Tag Archives: minor prophets

Bible Overview Series: Malachi

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Malachi: You’ve got a new temple; now get new hearts to go with it, before the temple’s Lord appears and turns the tables on you.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)
 

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Malachi

The Jews had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon. They’d obeyed the messages of God from the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. They’d rebuilt the temple of God.

And nothing happened. No Messiah, no great divine war against Israel’s enemies, no worldwide kingdom of God—none of the good things those prophets said would come about.

So the people grew indifferent. They offered faulty sacrifices (Mal 1:8,13), married pagan women (Mal 2:11), were unfaithful to their wives (Mal 2:14), and withheld tithes and offerings (Mal 3:8). Furthermore, the priests of God were misleading the people and disrespecting the God who had called them to ministry (Mal 2:8).

God has made sacred covenants with His people. He’s their Father and Master, the one who loves them and disciplines them. This sort of behavior just won’t do, so a prophet named Malachi (which means “my messenger”) points out the great disconnect between God and His people:

He cares for them, but they don’t care for Him.

The people and the priests have become estranged to God, and the disconnect has grown to a point where the people just can’t wrap their minds around God’s nature and expectations. Malachi will state the way God sees things, but anticipates that the people will not understand. Malachi often says something to the effect of, “This is what you have done, yet you say, ‘How have we done this?’”

Here are a few ways the disconnect takes shape in the people:

  • They doubt His love for them (Mal 1:2).
  • They don’t understand how God view their offerings (Mal 2:13–14).
  • They forget the way God values justice (Mal 2:17).
  • They neglect their tithes and offerings (Mal 3:8).
  • They claim that serving God is useless (Mal 3:13–14).

Fortunately, Malachi’s message resonates with some of the people. The Jews who still revere God write their names in a book, and God promises to purify Israel: punishing the wicked, but sparing the righteous.

But before He comes to purify them, God will send another messenger to clear the way  . . .

Here the prophets, and our Old Testament, end.

Theme verse of Malachi

For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. (Mal 3:6)

Malachi’s role in the Bible

Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament.

Malachi finishes off the Minor Prophets, the last 12 books of the Old Testament. When God had a message for the people, He spoke through the prophets. His word came in visions, oracles, dreams, parables, and the like.

Most of the Minor Prophets wrote about the coming destruction of Judah, Israel, or the surrounding nations, but Malachi is different. Like Haggai and Zechariah, Malachi shows up on the scene long after the destruction took place—and warns against repeating the sins of the fathers (Mal 3:7).

The prophet Malachi isn’t mentioned anywhere else in the Bible, but he deals with some of the same issues that Ezra the scribe and Nehemiah the governor deal with when the Jews disregard God’s law in their times:

We can’t be sure, but it’s possible that Malachi ministered between the time that Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem and the time that he returned as governor (Neh 13:6).

This is interesting: if we’re going by the Jewish arrangement, Malachi isn’t the last book of the Old Testament—that’s First and Second Chronicles.

Quick outline of Malachi

  1. God loves His children (Mal 1:1–5)
  2. God disciplines His children (Mal 1:6–2:17)
  3. God will purify His children (Mal 3:1–15)
  4. Some people again revere The Lord (Mal 3:16–18)
  5. God will bless those who fear Him (Mal 4)
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Bible Overview Series: Zechariah

Zechariah

If only you could have lived to see the day he read your scroll, and loved it, and told his friends to fetch a donkey.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)
 

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Zechariah

When God had a message for the people, He sent His prophets. The prophets would then speak forth the word of God to kings, priests, and the people. The prophets warned the people of God’s need to punish sin, and pleaded with the people to turn to God. But the Jews almost never listened (2 Ki 17:13–14).

So God exiled them to foreign lands. The northern tribes were carried off by Assyrians; the southern tribes went to Babylon for 70 years. Now the Jews had been released to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple of the Lord.

The city is in ruins. The royal family has been reduced to governor status. The temple is under construction. But the words of the prophets still remain.

