Day 25

The Minor Prophets - cont.

Nahum

Nahum prophesied after the fall of Hebes (663 B.C.) and before the fall of Nineveh (612 B.C.), the subject of his prophecy. The king at the time was Josiah, making him contemporary with Zephaniah and the earlier years of Jeremiah.

God is slow to anger

[1] God will avenge His adversaries, but show kindness to those who trust in Him. The destruction of Nineveh is prophesied and Judah is urged to keep her solemn feasts and vows.

The besiege of Nineveh

[2] An account of the besiege of Nineveh is given.

Nineveh’s destruction

[3] Nineveh’s great sin is identified. Her destruction will be similar to that inflicted on No-Amon (Thebes) in Egypt. Nineveh’s ruin will be final, and the nations she oppressed will be joyful.

Habakkuk

Little is known about Habakkuk. The date of his recorded exchanges with God isn’t certain, but the beginning of Jehoaikim’s reign seems a reasonable deduction. He was certainly contemporary with Jeremiah.

Habakkuk’s complaint

[1] Habakkuk is deeply troubled that violence and injustice appear to be tolerated by God. It seems that justice never prevails and so complains to God concerning it. However, God’s response creates another dilemma in Habakkuk’s eyes: why allow a nation more wicked than themselves to punish Judah?

God’s response

[2] God instructs Habakkuk to write down His revelation as it will be some years before it is fulfilled. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith is God’s simple response, but then spelt out in detail with woes uttered against Babylon.

Habakkuk’s prayer

[3] Habakkuk responds with a prayer in the form of a psalm in which he expresses his awe of God’s mighty power. Despite the loss of essential resources, Habakkuk takes delight in God who is his strength, and is content to trust in Him. He will be patient and wait for the day when God will deal with Babylon.

Zephaniah

Zephaniah was of royal blood, his ancestry given as tracing back to King Hezekiah. He prophesied during the reign of King Josiah of Judah, contemporary with the early years of Jeremiah’s ministry.

Judgement is near

[1] Through Zephaniah, God declares the utter consumption of sinful Judah. Sins particularly mentioned are idolatry, violence and fraud. There will be a great noise of crying and howling, especially in Jerusalem, where there are men content with their lifestyle and indifferent to God’s providence and judgement. This coming judgement is not far off, and is inevitable and Inescapable.

Judgement on the nations

[2] The Jews are exhorted to repentance before judgement is pronounced on the surrounding nations: to the west, Philistia; to the east, Moab and Ammon; to the south, Cush (Ethiopia); to the north, Assyria.

Jerusalem’s future

[3] Jerusalem is reproved for her persistence in sinning, despite all the warnings and corrections from God. Judgement will follow, but then so will redemption. All nations will be purified, the scattered remnant of Israel restored and God’s people will be held in high esteem.

Haggai

Following a decree issued by Cyrus, king of Persia, 50,000 Jews returned to Jerusalem and began to rebuild the temple. After the foundations had been laid, fierce opposition from the Samaritans halted the work. For four months, during 520 B.C., Haggai encouraged the Jews to continue the rebuilding work with four messages to them. Each of the four messages can be precisely dated.

A call to resume the building of the temple

[1] Haggai’s first message from God is given to Zerubbabel, their leader, and Joshua the high priest on 29th August 520 B.C. The people are reproved for their failure to continue rebuilding the temple. Their neglect had provoked God to judge them with famine and scarcity of essentials. The people respond with obedience and a promise is given that God will be with them.

The glory of the second temple shall be greater than that of the first

[2:1-9] Haggai’s second message is given on 17th October 520 B.C. The stories handed down of the first temple’s splendour make this one look plain in comparison. The people are encouraged with the assurance that the glory of this temple will be greater than that of the first, alluding to the coming of Christ.

Blessings for a sinful people

[2:10-19] The third message is given on 18th December 520 B.C. Two questions are asked of the priests as a lesson that sin is contagious, and a reminder that as long as the temple remains unbuilt, they will be lacking. Now that they have set about rebuilding in earnest, God will bless them.

