This week we wrapped up a summer-long series entitled For the Love of God: A Study of the Minor Prophets and after 11 weeks, I can personally attest to the Minor Prophets’ significance in my own understanding of the character of God. Each week, through each book, we saw different facets of God’s steadfast love for his people. For me it was like looking at the most precious diamond in the world and each angle provided yet another glimpse into the brilliance of the gem. That’s how we see God’s character revealed through each minor prophet.

But, if you’ve tracked along throughout the summer (and you kept the table of contents in your Bible open) you may have noticed we missed one of the twelve minor prophets: Zechariah. We had planned this teaching series for 11 weeks, simply due to some natural rhythms in the church calendar, but all along we knew one of the 12 would be forgotten. Ironically, the name Zechariah means “God remembers.”

So, for those who might feel short-changed or, for the love of God, can’t imagine making it this far through the Minor Prophets and missing the last one, we wanted to provide a few resources on the book of Zechariah to conclude the series. As we have all summer, you can study the book with us by utilizing the Bible Project video and discussion questions provided here.

But how might the book of Zechariah give us one last glimpse into the character of God this summer? What is the unique facet of God’s love revealed in this minor prophet’s writing?

In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, saying…

– Zechariah 1:1

Names, in the Old Testament, often serve as a literary device in which the author hints at the point of the story through the names mentioned in the text. For example, we see this in the story of Hosea when each of Gomer’s children’s names reference Israel’s state of disobedience and then are changed to reflect God’s grace towards them.

Well, in Zechariah 1:1 we are given a clue as to the point of this story, too.

As mentioned above, Zechariah (in Hebrew) means “Yahweh remembers.” So, what does the LORD remember? The next two names in the verse give us some indication. Berechiah means “God will bless” and Iddo means “at the appointed time.” God remembers, and at the appointed time, he will bless his people. This is one of the main thrusts of Zechariah’s prophecy.

The context of Zechariah is similar to that of Haggai, in fact their prophecies overlap in history. The nation of Israel was returning from exile to a city and a temple in ashes. It had been utterly destroyed by the previous Babylonian conquest. But God remembered. God remembered his covenant with his people. He remembered his promise to bless them and keep them. This does not mean, that God had somehow forgotten at some point. Rather, despite Israel’s cycle of disobedience, God faithfully remembered his promises and still desired a relationship with them.

So, God continued to reach out and pursue them. God gave Zechariah an oracle – a message – to serve as a love note to his people.

Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

– Zechariah 1:3b

Notice the repetition of the name for Yahweh here: the Lord of hosts. This moniker appears 261 times in the Old Testament, 80 of which occur in the short books of Zechariah and Haggai. The emphasis is on God’s control. When the people are discouraged by the state of their city, disheartened by the state of their temple, and disillusioned by feeling out of control, God reminds them he is sovereign; he is in control of history; he remembers.

And he calls his people to remember as well when he says “return to me.” He’s calling for a renewed commitment to obedience.

What follows this call can only be described as bizarre, and exactly what you think of when you think of Old Testament prophecy: visions with images that are hard to explain, sections of poetry, and non-linear illustrations of Israel’s current state, mixed with their future hope, and  promises of a Messianic king.

The non-linear flow of this book mirrors the non-linear nature of history and our lives. It’s a reminder that not everything is as neat and clean and perfect as we might like, and yet even when the world feels out of control, the Lord of hosts remembers. God remembers his people. He has not forgotten his promises or turned his back on the people he loves.

In fact, Zechariah looks to the future Messiah as the ultimate fulfillment of God’s remembering. Zechariah describes Jesus as humble, coming on a donkey (9:9-11), and as shepherd who would be rejected (13:7-9) 500 years before it all happened.

Jesus – through his perfect life, death, and resurrection – continues Zechariah’s theme of God’s control over history, God’s pursuit of his people, and the fact that God remembers his promise.

At the appointed time, he will bless his people.

This promise was partially fulfilled in Zechariah’s time as the people returned to the Lord and obeyed for a brief period of time. But, it was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus when, at the appointed time, God blessed his people with his presence on earth.

In times where we are discouraged by the state of our nation or our culture, when we are disheartened by our inability to gather for worship and become disillusioned by feeling out of control, be reminded by Zechariah that God is in control.

God remembers.

God loves you.

And his promise is still being fulfilled, today, as God continues to call people to himself.

At his appointed time, not yours or mine, he will bless his people.

All of this points us to the sovereign love of God.


A Study of Zechariah: The Sovereign Love of God

In the summer 2020 message series “For the Love,” the Clear Creek Community Church Teaching Team will examine one of the least known sections of the Bible, the books known as the Minor Prophets, to better understand the great love of God and our faithful response to that love. Join with us in reading each book along the way! Each Sunday afternoon we will post an introductory video by The Bible Project and a 5-day reading plan with reflection questions to prepare you to hear the following Sunday’s message.

DAY 1—Read Zechariah 1-3

Zechariah begins with a clear identification of the setting for this prophet’s preaching: the reign of the Persian king Darius, during which God’s people are living back in Jerusalem after 70 years of exile. Verse 3 contains a clarion call which resonates through the remainder of the book: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you. To whom does Zechariah compare his audience in 1:2-6? What does he want his listeners to return from doing?

