Minor Prophets

Judgment Begins at God’s House: A Theology of Malachi (Part 2)

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House Visit

The people blame their problems on God’s lack of interest in their well-being (1:2; 2:17; 3:13-15). On their part, they profess to seek and delight in him (3:1).21 They even challenge God to make his presence known among them (2:17). In response, God announces a “house visit” (3:1-5). First, God will send his “messenger” to “prepare the way before [him]” (3:1), whom he later identifies as “Elijah the prophet” (4:5).22 Then the Lord himself will “suddenly come to his temple, even the Messenger of the covenant.”23 Furthermore, the prophet identifies this visitation as the “Day of the Lord” (3:1; 4:1, 5), a period of eschatological intrusion into human history.24 There are strong reasons for interpreting this visitation as the coming of Jesus the Messiah,25 which will prove to be a blessing for the righteous (3:3-4, 17; 4:2) but a curse for the wicked (3:5; 4:1, 3).26 This imminent divine visitation calls for serious self-examination: “but who can endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears?” (3:2).

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Judgment Begins at God’s House: A Theology of Malachi (Part 1)

Several decades have passed since the temple was rebuilt and the worship of Yahweh restored under the preaching of Haggai and Zechariah.1 The promised King, however, had not yet come (Zech. 9:9), nor had God’s promised glory filled the temple (Hag. 2:6-9). As a result, true worship devolved into dead religion. From Israel’s perspective, God exists solely to grant his people health and material prosperity as a merited blessing. When the people do not get what they want when they want it, cynicism and ungodliness begin to smother the life out of their religion.2 Into such spiritual decadence God sends Malachi3 with a solemn warning.4 Using a series of rhetorical ques­tions,5 the Lord identifies the sinful attitudes and lawless behavior of his people. Then he admonishes them to prepare for a divine visitation. Such visitation will result in judgment for the wicked and salvation for the righteous. True religion will once again be restored.

Dead Religion

A prevailing dead “orthodoxy” prompts God’s warning. The character­istics of this lifeless religion include faulty theology, defective worship, cove­nantal infidelity, ungodly living, and tight-fisted unbelief.

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From the Archives – Jonah: The Runaway Prophet

Jonah is “a paradox: a prophet of God, and yet a runaway from God: a man drowned, and yet alive: a preacher of repentance, yet one that repines at repentance.”1

In the early part of Joash’s reign, Jonah prophesied the restoration of Israel’s northern borders lost in wars with Syria and a time of prosperity and safety that would follow to rival the nation’s former greatness.2 However, in her prosperity, Israel became complacent and arrogant thinking that they alone were the people under the divine favor and no other nation was so esteemed (Amos 9:7) by the Living God (Amos 6:1-8).

Exasperated with Israel’s unfaithfulness, God sent prophets to declare judgment against Israel warning them that He would use the Assyrians, whose capital city was Nineveh—a feared nation known for its cold-blooded barbarity—to punish and expel Israel from the land because of her sins (Hos. 9:3, 10:6, 11:5; Joel 1:6,7; Amos 9:11). In this setting God called Jonah to preach judgment against “Nineveh the great city for their wickedness” (NASB, Jon. 1:2). However, Jonah decided to make a run for it in the direction opposite Nineveh.

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Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 5)

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The Times of the Coming King1

The last three chapters of the book of Zechariah document circumstances surrounding the advent of the coming Ruler, the Messiah. The oracle opens with a battle against Jerusalem (Zech. 12:1-9). The text indicates that Jerusalem and its rulers will be used as a means of judgment against the surrounding nations (Zech. 12:9). Not that Jerusalem gets off scott free. But this scene emphasizes the Lord’s role in defending His people. The next scene (Zech. 12:10-14) shows God eliciting repentance in the several families of Israel through two corresponding events; the pouring out the Holy Spirit, “the Spirit of grace and supplication,” and the people catching sight of One “whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10).2

It is worth noting that the advent itself, as stunning as it will be, will not be enough to turn the hearts of the Jewish people to this personage, their long-promised Messiah. The deep mourning that will result from the realization that Israel has “thrust through” (daqar) when He first came to them, will be wrought by the Holy Spirit. In the final analysis, such is the corruption of human nature that it takes the special conviction of God the Spirit to open eyes and hearts so that sinners both see and feel the truth.

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Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 4)

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The Prophet as Actor and Two Covenants

In various parts of the Old Testament some of the prophets were ordered to act out a scenario as a pictorial revelation to onlookers. In 1 Kings 20:35f. a prophet asked a man to strike him so that he could act the part of a careless guard who had lost his prisoner in order to make his tale a parable of the king’s release of the Syrian Ben-Hadad. Isaiah was commanded to walk around virtually naked for three years as a sign that the Egyptians would be shamed by the Assyrians (Isa. 20). Jeremiah broke pottery at Hinnom (Jer. 19). Ezekiel was to enact a miniature siege against the ten tribes for 390 days, lying on his left side, and then do the same for 40 days on his right side laying siege against a portrayal of Judah (Ezek. 4). And of course Hosea married an unfaithful woman to dramatize Israel’s unfaithfulness to her Husband, Yahweh (Hos. 1 – 3). Each of these actions, and others besides, had predictive elements which were central to their message.

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Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 3)

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The Ominous Visions of Chapter Five

There is without any doubt an eeriness about the two visions of Zechariah 5. The flying scroll he sees first (Zech. 5:1-4) is thirty feet long (which is somewhat out of the ordinary), and fifteen feet wide (which definitely is).1 Unger comments,

Since these measurements are the exact size of the tabernacle in the wilderness, as may be computed from the boards used to build it (Exod. 26:15-25), the indication is that the judgments proceeding were in accordance with the holiness of the Lord’s habitation in the midst of Israel.2

Surely Zechariah, as a priest (cf. Neh. 12:16) would not have allowed this fact to pass him bye. From verses 3 and 4 we see that the scroll represents a “curse” against the malpractices of the people. God after the Exile is just as relentlessly against iniquity as He was before. But some think that the vision best suits a post-second advent context; a time when Christ reigns in justice with “a rod of iron” (Psa. 2:8-9; Rev 2:27).3

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Covenant Influences in Zechariah (Part 2)

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The Branch Builds Yahweh’s Temple

But the scene changes when three visitors from Babylon leave a gift of silver and gold (Zech. 6:9-10).1 From these precious materials he is told to make a crown, and then do an odd thing with it; place it on the head of Joshua the high priest (Zech. 6:11).2 Then he is to utter certain words, words which cannot pertain to Joshua himself, but of which he plays a symbolic part in illustrating.

Then speak to him, saying, `Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: “Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the LORD;

Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on His throne; so He shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.’ (Zechariah 6:12-13)

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