Minor Prophets

From Journey the Word

Hosea's life and prophecies

Hosea 12:6, “Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.”

We find Hosea in the New Testament in Romans 9:25 and it relates to us what the Lord will do for the backslider – “As he saith also in “Osee” I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.” The prominent lesson we learn is that God will do the same for every sinner, backslider, Jew, or Gentile, who will repent and return, as He has said He would do for Israel.

Hosea is called the Suffering Love Prophet. (The text says he’s the Prophet of Suffering Love.) The Kings that were on the scene during Hosea’s writing were Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, and Jeroboam. Hosea the Broken-Hearted Prophet, the adulterous Gomer – his wife, the bastard children, and Apostate Israel. All of his writing reflects unfaithful Israel, and he is called upon by God to “live his prophecy.” Hosea was a young man and received a special endowment of soul that caused him to have a keen sensation of God. His sensitive soul gave him a decided advantage of experiencing the deeper mysteries of Grace over other messengers. He was a quiet, affectionate, sensitive, young, obedient, and ardently in love with his God! He was a lonely and perhaps sad, but he believed that God, with all His resources of loving, would prevail for salvation of His chosen people. He was profoundly influenced by Amos, and loved the land, his neighbors, and his beloved Yahweh! He commonly wrote from experience, as well as inspiration. Gomer, his unfaithful wife, which bore him bastard children, became a parable to the nation of its Spiritual Adultery in forsaking Jehovah and falling down before false gods. She was the daughter of Diblaim, had no way of knowing or understanding the mighty love of Hosea, and many have said this must be an Allegory, however, it’s the truth. Hosea was willing to give his life to be a Message for God to God’s People. He was called the Prophet of Suffering Love, because he was a broken-hearted man. He was a sufferer, because his wife was unfaithful, but he was faithful. He did his best in the relationship, but his wife decided in her unfaithfulness to have bastard children – which forgone his ability to create heirs.

He lived out the Message as he received Gomer, his wife, back repeatedly, until finally he found her on the slave block in the market, and once more, as Jesus would do, forgave her. He bought her back so she could return to home. Hosea grieves over his love for Gomer; in this we see that God is desperately in love also and keeps sobbing from His heart, as does Hosea, while they continue to repeat their love story and call from their heart, “Come back!” Hosea was of the tribe of Issachar, which would give him the gift of knowing the times and seasons before the normal man; therefore, people were slow to hear, as was the case with the prophecies of Amos. This is a book of repentance, as backsliders are invited to return to God or suffer the consequences of being cut off. The Lord speaks to Israel through the domestic troubles of the Prophet. Hosea was commanded to take a wife of whoredoms to picture the condition of Israel when God called and married her, bringing her into a covenant relationship with His People.

After having children by him, Hosea’s wife, Gomer, left him to go after old lovers. He was then commanded to buy her back as his wife again, and then to make a contract that she would never do it again. The experience was used to teach Israel that she must now return to God, after forsaking His covenant and going after other gods; He would marry her again and enter into an eternal covenant relationship with her!

The theme could be summed up by two words: “Lo-ammi,” meaning “not my people.” 1:9, “Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God;” and “Ammi,” meaning “My People.” 2:1, “Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ru-ha-mah.” Therefore, she bore one daughter and two sons. The Prophetical Message would concern the restoration of Israel to God, 2:14-23, after the many days of 3:4-5, at which time they will be His eternal people. The Message in 6:1-3 concerns the return of Israel to God by repentance and that in 13:14 He will ransom them. In 14:3-9 God is redeeming them eternally. The underlying purpose overall is to record and predict Israel’s backslidings from God for many days, during which time they were to be scattered among the nations, and be without a King, a prince, sacrifice, image, Ephod, and Teraphim (1:9; 3:4-5); to reveal the final and eternal restoration of Israel; and to assure them of God’s forgiveness and eternal blessing as seen in the above Scriptures 6:1-3 and 14:3-9.

The Central Theme of this book was, “The Ultimate Unity of Nations under Jehovah” and “The Apostasy of Israel.”

We are faithless when we sin, because sin is contagious and a trouble for our soul. Sin can destroy one’s spirit and hurt one’s soul, so it is upon genuine repentance that would ensure ourselves of His full forgiveness. However, God loves us nonetheless, whether we sin or not, for there is nothing greater than God’s love. Repentance is necessary for some, as it heals and delivers them. People should aim, however, to lead sinless lives, because it will always bring more peace and joy.

Joel's life and prophecies

Joel 2:28, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old me shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”

Joel said he was the son of Pethuel. Otherwise, he was a native to Jerusalem. He was a pious, godly, courageous preacher who came in the hour of opportunity to deliver a powerful Message from Yahweh to His People. He may have been a priest. His preaching centered generally on repentance of God’s People!

   1. He wrote the Book of Joel.
   2. The Book has been called “The Book of Judgment” or “The Book of Pentecost” of the Old Testament. It has three chapters with 73 verses.
   3. It was written about 875-865 BC from Jerusalem (Judah) to All Israel.
   4. It covers a period: “Near the Ministries of Elijah and Elisha.”
   5. The Books Central Theme is “Judah’s Ultimate Salvation” and “The Prediction of the Church Age.”
   6. The Key Word in the book is “Judgment.”
   7. Joel is called “The Prophet of Pentecost.”
   8. We see Christ in Joel as “The hope of His People.”
   9. Man is pictured in this book as “Repentant.”

Joel 2:28-32, because a prophecy is given that God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh…to which, we see come in Acts 2 – and I’m glad for this, because it is because of this whole deal that we have His Spirit within us, and are able to also minister His Spirit unto others.

The burden of Joel’s Message is a certain fearful time of judgment which he mentions five times in three chapters – and refers to “the Day of the Lord.” The Key Verse helps explain it, “Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand…” This day is yet to come and will begin with the removal of the Church, as the Lord will judge and interfere in the course of world politics. Joel points out God’s dealing with people as the outcome of their own spiritual condition. Genuine repentance is at the foundation of real revivals, and this was Joel’s burden as he labored to produce revival. He cries out in 2:13, “Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.” A rent heart is followed by a rent veil, and access to God and Pentecostal Blessing follow true repentance.

Joel’s message contains the greatest description in literature of a locust devastation, but it also points out the invasion of locusts was only a type of another horrible invasion which was in swarms of heathen invasion in that day and will be further fulfilled in the last days or the days to come. He is scared for what may happen. His heart holds dear the people and his mind is in fear.

The Apostle Peter uses the passage Joel 2:28-32 as a powerful productive sermon on “The Day of Pentecost,” which was fulfilled gloriously in the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon those exercising true repentance and faith unto Salvation. We see Peter’s Message in Acts 2:16-21, “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Practical lessons
   1. Joel 1:14 would be good, as it says, “Sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly, Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God and cry unto the Lord.” It is good to fast, pray, and gather with the People of God!
   2. 3:14 is important, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” We need to know that the Lord is near!
   3. We need to know that the Lord has been faithful as to pour out His Spirit on all flesh, as we see in 2:28, 32, “And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh…and whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.”
   4. 1:19, “O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field.” Although trouble has come, the Lord will be with us, especially if we cry unto Him!
   5. 2:12, “Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning.” This is important, as it explains a lot of Joel’s message, and is relevant for all generations that we shall come unto the Lord and turn our hearts toward Him!
   1. Trials and other issues help to turn us back to God and prepare our minds to hear Him.
   2. Judgment day can mean either fear or glory depending on the attitude of our hearts.
   3. National calamities call for a nationwide prayer and repentance.
   4. God has blessings for those that yield their heart unto Him!
   5. You can either abide in Him or abide in the world – and either one will have to be the choice and not both. We are called to abide in Him only, for this will bring true repentance of heart.
   6. God knows us very well and understands the things that we do. He hopes that we will realize it and repent of our wrong.
General scope

There is a plague, to begin with, that many older people don’t remember. The whole countryside is bare, and Joel tells the people to tell the story of this to their children and grandchildren. Those that have lived greedily are punished, and they will no longer be drunk with wine, because the vineyards have been destroyed. The people are mourning in misery, especially because of the destruction and that the crops have fallen into ruin. Joel reveals the plague was no accident, but that it is a disaster/judgment from God, to which, the priests must now lead the nation in repentance.