Zerubbabel, God’s signet ring

[2:20-23] Haggai’s fourth message is a short one given to Zerubbabel, also on 18th December 520 B.C. This message is prophetic, announcing the judgement to come on the nations at the second coming of the Messiah, and that the Davidic line is preserved through Zerubbabel, revoking the curse placed on his grandfather Jehoiachin [Jer 22:24].

Zechariah

Zechariah was contemporary with Haggai and began preaching just prior to Haggai’s third message, with his final prophecy being some forty years later. Zechariah was not only a prophet but, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, a priest. He was also a visionary, as were Daniel and Ezekiel, with his prophecies reaching far into the future concerning the first and second comings of Jesus Christ. The first six chapters record Zechariah’s eight visions given in a single night, which are both an encouragement to the people to continue the work of rebuilding the temple and prophetic in nature. (Some break these eight visions down further into ten.)

Eight visions

[1-8]

The four riders; The four horns

[1] In October/November of 520 B.C., Zechariah calls his people to repentance. A few months later, in February of 519 B.C., he has a series of eight visions in one night. The first is of four horsemen who go about the world and find it at ease and content while His people are scattered. This displeases God and a message of comfort and encouragement is given to His people, assuring them the temple will be rebuilt. The second vision is of four horns signifying the four enemies that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem, and of four carpenters who will take away these enemies’ power.

Jerusalem is measured; it will be a city without walls

[2] In this next vision, a man is seen with a measuring line in his hand to measure the city of Jerusalem (a measuring line is a symbol of restoration). Zechariah is told that Jerusalem will grow far beyond its current limits and will greatly prosper, with God as its protector. Those still in Babylon are encouraged to return. A prophecy follows addressed to all mankind, which is the gathering of the Gentiles in the Day of the Lord to become His people.

Clean garments for the high priest

[3] In this vision, Joshua the high priest is seen standing being resisted by Satan, who is then rebuked by the Lord. Joshua is wearing filthy garments, which are replaced with a change of raiment, signifying his acquittal of any accusation from Satan. Joshua is symbolic of the Messiah, our great high priest, who is now foretold removing all sin and bringing peace to all mankind.

The gold lampstand and the two olive trees

[4] Zechariah is now given a vision of a gold lampstand fed by seven pipes from two olive trees, providing a constant supply of oil to keep the lamps burning. This is a vision of encouragement to show that the building of the temple, started by Zerubbabel, will also be finished by him, not by his own might, but through the power of God’s Spirit, which is constantly available to him.

The flying scroll - sin removed

[5] The next vision is of a great flying scroll, representing God’s judgement of the sinful, followed by a vision of a great measure of sin carried away to Babylon, that is, removed from the land.

The four chariots

[6] The eighth and final vision corresponds to the first. Here, God is keeping watch over the whole world with the horses now drawing four chariots, signifying divine judgement. Then there is a symbolic crowning of Joshua (symbolic because priests could not be kings), prefiguring the dual role of Jesus the Messiah as our high priest and king. This concludes the eight visions Zechariah received in one night.

The problem of fasting

[7] Nearly two years later, in December of 518 B.C., when rebuilding of the temple was well underway, a delegation from the people asks whether two fasts should now continue. (The fast in the fifth month commemorated the fall of Jerusalem in 587, and that of the seventh month was in memory of the murdered governor, Gedaliah.) God questions the spirit in which these fasts were conducted, reminding them of their failings in the past that caused them to go into exile.

A joyous future for Jerusalem

[8] God promises a glorious future for the remnant of Israel in Jerusalem, where God will return to make his home in the city. It will be a time of peace, joy and gladness. He reminds them of the early times of Haggai, and how they will now be blessed again, then tells them what He requires of them and what He hates. In that future time, many people will come from all nations to seek the Lord in Jerusalem. In chapters 9 to 14 we have two prophetic oracles: the great messianic future and the full realisation of God’s kingdom. The first, chapters 9–11, concern the advent and rejection of the Messiah; the second, chapters 12–14, the second coming and acceptance of the Messiah.

The first advent of Jesus Christ

[9-11]

Judgement on Israel’s enemies and the coming of the Messiah

[9] The first eight verses speak of the coming invasion of Tyre and the coastal areas to the south by Alexander the Great who, although he passes by more than once, does not invade Jerusalem. The remaining verses tell first of Jesus’ triumphant entry [vs 9], quoted in part in Matthew 21:5 and Luke 19:30–38, and then Christ’s second coming when he will reign in the great kingdom age.

