In chapter 1 Jonah did not come to God. In chapter 2, from the belly of the fish, Jonah comes to God, saying I will. In chapter 3 Jonah goes to Nineveh for God. The primary theme of the book of Jonah is Gods love for all people, even people as hated as the Assyrians in Nineveh were. Though Jonah was very prejudiced and was angry that God would forgive the Ninevites, God patiently showed Jonah His great love for that city.
The Book of Micah records three great sermons. This prophet was born a farmer, yet he was called to preach Gods words to the political and spiritual leaders of the capital cities of both Israel and Judah. Micah placed the blame for the moral and spiritual corruption of the people of God on the leaders. Micah preached the only way they could be rescued from their failures was for God to send a perfect Ruler: the Messiah.
In Micahs third sermon he preached; God desires that His people live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before Him. After addressing the moral failure of government and spiritual bankruptcy in Israel and Judah, Micah preached a message of hope through a Messianic prophecy. Where human government had failed in Jerusalem and Samaria, Christs ultimate authority would not fail, and He would bring true peace to His people. He would be the perfect example of a Prophet, Priest, and King.
Nahum prophesied against one of the most vicious enemies of Gods people. The Assyrian Empire conquered and enslaved all the nations of the world with indescribable cruelty. God had made a covenant with Abraham, I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. Nahum spoke words of comfort to Judah: Nineveh, the capital city of their enemy would soon be destroyed. God would deal with the Assyrians harshly and punish them for their cruel sins.
Habakkuk was a priest and a minister of worship and music, who lived when the threat of Babylons invasion was clear to all. But while Jerusalems watchmen were in towers looking for the coming army, Habakkuk stationed himself in a spiritual watchtower to hear from God. He is known for repeatedly asking God, why? as he wrestles with the questions all of Judah must have been asking. Habakkuk encourages Judah to live by faith and to keep their hope.
Zephaniah prophesied about the Day of the Lord. He focused entirely on the final days when Jesus returns and God judges the world. He described an event that would affect every man and beast in the world. This judgment will be a result of the sin of the nations, Zephaniah urged repentance and faithfulness. God will always preserve and care for those who are faithful to Him. In the end, every person on earth will acknowledge the Lord as God.
Haggai preached to the first group of exiles returning to Jerusalem. Because of the hostility, the people of Judah stopped rebuilding the temple and were building their own homes. Give careful thought to your ways, Haggai preached. He cried out for Gods people to remember their priorities, regain proper perspective, be motivated to continue, and stop being afraid. His words remind us of our need to stay focused on Gods mission and His will for our lives.
The prophet Haggai shows us how to set our priorities for life. To those who are going through a spiritual drought or who find that their work is not being blessed by God, Haggai says to Consider your ways and to Consider Gods ways. God wants us to focus on the work He is doing today that He plans to do in the future. We are to let our faith focus our priorities, our perspective, our motives, and our fears.
Through Zechariahs preaching, God was calling His people not just to a city or a temple but return to their spiritual homeland of a relationship with Him. His primary message was that if the people returned to God, God would return to the people. Zechariah is one of the most important prophetic books, containing more detailed prophecies of the coming Messiah than any book, other than Isaiah. Zechariah prophesies that God would give His people His Spirit and bless them forever.
God gave eight visions to Zechariah to encourage and strengthen His people who were powerless and discouraged. The exiles had few weapons, many enemies, and an enormous task. They were focused on problems and could not see how they would ever rebuild the temple with so many obstacles and problems. But Zechariahs visions pulled back the veil and showed them how God was working to accomplish His purposes. His prophecies gave hope and strength to Gods people.
The Sermon on the Mount is one of the key teachings of the Bible. Jesus preached this sermon on a mountaintop in Galilee when He challenged people who professed to be His disciples to be strategically placed between the love of God and the pain of the hurting people in the world. He challenged His disciples to partner with Him and be conduits of His love. He concluded His sermon with a call to commitment. It changed the lives of many who heard it.
Jesus begins by teaching His disciples eight attitudes called, the beatitudes, or blessed attitudes, because each one is introduced by the word blessed. Jesus is promising to bless the disciple who has each of these attitudes. This word blessed can actually mean happy, spiritually prosperous, or in a state of grace. Each attitude also includes a promise that describes the form in which this blessing will come into the life of that disciple.
The word mercy means unconditional love. When David writes in Psalm 23:6 that mercy will follow him all the days of his life, the word he uses for follow actually means pursue. Gods unconditional love will pursue David all of his life. This is the kind of love for others that we must have too, if we are to be like God.
Many people think Jesus was contradicting the Old Testament in these verses, but He was only confronting the teaching of the religious leaders. He was telling His disciples: Everything I am teaching you is found in the Word of God, but what I am teaching is in direct conflict with what your religious leaders have been teaching you.
Believers sometimes have the misguided opinion that their faith is weak if they show signs of mourning. This beatitude not only supports mourning it links it to a blessing. Mourning a loss is normal and there are things God wants us to learn from the loss. We must let God use our mourning to move us in three ways. First, mourning helps us ask the right questions about life. Second, it helps us to seek Gods answers. Third, it also helps us to accept the blessing God has provided including our salvation.