The rest of today’s reading is a series of visions, sent to Zechariah by the Lord, in order to deliver his message to the people of Jerusalem. The first three visions involve a horseman, four horns and craftsmen, and a man with a measuring line—but thankfully Zechariah doesn’t leave us to guess what these varied images represent. For each vision that he sees, an angel accompanies him to explain God’s message. What is the overarching message of these three visions? Is the tone of Zechariah’s prophecy more positive or negative, more hopeful or frightening?

Our reading today closes with a vision of Joshua, the high priest of Zechariah’s day, being clothed in clean garments—a symbol of holiness in the presence of the Lord. This vision is accompanied by a promise: The Branch, God’s servant, will come to remove the land’s iniquity and bring full restoration (3:8-10). Who is this promised Branch (Isaiah 11:1-5, Jeremiah 33:15-16)? What characteristics of his are displayed in these passages? How does Jesus fulfill these promises with his coming?



DAY 2—Read Zechariah 4-6

Zerubbabel was the leader of the Jews who had returned to Jerusalem after Cyrus’ edict, who had led the people to begin work on rebuilding the temple before its construction was stalled (Ezra 3:1-4:5). What does the Lord promise that Zerubbabel will do? By what power will this work be accomplished?

Zechariah’s visions continue in Chapters 5-6 with a flying scroll, a woman in a basket, and four chariots. What do these visions have in common? Would these messages have produced hope or fear in God’s people?


APPLY—Today’s reading again concludes with a prophecy regarding Joshua, the high priest, and the promised Branch who is to come. The crowning of Joshua seems to imply that both the priesthood and the Davidic kingship are essential to the future restoration of God’s people. Read Hebrews 10:11-14, 19-22. How does Jesus fulfill both of these roles? How might an awareness of the kingship and priesthood of Jesus on our behalf transform our relationship with him?



DAY 3—Read Zechariah 7-8

These two chapters were written two years after the visions of Chapters 1-6, addressing a different dilemma among God’s people. During the exile, the Jews had made a practice of regular fasting to mourn the tragic loss of their nation and pray for God’s mercy. What question do they ask Zechariah in 7:3? Zechariah answers their query with both a question and a history lesson—what does he ask, and whose history does he recall?

Chapter 8 begins with a statement of the Lord’s jealousy for Zion, just as he declared in 1:14. As opposed to the more familiar concept of being jealous of someone, what do you think it means to be jealous for someone? What desires does God have for his people (v. 4-8)?


APPLY—Twice in today’s reading, Zechariah summarizes the law of God into some simple statements of how we treat others (7:9-10, 8:16-17). List the commands given in these verses. What difference can it make when we see these as instructions for a flourishing life in community rather than arbitrary laws to keep in order to avoid punishment? Which of these is most challenging for you—remembering to evaluate your own thoughts and attitudes as well as behavior?



DAY 4—Read Zechariah 9-11

Today’s reading has a lot going on: multiple audiences, both blessings and curses, promises of redemption and judgment. Although we could examine many different aspects of these chapters, we’re going to focus in on a few select verses that are referenced in the life of Jesus.

Zechariah 9:9 foretells the coming of a future King who would rescue God’s people. What aspects of the Messiah’s character are emphasized? Read Matthew 21:1-11. How would the crowd’s familiarity with Zechariah’s prophecy have influenced their response to Jesus?

Zechariah 11:12-13 is cited (in combination with a related passage in Jeremiah) in Matthew 27:1-10. In what ways do we see Judas fulfill Zechariah’s prophecy? What connections do you see between the chief priests in Matthew 27 and the sheep traders of Zechariah’s story?


APPLY—The shepherds of the flock of Israel are a recurring theme throughout today’s reading, for their leaders had been marked by irresponsibility and exploitation rather than compassion and faithfulness. How does the guidance given by Israel’s leaders (10:2-3, 11:5-6 & 16) compare to the care that God promises to give (9:16-17, 10:3 & 8)? Read John 10:11-15. How have you experienced Jesus’ tender guidance and care in your life?



DAY 5—Read Zechariah 12-14

These last chapters of Zechariah also contain references to the gospel accounts. Zechariah 12 speaks of the Lord’s promise to bring salvation to his people, ending with their mourning over one whom they have pierced(v. 10). Read John 19:31-37. How does John explain the fulfillment of this prophecy? Why is Zechariah’s description of how they will mourn significant?

Chapter 13 again alternates between promises of future judgment and restoration, connecting back with his earlier prophecies regarding the shepherd and his flock. Read Mark 14:26-31. How does Jesus connect Zechariah 13:7 to his disciples’ future behavior? What hope and grace does he extend to them despite his awareness of their coming failure?


APPLY—Zechariah 14 concludes the book with a prophecy of the coming Day of the Lord, in which great suffering (v. 1-2) will be followed by the final victory of the Lord and the restoration of Jerusalem. Though there are multiple ways to interpret the details of this passage, we can be assured that the definitive fulfillment will come in the establishment of the New Jerusalem following the Second Coming of Christ. Read Revelation 21:22-22:4—what similarities do you see between this passage and Zechariah 14? What hope do these promises give you about our ultimate future and the Lord who will bring it to pass? How can you live today in light of that hope?