Israel gathered

[10] Further encouragement is given, with the condemnation of false leaders followed by promises of the faithful being strengthened and returned to their land in glory, and their enemies humbled.

The Messiah is rejected

[11] Israel will be invaded by the Romans from the north through Lebanon, moving south to Jerusalem. The leaders, who care more for their own circumstances than those of the people, will be cut off. God will use the Romans as his instrument of judgement, when the people will be left to their mercy as they relieve them of their power and cause them to disperse. Yet God will take care of His flock, but the prophets, priests and rulers will be cut off in one month because of their mutual loathing. With the crucifixion of Jesus, the covenant God made with all the people will be broken. After the rejection of the true Messiah with the betrayal of Christ for thirty pieces of silver (later to be cast on the floor of the temple and then to fall into the potter’s hands), the time will come when they will accept a false messiah, the antichrist, who will receive an injury leaving him with a withered right arm and a blind right eye.

Israel’s deliverance and cleansing

[12-13] The time will come when Israel will be a ‘burdensome stone’ to all the world as they gather against her, but she will overcome her enemies and again inhabit Jerusalem, when her glory will be magnified. God will destroy any nation that comes against Israel. Through God’s Spirit, who testifies of Christ, Israel will come to recognise the one they had rejected and there will be a great mourning. In that day, Israel will be cleansed of all idols, false prophets and demons. But there is more tribulation to come, from which only a third will remain faithful to proclaim their God.

The final siege of Jerusalem; The return and reign of the Messiah

[14] When the nations are gathered against Jerusalem and take the city along with half of its inhabitants, then God will intervene against them. There will be a great earthquake, which will cause His people to flee to safety; then Christ will come with His saints to rule the earth from Jerusalem, which will be, for the first time, completely safe. The nations that fought against Jerusalem will suffer plagues and confusion. Those who survive will be required to go to Jerusalem each year to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, the only remaining compulsory feast day. The disobedient, those not responding to this call, will be punished. In that day everything will be holy.

Malachi

Nothing is known of Malachi’s background. From his writings it can be determined he prophesied around 430 B.C., the last prophet of the Old Testament.

God’s love for Israel

[1] God expresses His love for Israel, offering a comparison with their brother-nation, the Edomites, as a demonstration of that love. His love is not being returned with the love and respect due to their Father, with sacrifices and offerings being more like leftovers than first-fruits. It would be better if the temple doors were closed.

Charges against the priests; Marriage and divorce

[2] The priests are admonished for failing to teach the law, and even deceiving the people concerning it. The people’s attitude to marriage is condemned with God expressing His hatred for divorce, which is seen as dealing treacherously with a man’s first wife, and an obstacle to maintaining the Godly seed of Israel when a foreign wife is taken.

The Day of Judgement

[3] This chapter opens with the prophecy of John the Baptist and the Messiah, who will first come to purify, then to judge. There follows an exhortation to return to tithing as required by the law. The people have robbed God by withholding tithes and offerings, and have suffered as a result. They are invited to test God by paying their tithes in full; then they will receive abundant blessings. A growing concern that the arrogant are blessed and evil-doers prosper has led to the attitude that there is no advantage in serving God. The people are exhorted to return to faithful worship with a promise of recognition on the day of judgement for those who do.

The Day of the Lord

[4] The day is coming when unrepentant sinners will be convicted and the righteous receive their due reward. Elijah will be sent before that great and dreadful day, to be a sign and encouragement for all to repent of their sins and turn to the Lord.
30-Day Reading Plan This is a 30-day reading plan based on an average of 15 minutes per session - a total read time of 7½ hours. The actual read times vary from 12 to 20 minutes to accommodate for practical read session end points. If the reading times don’t suit you, then simply go at your own pace and note where you finished. Please select your reading day below
New Testament History Books -
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10   11
Old Testament History Books -
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Day:
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22 23 24 25
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New Testament Epistles -
The Prophets -
The Poetry Books -