Joel now sees a picture of the swarms coming and compares them to an enemy army. The locusts quickly consume farmlands and the people are helpless. The locusts turn toward Jerusalem in attack, and they swarm the cities and through houses. The clouds of insects brought darkness and made it clear that God’s judgment has come. God sent the judgment so that people would come to a genuine repentance. In repenting, God would restore their vineyards, and they will be able to worship Him again with their offerings. A trumpet is blown calling the people to the Temple to fast and mourn. God then accepts the people’s repentance and promises removal of locusts. Good harvests are to follow and will compensate for all losses. This should bring people into the knowledge of God better, and give people hope for a better future.

People naturally come to God in calamity and then turn away when things are great. Joel hopes that one day God will give His Spirit to each person, not just a few that do His tasks or other purposes and special occasions. This locust plague is only a picture of the last great judgment awaiting the people, to which, believers will be saved but sinners perish. Joel then pictures enemy nations gathering for a final attack to Jerusalem, but these nations don’t know that God brought them together, and He is going to execute judgment upon them for their crimes against Judah. The nations are guilty, wickedness is great, and therefore, they must die. The time of its occurrence is also the time of deliverance of Jerusalem, to which God protects His People.

The Lord's return

Joel 3:16-17, “The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.”

Joel also pictures the swarms of locusts as a person sees them in Jerusalem, and compares them to an enemy army. The swarms are so thick that they look like black clouds as they sweep over the mountains and farmlands. It appears that the swarm comes quickly like an uncontrollable bushfire and devours farmlands to barrenness. The locusts turn their sights to Jerusalem, attacking them in a cloud so thick that it blots out the sun and demonstrates to people that God’s judgment is upon them. This day was a day of darkness upon the people due to so much swarm of locusts.

Definitions for confusing words
   a. Palmerworm: (a) Any hairy caterpillar which appears in great numbers, devouring herbage, and wandering about like a palmer. (b) In America, the larva of any one of several moths, which destroys the foliage of fruit and forest trees, esp. the larva of Ypsolophus pometellus, which sometimes appears in vast numbers.
   b. Locust: Any one of numerous species of long-winged, migratory, orthopterous insects, of the family Acrididæ, allied to the grasshoppers.
   c. Cankerworm: The larva of two species of geometrid moths which are very injurious to fruit and shade trees by eating, and often entirely destroying, the foliage.
   d. Sackcloth: Linen or cotton cloth such a sacks are made of; coarse cloth; anciently, a cloth or garment worn in mourning, distress, mortification, or penitence.
   e. Rend: 1. To separate into parts with force or sudden violence; to tear asunder; to split; to burst; as, powder rends a rock in blasting; lightning rends an oak. 2. To part or tear off forcibly; to take away by force.

Amos' life and prophecies

Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.”

Amos was a native of Tekoa, a town in Judah located just twelve miles from Jerusalem and about six miles from Bethlehem. Amos was a common, ordinary, everyday, working man – a herdsman and a “dresser of sycamore tree.” Dresser means, “nipper” or “pincher” – which was for the sycamore fruit, which can be ripened by puncturing it. Amos was drafted by God to Preach National accountability to Israel in the North.

   1. He pictures Christ as “The Restorer of the House of David.” (Amos 9:11-12; Acts 15:15-16)
   2. The Key Word of the Book was Punishment.
   3. Its Central Theme was “The Ultimate Reign of David” and “National Accountability for National Sins.”
   4. Amos was known as “The Prophet of Justice.”
   5. The main characters of the Book are the Prophet Amos, King Jeroboam II, and The Israelites.

Overall, society and religion were bankrupt. Amos was a strange personality that came from the Judean wilderness with a burning message from God. He was influenced by Hosea, Isaiah, and Micah. We see the Land of Israel enjoy a season of peace. Then, King Jeroboam II came to throne and began a vigorous rebuilding program, to which, he recaptured lost territory and expanded the limits of his kingdom.

We then see King Uzziah built in much of the same in the south. Judah was a strong and vigorous Kingdom with armies, fortifications, trade routes, and other powerful political alliances – to which, these two aggressive Kings carried their small kingdoms along from victory to victory. Expansion came, as well as freedom, prosperity, and peace. There was also, though, sins such as drunkenness, extravagant meals, carousals, slumber, among other things – and retribution was coming. The rich gained their wealth through injustice and oppressions, as always, and the poor workers in the fields suffered cruelty on them from the landowners and heartless creditors. Dishonest merchants and unfair judges made attempts to keep the lives of the poor miserable beyond endurance.

The spiritual conditions involved that the people were outwardly religious, but had gross moral behavior – and it was openly aided and abetted by the religious leaders. The rich nobles took the lead in religious matters and were selfish, among indifferent, to the cries and groans of the suffering multitude. This suffering multitude suffered because of injustice, oppression, and violence. Lastly, they lacked knowledge overall.

Since Amos had a good grasp on world problems and solutions, and was able to point his finger at the sin of the nation in question. He had solitude in the wilderness that allowed his communication to be well with God, and encouraged his inspiration. He knew God in an intimate way, and therefore, it was no wonder to have been called to this hour in Israel.

The Lord told him to, “…Go, prophesy unto my people Israel” (Amos 7:15). He was not a member of any prophetical group or had any formal training (as we know). He was simply pulled from his animals in the wilderness by this overpowering conviction from God that He wanted him to take a message to Bethel. He must have felt God’s presence upon him. In addition to that, he’s also been called the prophet of “woe,” because the message of his call was a stern one for a people living in luxury and self-indulgence. However, he received the call and moved in humility. He was industrious and productive before God, and was in harmony with nature. He sought wisdom and preached simply so that the hearer would understand. He was successful, as he had great influence over the Land of Israel.

He began in Damascus, and quickly caught their sympathetic attention. He turned the emotion of the people quickly toward Philistia, claiming to be a prophet from God with a genuine word against these bitter enemies of Israel. In rapid succession, his sharp tongue and quick wit lashed out the enemies of Israel and he hit broadside at Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab – closing in on the worst and wicked enemies; revealing justice was on its way to the rebellious nations. The crowd hung on to his every word and likely praised him with agreement. Next, he pointed his finger at Judah/Israel telling them they have despised the Law of the Lord and failed to keep His Commandments.

In chapter 7, he foretold an earthquake was coming, and in two years, it came. It must have been great in severity, for Zechariah even speaks of it around 300 years later. In chapter 8, we see the Basket of Summer Fruit, which taught that Israel would soon perish. In chapter 9, we see the vision of the Lord standing upon the altar that Amos had.

3:3, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” We see the prophet threatening the people that God would begin His punishments to them, and told them this for the fact that if they will not walk with Him and have His presence, then they would walk contrary instead. Walking contrary would not bring any hope for a communion with Him again.

We see Amos quoted in Acts 15:15-16, “And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up.” This is known so that “men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things” (17).

Prophecy against six Gentile nations
   • Syria is condemned to destruction and captivity, because of its continual cruelty. They tortured and butchered its victims using brutal methods.
   • Philistia captured cities and sold entire populations as slaves – whether men, women, or children. In punishment, Philistia’s own main cities would be destroyed.
   • Tyre would be conquered and burnt to the ground for deceiving its treaty partners, and also they had bought and sold slaves like merchandise.
   • Edom is condemned for their savage attacks against Israel without question of the blood relation between the two nations.
   • Ammon also would suffer a devastating judgment, because of its merciless killings of whole populations, just so they could expand their territory.
   • Foreign armies would invade Moab, and in a large judgment from God, its cities would be burnt and leaders killed, because it acted with uncontrollable hatred toward its enemy.
Practical lessons
   1. Hollow and insincere worship displeases God.
   2. When one possesses power over others, there is danger.
   3. God is not pleased when people turn away from Him, because He only wants what’s best for His People – and that is to be loved by Him and walk with Him.
   4. God helps us through trials by guiding us and giving us wisdom to understand what’s going on.

Obadiah's life and prophecies

Obadiah 1:15, “For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine head.”

Obadiah is The Shortest Book in the Old Testament and the shortest Prophetical writing. The Message of Obadiah is directed against the people of Edom who looked on while Jerusalem was being destroyed and it seemed that they took some kind of fiendish delight in the misfortune. It has been called an “indignant oration.”

   • The Book is called “The Book of Justice.”
   • It has one chapter and 21 verses in total. It is the shortest book in the Old Testament.
   • The writer is Obadiah, the Censurer of Ridicule, which was written around 742-726 BC – which was soon after the fall of Jerusalem.
   • The Central Theme of this book is, “The Destruction of Edom.”
   • The Key Word for this book is, “Retribution.”
   • The main characters are Obadiah, the Prophet of Doom, the Edomites, and the Israelites.
   • Christ, in this book, is seen as, “The King and Judge of Nations.”
   • Man, in this book, is pictured as imperiled – which means that Man is in danger or jeopardized.

