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Joel, Obadiah, Micah

Joel, Obadiah, Micah

by Daniel Epp-Tiessen
Joel, Obadiah, Micah

Joel, Obadiah, Micah

by Daniel Epp-Tiessen


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Although each is quite different, the books of Joel, Obadiah, and Micah are all survival literature. All three address the community that survived the crushing Babylonian destruction of Judah in 586 BCE. And all three seek to help this community cope by giving voice to its disorientation, trauma, anxiety, and rage. Each book insists that God will wrestle a positive future out of catastrophe, granting both physical and spiritual renewal. No matter how dire the circumstances, Israel can trust in the gracious God who will never abandon the faith community. 

In this thirty-fifth volume in the Believers Church Bible Commentary series, Old Testament scholar Daniel Epp-Tiessen explores the diverse, yet related content of these three prophetic books, always paying attention to how they might speak words of grace and healing into the disorientation, exile, and challenges of our own time. He also confronts the theologically problematic features of these books, especially their conviction that the salvation of God’s people requires that God obliterate their enemies. This volume explores how we might read Joel, Obadiah, and Micah in light of the larger biblical story of God’s saving purposes that reach their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. 

About the Believers Church Bible Commentary series 

This readable commentary series is for all who seek more fully to understand the original message of Scripture and its meaning for today—Sunday school teachers, members of Bible study groups, students, pastors, and other seekers. 

—From the Series Foreword 

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781513801445
Publisher: Herald Press
Publication date: 08/30/2022
Series: Believers Church Bible Commentary
Pages: 518
Sales rank: 752,826
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Daniel Epp-Tiessen is semi-retired from teaching Bible at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Canada since 1998. Daniel earned a BTh at Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg, a BA and MA at the University of Manitoba, and a PhD at University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto. Along the way Dan has been a pastor, homemaker, and spent four years working for Mennonite Central Committee in the rural Philippines during a time of revolutionary ferment. Dan and his wife, Esther, are active members of Home Street Mennonite Church in Winnipeg. They have two adult sons with partners, and two lovely granddaughters. 

Table of Contents

Abbreviations 10

Pronunciation Guide 10

Series Foreword 17

Author's Preface 19


Introduction to Joel 23

Overview of the Book and Its Message 23

Structure 25

Historical Context 26

Composition 26

The Prophet Joel 29

Joel and the Book of the Twelve 30

Heading and Prologue, 1:1-3 33

Part 1 (1:4-2:17): Present and Future Catastrophes Call for Lament and Turning to God 35

Calls to Lament the Current Disaster, 1:4-20 36

Multiple Calls to Lament, 1:4-14 36

Lamenting the Day of the Lord, 1:15-20 41

Imminent Day of the Lord Disasters Require Turning to God, 2:1-17 44

God's Unstoppable Day of the Lord Army, 2:1-11 44

Turn to God, Who May Relent, 2:12-17 47

* The Saving Drama That Joel Enacts 51

* Joel's Confession of God's Gracious Character 53

* God's Relenting 55

+ Rituals Keep Us 57

+ The "What Will the Neighbors Say?" Argument 58

+ God's Involvement in Disasters 59

+ Reading Joel on Ash Wednesday 60

Part 2 (2:18-3:21): Images of God's Deliverance 63

Near Future: God Will Reverse Earlier Devastations, 2:18-27 64

Distant Future: Signs of God's Future Intervention, 2:28-32 68

Distant Future: God Will Protect Judah/Jerusalem, 3:1-21 71

God Will Judge Enemy Nations, 3:1-15 71

Blessings from God's Presence on Zion, 3:16-21 77

* Joel 2:28-32 in the New Testament 82

* The End-Times Attack on Zion/Jerusalem 84

+ Reading Joel in the Face of Ecological Crisis 86

+ God as Our Source of Security 88

Outline of Joel 91


Introduction to Obadiah 95

Overview of the Book and Its Message 95

The Prophet and His Historical Context 95

Composition 98

Structure 100

The Challenge of Reading Obadiah as Christian Scripture 100

Heading, la 103

Edom Is Doomed While Israel Will Be Delivered, 1b-21 104

Edom Is Doomed, 1b-14 105

God Will Humble Edom, 1b-4 105

Edom Will Be Pillaged and Abandoned, 5-7 107

God Will Punish Edom for Betraying His Brother, 8-11 109

Edom Should Not Have Taken Advantage of Brother Judah, 12-14 111

The Day of the Lord Means Doom for the Nations but Restoration for Israel, 15-21 113

