Ecclesiastes speaks to the hearts Gods people when they are searching for answers to the perplexing dilemmas of life. Solomon urges the younger generation to learn from his experience as he searched for the meaning and purpose of life. The only worthwhile purpose he found in life was to fear God and keep His commandments. He told young people to remember God and live their lives well, because everyone will face Him and eternal judgment in the end.
The Song of Solomon is the last of the poetry books and is a love song that records the romance of two lovers and is a beautiful allegory of what the relationship is between Christ and His Church. The Song contains important truths. One is God considers the sexual relationship in marriage to be a very good part of His creation. Another important truth is it teaches us much about our intimate relationship with the risen, living Christ.
The prophets were men from many different backgrounds who were called to speak for God. Most of the prophets warned of judgment to come. In all of their warnings, during the darkest days of Gods people, there is a message of God's grace and hope. Hope in the coming Messiah. God is calling every Christian to model His grace and truth to a dying world, just like He asked the prophets to do a couple thousand years ago.
Why was I born in this time and in this place? Where do I fit in Gods plan? Answers to these questions, and many like this, are found in the book of Isaiah, the longest prophetic book in the Bible. Isaiah is quoted more in the New Testament and gives more prophecies of the coming Messiah than any other prophet. Isaiah makes us aware of our need for a Savior and then introduces us to the Savior who would come.
Isaiah prophesied that God needed a highway on which to travel into this world. That highway would be the Messiah, God in human flesh. Isaiah said that the Christ would be the perfect expression of the Spirit of God. When Jesus described His ministry, He quoted Isaiahs prophesy. He came to bring good news to the afflicted and healing to the brokenhearted; to proclaim liberty to captives, and declare the time of the Lords favor had come.
Isaiah foretold how the Messiah, the promised redeemer, would be our suffering substitute; and of His ministry to give sight to the blind, freedom to those in bondage, and healing to the broken. Isaiah also prophesied of His death. For the sake of all human beings who, like lost sheep, have turned to our own way, God laid our iniquity on Jesus the Christ, who bore the punishment for our sins. Isaiah describes the crucifixion of Jesus hundreds of years before it happened when he wrote that the Suffering Servant would be despised, rejected, afflicted, and pierced for our transgressions. But by his wounds, we would be healed.
Jeremiah preached during a time when Jerusalem was in despair and when all seemed to be going wrong. He witnessed all three of Babylons invasions and the fall of Jerusalem.Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because his prophecies are filled with tears and lamentation. He foretold Israels return from captivity after 70 years. Like Isaiah, Jeremiah wrote several prophecies of the coming Messiah .This message of hope would be not only for Judah, but also for the whole world.
As the Jews were being taken captive to Babylon, Jeremiahs messages were of hope. Though they had lost everything, Jeremiah told them that God would still be with them. In Babylon they would have only Him to depend on, and they would come to know Him better there. Jeremiahs messages teach us to trust God, have hope in the midst of tragedy, and that God can change us when we seek Him.
As Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, there were two kinds of people: those who believed Jeremiah that the captivity was chastisement from God, and those who refused Jeremiahs message and rebelled. To those who believed and repented, God promised His help. He would give them new hearts and bring the next generation back. To those who rebelled, God warned they would be completely destroyed. Jeremiahs prophecies of future restoration and the Messiah continue to give us hope today.
Jeremiah, named the weeping prophet, is crying because the land has been conquered and the people he loves are living as slaves in a distant land. Where was God now for His people who were living in Babylon? Jerusalem was literally the city of God to them, and they felt separated from their holy city and their Holy God. If youve ever looked at your life and wondered if God really loves you, youll completely relate to Pastor Woodwards study of Lamentations.
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.