Wow, I can’t believe it’s already Christmas break! It’s crazy to see that a semester has already flown by and I’m halfway done with the Institute. Looking back over the past semester, I can’t even begin to describe how much I’ve learned. Compared to what I’ve learned so far, I feel like I knew NOTHING about the Bible before, even growing up in church. I guess what I mean by that is, yes, I knew the stories, the facts, and the head knowledge, but never before have I understood it like THIS. I feel like I have a better “big picture” understanding and belief in the Bible and, as a result, increased faith and excitement about who God is.
For the past two weeks, we studied the Old Testaments prophets. We spent one week focusing on Daniel and the next week looking at an overview of all of the prophetical books of the Old Testament and the Messianic prophesies found in them. Blew my mind! Never before had I learned about any of those things in that way, to the point where I could see the purpose behind the prophets. All of them point to Christ and all of them have a meaning that is applicable even today!
If I had to pick one thing that I took away from the past two weeks, it would have to be the overview of the prophets as a whole. Like I said, I had never before looked at it in that way, where the information was so concise and straightforward. As I was in class that week, I made a chart of the different points that our teacher was making about each of the prophets, including the audience, date, purpose, key image, and a practical application for our world today. I was so surprised at how applicable each book actually is! They apply to real issues in a real world that, even though it has changed a lot over the last 2000 some-odd years, is essentially still the same. We deal with the same sin and life issues that the people of the Bible did, just in a different way. How cool would it be to be able to study how God responded to each of those issues through the prophets and what came as a result of it!
For example, living in America, especially in the churches, many people are living in complacency in their faith. That’s the state of America right now. To me, it seems like there are three distinctions among the “Christian population” in out nation: either you really don’t believe in God even though you say you do, you claim to be a Christian but don’t really walk it out, or you are a believer who is seeking the Lord and living it out on a daily basis. Unfortunately, many of us in America (especially in the Bible belt where I have lived the majority of my life) fall into the second category. We are familiar with the ideas of Christianity and many of us have been to church at least a few times and may have even “accepted Christ into our hearts” at one point. Somewhere along the way, though, we lost it. We became apathetic in our faith and turned to gluttony, idolatry, materialism, and isolation as our new “gods”. This is exactly what the book of Amos is addressing! It was written to the kingdom of Israel before they were conquered by the Assyrians. The Lord was working through Amos to wake Israel out of her complacency and to warn her of her coming judgment. In essence, you can take the message from Amos and use it to see God’s truth for this issue today.
The book of Haggai is also very applicable today. Haggai was addressed to Judah after they returned from the exile in Babylon, to encourage those who returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. It called for the people to check their priorities and make WOSHIP their priority over everything else. Before they could rebuild the walls, their homes, or anything else, the Lord wanted them to rebuild the Temple. He wanted Him and His worship to be the central part of their lives, the source of their strength and livelihood, before homes and protection. He wanted the people to realize that HE was to be their source of strength and safety above anything else. This message from Haggai is applicable to us as well! How many times do we look to other things to satisfy us and fulfill our needs when, in reality, Christ is the only one who can? I know that this is a challenge for me as well; both of these things are. I am guilty of being complacent in my faith and putting other things before Christ. Who knew that you could find such truth and conviction in the prophets today? My view of the prophetical books has definitely changed and I’m excited to see how the Lord continues to open my eyes to His truth in them.