Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Soundtracking the Bible Part VII Obadiah- Habakkuk

The minor prophets can easily be over looked in the shadow bible legends like Isaiah and Jeremiah, but  the roots of these treasures go deep.  This collection of works also called "Book of the Twelve" or Hebrew Trai Asar (The Twelve) is often studied together. The first six books raise questions and the final six offer resolution.

The title 'minor' is given to these final books of the OT because of there length but their message is strong.

30. Obadiah- What's So Funny ('Bout Peace Love & Understanding): Elvis Costello

Obadiah may be one of the shortest books of the OT but it's backstory is deep. In the wake of being overtaking by Babylon a neighboring country takes particular delight in Israel's misfortune, Edom.  The interesting piece of history about Edom is that the country's roots date back to Esau.

Despite the peace that Jacob made with his older brother Esau it seems some hurts are hard to let go and surface in this book.

The short and potent pop song by Elvis Costello is an ironic backdrop to this bittersweet book, with lyrics like,

 "And as i walked on
Through troubled times
My spirit gets so downhearted sometimes
So where are the strong
And who are the trusted?
And where is the harmony?"

Edom may be laughing at Israel's misfortune but God is still faithful and does not turn a blind eye to Judah,

v.12 ""You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction, nor boast so much in the day of their trouble."

Check out this all-star lineup with Costello featuring Jacob Dylan & Zooey Deschanel

 31.  Jonah- Bullet with Butterfly Wings: Smashing Pumpkins 

Jonah would have fit right in with the 90s Anit-Hero culture adorned with flannel shirts and ripped jeans.  The four chapters in the book of Jonah are full of angst and frustration.  Although he is not a "rat in a cage" he sure did find himself trapped in a big fish en route to evangelize Ninevah. 

The lyrics to Bullet with Butterfly Wings reflect this tension,

"Now I'm naked, nothing but an animal
But can you fake it, for just one more show?
And what do you want?
I want to change
And what have you got, when you feel the same?"

What made the phenomena of Grunge unique is that the music artists of the day never wanted to be famous and Jonah had the same mentality.  He is responsible for one the biggest revivals in the Old Testament and never enjoyed it.

32. Micah- Where Is The Love: Black Eye Peas  

It was troubled times for the Kingdom of Israel as they face social injustice, idolatry, and a corrupt leadership. The message of Micah is of judgement but also hope.  The Assyrians destroyed northern Israel and also routed the souther kingdom as well forcing Israel into exile but God saved a remnant.

Micah uses a mix poetry and narrative to showcase God's mercy and justice, much like what is found in the song by the Black Eye Peas, "Where Is the Love."

It was this single that propelled the Black Eye Peas career to another level.  The message of the song resinated with people of different backgrounds and cultures at it reached number one in Europe and Australia and was also a top ten hit in The States.

The verse found in Micah 6.8 is timeless reminder of how God wants people to live then as well as today...

"8But he's already made it plain how to live, what to do, 
   what God is looking for in men and women.
It's quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, 
   be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don't take yourself too seriously— 
   take God seriously." -(The Message)

33. Nahum- Everybody Hurts: R.E.M.

In this life there is pain, there is hurt, everybody hurts. Sometimes everything is wrong, but there is hope there is comfort.

Nahum brings a remedy to a troubled nation; after all Nahum means comfort.

In this beautiful book balanced between hurt and healing is hope.

Hope that God understands when you angry.
Hope that God restores in the midst of abuse.
Hope that God encourages when the world tears you down.

God uses Nahum to remind us of that.

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. 
He cares for those who trust him... v.7"

The lyrics penned by REM in "Everybody Hurts" echoes a common theme...
"Sometimes everything is wrong
Now it's time to sing along
When your day is night alone (hold on, hold on)
If you feel like letting go...hold on."

The song is a departure from their typical abstract style of writing.  REM mentions in the liner notes of the Best of Album 1988-2003 the reason that the song was intentionally straight forward to be a message to teenagers.

It is not only a message to teenager it is a message for all of us to remember.

(Check out this rare Coldplay cover of Everybody Hurts)

34. Habakkuk- Lightning Crashes: LIVE

A prophet that is not afraid to ask difficult questions, Habakkuk perhaps asks the most difficult of all...
"God if you are in control why do bad things happen?"

Habakkuk means wrestler and for three chapters he wrestled with God.

Christians like to have answers not more questions, but the beauty of Habakkuk is his ability to be at peace with the tension with a just God in a world that is so unjust.

"Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy. v.3.2

Ed Kowalczyk were not afraid to tackle the spiritual in the summer of 95' with their breakout album Throwing Copper.  One song in particular struck a chord in its message of loss and hope. Written in response to a childhood friend who was killed by a drunk driver, but who donated her organs one of which was her heart.

Often prophets speak on behalf of God, but Habakkuk is unique as he speaks to God on behalf of the people.

May we never stop asking questions.
May we never lose the wonder in the midst of the why.

(The video parallels that tension of life and death depicting a mother dying and a child being born.)