Love Your Enemies

There are some days when life feels like the first 10 minutes of a Disney movie. The sun is shining, your hair looks great, the people you cross paths with at the grocery store are really friendly, and you feel like you could just burst out into song at any moment.

Then there are days when you feel like you’re trapped in a war movie or maybe a horror flick. Everything goes from bad to worse as you deal with your own wounds and brokenness coming to bear in your relationships and interactions; or the effects of other people’s scars, hurts, and hang-ups; or the ugliness of the world playing out right before your eyes.

This year has felt a lot more like the latter.

The tricky part for Christians is that Jesus calls his followers into both kinds of days.

He doesn’t say to love the Lord your God with all your heart soul mind and strength only when things are going well for you, or only when your back isn’t against the wall, or only when you aren’t facing a global pandemic, national tension, and an election year.

It’s an all-the-time thing.

Similarly, he doesn’t command us to love people only when we feel like it, or when they’ve earned it, when we’re allowed to leave our houses and actually see them, or when they agree with us.

It’s an all-the-time thing.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

– Matthew 5:43-45

God values people. No matter how righteous or lost an individual may be, they are someone God dreamt up and breathed his breath of life into. You and me and everyone else.

When people are mean to us, or directly oppose us, or seem to be blind to our very existence, it can feel like the best course of action is retaliation.

But this is where Jesus’ words counter not just our culture, but our human instinct.

“Love your enemies.

“Pray for those who persecute you.”

Jesus is saying, see past their actions; care about their souls.

He isn’t commanding us to allow evil and let violence and corruption run amok. Nor is he condemning self-defense.

He’s telling us to see our enemies the way God does.

In the book of Acts, a young Christian named Stephen was taken out of the city to be stoned to death after he had just stood before the Sanhedrin (Jewish council) and preached through the Old Testament in order to show them that they had missed the Messiah.

But as Stephen lived out his final moments on earth, literally dying for the mission of Christ, he did something unexpected.

“And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he said this, he fell asleep.”

– Acts 7:60

This religious group had executed Jesus and were subsequently executing his followers. They fit the bill as much as anyone to be an enemy to Christians. But Stephen displayed the greatest love anyone could in the midst of such a tragedy. As they threw their ill-meaning rocks at his body, he threw back genuine prayers for their good to the only one who could do anything about it.

And who should be presiding over this scene, but Paul, known then as Saul, who would later pen the words:

“For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

– Romans 5:7-8

Paul was one of those people Christ died for when he was still in willful rebellion to the gospel.

And you know what?

You and I were too.

The best thing anyone could ever do for you is love you enough to rescue you from your own destruction.

And so when Jesus says to love our enemies, he’s not saying that means we should turn a blind eye to what they’re doing. He’s not saying what they’re doing is right. Love is in no way undermining the fact that God is perfectly just, and that there are very real consequences for sin on this side of eternity and beyond.

But rather than leaving them to their fate, Jesus is saying we should not give up on them in light of the gospel.

Because he didn’t give up on us.

The apostle Peter said it this way: “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9).

If the story of Stephen sounded familiar, there’s probably a reason.

Jesus, as he was hanging on a cross dying for the sins of the world, was also dying for the sins of those who put him there – the enemies of his ministry and those carrying out their orders.

“And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments.”

– Luke 23:33-34

Upon first reading this gospel account, it’s hard not to feel anger and indignation at the people who beat and mocked Jesus as he was becoming the propitiation for those very sins. But that’s not how Jesus saw them.

He could have called down curses upon them or proved them wrong by coming down off the cross unharmed.

But he didn’t.

Instead, he chose grace – the undeserved gift of mercy, kindness, forgiveness, and hope.

My prayer is that in this season and all those still to come we would be people who choose grace too.


A Study of Nahum: The Comforting Love of God

In the summer 2020 message series “For the Love,” the Clear Creek Community Church Teaching Team will examine one of the least known sections of the Bible, the books known as the Minor Prophets, to better understand the great love of God and our faithful response to that love. Join with us in reading each book along the way! Each Sunday afternoon we will post an introductory video by The Bible Project and a 5-day reading plan with reflection questions to prepare you to hear the following Sunday’s message.

DAY 1—Read Nahum 1:1-7

The book of Nahum begins by announcing the city of Nineveh as the subject of its message, much as Jonah was concerned with this Assyrian capital.  Take a closer look at the first half of verse 3 and compare it to both Exodus 34:6-7 and Jonah 4:2. How does Nahum’s quotation of the Exodus passage differ from Jonah’s? What aspects of God’s character are each of them trying to emphasize?


Today’s passage has been compared to a psalm. It is poetic in its language and focused on the character of God himself rather than any future events. What aspects of the creation does Nahum evoke here? Which of these parts of creation can withstand the wrath of God?


APPLY—Verse 7 is one of the most comforting verses in Nahum’s prophecy. After six verses focusing on God’s anger, why might this verse feel incongruent to us? What does that feeling reveal about our beliefs regarding both God’s wrath and his goodness?


