Which Book of the Bible Do You Believe Is Most Neglected?

Some people and pastors are Romans or Ephesian junkies. Other are perhaps Pauline addicts, while others thrive on the Gospels or Psalms.  Some pastors are about getting their Acts together (sorry for the pun).

In your experience as both pastor and as part of a congregation -- and you can add Christian radio listener to the group, etc., -- which book (or set of books) from the list below would you say gets the least air time?

Depending upon the type of church we belong to and our experiences which differ from the experiences of others, it is possible that a book like Ecclesiastes  is virtually unknown in one church and emphasized in another (like ours!).   I have listed some books that I think are candidates based upon my observations.. It is possible the church you attend has given plenty of attention to some or all of the books on the list.

Your comments can narrow or expand the list.

 

 

Leviticus
17% (3 votes)
Numbers
6% (1 vote)
I and II Chronicles
11% (2 votes)
Job
0% (0 votes)
Ecclesiastes
6% (1 vote)
Song of Solomon
28% (5 votes)
Jeremiah
0% (0 votes)
Lamentations
0% (0 votes)
Ezekiel
0% (0 votes)
Obadiah
6% (1 vote)
Zechariah
11% (2 votes)
2-3 John
0% (0 votes)
Two or more of the above are tied (list in comments, please).
11% (2 votes)
Other (not listed here)
6% (1 vote)
Total votes: 18
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There are 16 Comments

JD Miller's picture

I tend to be a bit of a Romans junkie.  I quote from it a lot even when I am preaching from other books.  Earlier this year I finished preaching through Numbers and yet quoted from Romans quite a bit during that time.  Since I was already quoting Romans so much I had resisted preaching through it.  I finally decided to preach through Romans after finishing Numbers, and will be finishing up this Sunday.  It was such a joy.  I love the book of Romans, but I felt similar as I was preaching through Numbers.  The more I preach through a book, the more I love it.  It is such a joy to not just study God's word, but to also share it with others.  I marked Obadiah.  I may have to consider preaching though it so that I am more motivated to study it more ahead of time.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I've always loved Zechariah. Preaching through it now.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Mark_Smith's picture

Tyler, how do you get applications out of Zechariah? What kinds of things do you find?

TylerR's picture

Editor

Zechariah is certainly more difficult for application. Here is a representative example (below) of the mental steps I take after I explain the passage and I'm at the exhortation phrase. This is for my sermon tomorrow on Zechariah 1:7-21:

  • Synopsis (what’s it about?): The angelic guide peels back the divine curtain to shows Zechariah that God does remember, and does have mercy, because Jesus is our advocate.
  • Theological focus (what’s the author doing with what he’s saying?): Don’t be bitter with God or think He’s forgotten about His people—He hasn’t.
  • Personalization (what does this mean for us?): When you feel bitter or angry with God at injustice in your life, know that Jesus prays for you.
  • Application (how do we specifically apply the theology to become more like Christ?): (1) When you doubt God, (2) peel back the divine curtain in your mind, and repeat to yourself, (3) “I can go on, because Jesus prays for me!”

My entire approach is predicated on the nature of the apocalyptic genre as a tool God uses to give hope to His people in times of crisis. The genre is replete with strange visions, fantastic happenings, and general otherworldliness. In that respect, it's a sub-genre of standard prophesy. It's focus is always on hope for LATER, so His people can persevere NOW. I believe the crisis in Zechariah's day is implicit (not explicit) turning from God because they believe He doesn't quite care about them any longer. Haggai's contemporaneous rebuke (Hag 1:4) is the symptom of this problem. The pre-incarnate Christ's prayer on His people's behalf (Zech 1:12) captures their concerns and fears, and God's response assures them He does indeed care and hasn't forgotten.

So, the theology of the passage isn't really about the significance of the colors of the horse, or any other esoteric details of the apocalyptic genre. It's God telling them He does see, does know, and does care about their circumstances. He does have mercy, and His anger won't burn forever. He peels the divine curtain back just a bit for Zechariah, so he can tell the people all about this, so they'll persevere NOW in what seems like hopeless circumstances.

I am indebted to Abraham Kuruvilla (A Manual for Preaching) for helping me to significantly sharpen my approach in recent months. He took what I'd been basically doing, and helped me to see the approach for which I'd been blindly reaching. I also can't recommend highly enough the book Cracking Old Testament Codes as a handy guide to genre in the OT.

I may tweak the application bit before tomorrow morning. I went for a four-mile walk in the rain earlier today to think about this because I was struggling so hard. I also know this isn't the way many dispensationalists would take this passage. I will not mention the Millennium Kingdom, the Millennial Temple, the word "dispensation," or dwell on the alleged significance of the horses colors and compare it to Zech 6. That'd be fine for a commentary (I guess), but it'd be completely missing what God (through Zechariah) is doing with what He's saying in the passage.  