Esau and Jacob were in a ridiculous family feud, where earlier Jacob robbed Esau of his birthright. This feud, though, is between brothers. Esau’s descendants are settled in Edom, South of the Dead Sea. The Edomites could do shrewd trades, make raids on neighboring people, and retreat to their secure stronghold for safety. They had other places of security as well. Esau, the father of the Edomites, and Jacob, the father of the Israelites, were brothers, but became feuding families from the beginning, more fuel to the feud was added by this incident. Now, the Edomites refused to allow the Israelites (their blood brother) to pass through this territory at the time of the Exodus. In the battle for the conquest of Palestine, they fought against Israel. David subdued the land, and Solomon continued to hold it in subjection, but in the days of Ahaz, the Edomites rebelled and continued to make trouble for Judah. The Edomites were proud, bitter, and self-contained – however, they thought they didn’t need God. Obadiah prophesied and warned against Edom’s vindictive hatred – to which, it seems that Edom rejoiced over the calamities of Israel more than once. When Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem they not only rejoiced over Israel’s downfall, but cruelty took part in the plunder and massacre.

“Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof.” –Psalm 137:7 -- This verse says to the Lord to remember the children of Edom (the enemies) in the day of Jerusalem, because of the attackers of the Babylonians who attempted to overthrow His People, and take captive the Israelites.

The burden of Obadiah’s Message was that he sees the doom and destruction of the fierce Idumeans or Edomites. One of the truths that drive home is, “what you sow you will reap.” Obadiah reminds Edom that God commanded the Israelites to treat the Edomites charitably – which is what message is conveyed in Deuteronomy 23:7.

In biting words Obadiah denounces the pride of sinners and remarks that they deserve the punishment that God, was about to heap upon them. What caused the sharp message of doom was that Obadiah saw the inhuman spirit of the Edomites toward Judah. In addition, the kinsmen displayed an unbrotherly spirit and delighted in the destruction of their own blood family. The Edomites helped catch fleeing Israelites, treated them cruelly, sold them as slaves, and shared in the loot obtained after the capture. This would be a strong message against enmity, hatred, envy, and unbrotherly conduct. It streamed with the idea of malicious gazing on human calamity.

Obadiah’s Message is strong against enmity, hatred, envy, and unbrotherly conduct.

1:4, “Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.” 1:10, “For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.” 1:17, “But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.” 1:15, “For the day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.” 1:21, “And saviours shall come up on mount Zion to judge the mount of Esau; and the kingdom shall be the LORD'S.”

Practical lessons
   • Our defenses are useless toward the power of God.
   • Ridicule will not go unnoticed by God.
   • What you do to others will be returned to you.
   • Godly eternal justice will prevail.
   • A profane person cannot find favor with a God he does not love.
   • The victory belongs to God.
   • Hate silences compassion, but love captures God’s attention.
   • God will make those victorious whom trust in Him.
   • Submitting our own desires to God will lead to great success, but if we turn away, we may fail.

Jonah's life and prophecies

Jonah 2:7, “When my soul fainted within me I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.”

It seems people could have issues with the fact that apparently he was swallowed by a fish as it reads in the OT, but in the NT (Matthew 12:40), it reads a whale. People wonder if there was a mistranslation, and how this could be so. I’ve heard people question whether the book was true or not true – as it just seems like fiction, an allegory, or something else symbolic.

The purpose of the book is to illustrate that God delayed the destruction of Nineveh and the Assyrian Empire for almost a century – so we see the powerful mercy of our God. His Salvation is not only for the Jew, Jonah’s nation, but also for all humanity and even the enemy. If the wicked shall repent and turn to God, God would be merciful to them.

2 Kings 14:25-27 - This refers to the fact that the Lord spoke through Jonah the Prophet. Matthew 12:38-42 - This refers to the fact that there was a sign of the Prophet Jonah, for Jonah was in the whale’s belly for three days – and therefore, the Son of man would be three days and nights in the heart of the earth. The old Jonah had been declared before, but the new Jonah is now here. Matthew 16:4 – This is a reference to Christ comparing Himself to Jonah. Jonah was in many ways an important sign and type of Christ. This generation was seeking a sign and couldn’t find it, so the Lord points the Pharisees to the sign of the Prophet Jonah – which, comparing to Jonah, there are many different ways that Jesus had compared to him:

   • Jonah was thrown overboard by his shipmates – Christ was delivered to His death by the Jews.
   • Jonah was willingly thrown overboard – Christ laid down His Life, and Man couldn’t take it.
   • Jonah was thrown into the sea to save the others on the ship – Christ in His death had saved people.
   • Jonah, after three days in the belly of the whale, was cast up onto dry land – Christ rose again on the Third Day!

Luke 11:29-32 – Here, Christ promised one more sign be given, as the sign of Jonah – to which, He warns them not to avoid the sign. People had repented at the preaching of Jonah – and the same shall be done here, so God’s People can be saved. Christ is telling them that the same sign is apparent here, is that Man has sinned, and atonement is necessary (He plans on atoning).

Jonah is found in Matthew 12:40 and his name is spelled as “Jonas.”

   • It is fittingly called “The Book of Self-Will and Correction.”
   • It covered around the same period, in which, Hosea and Amos were preaching.
   • The Central Theme of the book, “The Granting of Grace to Nineveh,” and “The Missionary Imperative.”
   • Christ, in this book, is “The Risen from the Dead.”
   • Man, in this book, is “Redeemable.”
   • The main characters of this book were Jonah, the “Elder Prodigal Son” of the Old Testament, and the Ninevites.

Jonah began as Elisha’s life was ending.

Tradition says: Jonah was the son of the widow of Zarephath and therefore was the lad whom Elijah had raised from the dead; they are one and the same. Jonah was a native of Gath-hepher, near Nazareth, this would make him most likely a Galilean. His mission was to the city of Nineveh – which he would deliver a message to the Ninevites. Jonah’s Prophetic Office is confirmed and vouched for by the Lord Jesus in Matthew 12:38-42. He was like the Lord Jesus in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection and the people’s repentance. He was unlike Jesus in Commitment: Jonah, overlooking repentant Nineveh, pouted; Jesus, overlooking unrepentant Jerusalem, wept.

   • 2:7, “When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto thee, into thine holy temple.” Even when he went weary, he remembered the Lord and prayed unto Him. We should do the same, especially in recognizing His good.
   • 2:9, “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.” It is good to give thanksgiving unto the Lord, and celebrate his giving of salvation!
   • 3:10, “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.” God saw the works of the people and that they turned from evil, and therefore, God did not do what He said He would do, because they repented. It is good to know that they decided to repent. We know that if we repent, we don’t have anything to worry about as well.
   • 4:10-11, “Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” Jonah had pity on the gourd, and this is compared to having pity on Nineveh. He didn’t want the plant to die, and neither did God want the people of Nineveh to die. Jonah felt sorry for the plant, so how much shall God feel sorry for the people of Nineveh, even in their destruction they brought upon themselves? This shows that Jonah was concerned, and God was as well – so in the same way he cared for the gourd, he needs to care for Nineveh.
GOD'S Work through Jonah

In chapter four, we see that God wanted to make Jonah see that he didn’t have to be angry, but Jonah didn’t listen. Jonah went too far as to go outside the city because he wanted Nineveh destroyed, but God wasn’t going to destroy the city, because they repented. So, God prepared things for Jonah as we see in 4:6-8:

   1. He prepared a gourd and caused it to come up over Jonah so it could be a shadow over his head – so he was delivered from grief.
   2. He then prepares a worm, and it smote the gourd that it withered.
   3. Lastly, God prepared a vehement East wind, and the sun was upon the head of Jonah so hot that Jonah fainted.

The people of Nineveh believed God, as we see in 3:5, and proclaimed a fast and wore sackcloth. They lastly repented at the word that came through Jonah. God saw their works, as we see in 3:10, and that they repented – so God repented of the evil (which means He withdrew what He was going to do).

Micah's life and prophecies

Micah 7:7, “Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my Salvation: My God will hear me.”

Micah was a worthy champion of the poor who had courage and power to deliver an effective message. Knowing his people so intimately Micah was able to present in vivid colors the challenge to justice. Micah had great sympathy with the oppressed people. His Spirit burned with righteous indignation as he saw the random injustice practiced upon his friends.