DAY 2—Read Nahum 1:8-11

In today’s passage, we begin to see those against whom the Lord’s wrath is directed. For what action does Nahum condemn them (verses 9 & 11)? In what way were the Assyrians guilty of this?


Verse 10 uses some striking metaphors to emphasize the inability of Nineveh to withstand God’s judgment. What do each of these metaphors have in common, and how does each individually add to your understanding of Nahum’s condemnation?


APPLY— Nahum claims twice that the Lord will make a complete end of those who oppose him. Read Jeremiah 46:28. How can we find comfort in both sides of this passage—not only that he will not make a full end of his people, but also that he will make a complete end of his enemies? How does Romans 5:10-11 connect both aspects of God’s character to Christ’s work on the cross and lead us to worship him?


DAY 3—Read Nahum 1:12-2:2

In this passage, it is often difficult to understand the intended audience. In v. 12-13, they refers to the Assyrians, while you speaks directly to the people of Judah. This pattern is also followed in the second half of verse 15. In contrast, who is addressed in verses 14 & 1? What clues in the passage help you to understand it?


These verses are a study in contrasts. What outcome is being promised to the city of Nineveh (v. 12, 14, & 1)? What will be the ultimate result for the people of Judah (v. 12-13, 15, & 2)? Read John 8:31-36. How will the promise of freedom in v.13 be finally fulfilled?


APPLY—In verse 15, Nahum is quoting from Isaiah 52:7 regarding the future reign of the Lord in Jerusalem. Paul also quotes this passage in Romans 10:13-15, emphasizing the need for God’s people to go to those who have not yet heard the good news. How would Nahum’s words have been good news to the people of Judah? In what way is the gospel of Jesus even better news?


DAY 4—Read Nahum 2:3-13

The second chapter relates Nahum’s vision of the destruction of Nineveh, described as vividly as if the prophet was recording with a video camera. List some of the specific images he uses to let his reader see the battle as he did (v. 3-6).


Nineveh was a powerful city, ruling over a vast empire. Though they had turned to God in repentance in Jonah’s day, by Nahum’s time they had reverted to their old ways. What clues can be found in this passage that highlight the objects in which the Assyrians are placing their trust?


APPLY—At the end of this chapter, Nahum creates an extended metaphor comparing a pride of lions to the royal family of Nineveh. How does the prophet describe the king’s actions on behalf of his family? In what ways might we be tempted to wrong others or neglect justice in order to better our families’ lives? What behaviors are we sometimes willing to justify in order to achieve our own comfort and security?


DAY 5—Read Nahum 3

In Nahum’s final chapter, we see a familiar metaphor (v. 5-7)—the unfaithful nation depicted as a prostitute who will be shamed by the Lord’s judgment. Read Hosea 2 and compare it to Nineveh’s fate. What similarities do you see? What does God promise Israel that is missing from Nahum’s oracle regarding Nineveh?


Verses 8-10 compare the Assyrians’ conquest of Thebes to their own impending defeat. On what was Thebes depending for safety and strength? What will similarly happen to Nineveh’s defenses? How would these images of the annihilation of their enemies have given comfort to Nahum’s Judean audience?


APPLY—Nahum’s prophecy concludes with an indictment of Nineveh’s leadership: the king, princes, merchants, scribes, and nobles. What metaphors are used to describe their behavior when judgment comes? Though few of us are responsible for cities or nations, we each have been given stewardship of people and possessions for whose care we will be held accountable. In what ways are you failing to lead wisely and reliably, tempted to neglect or abdicate rather than steadfastly protect and provide for that which has been placed in your care? What does it look like when we lead others out of faith in God’s might rather than trusting in our own strength?

ALONE with God

Experiencing the joy and fellowship of community has never been more complicated. Social distancing, fourteen-day quarantines, and contactless transactions were not part of our common vernacular more than a few months ago. We ache to be together with friends and family, and the fatigue of isolationism wears down our personal practices of vigilance. Many feel isolated despite having more tools to connect with others than at any other time in the history of the world.

Christians point to the inherent community of God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—when describing our innate need for connection with others. God himself declared, “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen 2:18). Solomon, the famously wise king, wrote that “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgement” (Proverbs 18:1). The presence of God and others is vital for our spiritual health.

We need each other, but we also need alone time.

In fact, Jesus was known to retreat from the crowds (Matthew 14:1, Luke 4:42), and he ordered his disciples to rest (Mark 6:31). However, a closer look at Jesus’ retreats shows a powerful pattern: Jesus left the crowds to be alone with God. He withdrew to mountains and desolate places to pray (Matthew 14:23; Luke 5:16, 6:12). When it was still dark, and during the night of his arrest, Jesus departed from his friends to pray (Mark 1:35, Luke 22:41). Not only did Jesus model “alone time with God” for his followers, he also taught them explicitly: “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret” (Matthew 6:6). The Psalms also encourage time away from activity and with God—time to meditate, reflect, and refocus.

