New this week: Don’t have a Bible handy or are looking for additional resources? Each day’s scripture is linked to an online Bible resource at biblegateway.com.
The themes of repentance and restoration, death and resurrection run strong through our Old Testament readings this week. Look for these Easter themes foreshadowed in the lives and teachings of these great Old Testament prophets.
What is Jonah doing in the belly of a great fish? He was supposed to be in Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, a brutal empire that oppressed Israel. Jonah feared that if he carried out God’s mission of announcing judgment on the city of Nineveh, the people might repent and if they repented God might forgive them. So Jonah sailed west, but God sent a storm and caused the sailors to throw him overboard (see Jonah chapter 1). But God sent a great fish ….
How does Jonah experience ‘resurrection’ in this story? What does he discover about God in the belly of the fish? What does God’s salvation move Jonah to do? How do we often forfeit the grace and mercy of God that could be ours?
Jesus applies Jonah’s story to his own life …
Matthew 16:4 A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah …
What do you think Jesus means by the sign of Jonah?
Judgment has come to Israel because of their refusal to trust the God that loved them. Rather than worship and rely on Him, Israel sought their own security with international alliances with government and gods of Egypt. God seems to be chomping at the bit to be gracious to Israel. What is he waiting for? What has God given his people in hopes that they will return to him?
God’s patience has run out with his people (see Micah 6:3-16) and therefore God will send foreign nations to destroy Israel and carry its people into exile. Despite the judgment of God, what is Israel’s hope? What will their restoration look like?
Micah 7:15 As in the days when you came out of Egypt, I will show them my wonders.
The idea of a second Exodus runs strong in the Old Testament prophets. The wonders that Micah speaks of are the plagues that God inflicted on Egypt causing that nation to end its slavery of Israel (see Exodus chapters 1-15). God will do this again for Israel. Here is one more thing to think about. Can you think of any Passover and Exodus themes in the life of Jesus?
Put this in the back of your mind as you read Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones. The Hebrew word “ruach” means spirit, wind and breath. Now think about these stories from the Old and New Testaments.
Genesis 2:7 The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
Acts 2:1-4 When the day of Pentecost came, they [the disciples] were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting … All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Who are the dry bones that surround Ezekiel in the valley? What is God’s big question for Ezekiel? What is the answer? How do you think God will resurrect us both physically and spiritually? What is the amazing promise in Ezekiel 37:14?
God gives the prophet Daniel a vision of the end of our age when all peoples will be resurrected. What signs of suffering before the end do you see in this chapter? How does the suffering of God’s people mirror the sufferings of Christ during Holy Week? What is the hope for God’s people? What is Daniel’s hope in verse 13?
How is it that the destruction of foreign cities is a sign of hope for God’s people? Whose cause has the Lord defended? Now that evil has been destroyed, what will God establish in its place? How will God’s people respond to all that he has done?
Revelation 19:9 “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the lamb.”
‘My servant’ is a reference to Jesus, as in the one who will carry out God’s plan of salvation. What is God proving about himself to the world through his acts of salvation? List them out.