   • Micah was called, “The Prophet of the Poor.”
   • He wrote his book around 745-700 BC from Moresheth-Gath (Judah), in the Southern Kingdom to Judah and, even more, to Israel. This was likely in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
   • He pictures Christ as “The Bethlehemite” and “The Prince of Peace.”
   • He pictures Man as controverted, opposed, as an argument, or to refuse as a belief.
   • The Central Theme of the book was “The Divine Compassion upon Israel and Judah” and “The Bethlehem Birthplace.”
   • The Key Word in this book is “controversy.”

Christ is pictured as “The Bethlehemite” in Micah 5:2, and as “The Prince of Peace” in Micah 5:5.

Other background

We see they are in the last half of the eighth century, and it finds its place in the golden age of the Old Testament Prophecy – right around 745 BC – to which, Tiglath-Pileser III began his reconquest of the West. Assyria’s armies had casted shadows upon the places of Syria and Israel. The King of Syria, Rezin, and the King of Israel, Pekah, began to depend on the King of Egypt to help them – however, the small kingdoms of the west were under sway from Assyria. Then, in 705 BC, there was a powerful, young Sennacherib who came to rule in Assyria. Moment-by-moment, Sennacherib’s armies moved into the west – and left none but Jerusalem remaining. Hezekiah and Isaiah, who depended on Yahweh, kept the people from surrender. After that, a deliverance came when 185,000 soldiers were suddenly smitten from what appeared to be Yahweh rescuing His Chosen People. Sennacherib fled back to his own land, and left Hezekiah and his people praising God, their great savior. There was much calamity in this time, and God was determined that His Purposes would work out great, so He led His followers continually.

The country preacher, Micah, had known of the tragic situation in Judah and Israel for the priests there were moral and corrupt. Prophets were hirelings, and nobles took an odd pleasure in defrauding the poor. The nation overall was ready for a collapse. The princes, priest, prophets, and the people were all responsible for the downfall. Callous greed and cruelty mark the ungodly conduct of the hour.

The people didn’t want any of the preaching, except the weak, insipid variety that would allow them to go on in their way without embarrassment. They were involved in soothsaying, witchcraft, superstition, and idolatry. Sadly, they lacked honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness. The sins involved were oppression of the poor, unscrupulous use of power, lack of integrity, reckless scorn of religion, false prophecy and false prophets, and greedy corruption in the church and state.

The man
   1. Micah was a native of a small village near the Philistine border, which was called Morsheth-Gath – which was about 20 miles from Jerusalem and about 17 miles from Tekoa.
   2. Micah was a country man who was disgusted about the residents of the cities. However, he learned to love his capital city with a sincere devotion.
   3. He was naturally suspicious.
   4. He was keenly aware of world events and their significance, even though he was a peasant farmer.
   5. His contemporaries were Amos and Hosea in the north and Isaiah in the south.
   6. He had ethical integrity, courage, and the unflinching truthfulness in speaking the whole counsel of God unto the city folk.
   7. He had a personality like Amos and Elijah. He loved his land, capital city, and the poor. He had a passion for righteousness, which drove him forth with a good word for those lacking ethical standards.
   8. He was somewhat unsophisticated and rustic, but always a seeker of justice and mercy for his peasant friends – the ones that suffered so bitterly.
   9. He was a truly tender-hearted Prophet of the people, especially a champion of the poor.

Micah has been called the “shorthand of Isaiah.” Micah was truly a tender-hearted Prophet of the people. His name means, “Who is like God?”

GOD is pictured...

Micah’s idea of God was:

   • He is a judge, according to 1:3, 6; 3:12.
   • He is a God of ethical righteousness, according to 6:8; 2:1-2; 3:2-3, 10-11; 7:2.
   • He is a God who loves peace, according to 4:3; 5:5.
   • He is a God of hope and promise, according to 7:7, 18-20.
   • He is a God that gathers the remnant unto Himself, according to 2:12.

God as judge: “For, behold, the LORD cometh forth out of his place, and will come down, and tread upon the high places of the earth.” –Micah 1:3 --- God’s ethical righteousness: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” –Micah 6:8

Jesus and Micah
   1. Second Advent of Messiah (2:12-13)
   2. Millennial Restoration (chapter 4; Isaiah 2:1)
   3. First Advent of Messiah and his redemptive work necessary first as a guarantee for eternal restoration (5:1-3).
   4. Israel to be delivered from the antichrist by the Messiah at the Second Advent (5:4-6).
   5. Israel to be restored at the return of the Messiah (5:7-15)
   6. New Testament: Matthew 2:5-6 speaking of Micah and Christ speaks of Micah when commissioning His Twelve Disciples (compare Micah 7:6 with Matthew 10:35-36).

One of the lessons learned by me was that bad leaders tend to lead their people into destruction, rather than success/victory. Another lesson learned was that the love of God has always dwelt with people, it’s just that they’ve failed to see it!

Nahum's life and prophecies

Nahum 1:15, “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.”

Nineveh, which was founded by Nimrod, was famous for centuries. They’d responded to the Prophet Jonah’s message about 200 years before. Sin abounded again, however, and therefore, the commandments of God were forgotten. Nineveh had walls up to 100 feet high, 7 ½ miles around, and wide enough for three chariots to drive abreast on the wall. The city presented a formidable front to any invader. It had boasted 1200 defense towers and a moat outside the walls up to 140 feet wide and 60 feet deep. Anyway, in Jerusalem, Manasseh reigned; then his son Amon ruled, and finally, youthful Josiah began his eventful reign. The reformation under Josiah’s leadership caused a great change in the life of the nation. When the Book of the Law was found and read to the people, they had set out to clean up the land, and then set up the worship that was described in the book.

Man is pictured as an “Apostate.” Nahum 2:2, “For the LORD hath turned away the excellency of Jacob, as the excellency of Israel: for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine branches.” Verse five, “He shall recount his worthies: they shall stumble in their walk; they shall make haste to the wall thereof, and the defence shall be prepared.”

The destruction of Nineveh was the theme of the book along with vengeance is God’s! Nineveh had repented in Jonah’s day, but apostasizing had set in against the compassionate God. There is a limit to God’s patience with sin and unrepentance. God is in control throughout the world. The arrogance that indulges in senseless destruction of life and property angers God. We see seven attributes of God, which include, longsuffering, justice, omnipotence, holiness, goodness, omniscience, and His vengeance.

1:2, “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.” This displays attributes of God; what He’s feeling as this book opens, so that people are well aware of what is going on from the start. This is a sharp exposition to begin with, and shows that God is not happy. 1:3, “The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.” Having this verse follow the previous verse shows simply that God doesn’t usually get angry, and it seems His anger is fueled at the troublesome ways of the wicked. 1:6, “Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him.” This again describes vividly the imagery of His anger. The countering verse follows: 1:7, “The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” This speaks that the Lord is good overall, and a stronghold in the day of trouble. It speaks for itself and is a good verse. It also said that the Lord knows who trusts in Him, and therefore, it can be said that the Lord does love His People, but just not some of the things they do. 1:15, “Behold upon the mountains the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pass through thee; he is utterly cut off.” God shall be victorious, and soon a messenger will bring them good news of the overthrow of Assyria – therefore, they can worship God in thanksgiving, sincerity, and joy! 2:3, “The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet: the chariots shall be with flaming torches in the day of his preparation, and the fir trees shall be terribly shaken.” This is very vivid imagery of the uniformed soldiers with their chariots as the enemies approach the city walls – things begin heating up, and this shows something big is coming. 2:10: “She is empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melteth, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness.” This shows simply the aftermath of this destruction, as the Assyrians were quite cruel and ruthless in their treatment of the nations that they attacked. People just look with horror at the destroyed city. 3:18-19, “Thy shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria: thy nobles shall dwell in the dust: thy people is scattered upon the mountains, and no man gathereth them. There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?” We see that Assyria’s leaders will be killed, which leaves those people without a leader and an easy prey for attackers. Therefore, Assyria will fall for the last time, and those who suffered from their cruelty will rejoice headstrong!

GOD'S Judgment and Vengeance in the Bible

Nahum 1:2, “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.” Psalm 94:1, “O LORD God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.” Exodus 20:5, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.” Deuteronomy 4:24, “For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.” Deuteronomy 7:10, “And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.” Zechariah 1:14, “So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.” Romans 12:19, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Hebrews 10:30, “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.” Deuteronomy 32:35, “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.”

Habakkuk's life and prophecies

Habakkuk 2:4, “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by faith.”

The three questions he asked were:

   1. Why does God allow the devastating ruin to go unchecked?
   2. Why does a whole world have to continue to suffer while ungodly criminals plunge us deeper into the abyss?
   3. When will God lift His hand to change the tide and cause justice to reign on the earth?