Be still and know that I am God – Psalm 46:10

God’s abiding presence with us is a source of comfort and strength. He promises to never leave nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5) and that nothing can separate us from his love (Romans 8:38-39). Therefore, trying to escape for some “alone time” apart from God is futile.

David Mathis, pastor of Cities Church in Minneapolis, says, “Unless you have his word before you to read, or memorized and hidden in your heart, you are not alone with God. You are just alone with yourself. Christ communicates himself to us through his word made alive and real to our souls by his Spirit.”

Covid-19 may be an opportunity to be away from others, or it may force you to interact more often with a smaller group of people. Time spent away from work, friends, and even family can be beneficial. It gives us a chance to recharge and refocus. More importantly, time away from others can help us realize that God is near. Remembering the priority of prayer and God’s word when we withdraw from others can turn times that feel alone or isolated into times of renewal and intimacy. The next time you choose some “me time,” try to remember that it is best spent as “we” time with God.

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! – I Chronicles 16:11

A Study of Jonah: The Uncomfortable Love of God

In the summer 2020 message series “For the Love,” the Clear Creek Community Church Teaching Team will examine one of the least known sections of the Bible, the books known as the Minor Prophets, to better understand the great love of God and our faithful response to that love. Join with us in reading each book along the way! Each Sunday afternoon we will post an introductory video by The Bible Project and a 5-day reading plan with reflection questions to prepare you to hear the following Sunday’s message.

DAY 1—Read Jonah 1:1-6

The book of Jonah begins almost identically to many of the other prophetic books—Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah—but what follows is a stark contrast. What does the Lord call Jonah to do? What does Jonah do in response?


APPLY—Think of a time when you responded to God’s commands like Jonah, taking off in the opposite direction of the way that he called you to go. What did it take to bring you back to the path of obedience? What lessons did you learn through this experience about the benefits of following God? What did you learn about God’s love for you?


Jonah isn’t the only person in the Bible to fall asleep on a stormy sea. Read Luke 8:22-25. How do both stories demonstrate God’s sovereignty over not only the weather, but over all our lives?


DAY 2—Read Jonah 1:7-17

In Jonah’s day, many cultures used the casting of lots to discern the leading of their gods, including the people of Israel (see Joshua 7). When this method demonstrated Jonah’s guilt, what does Jonah ask the sailors to do? What does this reveal about Jonah’s state of mind? What does the sailors’ initial refusal to follow his suggestion tell us about their character?


When the story begins, the original Israelite audience would have expected to identify with Jonah, the man of God from their own culture. However, as the story has progressed, the pagan soldiers have shown more faith and obedience than the prophet himself. Compare verses 9 and 16. Who is truly fearing the Lord in this story? By what actions is this reverence demonstrated?


APPLY—The Israelites of Jonah’s day had taken the distinction of being God’s people and construed from that a mindset of superiority to the surrounding nations. Jonah’s story would have turned their worldview upside down as they saw his righteousness be surpassed by the pagan sailors. To what people or groups are you sometimes tempted to see yourself as superior: other races or nationalities, those with a different religion or socio-economic status, people who have made bad choices or are less gifted? Why is it difficult for us to even admit these feelings? How are these inclinations dangerous to our relationships with God and others?


DAY 3—Read Jonah 2

Many interpreters use the fish swallowing Jonah as a reason to disregard this book or to assume that it is merely a parable, finding it too fantastic to be believed. Do miraculous stories from Scripture tend to strengthen your faith or challenge it? How can we work through difficult texts like this in a way that leads to encouragement and growth?


After three days within the sea creature, Jonah turns to God in repentance and gratitude. Why do you think it took him so long to pray? How do his words demonstrate both a renewed faith and a greater desire for obedience?


APPLY—Amazingly, Jonah praises God with this beautiful hymn in celebration of God’s goodness while he is still in the belly of the fish. Can you remember a time when God gave you the grace to trust him in the midst of your pain and difficulty? How can our suffering lead us into a new awareness of his goodness and intimacy in his presence?


DAY 4—Read Jonah 3

Compare Jonah 3:1-3 with 1:1-3. How are these passages similar? What is different? What do you think is behind the change in Jonah’s response?


Jonah travels to Ninevah and preaches the Lord’s message of coming judgment. How do the people of Ninevah respond? Think back over our study of the Minor Prophets. How does Jonah’s message compare to the themes we’ve seen throughout these books? How does the people’s response compare to the response of the people of Israel when the prophets preached against their corruption and idolatry?


APPLY—When the king of Ninevah hears the word of the Lord, he responds with repentance and leads his people to do so as well. What specific commands does he give? In what ways is the king’s decree a model for our own repentance? What aspects of repentance do you tend to neglect: mourning, prayer, turning away from disobedience, etc.?


DAY 5—Read Jonah 4

In today’s passage, we finally hear why Jonah was initially resistant to God’s message. What did Jonah believe about God’s character (v. 2)? Read Exodus 34:5-7. Did Jonah have a good understanding of who God is?


Though Jonah responds to God’s forgiveness of the Ninevites with unseemly anger, God patiently teaches him a lesson using unexpected tools: a plant, a worm, and a wind. What is Jonah’s emotional response to this lesson? Emotions are powerful heart indicators. What makes you mad or sad or glad? What does that demonstrate about your values, priorities, and affections?