And now the Jews have another chance to pay attention. God sends them a new prophet: Zechariah. This prophet has colorful visions—messages of comfort and hope to the Jews. It all begins with a simple request: “Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I may return to you” (Zec 1:3).

Zechariah’s writings encourage and admonish the Jews of Jerusalem. He specifically affirms the governor and priest of that time (Zec 3, 4). He chastises the foolish leaders among them (Zec 11), and calls all the people to follow God and remember the words of the prophets before (Zec 1:6).

But most importantly, he anticipates a full restoration of God and His people. The temple will be rebuilt, Israel will be purified, the enemies will be overcome, and the Lord Himself will dwell in Jerusalem. But this restoration isn’t only for the Jews: the Lord will rule the whole earth, and all the nations will worship Him (Zech 8:2214:9).

Theme verse in Zechariah

“Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the LORD of hosts. (Zec 1:3b)

Zechariah’s role in the Bible

Zechariah is the eleventh of the Minor Prophets, the last 12 books of the Old Testament. When God had a message for the people, He spoke through the prophets. His word came in visions, oracles, dreams, parables, and the like.

Most of the Minor Prophets wrote about the coming destruction of Judah, Israel, or the surrounding nations, but Zechariah is different. Like Haggai and Malachi, Zechariah shows up on the scene long after the destruction took place.

Of the Minor Prophets, Zechariah is easily the hardest to understand.

This is partially due to the dense symbolic nature of his writings. Whereas Hosea, Micah, and others give direct instructions and warnings of what is to come, Zechariah “lifts up his eyes” to see scenes, characters, and strange objects. Zechariah is one of only two Minor Prophets who records his visions in this way; the other one is Amos (Am 7:8; 8:2; 9:1).

Zechariah uses a few different ways to communicate God’s word to the people in this book:

  • Visions. Zechariah has vivid visions, similar to those that you see in the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. He sees lampstands (Zech 4:2), horses(Zech 6:2), flying scrolls (Zech 5:2), and other images that symbolize the spiritual landscape. Lucky for Zechariah—and us!—an angel interprets many of these symbols (Zech 4:4–6).
  • The word of the Lord. This is your typical prophetic discourse, which you’ll find in almost every book of the Minor Prophets (except Jonah). This is God using Zechariah as His mouthpiece to the people through word alone.
  • Symbolic demonstrations. Sometimes, Zechariah will do something in the physical world that represents the spiritual side of things. In one example, Zechariah forges a crown for the high priest Joshua (not the one who fought at Jericho) to remind Him that one day, there will be a Man who is both king and high priest in Jerusalem.

The prophets Zechariah and Haggai were contemporaries: the book of Ezra notes that these two prophets compelled the Jews to finish rebuilding the temple of the Lord, even thought he surrounding nations were opposing them (Ezr 5:1–2). Haggai’s recorded ministry seems to conclude after three months, but Zechariah continues to preach for at least two more years (Zech 1:1, 7:1).

Here’s something interesting: while Ezra sees Haggai and Zechariah motivating the Jews toward one goal, the two books of prophecy show some striking differences:

  • Haggai gives brief, almost clipped messages. Zechariah is the longest book of the Minor Prophets.
  • Haggai focuses explicitly on the present temple work, while Zechariah deals with the larger picture of Israel’s history and future.
  • Haggai is very literal, directly addressing the economic decline and the tangible solution (building the temple). Zechariah is highly symbolic, instead pointing to the spiritual activities behind the scenes.

Zechariah is ultimately a message of assurance: God has brought the Jews back to Jerusalem, and His work of restoration is far from over.

Quick outline of Zechariah

  1. Zechariah’s first visions (Zech 1–6)
    • The Lord calls Jerusalem to return to Him (Zech 1)
    • The Lord will return to Jerusalem (Zech 2)
    • The Lord affirms Jeshua and Zerubbabel (Zech 3–4)
    • The Lord’s judgment on other nations (Zech 5–6:8)
    • The Lord promises a priestly king (Zech 6:9–15)
  2. Zechariah’s teaching to Israel (Zech 7–8)
    • Learn from the former days (Zech 7)
    • The Lord’s return to Zion (Zech 8)
  3. Zechariah’s oracles (Zech 9–14)
    • Judgment on the nations, blessings on Israel (Zech 9–10)
    • Warnings against foolish shepherds (Zech 11)
    • Victory for God and His people (Zech 12–14)
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Bible Overview Series: Haggai

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Haggai: After the return from exile, the prophets spoke in prose. It took captivity to wring the poetry from their souls.