The Central Theme of Habakkuk is “The Certainty of Triumph of the Godly” and “Justification by Faith.” Habakkuk pictures Christ as “The Ruler in His Holy Temple” as we see in Habakkuk 2:20.

This book is arranged in the form of a dramatic dialogue between the Prophet and Yahweh. Following this is a series of “woes” against the cruel Chaldeans and a beautiful poem expressing confidence (or faith) in the God of his Salvation. Two-thirds (most) of this unique book is a conversation between God and the Prophet. As he resolves his confusion, God’s peace fills him up and he pours out his whole being in a stirring hymn of praise, prayer, and confidence. He has a passionate protest as he speaks with God – probably one that comes from a heart of desire for what’s best for His People.

Habakkuk had witnessed the reformation under the leadership of Josiah, who was the last good King of Judah. Egypt and Babylon, though, were fighting for supremacy. As Habakkuk witnessed the mighty upheavals and tragic consequences of such struggles, he was greatly confused. The time of this book’s writing was around the time, most likely, of the fall of Nineveh and before the actual victory of Babylon. Tyranny and strife continued to abound with lawlessness. There was strife and contention, and even oppression for righteous people. Some people lived with open sin, some worshipped idols, while others oppressed the poor and defenseless. It was a day of sin, strife, and imminent invasion, as greater disasters were coming for God’s People in Jerusalem.

Habakkuk along with Paul delighted in proclaiming “the just shall live by faith.” Paul is the one that quotes Habakkuk at least twice or thrice – to which, we see this compared: Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:37. Paul quoted from the Prophet to the unbelieving Jews at Antioch, as we see in Acts 13:41. He learned much from Habakkuk on faith doctrine, to which, he would be called the “grandfather” of the Reformation – as Martin Luther learned this message from Paul.

The man
   1. Little is known about him, but it is evident that he was a prominent citizen and one who had confidence and respect for leaders of the City.
   2. He was a man of clear faith and one who had a powerful grasp on God, and despite strong faith, the reality of life was too much for him.
   3. He questioned God with a great degree, maybe more than any other, as we see in 1:2-4.
   4. He was not only a prophet, a philosopher, and freethinker – but also a Levitical chorister in the Temple.

Habakkuk has been called the “Old Testament Prophet of Faith.”

Important details
   1. The first answer from God to Habakkuk is found in 1:5-11. God replies here that he is preparing the Babylonians to punish Judah. The Judeans don’t know, because they would probably not believe Him anyway. They would fail to believe a wicked nation would be used to punish them. Following that, we see a description of the Babylonians that shows their ruthlessness – who do as they wish with no regard to law, justice, or anything else.
   2. An important decision is noted in 2:1. Habakkuk watches and waits for an answer from God. This is an exercise in patience, I believe, as he has to be patient with God.
   3. God’s replies again in 2:2-4. The answer is that the greed, pride, and violence of the Babylonians will be the means of their downfall, to which, some time may pass before the judgment comes upon them, but it will definitely come. We see, though, that the just shall live by faith.
   4. Habakkuk speaks concerning the moral problem and boldly challenges God to defend His actions in 1:13. He doesn’t see why such a wicked nation is used to punish a nation more righteous than it. Habakkuk may be blaming God or challenging Him that He has the same moral standards as the Babylonians.
   5. Habakkuk’s consecration compares to that of “Job” and is seen in 3:16-19. The prophet here shudders as he thinks of such a judgment that has been conjured up. He hopes that he can trust in the justice and mercy of God, so he decides that fields and flock may be destroyed – however, he will stay faithful unto God. He has decided to rest in the knowledge and wisdom of God – who is of infinite power and knows what’s He’s doing! Trusting in God then would mean the answer to questions, doubts, among other complaints that he had before.

Habakkuk was very passionate about his preaching and had very fervent prayers. Judah showed no sign of improvement, and all around him, the Prophet sees violence, lawlessness, injustice, and other evils. He knows God is holy and just, so he asks God how long will He allow this wickedness to go unpunished. He couldn’t believe the iniquity of the land, and hoped God would do something! If God is holy, as Habakkuk determines, then how can he use Babylon to punish Judah, when the Babylonians are far more wicked than the Judeans? He believes that God is unnecessarily siding with Babylon, and beholding evil – rather than deal with the Babylonians as well for their sin is equal to or greater than the Judeans (among others).

Habakkuk’s prayer was in 3:1-19. Habakkuk describes the appearance of God in His work of judging the nations and saving His People. He then recalls the mighty works that God’s done for His People, and prays that God will act on their behalf again. However, he knows that when God’s anger is troubled over sinners, Israel’s enemies aren’t the only ones who will suffer – for God’s People are also sinners, and therefore, the Prophet prays for God’s mercy in dealings with them. He pictures God’s judgment in so many vivid ways, and then he shudders of the judgment of the people. His hopes and trusts in the justice and mercy of God. Fields and flocks might be destroyed, but Habakkuk promises to remain faithful to God. He rests in God’s knowledge and wisdom, to which, the trust is the answer to his questions, doubts, and other complains that he had.

God’s ultimate purpose in the earth is that the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, just as the waters cover the sea.

Lesson for Habakkuk and us

It reveals that Habakkuk must trust in God that He knows what He is doing, and that he will joy in his own Salvation. He trusts in the God of infinite wisdom and knowledge, and His Will is perfect. Deep trust is given for God, and therefore, he feels that trusting in God is the answer to the questions, doubts, and complaints.

Zephaniah's life and prophecies

3:17, “The Lord God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”

He presents the “terror and tenderness” of divine love, as we see in 1:2, “I will utterly consume all things from off the land, saith the LORD.” Also, 3:17, “The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.”

The Coming of a New Revelation and Israel’s restoration and security is the Central Theme of Zephaniah. Zephaniah 1:12, “And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil.”

Zephaniah pictures Christ as, “The Lord in the Midst,” as we see in 1:8 for example, “And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD'S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king's children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” He also pictures Christ as, “The King of Israel,” as we see in Zephaniah 3:15, “The LORD hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy: the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.”

Zephaniah lives in a time of decay and rapidly changing world, to which, the savage horde of Scythians poured onto the plains of South Russia and instilled fear into the hearts of the Palestinian people. They were cruel, bloodthirsty, fearless, and ruthless people who drove on toward Egypt. Such merciless behavior only created more panic in the hearts of men, and the great Assyrian power that had absolute rule was not losing its grip. Nineveh was yet destroyed, and Babylon was really the mistress of the nations. The union of the Medes, Scythians, and the Babylonians caused a mighty upheaval in the land.

Then, we see Josiah come to the throne in Jerusalem following the deaths of Manasseh and Amon. They had converted the nation to heathenism, and now the task of Josiah was to clean the Temple and turn the people back to God. A book was found, which was part of the Pentateuch, and it gave directions that made a big impression on the King and people. Zephaniah and Jeremiah had played a big part in the reformation; encouraging Josiah in his ambition and that helped stir the people up to carry out the King’s orders.

   1. It is a book made up of several brief oracles.
   2. Chapter 2 begins with an urgent call to repentance, as we see in 2:1-3.
   3. Chapter three, Zephaniah turns to his native city with a stinging threat for their rebellion and sins – which are brought to light of Yahweh’s righteousness and holiness. He pleads for patience and for the remnant to return to enjoy the rich blessings of their God.
   4. The beginning of the book is almost dumbfounding as it denounces with great harshness the sins of the people.
The man
   1. Zephaniah, unlike other prophets, was not a spokesperson for the poor, but rather, he was an aristocrat who didn’t have a voice for the everyday peasant.
   2. His name means, “The hidden Jehovah.”
   3. He was a silver-tongued orator and graphically foretold the doom of Nineveh. This came shortly after the beginning of his ministry. With a scathing eloquence, he denounced much idolatry, which was swept away at the reform of Josiah. Many Biblical scholars believe that it was Zephaniah who was the principal agent of God behind the scenes of the reform, bringing back Godly concepts to the nation.
   4. He had a grim, albeit sober nature that gained him the term, “puritan” or “protestant.” He was obsessed with the conception of the doom that was coming upon the wickedness. He blistered with his words princes, prophets, and other people for their unrestrained wickedness and lack of true, sincere worship of God.
   5. He was not a poet, but was sensitive to the faintest whisper of God – therewith imagination and emotion played a great part in his preaching.
GOD spoke...

He said that He would utterly consume all things from off the land, which includes man and beast, fowls of the heaven, fish, and the obstacles with the wicked. He also said He would cut off man from the land and stretch his hand toward Judah and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. He said He will additionally cut off the remnant of Baal from this place and the name of the Chemarims with the priests, those that worship the host of heaven upon the housetops, those that worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham. Those that are turned back from the Lord and those who have not sought the Lord or enquired for Him shall also be cut off.

