The seldom read book of Philemon is tucked in between the short letter to Titus and the long book of Hebrews. It has only 25 verses and is rarely talked about or used as a subject for a sermon in church services. It is a letter about a runaway slave.
As we begin a new year it seems appropriate to look at an encouraging subject! Hope. We all must be hoping that this new year will be better than the last few have been. We are all hoping for no more covid, that we can get on with normal life.
This month we are thinking about joy. A sentiment usually connected with this season. These shepherds who were just doing their regular work were not immediately joyful at seeing an angel! For many of us, anything out of the ordinary fills us with fear. The same happened to these shepherds.
The Bible is very clear that we, as believers in Jesus, will not be appreciated by the world systems. It happened in Biblical times, and it is still happening today. Jesus was not appreciated by the authorities, neither were his disciples, and St. Paul had several clashes with civil authorities.
The symbolism of light and darkness are carried all the way through the Bible. And it is never once suggested that they cohabit. There is always a suggestion of separation. This very first act that God performed on the earth is symbolic of the way we should live.
Jonah features in many books about the Bible. It is an easy story to illustrate, but it is not just a story, it is truth! Jesus confirmed that for us in Matthew 12:40 when He used Jonah inside the fish to illustrate His own future 3 days in the tomb.
Jude opens his short letter by identifying himself. But interestingly he does not give us his full identity! He is the brother of James who also has a letter in the Bible. They both identify themselves as a servants of Jesus. But these two were also half brothers of Jesus.
Little is known of Nehemiah except what we learn from this book bearing his name in the Old Testament. The book is believed to have been dictated by Nehemiah but actually written by Ezra whose book precedes that of Nehemiah. Ezra named Nehemiah as one of the exiles (Ezra 2:2).
There are many different mountains named in the Bible, but this is the first time they are specifically mentioned. Earth in the creation story is not described as mountains and valleys, just land. But God obviously loves variety and we can imagine that the land He created was very varied.
Habakkuk sounds as though he has been listening to our modern day news programmes! He was fed up with the world situation as he saw it, and as he heard about what was happening all around him, so finally he went before The Lord and asked for an explanation.