in which I tackle the books is not the precise order that you expect!


It’s first helpful to consider what the role of a prophet is. When we think of the word ‘prophecy’ we often think about predictions relating to the future. Now, the prophets did sometimes speak about things that had not yet happened, but much more often they spoke about present events and announced God’s thoughts and messages to the peoples of Israel and Judah. Prophets were not generally regular teachers of God’s word (that was the task of the priests). Instead prophets were raised up at particular times and for particular situations, to speak God’s words to the people. They were able to see things and understand things that other people could not.


As we look at the 12 books of the minor prophets we will see some common themes emerging. The prophets repeatedly spoke of the fact that God had chosen Israel for a covenant relationship; they declared the sad truth that the majority of Israel had sinned against God and turned away from him; they warned about coming judgement; and they declared the promise of renewal and restoration that would follow judgement, both in the immediate future and at the end of history.


As we study each book we need to first look at what book meant to the people who first heard the message. When we have understood this we can then consider how each book speaks to us today.
Our first study will begin next Thursday in the book of Jonah. I hope you’ll join me then!


Tabitha

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You can now buy Tabitha’s book on the Minor prophets. Available on Amazon for only £5/$9 –http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1507793537

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