You should seek the Lord, seek righteousness, and seek meekness so you can be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger. Zephaniah 3:9, “For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.”

God’s people may have been previously sorrowful for the punishments upon them, now they will have joy, as they dwell together with God, their King – especially without fear or judgment. However, they are not to be lazy or discourage, but rather, alert and full of confidence. Defeat shall be replaced by victory, and God will take away their shame – to which, in His Love, He shall give them new life. Exiles will be gathered from the lands of their oppression and be established again in their own land. Therefore, under God’s rule, they will share with him in receiving praise from the whole earth!

Haggai's life and prophecies

1:9, “Ye looked for much, and lo, it came to little; and ye brought it home, I did blow upon it, Why? Saith the Lord of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house.”

Haggai is the Prophet of “Temple Building”. Man is viewed as “Reconstructing” by the prophecy of Haggai. The political intrigues we see come from their enemies and in the face of the prolonged difficulties – the zeal of the people died in a way to abandon the work for fourteen years. After that came distress, drought, crop failure, trouble, and sorrow. The Theme that weighed heavily on the reader was, “you dwell in cieled houses.” They did this while the Temple remained undone and in a catastrophic heap. We see the reference in 1:8 where Yahweh instructs them, “Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house, and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the Lord!”

Deeper look
   1. 1:2, “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, This people say, The time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built.” They claimed it was not yet time to begin the work, and therefore, they hold off. Timber was in short supply, it seems, and they needed to be patient. The time is right very soon.
   2. 1:5, “Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.” I believe this means to ponder closely what you’ve done and what was the result of it. People need to consider the Lord’s Ways, and set their hearts on what He Wills!
   3. 1:12, “Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD.” Haggai begins his preaching, and those people had obeyed the voice of the Lord and of Haggai. The people had a new fear of God, and that was indeed to obey Him.
   4. 1:13, “Then spake Haggai the LORD'S messenger in the LORD'S message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD.” The Lord is with all of us, and Haggai ensured that they knew that, which is great to know. It’s great that we have the Lord’s presence with us, which will help us feel safe and ensure us of good guidance.
   5. 1:14, “And the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and did work in the house of the LORD of hosts, their God.” The spirit of all of those that were to work on the Temple was equipped with the Lord’s preparation and guidance so that they could restart work on the Temple.
   6. 2:4, “Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong, all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts.” He ensures them again to be strong (in Him) for He is with you!
   7. 2:5, “According to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you: fear ye not.” Haggai passed on God’s assurance to them, just as He was with their ancestors bringing them out of Egypt.
   8. 2:9, “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.” Haggai did all he could to encourage and ensure them of God’s presence. He tells them that the glory of the Lord shall be much greater in the new Temple than the before one – and the Lord ensures that peace would come, which is what generations before were hungering for to have. Temporary hardships don’t compare to the splendor coming.
   9. 2:13, “Then said Haggai, If one that is unclean by a dead body touch any of these, shall it be unclean? And the priests answered and said, It shall be unclean.” Haggai illustrates that contact with unclean things made a person unclean, to which, contact with holy things did not necessarily make a person holy. However, if they didn’t keep up with the Temple, they would be unclean nonetheless.
   10. 2:18, “Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the LORD'S temple was laid, consider it.” By completing the foundations of the Temple, this was visible proof unto the Lord that they had genuine obedience (especially those tired workers from all that labor).
   11. 2:22, “And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.” God would overthrow all nations and establish His worldwide Kingdom one day, and this was the assurance that they had that His Kingdom was coming.
   12. 2:23, “In that day, saith the LORD of hosts, will I take thee, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel, saith the LORD, and will make thee as a signet: for I have chosen thee, saith the LORD of hosts.” Through Jesus the Messiah, this prophecy will find its fullest meaning, in that God’s Kingdom is coming!

The response of the people to the message of Haggai was that they were obedient to him in return, but more than that: obedient unto God. They took quick action and re-began work on the Temple!

2:22, “And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.” God would overthrow all nations and establish His worldwide Kingdom one day, and this was the assurance that they had that His Kingdom was coming.

Nebuchadnezzar had captured Jerusalem, the Temple was completely destroyed. After about fifty years in Babylon, the Jews were finally allowed to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and ancient Temple. Cyrus not only granted such privilege, but also supplied a good amount of money to guarantee the work. Then, under Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, the people returned to their old home and began carrying out orders from Cyrus, to which, they were eager to remove the debris. Their enthusiasm soon subsided, because of the hostility of the Samaritans and by the hard labor that such construction had demanded. Cyrus, the great conqueror, was followed by his son Cambyses, who had committed suicide and brought the land into a critical situation. Persia, Media, and others had broken away from the Empire, but gradually Darius the Great gained control and order grew out of chaos. Haggai stood beside Zechariah in the important task of bringing God’s Word to the governor, priest, and the people.

The man
   1. He was a Jewish Patriotic layman who responded enthusiastically to the call of God. He was likely older, and lived in Babylon before coming to Jerusalem with the returning exiles.
   2. He is associated with Zechariah as the author of certain Psalms. They were coworkers and contemporaries of the period. Zechariah prophesied for three years, however, Haggai only prophesied for three months and twenty-four days.
   3. Haggai sets us a great example as he effaced himself by giving no details about his own life and service (he just exalted the Lord), he never presented his own opinions, nor proclaimed, “thus saith the Lord.” He didn’t criticize, commend, or cheer. He lastly demonstrated by word and work, not only preached but practiced the Word found in 5:1-2.
   4. His idea of God set him ablaze with burning zeal. The people were so compelled as to follow his orders, and he was able to, in some unseen way, put godly courage into the hearts of his relatives. He was so influenced by Ezekiel.
   5. He was not a man of spacious ideas, such as that of Amos, Isaiah, or Jeremiah – but his greatness lies in the fact that he saw the next duty at hand and inspired his people to undertake the building. He does not occupy any conspicuous place among the prophets, but fills it as a man called and led of God, albeit.
   6. He was a traditionalist rather than an original thinker, and the influence of the priestly caste was evident in his homilies. He did not have the stern searching note of Jeremiah, however, he used the everyday language/jargon of a jaded people, to which, he didn’t apologize for their dejection, but instead challenged them.
   7. He writes his book in a blunt and obscure manner, but it was a sure, humble, curious, and perceptive book nonetheless.
   1. First Oracle, 1:2-11: This is a word of rebuke and a call to action. The failure was because of fear and selfishness. The ones who were holding back were men who lived in luxury. They showed no concern for spiritual matters. In order for God to start blessing them, they must begin work – bringing timber and stones to build the Temple.
   2. Second Oracle, 2:1-9: A call to courage in the hour of disappointment. There are always pessimists in a crown that must be overcome, and even though this Temple may not be as beautiful as the one the Israelites once had, it is still God’s dwelling place so He could glorify Himself among the nations!
   3. Third Oracle, 2:10-19: An appeal to conscience and a call to patience is made as Haggai begins to hear complaints. The promised blessings were slow in coming and had been working for three months. Haggai made it clear that the land had been defiled and profaned, because of their neglect. Evil manifests a powerful infection and it would take a while for all of the promised to come. They would be required to continue their labor and rebuild – staying faithful, for God would bring victory!
   4. Fourth Oracle, 2:20-23: This contains the message of hope to Zerubbabel who was to bask in the assurance that he was the chosen object of divine care and that he would be protected in the great overthrow that was to destroy the surrounding nations. Haggai was to be the representative of Yahweh among the peoples of the earth.

Zechariah's life and prophecies

   • It is known as the Book of Apocalypse.
   • The writer of this book is Zechariah, the Seer. It was written around 520-475 BC from Jerusalem to the Returned Jews.
   • We see he was a contemporary with Haggai for about three years.
   • It covers “The Restoration of Jerusalem” and “The Coming King.”
   • The Key Word of this book is restoration.
   • The main characters involved Zechariah the “Revelator” of the OT and Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah.
   • Christ is pictured as, “The King of Zion.”
   • The picture of man is, “Restored.”

Zechariah is also called the Revelator Prophet. He gives us a marvelous picture of the First Advent of Christ in his humiliation, suffering and death – all fulfilled in the experiences of our Savior, including His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the perfidious betrayal for thirty pieces of silver, the purchase of the potter’s field with the blood money, the piercing and the wounds in the hands and the fountain opened. He also gives us another marvelous picture, which was of the Second Advent of Christ when He shall come in great glory to set up His Kingdom on the earth. His vision into the glories of the future kingdom is excelled only by that which was granted to St. John, the beloved six hundred years later on the Isle of Patmos and recorded in the Book of Revelation, which so strangely reminds us of the Prophecy of Zechariah.

