by Jeffrey Hagan
(Tacoma, WA)

Lesson 1: Obadiah - God defends his people.

Obadiah 8-10, "Will I not on that day, declares the Lord, destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of Mount Esau? And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O Teman, so that every man from Mount Esau will be cut off by slaughter. Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever. On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them."

Jacob and Esau were brothers and Jacob became Israel and Esau became Edom. God gives a declaration and the reason for the declaration. His chosen people were to be honored not attacked. While Jerusalem was suffering, the people of Edom were satisfied to watch its destruction. For that they would pay.

Lesson 2: Joel - Repentance must be genuine.

2:12-13, "Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster."

Notice how intense this repentance is and that it is God who is speaking to his people. A carefree "sorry" wasn't going to do the job. He wanted, and still requires, a true repentance with complete regret and sorrow for our sin and rebellion. "We can't simply be sorry because we were caught, we need to be sorry we needed to get caught."

Lesson 3: Jonah - God's grace must be preached.

3:4-6, "Jonah began to go into the city, going a days journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes."

Because the people were willing to repent, God withheld his wrath.

I know of many people that give lip service to God's grace nodding in agreement that he extends it to who he chooses, but they certainly don't act like it. God's grace is for us, our enemies, and people who look, talk, think and act differently than we do.

Lesson 4: Amos - Disobedience has consequences.

2:4-5, "For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have not kept his statutes, but their lies have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked. So I will send a fire upon Judah, and it shall devour the strongholds of Jerusalem.”

Everything we do has consequences. Simply living life teaches us this. When we disobey God there are consequences - bad ones. Some consequences are temporary but some are permanent.

Lesson 5: Hosea - God wants relationship not ritual.

6:4-6, "What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."

"Steadfast love" and "knowledge of God" are both relational terms. When we truly love God we want to grow in our experience with him. That requires walking with him every day and increasing our intimacy with him. When this happens we start to experience the progressive revelation of his character, ways, and love in a deeper way all of the time.

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