One of the things I most enjoy in teaching is tracing a biblical-theological theme from Genesis to Revelation. So when Brian McCrorie, the pastor of Heather Hills Baptist Church, invited me to come to his church’s leadership retreat and teach on a biblical theology of servanthood, I eagerly accepted.
So in the 75 minutes I was given, I attempted to show that because we failed to serve God in the way we were created to, God raised up servants to point forward to the ultimate servant Jesus Christ. Throughout redemptive history God gives the title “servant” to key figures such as Adam, Moses, Joshua, David, and the Isaianic servant, each of whom anticipates some aspect of Jesus’ identity.
Want to hear more? You can listen below and follow along with the handout:
In anticipation of a one-week biblical theology course that I am teaching with Jim Hamilton at Northland International University in January, we were asked why it is important to study the storyline of Scripture. You can see our responses below:
Jim and I are excited to be working together in this class, and would love for you to join us. The course applies to the degrees for Master of Arts, Master of Ministry, and Doctor of Ministry. The great thing is that Northland will scholarship the cost of tuition for any first time student. You can find more information on the course here.
NOTE: This is a condensed excerpt from my forthcoming commentary on Philippians.
As evangelicals we often talk about ourselves as “sinners saved by grace.” While this statement is true, the Bible also describes believers as saints. According to its consistent use in the New Testament, the term translated saints (hagios) refers to all believers, not a special class of individuals who are super-spiritual as in the Roman Catholic tradition. The term simply means “holy ones” or those “set apart” for God’s special purposes,1 so in that sense every Christian is a “saint.”
This language is drawn from the Old Testament (Exodus 31:13; Leviticus 11:45, Leviticus 19:2; Daniel 7:18, Daniel 7:27), and particularly Exodus 19:5-6, where God refers to Israel as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Believers’ status as “holy ones” stems from the fact that God himself is holy (Leviticus 11:44; 1 Peter 1:13-16). So believers demonstrate that they are set apart for God’s special purposes by living lives that reflect (albeit imperfectly) the moral purity of God himself. So while the focus of the term is on the believer’s status/identity because of their faith in Christ, those who truly have that status will reflect it in their lives (Hebrews 12:14).
This past Sunday was week 7 in my class on the Gospel according to the Minor Prophets. We worked our way through Zephaniah 1, one of my favorite Minor Prophets. Based on the brief genealogy in Zephaniah 1:1 he appears to have been the great-great-grandson of King Hezekiah of Judah (715-686 BC). He prophesied during the reign of Josiah (640-609 BC), during which the book of the Law was rediscovered in the temple (ca. 622 BC; see 2 Kings 22:8-13). Given the number of places where Zephaniah seems to echo the language of Deuteronomy 1, it seems possible that he wrote after this rediscovery but before the destruction of Nineveh in 612 BC.
The main theological theme in the book is the Day of the LORD. Throughout the book, Zephaniah describes the utter destruction and desolation that will come when the fire of God’s jealous wrath is unleashed. The Day of the LORD will bring judgment on God’s enemies and salvation for his people. On the one hand, the focus in Zephaniah is on the impending destruction of Jerusalem that eventually comes in 586 BC (Zephaniah 1:7-13; Zephaniah 3:1-8). On the other hand, the language used goes beyond that event to the judgment that is coming on the entire world (Zephaniah 1:2-6, Zephaniah 1:14-18). That’s because all throughout history there are a series of “days of the LORD” that anticipate the final and ultimate “Day of the LORD” at the end of human history. These small “d” days of the LORD include the destruction of the Northern Kingdom (722 BC) and the destruction of Jerusalem (586 BC), as well as the crucifixion, Pentecost, and the destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD). All of these events in some way anticipate the final Day of the Lord at the end of human history when God will bring final judgment on his enemies and consummate the salvation of his people.
How can we as God’s people today benefit from Zephaniah? What is it that God has to say to us today through this Minor Prophet?
I believe the starting point is determining the theological big idea, which I would summarize as follows: Yahweh is a mighty warrior who brings judgment but saves the remnant who flee to him as their King.
While Zephaniah describes in terrifying detail the coming Day of the LORD, he closes with a stunning picture of God restoring his people (Zephaniah 3:14-20). As the true King of Israel, Jesus dwells in the midst of his people. He is our mighty warrior who rejoices over us with gladness, is quiet in his love, and exults over us with loud singing.
Want to hear more? You can check out the audio and the handout below:
Week 7 – Zephaniah (AUDIO)
Since 2006 Dr. Matthew S. Harmon has served as Professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. He is also a member of Christ’s Covenant Church, where he serves on the Preaching Team, leads a small group, and teaches regularly in their Life Education classes.
Find out more at his blog, Biblical Theology, which is a forum for all matters pertaining to biblical theology (and some entirely unrelated).
Follow him on Twitter: @DocHarmon