Darius the Great found plenty of trouble when he came to claim the throne of Persia at the death of Cambyses. There were around 19 battles fought before Darius could take his place as leader and head. There was a serious depression, crop failure, and apparent ruin facing the Jewish people, who responded to the call of Haggai to build the Temple. The bluntness of Haggai had its effect, and Zechariah came to the rescue to supplement the needed help. These two Prophets did a significant work in keeping the interest high and the hands busy. Much of the Historical Background is similar to Haggai’s.

The opening appeal was that a strong and intense Spiritual call to repentance in the Old Testament calls to repent and obey. The visions came to an impatient people who were tired and worn, skeptical as to the blessings and promises, for they were slow in coming. God grants such words of assurance through the book.

Quick synopsis
   • Chapter 1: We see a strong and intense spiritual call to repentance and obedience. Visions came to an impatient people who were weary. God grants words of assurance in many different visions (chapters 1-6). The vision we see of The Horsemen is similar to Revelation 6:1-11. These four horsemen are doing patrol through the earth to assure peace and quiet because of God’s presence. Next, is the vision of The Four Horns and The Four Smiths – to which, hostile powers scattered Israel, but these four world powers were being used by God to save Israel.
   • Chapter 2: We see the vision explained The Man with the Measuring Line, to which, this vision declares that God will re-people, protect and dwell in the city of Jerusalem. God will be a wall about them, and His glory will dwell amidst them. People long for freedom and pray for God’s mercy. He loves His People and He knows the issue of their enemies. God further encourages them to go forth, and that He will be with them.
   • Chapter 3: This vision shows Joshua Accused by the Adversary, to which he appears with soiled garments. He is a representative of the people and he is forgiven, cleansed, anointed, clothed in rich apparel, and becomes the sign of the Messiah. This is the way that we must appear as a priest before the Lord, for yet He cleanses us, anoints us, and uses us for His service when we are submitting to His Will.
   • Chapter 4: This vision of The Golden Chandelier and the Two Olive Trees was an encouragement concerning Zerubbabel as truly God’s anointed prince, endowed with power from God to do the work. God’s two anointed leaders Joshua and Zerubbabel, are the instruments (a foreshadow of the Two Witnesses in Revelation).
   • Chapter 5: This is a vision of The Flying Roll, to which, Israel will enjoy the blessings of God’s promises as they cleanse and purify themselves. The other vision was The Woman in the Ephah, to which, the woman seen sitting in a seven gallon measure is being transported to the Land of Shinar. When the Tempe is built, sin must be carried away.
   • Chapter 6: The vision of The Four Chariots. Powerful horses, dashing in different directions, represent the four winds of heaven under the control of God as He carries out His promises. Then, there is Jesus and Zechariah at the Coronation scene, to which, we see the definite prediction of the coming Messianic reign of peace and glory.
   • Chapter 7: People are starting to have questions about different fasts. The Jews instituted four fasts to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem. The Temple was beginning to take shape, and with it rebuilt, should the fasts continue…? Zechariah tells them that those fasts did not have an value in God’s sight anyway. However, people were stubborn and pitied themselves to keep the fasts. Because His People ignored God’s instruction to them through the Prophets, God ignored their prayers in return when the enemy had attacked. Because of this overall, they were taken into captivity.
   • Chapter 8: Zechariah outlines the blessings that will come to Jerusalem when God dwells there. God’s love for Jerusalem was the reason for such punishment. In the new community of God’s People, there will be no place for fear or violence. Above that, they will enjoy true fellowship with God. People are urged not to waste time mourning over the calamities of the past.
   • Chapter 9: We start seeing the info about the triumph of the Messiah, for Israel has always looked forward to a messianic day of glory and power. The people longed for the day when all enemies would be destroyed, and righteousness would be established in the land under the rule of the Messiah. Zechariah’s prophecies have been fulfilled in part, and some await – to which, they are not descriptions of historical events that were necessarily written in advance, but they are a revelation of God’s purposes given to instruct, warn, encourage, guide, and inform His People. Of course, we have to note that the fulfillment of prophecies can span many eras/generations – not always immediately. Once God’s judgment is out of the way, the nation would settle down to a life of security, joy, and prosperity.
   • Chapter 10: We see there are many problems of leadership, to which, the Temple had long been finished and life in Jerusalem was not as it was previously. People were also using idolatrous ways in using objects such as magic charms – however, Zechariah tells them to stop such practices and to trust in God alone. God is angry with Israel’s leaders, those who have no concern for the people that they rule. God plans to replace them with strong and dependable leaders. God’s strength would overthrow the nations’ leaders, and the Jews that were still scattered would also return to their homeland. Those that oppress, God would punish, which would be like a raging fire sweeping through the forests.
   • Chapter 11: After announcing God’s judgment on Israel’s bad leaders, Zechariah demonstrates that judgment in two short plays. In these plays, he acts as a shepherd, representing the leaders of God’s People. The first play God told Zechariah to act the part of the good shepherd, to which, Zechariah was to look after the people that were oppressed and exploited by bad shepherds. In the second play, Zechariah played the part of a bad shepherd, which was the sort of shepherd that Israel wanted. This cruel and selfish type of leadership was what the people deserved, and this would be God’s means of punishing them.
   • Chapter 12: Victory shall come, but with mourning. God used Gentile nations to punish His People, but if His desire were to fight for Israel, no enemy attack would be successful. God, though, would strengthen His People and people would give glory to God for Jerusalem’s victory. God’s People may have had a great victory, but it was costly – as many had died, and the mourning was through the land, however, God’s forgiveness was available to all who are genuinely sorry for their disobedience and treachery.
   • Chapter 13: He talks about false prophets and what the true shepherds are. If a false prophet escapes, for example, he might try to preserve his life by throwing away his prophet’s cloak and disguising himself as a farmer. Zechariah also talks about leadership – the leader of God’s choice would be one who is close to God and would truly care for God’s People. He talks about the true shepherd, which is no doubt, God’s Chosen One, Jesus Christ the Messiah. Some were saved from judgment, and these men would become God’s true people, even though they suffered persecution at the hands of the rebellious.
   • Chapter 14: God gives His People satisfaction and Israel is compensated for all that was previously lost to plundering armies. Enemies are destroyed in a terrifying judgment. No longer would there be a difference, though, between sacred and non-sacred articles. Everything is holy and fit for the service of God. True holiness will at last be established in the world.
Deeper look
   • 4:6, “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” God gives a message of encouragement that He would be with them, by equipping them with His Presence! Using our own strength is pointless, for His Strength shall be equipped unto us!
   • 11:13, “And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.” This tells us that giving should be in more abundance, not just a little bit, because after all, it all belongs to God anyway.
   • 14:9, “And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.” This one explains itself, that the Lord shall be King over all the earth – which is a prophecy of the coming Messiah! It’ll be great for people to only worship One God!
   • 14:20, “In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar.” When people are converted before the Lord, they are ever transformed by His grace and holiness, and therefore, this should be symbolic of divine worship before the altar of the Lord.

3:1-2, “And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?”

2:13, “Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.”

9:1, “The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD.” The burden is this: When the eyes of man shall be toward the Lord.

13:9, “And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.” He will bring them through the fire and refine them as silver is – for these afflictions shall purify them – as the furnace betters silver and gold. They shall call on the name of the Lord, and have Him, for He would answer them.

   A. The Branch: 6:12, “And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.”
   B. The Wounded Hands: 13:6, “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.”
   C. The Shepherd: 13:7, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.”

Malachi's life and prophecies

   • This book is called “The Book of Reproof.” This means, “censored, rebuked, or chastised.”
   • It was written by Malachi, the Lecturer.
   • It was written about 433 BC; a few years after Nehemiah’s Ministry. It was written from Jerusalem (Judah) to The Returned Jews.
   • The period covered was the period following Nehemiah’s Ministry.
   • The Central Theme is “The Disapprobation of Disobedient Israel” and “The Censuring of the Conceited.”
   • The Key Word of this book is “Robbery.”
   • Man is pictured as “reproved.”

