Want to go deeper in your Bible study?
Follow Christopher Smith's dynamic guide Prophets Before the Exile
and examine one of Israel's most disturbing periods while learning how God's grace shined in the deepest darkness nonetheless.
As a Christian living in the contemporary world, you are all too familiar with spiritual darkness and its effects on everyday life. Just as the Israelites were in trouble, so our culture today revels in sin as if there were no consequences! And like them, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We have rejected God's instruction for what is an abundant life; we have-as the narrator in Judges says-"each gone our own way".
So what can we glean from the pre-exilic prophets that speaks to our context with the message of hope and redemption?
Into the midst of Israel's self-caused chaos the prophets came, calling for repentance and a return to God's ways. They weren't politically powerful or wealthy: they came from the fringe, from the dismissed and despised, but they were known and deeply loved by God. They weren't ostracized because of their look, their dress, or anything of the like: they were despised because they brought the word of God to the people. It is your calling to do the same today.
This study will help you understand the pre-exilic prophetic message to Israel in their own time and equip you to live prophetically and creatively as God's people today. The Understanding the Books of the Bible
series moves groups away from a typical Bible study format into a new approach that emphasizes experiencing the Bible together. A dynamic approach to the study emphasizes:
- Following the natural flow of entire biblical books, rather than arbitrary chapter/verse constructions
- Critical engagement by offering thought provoking questions
- acknowledging the need to interpret Scripture as the job of the Christian community
The Israelites were in trouble. And they had no one to blame but themselves. Rejecting God's instructions for abundant life lived close to him, they went their own waya way of broken relationships, selfishness and idolatry. Into the midst of Israel's self-caused chaos the prophets came, speaking words of truth and love from God. They weren't powerful or well-known or wealthy; in fact, they came from the fringes of society, from the ranks of those overlooked by most people but seen and deeply loved by God. And they were willing to be used by God, ready to listen for his voice, faithful to deliver it. They were also creative, using poetry and songs to deliver some of the hardest as well as most tender words of God recorded in Scripture. Their message is one we desperately need today in the chaos of our world: Love God. Do justice. Live as God's beloved people, reflecting him to a world in need. This study will help you understand their messages to Israel in their own time and equip you to live prophetically and creatively as God's people today. The Understanding the Books of the Bible series moves groups away from a typical Bible study format into a new approach to experiencing the Bible together. Instead of following artificial chapter and verse divisions, these study guides lead groups through whole books following their natural outlines and flow. They pose engaging questions for discussion with personal implications all along the way, leading to a community Bible experience.
The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is an author and biblical scholar who lives in East Lansing, Michigan. He served local churches for nearly twenty years in Massachusetts, Ontario and Michigan and is now a volunteer campus staff member with Graduate InterVarsity at Michigan State University. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for an edition of the Scriptures that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. He was one of the translators for Smith has a B.A. in literature from Harvard, a master's degree in theological studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in historical theology and Bible from Boston College. He has taught visiting, adjunct and extension courses at Williams College, Regent College and the Ontario Bible College (now Tyndale University College). His articles have appeared in professional journals such as and the in periodicals such as and on websites such as
"It is encouraging to come across a project that promotes the communal study of the biblical texts in their entirety, and I would highly recommend this guide to Christian readers wishing to engage with the prophetic books of Amos, Hosea, Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum and Habakkuk."
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