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  • Writer's pictureJan Weihl

God's Love in the Old Testament

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

As I have worked my way through the Old Testament minor prophets, I've been amazed at the repeated message of love. These guys are minor, only by the length of their writing. The message God put on each of their hearts is a message of amazing grace.

Hosea was sent to the northern kingdom of Israel with God's message: "you have turned away from Me and committed adultery against Me." Israel had turned their back on God and worshiped the idols of the surrounding nations. God illustrated their betrayal through Hosea's on life and the adulterous betrayal of his wife. What image could possibly show God's great love for us and His desire to have an intimate relationship with us, more than that!?! But in Hosea we also see God's willingness to forgive our sins and welcome us back to Him when we absolutely do not deserve it.

Yet God didn't just send one prophet. He sent many. After Hosea, is Joel. The timeframe of Joel's writing is unknown. He was sent to warn the southern kingdom of Judah of God's impending judgment because of their sins and to urge them to turn back to God while there was still time. Judah had become prosperous and complacent and was taking God for granted. In fact, they had become self-centered. This was one of the original "all about me and my choice" movements. But Joel warned that this kind of lifestyle would inevitably bring God's judgment.

After Joel is Amos. Amos wasn't even a prophet. He was just a regular guy called to share God's message with the northern kingdom of Israel. Their wealth brought complacency and a desire for more money. So they oppressed the poor and even sold them into slavery. But soon, if they didn't turn back to God, they would be conquered by Assyria and taken off into exile where they would become slaves themselves.

After Amos is Obadiah, a one chapter book, written by the prophet Obadiah of Judah. Obadiah pronounces God's judgment against the nation of Edom. The Edomites were descendants of Jacob's twin brother, Esau. But instead of helping their kinsmen, the Edomites took every opportunity to harasses and attack Judah.

After Obadiah is Jonah. Jonah shows God's amazing grace as He sends Jonah to Nineveh, the great city of Assyria, Israel's enemy. Think about that! God even sent a prophet to tell the enemy of His chosen people to repent. Surprisingly, they did repent in response to Jonah's pathetically weak message, "40 more days and Nineveh will be overthrown." But their repentance was short lived just as God knew it would be. But He still offered the enemy of His people the chance to repent and allowed them to choose.

After Jonah is Micah. Micah was sent to warn both Israel and Judah that judgment was coming. Yet God offers countless opportunities to repent and turn back to Him. Micah 6:8 "No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

Next comes Nahum, which at this point some might say, "is that even in the Bible?" Nahum, like Jonah, was called to pronounce judgment on Assyria. Assyria had already conquered the northern kingdom of Israel and was bearing down on Judah. The message of Nahum is different because Assyria isn't being given a message to repent this time but a message of the judgment that would come upon them for the terrible things they did. Nahum 1:12 "This is what the LORD says: “Although they have allies and are numerous, they will be destroyed and pass away. Although I have afflicted you, Judah, I will afflict you no more." This should be very encouraging to us today. Although God uses evil rulers to bring His judgment upon His people, He eventually takes out the evil rulers for trying to play God rather than worship God.

Next comes Habakkuk, a prophet called to give the southern kingdom of Judah a message I think we all need to hear today; that God is still in control of the world despite the apparent triumph of evil.

Then Zephaniah comes along, a prophet called to share a message to shake the people of Judah out of their complacency and urge them to repent and return to God.

Next comes Haggai, who called the exiles who had returned to Babylon to rebuild the temple. The point of the rebuilding was to stop putting God on the back burner and put Him first. Before they could rebuild the temple, they had to return to God spiritually.

Then we get to one of my favorites, Zechariah. Zechariah gives a message of hope to the Jews in Jerusalem based on God's future plans of deliverance through the Messiah. Zechariah 12:10 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn." God's not done with the Jews. He has great plans for them.

Then we come to Malachi, the last of the minor prophets sent to the people of Jerusalem, to confront their sins and to restore their relationship with God.

It would be easy to quickly read through these books and think, "Man, God just continuously beats up on His people." But when we slow down and take a closer look, we see a God who loves His people and even their enemies and desires every single one of them to repent and turn to Him while there is still time.

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

So the message of the Old Testament is the same as the message of the New Testament. God desires all of us to repent of our sins, turn back to Him, and know Him intimately. Where are you in this? Do you need to repent and turn back to God or go and share that message of love and repentance you have received with those around you?

Jan Weihl

Living Word Ministries

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