We see Ezra come from Babylon and bringing new recruits, but little info is given of the people. Not much is known between the dedication of the Temple to the coming of Nehemiah. During these years, the Persians fought with the Greeks for supremacy of the world – to which, the Greek made their memorable stand at Thermopylae and the mighty Persian fleet was destroyed at Salamis. We saw the beginning of the golden age of Greek culture, when Socrates was born, the Roman Republic founded, and Europe was ready to succeed Asia as an arbiter in world affairs.

In Jerusalem, the situation was grim, and then Nehemiah became a valued member of the court of Artaxerxes and was sent to rebuild the walls in Jerusalem. The walls were completed in the midst of such opposition, and Nehemiah welded the people into a strong bonded group. Crops were poor nonetheless, parasites ruining plants, and fruit was disappointing. The priests were corrupt and immoral, and a spirit of skepticism encompassed the entire population. People complained about God, complaining about their predicament, refusing to pay tithes & offerings, and were guilty of social injustice; mixing themselves with the heathens of the land. Divorce became common and God’s Covenant had been forgotten. Worship was degenerated into empty and formalism. God called, then, the Prophet Malachi – His fearless servant.

The man
   • He does not present sermons, he just launches into an argument with his contemporaries. He is a master debater and has dialogue about divine love, revealing faithlessness, and revealing the ingratitude of the people. He calls for genuine repentance and challenges skeptics.
   • He exhorts in the book, “come back to God and quit robbing God.”
   • He didn’t fear any other man, because his fear of God was greater.
   • He ministered about 400 years before Christ’s birth and a few years after the close of Nehemiah’s Ministry.

Malachi’s name means, “My Angel, My Messenger.” He was proud of his name, mentioning it occasionally. He affirms, “He is the Messenger of the Lord of Hosts” in 2:7. He speaks of other messengers coming as well, such as John the Baptist, or Jesus!

   1. Come back to God… 3:7, “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?” This is very similar to the exhortation that Zechariah makes in his book (1:3), to which, the Lord tells them to return to Him and He would return to them – He would accept them, establish them, bless them, transform them, and help them overall. Forget such evil that drove you away from Him and repent, and then come back to Him!
   2. Quit Robbing God… 3:8, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.” People have failed to bring their tithes and offerings, and Malachi speaks that they are robbing God and then instructs them to bring their tithes and offerings to the storehouse – and in doing so, He would pour out a huge blessing; innumerable for their sake.
   • “Wherein hast thou loved us?” 1:2 – This is a possibly insolent question to God of if He loves them. The troubles of their sin didn’t give them assurance of His Love, and we must not suppose that God doesn’t love us because He afflicts us – but these people did. They thought that since He afflicted them, it was because He didn’t love them. However, it seems quite the opposite as Malachi explains that God’s Love is for all men.
   • “Wherein have we polluted Thee?” 1:7 – You have to wonder if they put the polluted bread on the table on purpose or by accident – to which, they didn’t know what they were doing? King Darius would have supplied, but they presented none but the worst.
   • “Wherein have we despised thy name?” 1:6 – The ones who sin don’t know what they are doing, because it seems they are proud and have hardened their hearts. However, honor is to go unto the Lord just as a son honors his father. Priests that despise His Name would just be doing so to (blaspheme?) try to get away with disrespect toward God – which could result from anger.
   • “Wherein have we wearied Him?” 2:17 – People have done and said deceptive things, and then didn’t admit to it. People kept up their deception as if nothing was wrong. Their words that troubled the Lord were done on purpose? What was their intention? That’s what he wants to know.
   • “Wherein shall we return?” 3:7 – They continue in their guilt, acting as if they don’t have a home to return to. They speak in an innocent tone, as if they don’t want to return to the Lord, or admit their wrongdoing.
   • “Wherein have we robbed Thee?” 3:8 – They didn’t realize or admit that they were robbing God by not tithing and giving offerings, and he proved to them that they were indeed robbing God.
   • “What have we spoken so much against Thee?” 3:13 – They act as if they haven’t spoken anything against the Lord, even though they had stark disobedience or blasphemy. They weren’t willing to admit of their sharp tongues, and acted as if nothing was wrong.
Deeper look
   1. 1:2, “I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob.”
   2. 1:5, “And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.”
   3. 1:6, “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?”
   4. 1:11, “For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.”
   5. 2:5, “My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.”
   6. 2:16, “For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.”
   7. 3:1, “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”
   8. 3:7, “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?”
   9. 3:8-10, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”
   10. 4:2, “But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.”
   11. 4:3, “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.”
   12. 4:5-6, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

The Old Testament ends with God’s judgment on the wicked and blessing on the good, an exhortation to the study of the Law, and a foretelling of Elijah’s coming and office before the Messiah comes!

Quick synopsis
   1. In this first chapter, we see that Malachi is complaining at Israel’s unkindness, and this was his burden/call from the Lord. People pride themselves that they’re God’s People, but yet, they displease Him through their own pleasures. Malachi learns through experience that when such described people are rebuked, they’re usually offended. Malachi just quotes their complaints, and instructs them that they should not blame God, but rather, blame themselves. The main complaint that people post is that God doesn’t love them. If He does, they argue, and want proof through comfort and prosperity – instead of hardship or poverty. Malachi would show them the reasons of their troubles, but he wants to first let them know that they have clear proof of His Love. One of the examples was the God chose Jacob, instead of Esau, though there as nothing in Jacob that made him more loving than Esau. Jacob’s descendants, Israel, have been punished, however, they are now back in their homeland. Esau’s descendants, however, who were known as Edom, have suffered a judgment from which their nation will not ever recover. The destruction throughout Edom’s homeland will be a reminder to the people of future generations that Edom has incurable wickedness. Israel should honor Him as their father and reverence Him as master, but rather, they just insult them. It would be better for them to close the Temple and have no sacrifices at all than to worship Him with foul things.
   2. In the second chapter, the priests are to blame, as we see, for the poor spiritual condition of Israel. If they don’t quickly reform their ways, God will punish them; reducing income from the people’s offerings, and bring disgrace upon them. He then speaks about what priests have done wrong, what they have done right, what they haven’t done, and what they should be doing for God – to bring more glory to Him, especially in their everyday affairs (for the Temple). Many have failed to uphold God’s standards, and therefore, punishment could be looming for them. People are having divorces and mixed marriages; breaking marriage covenants and the covenant that God made with Israel at Sinai. God designed the covenant to promote family and unity to all people. His idea of the family was to bring people closer, not break people up. Anyway, he changes gears to talk about when the Jews would see surrounding nations prosper while they suffered hardship, they would complain to God that it wasn’t just. Other nations didn’t keep His Law, and yet, Israel was His People – so why couldn’t they be most blessed? That was their questioning.
   3. As the third chapter opens, it recaps slightly on the second chapter and continues on with the questioning of why God doesn’t bless His People most. God would intervene then, in human affairs, and bless His People as they wish, however, He would have to first cleanse them of all uncleanness, rebellion, and social injustice. Those who resist the cleansing and continue in sin would be punished. If people want to be out of the hardship they are under, they should be asking for mercy, not justice. Because of all of the hardship, they have poor crops – and they blame God for sending all of such disasters. In their selfishness, they didn’t bring their offerings to Him, and therefore, they must change their ways and be honest unto Him! After that, God would bless them with good rains and good crops. The result of their generosity would bring great, prosperous things for the people. However, many people just continued in their murmurings and complaints against God, to which, they complain that it’s useless trying to please Him, because hardships will still come. Nevertheless, they continue to encourage each other to be faithful to Him, believing that He would never forsake them.
   4. The fourth chapter comes, and this is a short one, which we see that God would take action in destroying the wicked in the day of judgment. Malachi pictures the way things will compare to in this day – a farm scene. However, in view of their coming salvation, the righteous should remain faithful to God’s Law and look expecting the coming of the Messiah’s forerunner, which was symbolized as “Elijah.” If the people would respond to the preaching of this “Elijah” that was coming, they would be united in one spirit with their believing forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, if they had refused to repent, they would meet divine judgment. We know the symbolic Elijah to be was John the Baptist.
Practical lessons
   1. God loves a pure, clean, and happy home.
   2. The low ideals of God’s Priests affect the people in the pew.
   3. Beware of robbing God.
   4. Impatience leads to false accusations of God.
   5. One who lives in willful sin cannot hope to please God by costly sacrifices.
   6. Insincerity in worship is an insult to God!
   • God loves good homes; ones that are clean and happy.
   • Don’t rob God, but always love and bless Him!
   • We can tell God about our doubts and fears, because He will hear and help us – so we don’t have to tell others and make a spectacle about it.
   • We would insult God if we worship Him insincerely.
   • Love can only be budded between God and us, when we realize that He is Father and Master!