(Ben Myers’ #CanonFodder Summary)
 

Jeffrey Kranz’s Overview of Haggai

After spending 70 years as captives in Babylon, the Jews were allowed to return to Jerusalem. The Persian emperor Cyrus issued a decree:  the Jews were to rebuild the temple of the Lord. Zerubbabel, who was of the royal line of David, led the Jews back home.

They made some progress, too. They set up a new altar (Ezr 3:3), and they even laid the foundations of the new building (Ezr 3:11). But when the surrounding nations interfered, the temple construction stopped (Ezr 4:24). The Jews built their own houses, worked their fields, and let the Temple lie in shambles.

But their lives were in shambles, too. There was little food, little wine, little clothing, little rain, and little money (Hag 1:6, 10).

At this time, a new prophet named Haggai speaks up: “Consider your ways!”

Because the people have ignored God’s temple, God has withheld rain, food, and prosperity. The solution? Get back to work on the temple!

Zerubbabel and the people do so, and Haggai responds to their obedience with four more brief messages from God:

  1. “I am with you” (Hag 1:13).
  2. “I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory” (Hag 2:7).
  3. “From this day on I will bless you” (Hag 2:19).
  4. “I will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant [. . .] and I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you” (Hag 2:23).

The book of Haggai begins as a wake-up call to the Jews who had neglected the temple, but it ends with an example of how God delights in His children’s obedience.

Theme verses of Haggai

Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Consider your ways! Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified,” says the LORD. (Hag 1:7–8)

Haggai’s role in the Bible

Haggai is the tenth of the Minor Prophets, the last 12 books of the Old Testament. When God had a message for the people, He spoke through the prophets. His word came in visions, oracles, dreams, parables, and the like.

Most of the Minor Prophets wrote about the coming destruction of Judah, Israel, or the surrounding nations, but Haggai is different. Like Zechariah and Malachi, Haggai shows up on the scene long after the destruction took place.

Haggai points the Jews in an obedient direction, particularly their leaders Zerubbabel (their governor) and Joshua (their high priest, not the one who fought at Jericho). When they obey, God affirms.

The book of Ezra specifically mentions Haggai and Zechariah as the agents God uses to kick temple work back into action (Ezr 5:1–2). If you’re familiar with the past relationships between Jewish kings and prophets, you’ll probably find Zerubbabel’s response surprising. Whereas most kings ignored the prophets (2 Ki 17:13–14), the governor Zerubbabel hears and obeys in reverence (Hag 1:12).

Here’s something interesting: while Ezra sees Haggai and Zechariah motivating the Jews toward one goal, the two books of prophecy show some striking differences:

  • Zechariah is the longest book of the Minor Prophets. Haggai gives brief messages, including the shortest message from God found in the Minor Prophets: “I am with you” (Hag 1:13).
  • Zechariah deals with the larger picture of Israel’s history and future. Haggai focuses explicitly on the present temple work.
  •  Zechariah is highly symbolic, instead pointing to the spiritual activities behind the scenes. Haggai is very literal, directly addressing the economic decline and the tangible solution (building the temple).

Haggai blends history and prophecy like no other Minor Prophet. Most of these books are collections of discourses and visions, but Haggai mixes short messages from God with the way people respond to them. Haggai is also the most specific of the Minor Prophets when it comes to dates: he gives the month and day of every message God sends him.

Quick outline of Haggai

  1. God calls the people to complete the temple (Hag 1:1–11)
  2. The people obey (Hag 1:12–15)
  3. God responds with encouragement and blessing (Hag 2)
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