Obadiah, Nahum, and Zephaniah are probably among the least-read books of the Bible, and rarely preached. They relate to the real world of their day in the seventh century BC: sleaze amongst political leaders, unfaithfulness of religious leaders, national and personal pride, crimes against humanity, and persecution of God’s people. These books tackle themes and issues, which are especially relevant to today’s church and world.
Gordon Bridger encourages us to study and apply these three Old Testament prophets for several compelling reasons. They bring a message from God on the importance of focusing on God, of facing up to sin, of responding in repentance, and of looking to the hope of future salvation and restoration.
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“To rejoice with all [our] heart is a reminder that God’s actions on our behalf are so great that half-hearted or formal praise can never be enough. The apostle Paul wrote that we should ‘rejoice in the Lord’ however difficult our circumstances;33 and he wrote those words while chained to a Roman soldier in prison! We easily get excited about our football team, but we can be strangely silent about our God. Zephaniah teaches us that we have something to shout and sing about, and that we should rejoice in what the Lord has done for us.” (Pages 290–291)
“Aggressive superpowers, and the persecution of God’s people, are part of today’s world. It is one reason why the book of Nahum continues to have relevance in the twenty-first century.” (Pages 90–91)
“ God is said to love his people with ‘wordless adoration’ (Motyer)51 as well as with joyful song” (Page 296)
“Jacob stands for the man, warts and all; Israel stands for the man God intends him to be, the man restored by God’s grace. So does Nahum mean that the Lord promises to take his people as they are—like Jacob, truly belonging to God, mixed up, flawed in obedience and commitment, and not above sharp practices—and make them into Israel, the people of God as he intended them to be? The fulfilment of such a promise can be seen in the church, the followers of Jesus, the family of God, the ongoing seed of Abraham,16 the Israel of God.” (Page 145)
Gordon Bridger is a retired English minister who pastored in Cambridge, Edinburgh, and Norwich. He was principal of Oak Hill College, London, from 1987 to 1996. He is a member of the preaching team at Cromer Parish Church in Norfolk, England.