APPLY—The book of Jonah ends ambiguously with a question. Though seemingly directed at Jonah himself, the open-ended structure puts this question into the hands of the reader. As we’ve seen throughout, the book’s original audience would have been dismayed to see the Israelite prophet repeatedly demonstrate a lack of faith, while the pagans around him respond to God with repentance, humility, and trust. Like Jonah, do you have a hardness in your heart toward those in need of God’s mercy? To whom are you hesitant to reach out? What would it look like for your heart to reflect the grace and compassion that overflows from the heart of God?


Out of Darkness God Speaks

(adapted from Listen & Obey: Hearing God’s Voice)

The greatest movies, stories, and books all begin with a dramatic, attention-getting introduction, drawing you in from the very first scene. There is something so finely crafted, so confounding, so beautiful, so emotional, that you must find out what happens in the rest of the story. You are hooked.

The Bible begins with this kind of introduction. Perhaps you have heard or read it so many times that its dramatic effect seems to have been lost. But try to imagine the impact of reading those opening lines for the first time. The story of the Bible starts like this:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Genesis 1:1-2

The Bible opens with God Almighty presiding over his formless and empty creation. There is darkness. There is the dreadful and mysterious waters. And there is a dramatic silence.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
Genesis 1:3

Out of the darkness and deafening silence God speaks. By his spoken word there is light, and not only light, but in the following verses the sun and stars, land and sea, even plants and animals of every kind come into existence by the word spoken from God. He commands that they exist, and they exist. The entire universe is created out of nothing by the voice of God.

One of the most important truths we learn in the opening verses of the Bible is that God is all-powerful and all-knowing beyond comprehension — and yet is knowable. In both the method and result of his creative work, the Father establishes a pattern of revelation: he speaks so that his creation might hear; he creates light so that his creation might see. He desires for us to know him and have a relationship with him. Imagine that. The Almighty Creator who spoke the universe into existence is not only actively involved in the affairs of creation but also personally involved with the people he created. He not only knows you but has made himself known to you.

When we find ourselves in a season where darkness and silence abound, we can be encouraged to know that the voice of God breaks through and brings light to our world.

Sometimes we so desperately want God to speak to us. The good news is he has…and he does. If you want to hear God’s voice, you must open God’s word.

The Bible itself is God’s word throughout history recorded for us in various forms. In the Old Testament, God spoke to his people by inspiring human spokesmen or prophets who would speak and write what God wanted said. God used a variety of people to speak in a variety of ways. He used narrative, law, poetry, prophesy, and wisdom. Some parts are easier to understand than others, but the point is this: God speaks. The Bible is the story of how by his Word he created the world, and by his Word he will redeem and restore the world.

If you’ve never read the Bible before or it has been a while, now is the best time to start. A great place to start is the Gospel of John, where you’ll read about the life and ministry Jesus. For additional aids, check out the resources at the Bible Project.

When you open the Bible, God opens his mouth.

A Study of Obadiah: The Just Love of God

In the summer 2020 message series “For the Love,” the Clear Creek Community Church Teaching Team will examine one of the least known sections of the Bible, the books known as the Minor Prophets, to better understand the great love of God and our faithful response to that love. Join with us in reading each book along the way! Each Sunday afternoon we will post an introductory video by The Bible Project and a 5-day reading plan with reflection questions to prepare you to hear the following Sunday’s message.

**With our study of the book of Obadiah, we move back in time to the days of the conquest of Judah. Obadiah preaches not to the people of God, but to Edom, a nation bordering Judah to the south. This book is not only the shortest in the Old Testament — those numbers to read each day are verses, not chapters — but also one of the least popular to read.

DAY 1—Read Obadiah 1-4

Obadiah addresses two different audiences in these verses, which we can identify based on the pronouns used.  Who is us in verse 1? Who is her? Then in verses 2-4, Obadiah is addressing someone else: Who are I and you in this passage?

Obadiah’s original readers would have been familiar with Edom’s history, especially their interactions with the nation of Israel, with significant roots extending all the way back to the beginning of the Bible. Read Genesis 25:19-34. Who were Jacob and Esau? When Jacob had grown, God changed his name to Israel, and his twelve sons fathered the tribes that later formed that nation. What was Esau called (v. 30) that later became the name of his descendants’ country? What did the Lord predict would be the relationship between these two nations (v. 23)?


APPLY—How does the prophecy about Rebekah’s sons in Genesis 25 compare to Obadiah’s prophecy in v. 4? Have you ever been tempted to seek a greater glory for yourself than God has promised you? What difference can it make when we approach our tasks and accomplishments to bring glory to God rather than ourselves?



DAY 2—Read Obadiah 5-9

In today’s verses, Obadiah continues to describe the extent of the Lord’s wrath against Edom. What are some of the things and people that this nation will lose in the coming judgment?

Notice that Edom is repeatedly referred to as Esau or Mount Esau in this passage. Let’s read Genesis 27:1-28:5 to get a deeper idea of the roots of their relationship with Israel. How would you describe Jacob’s behavior in this passage? How does Esau respond to Jacob’s actions? What feelings does Esau have for his brother?


