Showing posts from May, 2023

The Hope

The Hope Zechariah 14:9-21 “And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in the day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.”               What we see is not always what it will be.  Today we see all the problems and struggles of a broken and fallen world.  We see a world that lives in fear and without hope.  As we go through the minor prophets, we repeatedly read of the warnings of coming judgment.  Like a long winter; we wonder if there is any hope.               As we come to Zechariah 14, we feel the fresh breeze of hope blowing across the landscape.  In verse 2, we read of the future appearance of the Lord, when the messianic king arrives, and he will bring final victory over the enemies of Israel. It will begin with the final world war as the nations gather together to fight Israel and his anointed king.  However, the last attempt to throw off the rule of Christ will fail as he defeats and judges his enemies, and he will establish his throne in Jerusalem.  This

When a Nation Rejects God

When a Nation Rejects God Zechariah 11:1-17 “For behold, I am going to raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for the perishing, seek the scattered, heal the broken or sustain the one standing, but will devour the flesh of the fat sheep and tear off their hoofs.”               What happens when a nation rejects God?  Our country is in the throes of spiritual rejection.  At every turn, it seems people think of new ways to cast off the constraints of God's moral law in pursuit of its own morality.  But what is the result?             In chapter 11, Zechariah describes the future rebellion of Israel and their rejection of the Messianic Shepherd.  In prophetic terms, Zechariah describes that Judah and Israel will reject God-appointed leader: the Messianic King.  In verses 13 and 14, the shepherd who is rejected is given the wage of 30 shekels of silver, which was the price of a slave.  Thus, the money the shepherd received for his service was the wages of a slave. Because of

The Future Plan of God

The Future Plan of God Zechariah 8:1-17 “So I have again purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.  Do not fear!”               Where is history going?  Many people fear the future and what is going to happen. They fear the threat of war that might lead to nuclear disasters, global warming, and environmental and natural disasters.  There is a sense of impending doom that unless humanity alters these things, we face threats to humanity's very existence.  In Zechariah 8, God paints a different picture.  The people were returning to the land of Israel and starting to rebuild the nation. However, in the face of the struggles, they became discouraged, and the task of renewal seemed hopeless in light of the present circumstances (vs. 6).  In response, God reminds them that the reasons for their discouragement have passed.  God is in the process of renewing the nation of Israel.  While he had judged them in the past, he would do a work of renewal and restor

When God Delievers His People

When God Delivers His People  Zechariah 2:1-13 “After glory, He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.”               Although many of the prophecies found in the minor prophets focus on the punishment and judgment of God upon the sins of the people of Israel, the message of Zechariah is one of hope and salvation.  After God used the Assyrians and Babylonians to discipline Israel, in chapter 2, God promised to restore the people.  In this second vision,  Zechariah sees a man with a measuring rod to survey the land again.  In Amos, God used the measuring line to measure the sin of the people of Israel.  But now, the measuring line is used to plan the rebuilding of the city carefully.  But this city will be different, for it will be without walls.  In the Ancient Near East, the city's walls were the city's most important defense.  It was their primary protection from their enemies.  But the New Jerusalem will no lon

The Jealousy and Love of God

The Jealousy and Love of God Zechariah 1:12-17   “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion.”               In our modern usage, jealousy is primarily used as a negative word.  It describes resentment, bitterness, or hostility towards someone because they have something a person wants. In terms of relationships, we use it in the context of hostility and distrust of another, and, in most cases, it is used to describe an unhealthy attitude towards someone with whom you are in a relationship.  However, the word can also have a positive meaning in that it can refer to one who so deeply loves another that they are protective in maintaining or guarding the relationship from anything that harms it. It describes one who is vigilant and devoted in their love so they protect the relationship from any intrusion.  When the word is used to describe God, it speaks of God’s deep and tender love for his people and his desire to protect this relationship from anythin

The Glory of the Future Days: The Snare of the Old Days Pt 2.

The Glory of the Future Days:    The Snare of the Old Days Pt 2. Haggai 2:6-23 “The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,” says the Lord of Hosts, “and in this place I will give peace,” declares the Lord of Hosts.               It is right to remember the triumphs and joys of the past.  Part of the gift of memory is remembering the pleasant events that happened in the past.  A gift from God is that our natural tendency is to remember the good and forgive the bad.  The appeal of nostalgia is that it brings back pleasant events that mark our life. Furthermore, it is good to reflect on and remember the work of God that was manifested in the past.  Remember, God’s past deliverance from adversity is essential to finding hope in the present.  In Joshua 4, after the Israelites crossed the Jordan to enter the land God promised, Joshua commanded the people to make a pillar of stones to serve as a constant reminder of God’s salvation and faithfulness to his promises (Joshua

The Snare of the "Old Days" Pt 1

The Snare of the “Old Days” Pt 1 Haggai 2:1-3   “Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison?”               The elation of rebuilding Jerusalem and the temple soon turned to discouragement and despair.  When Ezra brought the people back and began the process of rebuilding, many were rejoicing.  It was a time of renewal and celebration.  For 70 years, the temple was in ruin, and the place of worship was vacant.  When the people arrived with Ezra, there was an air of excitement and anticipation as they sought to restore the nation to its glory.  In Ezra 3, we read that after the initial work of restoring the foundation of the Temple, there was a great joy.  Verse 11 states that they were singing and praising God, and the people were shouting with great joy.  But in verse 12, we read that as the people were shouting for joy, the old men, who had seen the first temple, were weeping.  But their

