In October we will continue reading Kings, Chronicles, and Psalms. We will also read Nahum, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, Habakkuk, Lamentations, and Ezekiel.
Nahum is a minor prophet and deals with the topic of God’s sovereignty. The book discusses the future fall of Nineveh. There is some debate over the dating of this text; was it written before or after the fall of Nineveh is 612 BCE? Before you read the text please be aware that it contains graphic images.
Zephaniah is a minor prophet and is set in the seventh century BCE. Scholars are unsure of when the text was composed in its final form but was likely after the Babylonian Exile. Dies Irae is based on the first chapter of this text.
Along with Isaiah and Ezekiel, Jeremiah is a major prophet. The text is a collection of prophecies, sermons, and narratives. The character of Jeremiah is a stand-in for Judah in this text. If Jeremiah does well, Judah does well, and vice versa.
As you read Jeremiah you will notice its lack of chronological storytelling. In Jeremiah’s historical context history was thought to be woven together-past, present, and future all in one. There are two distinct versions of Jeremiah, the Hebrew text (Masoretic) and the Greek (LXX). The Greek Orthodox church uses the shorter Greek text and Judaism and the Western churches use the longer Hebrew text. Both versions of the text were found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Habakkuk is a minor prophet. The text is written in the first person but we don’t know anything about the historical figure named Habakkuk (other than the prophet appearing later in Jewish and Christian literature). The book of Habakkuk discusses communal suffering: Why is God allowing his people to suffer so? This text doesn’t answer the question of suffering rather it encourages the people to trust God.
Lamentations is a series of five poems each with its own theme. They were written to lament the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The poems are an appeal to God for mercy- God remains silent throughout the text. At its core Lamentations is a book of public mourning.
Ezekiel is the final major prophet. Despite the complex ideas presented in the text, Ezekiel is broken down into three sections; 1)Before the fall of Jerusalem, 2) prophecies against other nations, and 3) prophecies of hope and restoration.
The overarching theme of the text is how God will keep the promise of Jerusalem as the holy city and the people his chosen with the city being destroyed and the people in exile. The text “has inspired fear, awe, and wonder in readers because he attempts not merely to name but also to embody God’s sovereignty, holiness, and mystery in words that come close to the limits of expression.” (Cook, Stephen L., “Ezekiel,” The New Oxford Annotated Bible, 2010, pg. 1161).
Below are a few questions to help guide you as you read. There are no right answers to any of these, they are here to help us reflect.
Questions to Guide Us Throughout This Practice
- What stood out to you in the readings?
- What did you notice about God?
- Did anything in the readings make you feel uncomfortable?
- How does what you read impact your life and your faith?
Questions to Guide Us Through Nahum
- How did the violent imagery in this text make you feel? If you have a reading partner discuss this with them.
- What do you believe about God’s sovereignty in relation to God’s violence?
- How are the Ninevites treated in this text versus are they are treated in Jonah?
Questions to Guide Us Through Zephaniah
- How does the language/idea/theme of divine judgment make you feel?
Question to Guide Us Through Jeremiah
- What is the overarching theological theme of this text?
- What can we learn about human nature from this text?
- If you had to summarize Jeremiah how would you do it?
Questions to Guide Us Through Habakkuk
- Why do you think there is suffering in the world? What role does God play in suffering? If you have a reading partner this is a great topic for discussion!
Questions to Guide Us Through Lamentations
- How does God’s silence in this text make you feel?
- Do you think we can learn anything about mourning from Lamentations? If so, what?
Questions to Guide Us Through Ezekiel
- What can we learn from Ezekiel about our relationship with God?
- How did you react to the prophecies in this text? Did anything make you feel uncomfortable? Did anything make you feel hopeful? If you have a reading partner this would make for a great discussion!
Daily Reading and Podcast Links
The hyperlink for the reading will take you to Bible Gateway*. The hyperlink “podcast” will take you to the podcast that matches the reading.
October 3 |Reading|Podcast
October 4 |Reading One|Reading Two|Podcast
October 5 |Reading|Podcast
October 6 |Reading|Podcast
October 7 |Reading|Podcast
October 8 |Reading|Podcast
October 17|Reading One|Reading Two|Podcast
October 18|Reading One|Reading Two|Podcast
*Bible Gateway has updated to the Updated Edition of the NRSV. If you would like to use the old NRSV you can find it online at oremus.