Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 • Psalm 119:137-144 • Isaiah 1:10-18 • 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 • Luke 19:1-10
Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4 – Little is known about Habakkuk except that he was a prophet in a time of troubles and trials for the Israelites. Many scholars are unsure of the time period, some feel that it took place just before the exile to Babylon. Regardless of the period, the questions and message of Habakkuk are timeless – they reach forward even to us and our times. Habakkuk asked legitimate questions and expected honest answers from God. He is a perfect demonstration of the struggle between our faith and our reality. He asks ‘why does God allow injustice?’ and ‘how can God justify using the unrighteous to correct the Israelites?’ Habakkuk makes it permissible, and advisable, to struggle with questions, even questions directed at God. If possible – take the time to read all of Habakkuk.
Psalm 119:137-144 – The reality of the Israelites is that they are a suffering people. They are consistently under attack, scorned, mistreated and usually hated. Their very existence is a struggle with, against, and for, God – it is the meaning of the name ‘Israel’. In the midst of that struggle, however, is a constant return to ‘Who God Is’ looking at his faithfulness looking for truth. Let these eight verses remind you ‘Who God Is” in the midst of your life. This will be our Responsive Reading passage.
Isaiah 1:10-18 – We return to the beginning of the ministry of Isaiah as he begins to call the people of Jerusalem and Judah back to God. This is the first of a long time call to repentance that will be proclaimed by Isaiah and then Jeremiah, as well as others, and ultimately unheeded by the Israelites. This centuries long prophesy will not be heeded until after the Israelites have spent over seven decades as slaves in Babylon. Isaiah begins it all by confronting the hypocrisy in their religious practices and spiritual conversations.
2 Thessalonians 1:1-12 – Though often used as an attack on those who do not believe, or practice differently,, the letter to the Thessalonians is actually a love letter. The author is telling the Thessalonians that their growing faith is an example for all. The harsh sections of the letter must be viewed with the audience and attitude of the author in mind. The letter is an acclamation of their faith and an affirmation of the unjust nature of the attacks on them. The letter is a reminder to persevere.
Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem, on his way to the Cross, on his way to Death. Jesus has taught about prayer, equality, love, mercy, riches, and more, all while being judged and condemned by the religious leaders. The familiar story of Zaccheus is about a rich man with a questionable vocation, a vocation that puts him in the spot of being hated and scorned by all. It is also a story of Jesus noticing the unnoticeable again, once again, and a story of grumblers and haters. We will be looking at the familiar story of Zaccheus in an unfamiliar fashion.unfamiliar fashion.