Realligning our Priorities

Realigning Priorities Haggai 1:1-11 “I blow it away, why?  Declares the Lord of hosts, ‘Because of My house which lies desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.”               It is easy to fall into the trap of misguided priorities.  Daily we are confronted with multiple obligations and responsibilities.  Our priorities are revealed when these obligations conflict, and we are forced to choose between them.  The basis by which we make decisions reveals our attitude and priorities.             When the people of Israel returned to the land from their exile, it was natural for them to start rebuilding homes and re-establishing their livelihood.  The problem was not in their desire to rebuild their homes and careers.  The problem was in their heart and the priorities they had set in life.  In Ezra 4, we find that the people had returned to the land with the task of rebuilding the nation of Israel, and this began with the rebuilding of the Temple, which was to be the center of Jew

When God Rejoices

From Merciless Judge to Rejoicing Creator Zephaniah 3:8-20 “The Lord your God is in your midst, a Victorious warrior.  He will exult over you with joy, HE will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of Joy.”               The first two chapters of Zephaniah present God as the merciless judge who brings unrelenting wrath upon those who are wicked.  Throughout scripture, we are reminded that God does not overlook sin and does not leave the sinner unpunished.  The first part of the book focuses on the coming the Day of the Lord, referring to the time when God will bring final and complete judgment upon the nations for their sin.  But even as humanity immerses itself in rebellion against God, idolatry, and injustice, God remains sovereign in the universe.  God judges those who develop a lifestyle centered on self and not caring for others or God.  This judgment will culminate in the coming Day of The Lord when God brings final judgment upon sin.  This ultimately will be

The Danger of Spiritual Complacency

The Danger of Spiritual Complacency Zephaniah 1:1-13 “And I will punish the men who are stagnant in spirit, who say in their hearts, the God will not do good or evil.” The prophecy of Zephaniah was unexpected. He proclaimed his prophecy during the period of spiritual reform and revival in Judah. The reign of Josiah was one of the spiritual high watermarks of the country. It was said of Josiah that “He did right in the sight of the Lord and walked in the all the ways of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left” (2 Kings 22:3). Coupled with the guidance Of Hilkiah the Priest, Josiah brought spiritual forms to the nation by destroying high places and renewing the covenant with God. At the end of his life, it was said of Josiah that “Before him there was no king like him who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses: nor did any like him arise after him” (2 King 23:25). In light of these

The Rea and the Knockoff

  The Real and the Knockoff Habakkuk 2:18-20, 3:16-19 “What profit is in the idol when its maker has carved it” 2:18               Knockoffs are always appealing.  They look like the real thing but without the cost.  So, people buy them, knowing they are not real but hoping they will provide the same quality as the genuine item.  However, it does not take long to reveal the knockoffs for what they are:  Cheap imitations that do have the quality, value, and sustainability of the real McCoy. When push comes to shove, the knocks are nothing more than landfill fodder.             In Chapter 2:18-20, Habakkuk points out the worthlessness of false religions.  Every religion not grounded in the revelation and truth of the God of Israel is a spiritual knockoff that, in the end, has no value.  They are not the self-disclosure of God but the product and invention of man’s own thinking. Look closely at all the other religions that propagate the world, and you will find they are centered around th

When God Seems Silent in the Face of Evil

  When God Seems Silent in the Face of Evil.   Habakkuk 1:1-2:9 “How Long, O Lord, will I call for help…But the righteous will live by his faith.”               Habakkuk’s faith was wavering, for he could not understand.  Throughout the land of Judah, the people had abandoned the law and justice of God. After the death of Josiah, the spiritual reforms he established were quickly abandoned by the people.  The nation became entrenched in sin and wickedness.  The law was ignored, and the justice and holiness of God were perverted. Consequently, Habakkuk was perplexed.   How could a holy God remain indifferent to their sin?  Throughout the Scriptures, one of the characteristics of godly people is their grief and lament when corruption runs rampant.  Thus, Habakkuk cannot understand how a righteous God can remain silent as sin increases.             In verses 4-11, God responds.  He is not silent and does not allow sin to run unchecked.  He will bring his discipline and judgment.  However,

Judgment and Grace Pt 2: The Grace of God

Judgment and Grace Pt 2:  The Grace of God. Nahum 1:1-8 “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who take refuge in him.”               The opening lines of Nahum present the terror and totality of God’s judgment.  The words are a stark reminder that God is a just and holy God who will by no means allow sin to go unpunished (vs. 3, see also Exodus 34:7).  The revelation of the devastation of God’s judgment is fully revealed in the book of Revelation, in which Christ returns to bring judgment upon a world that has rejected him and rejected his law.  The onslaught of God’s wrath against sin is so terrible and extensive that all creation and all the inhabitants in the world or “Upheaved by his presence?”  No one can stand in his presence when his wrath is poured out.             Amidst this, there is a sudden pause of tranquility and hope.  As the fear of his wrath grips the heart of those facing his judgment, God pauses in his announcement to assure his p

The Judgment and Grace of God Pt 1: The Severity of God's Judgment

The Judgment and Grace of God Pt 1:  The Severity of God’s Judgment.  Nahum 1:1-8 “The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and the Lord will by no means leave the guilty unpunished.”                          The message of Nahum is the message Jonah wanted to preach.  As we saw in our overview of Jonah, Jonah was not pleased that God forgave the people of Nineveh after their repentance.  Yet it is often a message we do not want to hear today, for it does not fit our desire that God is only a loving and forgiving God who will never bring severe judgment upon sin.  Jonah was written in 760 BC when God threatened judgment upon the Nineveh because of their gross sin.  However, when confronted with the message of judgment, the people repented, and God relented.  However, 100 years later, the people of Nineveh had reverted to their idolatry and evil. This time, their sin and idolatry were beyond repair. Verses 2-8 are written as an acrostic hymn in which each line begins with a differe