Retribution upon the Nations Leads to Zion's Restoration, 15-18 113

Israel's Expanded Kingdom Will Be God's Kingdom, 19-21 115

* Reading Obadiah alongside Jonah 116

* Edom as Hostile Enemy 118

* Edom as Long-Lost Brother 120

+ Obadiah's Naming and Narrating of the World 122

+ Re-Narrating the Language of Brotherhood 123

+ Re-Narrating Obadiah's Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing 123

+ Re-Narrating How God Will Deal with Enemies 124

+ Transposing Obadiah 126

Outline of Obadiah 129


Introduction to Micah 133

Overview of the Book and Its Message 133

Composition 136

Structure 137

Micah the Person 138

Historical Context 140

The Text of Micah 142

Heading, 1:1 143

Cycle 1 (1:2-2:13): God's Judgment Followed by a Hint of Deliverance 147

God's Judgment on Idolatry and Oppression, 1:2-2:11 149

God's Punishment of Israel and Judah, 1:2-16 150

Woe to Oppressors and Silencers of True Prophecy, 2:1-11 157

* The Enduring Relevance of Prophetic Texts 166

* Protecting a Family's Ancestral Land 167

* Attempts to Silence True Prophets 169

+ Prostitution Language 170

+ Resisting True Prophecy Today 172

+ Comfort for the Oppressed 173

+ Benefits and Risks of Worshiping Only One God 174

+ Covetousness and Greed 176

+ Advocacy as a Ministry of the Church 177

+ Exceptionalism 178

The Lord Will Gather the Scattered Sheep, 2:12-13 181

* Alternating Judgment and Deliverance 184

+ Liberation from Contemporary Exile 185

Cycle 2 (3:1-5:15): God Punishes and Restores Israel 189

Judgment on Unjust Leaders and Prophets, 3:1-12 191

Concerning Unjust Leaders, 3:1-4 192

Concerning Prophets, 3:5-8 194

Concerning Unjust Leaders, 3:9-12 196

* Micah 3:12 in the Book of the Twelve 198

* The Calling of Leaders to Enact God's Justice 199

* Judgment Prophecy as a Call to Repentance 200

* Shalom (Salom) versus Judgment Prophecy 201

+ The Importance of Faithful Leadership 202

+ Faithful Piety Requires Justice 204

Images of God's Deliverance, 4:1-5:15 206

God's Dream for Zion and the World, 4:1-5 207

God Will Gather the Remnant to Zion, 4:6-8 212

Zion Is Exiled and Then Rescued, 4:9-10 213

Threatened Zion Will Thresh Many Nations, 4:11-13 215

Zion Will Receive a New Davidic King, 5:1-4 219

The Defeat of "Assyria," 5:5-6 221

The Remnant among the Nations, 5:7-9 222

God Will Purge, 5:10-15 224

* Biblical Hopes for a Messiah 226

+ God's Dream of Peace for the World 229

+ When a Dream Becomes a Nightmare 233

+ Painful Purging 234

+ The Promise and Problems of God's Sovereignty 235

Cycle 3 (6:1-7:20): From Alienation to Reconciliation 239

Alienation Leads to God's Judgment Again, 6:1-7:7 242

A Court Case to Teach Israel What God Demands, 6:1-8 243

Exploitation Leads to Judgment, 6:9-16 249

Lament over Judah's Moral Chaos, 7:1-7 253

* The Ambiguous Portrayal of Miriam 256

* Sacrifice and Obedience 258

* Family Loyalties 260

+ The Story-Based Nature of Faith 261

+ Storehouses of Wickedness and Systems of Violence 263

+ Making a Virtue out of Distrust 265

+ Hesed Today 265

+ Walking Humbly with God 266

+ Promising Neither Too Much nor Too Little of God's Saving Intervention 268

Confessing God's Grace and Deliverance, 7:8-20 270

Israel's Vindication, 7:8-10 271

A New Day of Restoration, 7:11-13 272

A Prayer That God Will Shepherd the Flock, 7:14-17 274

Confessing God's Incomparable Compassion, 7:18-20 276

* Confessions of God's Gracious Nature 279

* The Good Shepherd 281

* Reading Micah 7:18-20 in Light of Jesus 282

+ The Power of Praise 284

+ Living between Promise and Fulfillment 286

Outline of Micah 289

Essays 291

Book of the Twelve 291

Day of the Lord 293

God's Judgment 295

Justice 301

Remnant 302

Salvation and the Destruction of Enemies 304

Strategies for Interpreting Problematic Texts 308

Zion Tradition 315

Map of Palestine for Joel, Obadiah, and Micah 318

Map of the Ancient Near East for Joel, Obadiah, and Micah 319

Bibliography 321

Selected Resources 333

Index of Ancient Sources 335

The Author 351

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