“I can't understand it. It's boring. It isn't relevant to my life today.” Maybe you've heard these phrases before in conversations about certain books of the Bible. Or maybe, like me, you've even been guilty of thinking them yourself.
Because let's face it. Some books are more fun to read than others. Take the Psalms for instance. Who could weave praises together with Holy Spirit inspiration better than King David? Or Paul's missionary journey in Acts. Who doesn't love reading such hope-filled, encouraging messages?
However, there are some books we'd rather skip over altogether. We shouldn't though, because every Word of Scripture is "God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). In fact, here are 10 books of the Bible you probably never read, but should. Let's allow these less popular books to speak into our hearts today like never before.
1. Joel – Judgement is real, but so is the beauty of repentance.
The book of Joel shares a prophetic word that came to Joel from the Lord. Joel creates a picture of the locust plague to share the often-overlooked message of judgement. However, he also shares this truth. We have hope, and it's not too late to turn to God. "Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love" (Joel 2:13).
The entire message of the gospel can be summed up in this one sentence, "And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Joel 2:32). The imagery and description found in Joel brings this message to life for readers.
2. Obadiah – Those who oppose God’s people will face the consequences.
Obadiah, the shortest book of the Old Testament, shows what will happen to Edom for mistreating God's people. "Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever" (Obadiah 1:10). Other places in Scripture boldly proclaim the truth about God's judgement and end with a call to repentance, but not here. Edom's fate is sealed.
Obadiah brings to the forefront a subject we don't like to talk about because it often causes debate among believers. We are called to stand with God's chosen people. The book of Obadiah offers proof of that principle.
3. Nahum – Let’s not turn back to our old ways.
You most likely remember Jonah – swallowed by a whale, called to share an unpopular message with Nineveh. But did you know Nahum is a continuation of Nineveh's story? At the end of the book of Jonah, God showed mercy on Nineveh. They accepted the message and responded with repentance, but that didn't last.
We have all been guilty of this. We take our mistakes to God, and He surrounds us with grace and love. God gives us another chance. But after a time, we forget. We revisit that old lifestyle. We pick up old habits. The book of Nahum brings a message of caution to believers. God's justice will prevail. We must continue to walk in His mercy without turning back to our former ways.
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4. Habakkuk – What to do when you wonder why God doesn’t just do something.
We hear news stories that make us cringe. We see evil in the world that causes us to grieve. Knowing God is good and merciful, we question His silence in these situations. God, where are you when all this is happening?
Habakkuk had the same questions. But this book shows a quality of God's character we all need to remember. When we cry out to God with our questions, He hears us. Not only that, but He will also answer. The message of Habakkuk speaks to our hurting hearts when we are in a hurry to see justice. God's silence does not equal inactivity. God is working on our behalf, even in the waiting.
5. Philemon – God is real and present in our everyday situations.
The book of Philemon is a letter written from the apostle Paul to his dear friend and fellow worker. In this letter, Paul urges Philemon to forgive a man named Onesimus and welcome this former slave back into his home.
Paul knows this will be hard for Philemon. forgiveness is always hard. The personal nature of this letter gives us a glimpse into a heart-touching moment between believers. We face many difficulties as we learn to grow in the knowledge of Jesus. Some difficulties involve other believers. But Paul teaches us through this book the power of forgiving, loving, and moving forward.
6. Zephaniah – When we repent, God restores.
The book of Zephaniah brings one question to mind. Who or what am I worshipping? "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). It's the first listed commandment. Zephaniah shows exactly what God will do when His people worship other things before Him.
Reading Zephaniah can help us internalize the depth of God's love for us, and how much He wants us to live humbly dependent on Him. We place ourselves in an attitude of humility by lifting God up and praising Him at all times. But when we turn our attention to other things, our loving God still offers us a chance at redemption through repentance.
7. Haggai – God wants us to finish what we started.
Complacency. Self-sufficiency. Laziness. We don't strive for these ideals. So how do we end up there? And more importantly, how do we get out of it?
God blesses us beyond what we think or ask, and we long to follow Him with gratitude and fervency. Yet over time if we're not careful, we can forget where He brought us from. That's when we find ourselves becoming stagnant, just like the Jews did. Haggai addressed them with a clear, simple word from God. Finish what you started. Rebuild the temple. "Then Haggai, the messenger of the Lord, spoke to the people with the Lord’s message, ‘I am with you, declares the Lord'" (Haggai 1:13).
8. Titus – The body of Christ grows when we follow sound doctrine.
In his letter to Titus, Paul shares instruction and words of wisdom for his fellow pastor. These words provide a framework for successful discipleship in our churches today. Having the right people in leadership can help the church keep solid footing when harsh winds come against it.
Titus shows a real-life example of the importance of structure within our churches. As fellowships grow, our ministries need a foundation in place to teach and disciple believers for the work of the Great Commission.
9. Leviticus – Without the laws of the past, there would be no freedom in Christ.
No doubt about it, reading Leviticus can get tedious. All the laws, sacrifices, and structure. It can be enough to cause us to skip to the end. But before we flip the page, let's consider the depth of information captured in these 27 chapters.
Leviticus served as an instruction manual for right-living of the time. We can't understate the seriousness of the sacrifices and acts of worship described. Leviticus taught the Israelites the importance of holy living, and its message still applies to us today. "Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy," (Leviticus 19:2). The laws of the past magnify the ultimate sacrifice of our Savior. "And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once and for all time" (Hebrews 10:10).
10. Jude – When we keep ourselves in God’s love, He will keep us from falling.
The book of Jude may be short, but it packs a powerful message into few words. When ungodliness tries to come against us, God is faithful. Jude proves that by sharing God's acts of justice through events of the past.
Jude warns against false teaching in the church, but it doesn't stop there. The book gives simple instruction that will yield great results. Keep ourselves in God's love, and take care of each other. What a fitting call to persevere as we "wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life" (Jude 1:21).
Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart who teaches about God's powerful, relatable Word. She is the author of Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God's Planand founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Kristine writes about her God-story and helps others discover their own at www.kristinebrown.net.
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