Can you believe that we are at the last of the Minor Prophets? We come to the book of Malachi. This is the book that was the last word on the Old Testament and the final say for over 400 years.
Malachi which means ‘my messenger’ is a book that speaks right to the nation’s heart. Its main theme is to call the nation back to true worship. The people of Israel had a ritualistic form of worship but it was void of all meaning. Malachi’s prophecy comes to the people as a wake-up call to take seriously the covenant they have with God. In other words, they had settled into complacency.
Of course this is always an issue for us. We too like comfort and dislike being uncomfortable. Complacency is a real threat to our growth in faith. Jesus words were follow him and if you look at the disciples this was always disquieting.
The same, my friends, is true for us.
We come to the next in our Minor Prophets; Zechariah not to be confused with Zephaniah (we did him earlier). It contains many themes, so let me just focus in on one.
It was a time in Judas history where things were very uncertain. A remanent had returned from captivity and were trying to rebuild the temple. It had been 20 years and the people were discouraged. ‘Where was God in their lives’ they wondered?
Zechariah spoke into this context. Do not be dismayed he asserts, God is still here, even though you cannot see him. God will bring all things to completion and will act to reorder the universe. We too can be like the remanent of Judah and wonder where God is in our lives. Zechariah’s words are as relevant today as they were then. God does not forget his people, and ultimately his will is the end result.
We too can have faith in his promises.
The name Haggai almost sounds friendly. Not that I know anyone called Haggai! His book is set in a time when many had returned from Babylonian captivity. It’s apparent that the work on the reconstruction of the temple is a big focus of his book (it was destroyed some years prior).
But it’s not just the rebuilding of the Temple: it’s what it symbolises. That is, a renewed relationship between God and the exiles. There is a strong link with the restoration of the Temple and Gods presence. God wants a vital and alive relationship with his people.
It’s the same today. Exactly the same today. God wants a vital and ongoing relationship with His people (that’s us). Indeed there are things we can do to strengthen and foster this connection with God. There is a spiritual rebuilding that we all need to do, daily – again and again to make sure we are ready for that relationship with God. It’s worth working on!
We come to the book of Zephaniah, a little known prophecy of a few pages. His name means "God has hidden or protected" – maybe because his parents lived in an uncertain time.
His main theme is “the day of the Lord” a reference to Judgement on those who sin against God and of blessing for those who seek to follow God. It’s in direct reference to the apostasy of the nation and their stubbornness to turn back from idolatry to Godly worship. It is a salient reminder for all of us in respect the seriousness we treat God with.
Sometimes we are guilty of using God as a handy backstop and other things come in front, again and again. What God is really after is obedience to his word. Something we too easily think it's optional. But faithfulness is known to God – and he delights in it!