APPLY—Just as Jacob took away the blessing to which Esau felt he was entitled, so Obadiah predicts that the Lord will take away Edom’s treasures, wisdom, and might. How do you respond to a loss or lack of worldly success or possessions, especially when you see others who seem to prosper despite lacking integrity? What might it look like to completely trust God with both our abundance and scarcity?



DAY 3—Read Obadiah 10-14

This passage gives us the first clues to the reason that Edom has provoked God’s wrath. In v. 12-14 Obadiah frames his prophecy as a series of commands, but this is a condemnation of their past behavior. How did Edom respond to the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile of the people of Judah? What does this reveal about the attitude of their hearts toward their brothers?

Although Jacob was sent away to escape Esau’s wrath (and find a non-Canaanite wife), he eventually decides to return to his native land. Read Genesis 32:1-21 and 33:1-16 to see Jacob’s first meeting with Esau since his departure. How has Esau’s heart seemingly changed toward Jacob? What do Jacob’s words and behavior reveal about the state of his heart? What has shifted in the relationship between these brothers, and what has stayed the same?


APPLY—Jacob has returned to Canaan with increased wealth, family, and significance. Esau’s response is to rejoice rather than resent his brother’s good fortune. In contrast, the Edomites of Obadiah’s day only rejoiced over Israel’s destruction. How do you respond to the rise or fall of those with whom you have experienced conflict? What does your reaction reveal about your heart?



DAY 4—Read Obadiah 15-18

Obadiah’s prophecy now extends beyond the borders of Edom. What does he prophesy regarding the other nations of the world? How does that contrast with his message for God’s people in this passage?

The fraught relationship between Jacob and Esau continued long after their deaths, as seen in the ongoing interactions between the two nations of their descendants. During the Israelites’ journey from   Egypt to the Promised Land, they were forced to take an indirect route due to Edomite resistance (Numbers 20:14-21). After traveling far to the south to avoid Mount Seir, they then travelled through the far edge of Edom’s territory. Read Deuteronomy 2:1-8. In what ways does God affirm the nation of Edom? How does their story resemble that of Israel?


APPLY—In both passages that we read today, we see the Lord’s sovereignty over the rise and fall of both individuals and nations. Read Acts 17:24-31. What is Paul arguing here about God’s sovereignty over the nations and his purposes for us? Just as Obadiah did, Paul connects sovereignty with coming judgment. What might it look like when we trust God to be sovereign over our lives: our current circumstances, political turmoil, and ultimate judgment?



DAY 5—Read Obadiah 19-21

Obadiah concludes with a focus on Israel’s future rule over all the surrounding nations as a reconquering of an extended Promised Land. Verse 21 references “saviors” who will come to rule (literally, “judge”) over Edom, like the judges who led Israel before the days of the monarchy (Judges 2:16-19). Why do you think the Lord will utilize deliverers to lead his people rather than re-establishing the kings of Judah? Who will be the ruler of God’s people?

This passage clearly shows that Israel, despite their rebelliousness, will ultimately be redeemed and restored, while Edom’s story ends with judgment. Read Romans 9:9-16. What does Paul argue here about the differing outcomes of Jacob and Esau’s descendants? Though our human tendency is to cry out for “fairness”, in what way is God’s sovereign choice an act of merciful compassion?


APPLY—Obadiah’s prophecy was fulfilled first by Babylonian conquest of Mount Seir in 553 BC. The Edomites later became known as Idumeans and were eventually ruled by the Jews by the time of the birth of Christ, losing their identity as a separate culture or nation. But even in judgment, the mercy of God is clear. Read Mark 3:7-10. Can you spot the Edomites in these verses? Although God’s wrath took away their land and independence, this loss gave them the opportunity to follow Jesus during his earthly ministry, leading some to saving faith. How have you experienced God’s presence even in experiences of great difficulty?  How can suffering grow our character, compassion, and trust in Jesus?


046: Ask Your Pastor (Session 1)

Do you have questions you wish you could ask your pastor? Like, why don’t we display crosses on our buildings? Why do we care so much about baptism? How should we think about politics as the church? Rachel Chester asks Yancey Arrington some of these common questions posed to pastors at Clear Creek Community Church in the first session of Ask Your Pastor.


Awaiting the King by James K. A. Smith

A Study of Malachi: The Healing Love of God

In the summer 2020 message series “For the Love,” the Clear Creek Community Church Teaching Team will examine one of the least known sections of the Bible, the books known as the Minor Prophets, to better understand the great love of God and our faithful response to that love. Join with us in reading each book along the way! Each Sunday afternoon we will post an introductory video by The Bible Project and a 5-day reading plan with reflection questions to prepare you to hear the following Sunday’s message.

** There is little information at the beginning of Malachi to help us set the prophet within his historical or biographical context: we don’t know his genealogy, nation, or king. However, scholars place his writing in the same location where it is found in our Bibles—at the end of the Old Testament period. Malachi, like Haggai and Zechariah, is a postexilic book, a message to the Jews who have returned to Jerusalem after their captivity.