Here is what I did last week with Zech 1:1-6. The article is my sermon notes turned into prose, and the sermon video is embedded at the end.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Mark_Smith's picture

Thanks for sharing Tyler. I think the key to apocalyptic literature is to remember the point is the HOPE of God's glory and the return of Jesus Christ.

josh p's picture

I realized I didn’t highlight just one book so I think I’ll pick Habakkuk. I have been a believer for about 25 years and was in and out for church for a few years before that. I honesty don’t remember ever hearing a sermon from Habakkuk. I did do a Sunday school on Obadiah once and really enjoyed it.

TylerR's picture

Editor

I preached through that one several years ago. Every time I look back at old sermons, I feel awful. This one is no exception! I don't know how people endured those old sermons. I wonder how they endure the ones I do now, too ...

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

josh p's picture

No way! Most pastors wouldn't touch that book with a ten foot pole! Except for Driscoll of course. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

I was going to do one sermon from it during a short series on marriage, but I couldn't fit it into the schedule.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Josh S's picture

I think for us, Song of Solomon would be the least likely to be preached. Our senior pastor has preached on Jeremiah and Zechariah over the last few years. In 2019, I did a series through all the "one chapter books" on the Bible. So those kinds of books have been represented in our pulpit.

Though in theory I support preaching through it, SoS would be hard in our context because we like to have children in our worship service whenever possible. We could make an exception but I'm not sure it's worth upsetting our routine. This problem would go away if you take the "Christ/Church" view of the book - but I don't. I've sometimes wondered if it's a book that would be better to teach in more private, personal contexts.

Sidenote: Obediah was one of the favorite books of my home church's pastor. I don't know how many times I heard that book exposited growing up. I sometimes wonder if he liked it becasue he could make an Indianna Jones tie-in with Petra. Smile Either that or it was a "filler" between bigger series. Either way, I actually get nostalgic every time Obediah comes up.

Josh Stilwell, associate pastor,  Alathea Baptist Church, Des Moines, Iowa.

josh p's picture

Josh S wrote:

I think for us, Song of Solomon would be the least likely to be preached. Our senior pastor has preached on Jeremiah and Zechariah over the last few years. In 2019, I did a series through all the "one chapter books" on the Bible. So those kinds of books have been represented in our pulpit.

Though in theory I support preaching through it, SoS would be hard in our context because we like to have children in our worship service whenever possible. We could make an exception but I'm not sure it's worth upsetting our routine. This problem would go away if you take the "Christ/Church" view of the book - but I don't. I've sometimes wondered if it's a book that would be better to teach in more private, personal contexts.

Sidenote: Obediah was one of the favorite books of my home church's pastor. I don't know how many times I heard that book exposited growing up. I sometimes wonder if he liked it becasue he could make an Indianna Jones tie-in with Petra. Either that or it was a "filler" between bigger series. Either way, I actually get nostalgic every time Obediah comes up.

Yeah we have kids in the sanctuary and are unlikely to hear it preached for that reason. I still remember a conversation I had with a 70 something manat my old church about what SOS was saying. We eventually had to go out into the parking lot to not be overheard. 

Ed Vasicek's picture

Zechariah is a crucial book to understand and illustrate justification.  Chapter 3 of Zechariah is one of the most important chapters in Scripture.  I believe Paul uses it as a basis for Midrash in Romans (esp. 8:32 ff) and elsewhere, and John's foundation for  I John (1:8-ff ) with Christ as our advocate is based there.  The exchange of robes, the pre-incarnate Son as the agent of justification -- it is all there.  Christ as our advocate.  Satan as the accuser is also derived initially from this text.  If nothing else, you need to teach on Zechariah 3!

[Note: I have written on this in moderate depth in my book "The Amazing Doctrines of Paul as Midrash."]

As far as the Song of Solomon goes, I once say a comic with a pastor at the pulpit, a paper bag over his head with slits cut for his eyes and mouth. The caption read, "Today's sermon is from the Song of Solomon.,"   Better taught in a couples class.

"The Midrash Detective"

Bert Perry's picture

Mark_Smith wrote:

Tyler, how do you get applications out of Zechariah? What kinds of things do you find?

I can concur, for what it's worth, with just about every book named in the list, and might add more.  But that said, I think Mark nails one of the huge reasons why many pastors (believers in general) neglect certain passages and entire books of the Bible; we're looking for a life application as the central point of the message, and that's simply hard to do with a lot of the passages, especially the narrative passages.  

One of the big ways out there of getting out of that abyss is to remember, IMO , that these passages give us hints as to the character of God.  For example, in the Matthew genealogy of Christ, there's a guy named "Selathiel" (Hebrew "Shealtiel") that appears.  I don't believe there's anything else in the Scriptures about him except being the father of Zerubabbel--all we can guess is that he married, had kids, apparently lived almost all his life in Babylon, if not all of it.  We can simply infer that for various reasons, his identity was important enough to God to mention.  

At least two of my ancestors carried this name, and I've got to wonder what their thinking was.  Did they see some kinship in a man who never saw the promise, but carried on faithfully in his place?  Who knows, but it's a tantalizing thing to think about.

One other thought I have is that sometimes, we might note that there is also a form of neglect of the Scriptures where passages with implications that are uncomfortable to us are either altogether neglected, or the implications of them are "finessed."   I think Song of Solomon falls into this category--it's straightforward to find applications, but a lot of us don't want to talk about it.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.