Each year at Church of the Messiah (Xenia, Ohio), a theme is chosen for the congregation's weekly Bible studies. The new theme begins right after the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall and continues until the Feast the following fall. This particular calendar is convenient for us because it lines up with the annual schedule of Torah readings used in Jewish and Messianic congregations. We have often done year-long studies of the Pentateuch using such a schedule.


In 2013-2014 we decided to study the Minor Prophets. Although the total number of chapters we covered adds up to only 67, it was a challenging year for us. For one thing, these chapters come from twelve different books of the Bible, each one with a different historical background, setting, structure, and style to tackle. As soon as we had deciphered one book, it was time to start over with another one. Moreover, the poetry and imagery of these books are often difficult to understand, from Hosea's obscure references to the complicated politics of the final years of the northern Kingdom of Israel, to the puzzling night visions of Zechariah.


It was a very rewarding year as well. We learned right away that our group's solid background in the Pentateuch would be very helpful for understanding the prophets. In particular, when the prophets predict that Israel would face judgment and exile in the future, followed by restoration and renewal, they are building on Deuteronomy 28-32. In the article "Treasures Old and New in Deuteronomy 32" in this issue of Grace and Knowledge, I discuss how the themes of Deuteronomy 32 are developed by the prophet Hosea.


As we proceeded through the year, we were delighted to find a number of passages in the Minor Prophets that connect with the annual biblical festivals. For example, on the weekend of Pentecost our scheduled chapter was Habakkuk 3, which just happens to be a traditional synagogue reading for Pentecost! (This issue of Grace and Knowledge includes a Pentecost sermon on the book of Habakkuk.) Some of Zechariah's prophecies have close connection to the themes of the Day of Atonement. At the end of September, shortly before the Feast of Tabernacles, we found it fitting to consider the Feast of Tabernacles passage in Zechariah 14.


At the end of June, Church of the Messiah received a special visit from Dr. Marvin R. Wilson of Gordon College. Dr. Wilson treated us to a sermon on the book of Micah, a summary of which appears in this issue.


Our study also touched on some frequently asked "difficult scripture" questions. One such question involves the identity of the Zechariah to whom Jesus refers in Matthew 23:35. (It may well have been the biblical prophet Zechariah, but there is also another possibility.) I discuss the answer to this question in an article in the current issue.


By the end of the year, I had filled a loose-leaf notebook with notes. Look for even more on the Minor Prophets in future issues of Grace and Knowledge.


Issue 29


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On 29 Feb 2016, 00:35.