DAY 1—Read Malachi 1

Today’s reading introduces us to a pattern found six times in the book of Malachi. The prophet will share a statement from the Lord, and then follow it with a question from the people, always prefaced by “But you say…” The Lord then responds to their question, usually by explaining or expanding on his initial statement. Look at verse 2. What is the Lord’s first statement? What question do they ask in response? What evidence does God give as proof of his love?

Verse 6 begins this claim-question-response pattern again, with an accusation from the Lord against his priests. Of what is he accusing them? Read Leviticus 22:17-25. What had the Lord commanded regarding sacrifices made to him?


APPLY—Just as the people of Judah were giving God what was of little value, so we too often struggle to surrender that which is costly to us. What are you tempted to hold back from God: time, energy, home, money, control, relationships? Read Hebrews 9:11-14. Jesus is our true and better unblemished sacrifice. How might a deeper recognition of his willing gift fill us with the desire to respond in joyful sacrifice as well?



DAY 2—Read Malachi 2:1-16

Our passage continues Malachi’s indictment of the priests, exposing their failures by describing an ideal, faithful priest. What priestly traits are described in verses 5-7? Which of these characteristics is missing from the priests in Malachi’s day, evidenced by their failure to maintain God’s standards for worship?

The prophet’s attention then expands to the whole nation, accusing them of faithlessness, with the third example of Malachi’s claim against the people and their questioning response in verse 14. In addition to their failure to offer unblemished animals, why else has the Lord disregarded their offerings? How can a lack of faithfulness to God result in faithlessness in our other relationships?


APPLY—Malachi called the priests of his day to repentance by contrasting them with the image of a truly faithful priest. Read Hebrews 5:7:10. How does Jesus fulfill Malachi’s depiction as our true and better high priest? Now read 1 Peter 2:9—what difference does it make that we are all part of his priesthood as well? In what ways are you, like the priests of Malachi’s day, responsible to proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light?



DAY 3—Read Malachi 2:17-3:5

Chapter 2 ends with Malachi’s familiar pattern, describing the complaints that God’s people are bringing before him. Judea in Malachi’s day was neither prosperous nor independent, ruled by foreigners and enduring difficulty. Why do you think Malachi describes their words as wearying to God? Compare their complaints amid suffering to Habakkuk 1:12-13. What similarities and differences do you see in their responses to the Lord?

God’s response to their complaints about his seeming inactivity is to promise a coming messenger. Read Mark 1:1-8. Who does this passage describe as fulfilling Malachi’s prophecy? What message did he preach to prepare the people for Jesus’ coming (Mark 1:4)?


APPLY—Just as John the Baptist called God’s people to repentance, so Malachi reminds them of the promise that the Lord’s coming will not only bring restoration but also judgment. How does he call them to reflect God’s heart for holiness and justice? If you sincerely evaluate your life, are you faithfully seeking to speak out against and work to end the injustice that Malachi denounces in this passage?



DAY 4—Read Malachi 3:6-12

God reminds the people of his commitment to the covenant with the evidence of his own unchanging character, that despite their continued faithlessness he has remained faithful. Think back on the other Minor Prophets and any knowledge you have of the Old Testament as a whole. What are some examples of God’s people failing to be faithful to him? Though their failures have been continual and catastrophic, he reminds them that he will never abandon his people. How can they restore the covenant relationship, according to verse 7?

As we have seen throughout this book, the people once again question Malachi’s message. What two questions do they ask? How does the Lord answer them? Read Leviticus 27:30-32. What had God commanded the Israelites to do with a tenth of their income? Why might the people have been disobedient to this command?


APPLY—Malachi’s message is not only an accusation but also a promise: their faithful obedience to give will result in blessed abundance. Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-11, where Paul brings a similar plea for sacrificial generosity to the church at Corinth. How does this differ from a prosperity gospel that requires God to bestow financial rewards on those who fulfill certain obligations, like a great vending machine in the sky? What does Paul argue is the purpose behind any blessings we might receive (v. 11)?



DAY 5—Read Malachi 3:13-4:6

Malachi’s final claim-question-response closely echoes the attitude of 2:17—a complaint against the difficulties of following God when it seems that the godless are prosperous. However, in verse 16 we see the first positive response to Malachi’s message. What characteristic sets this group apart? What did they do to demonstrate their repentance and faith? How does the Lord respond to them?

Malachi then reminds his listeners that the coming day of the Lord will be a completely different experience for the faithless and faithful. What will the wicked receive on that day? What will those who fear God experience?


APPLY—Would your name have been found in the list of those who fear the Lord and esteem his name? It is all too easy for us to see the depths of our own sin, desiring our own glory and fearing the opinions of others more than the Lord’s. Read Revelation 20:11-15. We know that on the day of judgment, books will be opened: books of all our deeds, books that will reveal how we have used our time and treasures on earth. But the book of life will also be opened on that day, and praise God that the names written there are not based on any goodness of our own, but only because of the righteousness of Jesus on our behalf.  What will be the only chance of rescue on that day (Revelation 20:15)? What is our motivation to continue to pursue holiness when we recognize this gospel of grace?