Zechariah – Chapter 2

Verse 1 – Then I raised my eyes and looked, and behold, a man with a measuring line in his hand.

Verse 2 – So I said, “Where are you going?” and he said to me, “To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its width and what is its length.”

Verse 3 – And there was the angel who talked with me, going out; and another angel was coming out to meet him,

Verse 4 – who said to him, “Run, speak to this young man, saying: ‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls, because of the multitude of men and livestock in it.

Verse 5 – ‘For I,’ says the LORD, ‘will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.’ ”

Jerusalem was going to be so full that walls couldn’t be built to contain all the people. There was no need for walls, for the LORD Himself would be her protection.

Verse 6 – “Up, up! Flee from the land of the north,” says the LORD’ “for I have spread you abroad like the four winds of heaven,” says the LORD.

Verse 7 – “Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell with the daughter of Babylon.”

Many of the captives had built houses and were prospering and they didn’t want to leave. But Zechariah was telling them to get out before the Lord destroyed them. A vast majority of Israelites rejected this warning and remained in Babylon.

Verse 8 – For thus says the LORD of hosts: “He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.

Israel was, is, and always will be God’s chosen people. Because we as believers have been grafted into this family, we also are precious to Him. Watch how you treat fellow believers, because God is watching very closely.

Verse 9 – “For surely I will shake MY hand against them, and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me.

This prophecy can only have its fulfillment under Christ.

Verse 10 – “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the LORD.

Verse 11 – “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become MY people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you.

Cyrus, Darius, Alexander, Ptolemy, Philadelphus, Augustus, and Tiberius, paid respect to the temple by sending offerings. But all this is but a shadow of the future conversion of the Gentiles which shall result from Jehovah dwelling in Jerusalem.

Verse 12 – “And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:2, 3 – Then I John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Verse 3) And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.

Verse 13 – “Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for He is aroused from His holy habitation!”

Let all wait in silence and awe and reverence, the LORD is coming on behalf of His people.

The Book of Zechariah – Chapter 1

Introduction:

For a dozen years or more, the task of rebuilding the temple has been half completed. Zechariah is commissioned by God to encourage the people in their unfinished responsibility. He reminds the people of the future importance of this temple. One day the Messiah’s glory will inhabit this temple and future blessing is contingent on present obedience.

Zekar-yah means “Yahweh Remembers” or “Yahweh Has Remembered.” Israel will be blessed because Yahweh remembers the covenant He made with the fathers.

Like his predecessors, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Zechariah was of priestly lineage. He was born in Babylon and was brought by his grandfather to Palestine when the Jewish exiles returned under Zerubbabel, and Joshua the high priest.

A call to Repentance

Verse 1 – In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,

Zechariah and Haggai were among the first exiles to leave Babylon under King Cyrus of Persia which had defeated Babylon in 539 B.C. Zechariah’s prophecy was delivered two months after Haggai’s first prophecy. Like Haggai, Zechariah encouraged the people to continue construction on the temple because it had halted nearly 15 years before.

Verse 2 – “The LORD has been very angry with your fathers.

Verse 3 – “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Return to Me,” says the LORD of hosts, “and I will return to you,” says the LORD of hosts.

Verse 4 – “Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets preached, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Turn now from your evil ways and your evil deeds.” But they did not hear nor heed Me,” says the LORD.

Verse 5 – “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever?

Verse 6 – Yet surely MY words and MY statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers?” “So they returned and said: ‘Just as the LORD of hosts determined to do to us, according to our ways and according to our deeds, so He has dealt with us.’ ” ‘ ”

God reminds this generation not to be like their fathers who were disobedient and repeated the consequences. As individuals, we are responsible for the choices we make.

The Horses Among the Myrtle Trees

Verse 7 – On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet.

Verse 8 – I saw by night, and behold, a man riding on a red horse, and it stood among the myrtle trees in the hollow; and behind him were horses; red, sorrel, and white.

Verse 9 – Then I said, “My lord, what are these?” So the angel who talked with me said to me, “I will show you what they are.”

Verse 10 – And the man who stood among the myrtle trees answered and said, “These are the ones whom the LORD has sent to walk to and fro throughout the earth.”

Verse 11 – So they answered the Angel of the LORD, who stood among the myrtle trees, and said, “We have walked to and fro throughout the earth, and behold, all the earth is resting quietly.”

The angel of the Lord saw that all nations were secure and at peace while Israel was still oppressed and despised. But God was planning a change.

Verse 12 – Then the Angel of the LORD answered and said, “O LORD of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?” (Seventy years was the time of God’s people in captivity.)

Verse 13 – And the LORD answered the angel who talked to me, with good and comforting words.

Verse 14 – So the angel who spoke to me said to me, “Proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal.

Verse 15 – I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease; for I was a little angry and they helped – but with evil intent.”

God had used these nations to punish His sinful people, but they went beyond what their main purpose was, and when God saw it, He intervened.

Verse  16 – ‘Therefore thus says the LORD: “I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house shall be built in it,” says the LORD of hosts, “And a surveyor’s line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.” ‘

Verse 17 – “Again proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of host: “My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; the LORD will again comfort Zion, and will again choose Jerusalem.” ‘ ”

The Four Horns and Four Craftsmen

Verse 18 – Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were four horns.

Verse 19 – And I said to the angel who talked with me, “What are these?” So he answered me, “These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.”

Verse 20 – The LORD showed me four craftsmen.

Verse 21 – And I said, “What are these coming to do?” So he said, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one could lift up his head; but the craftsmen are coming to terrify them, to cast out the horns of the nations that lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it.”

The four horns were the four nations that oppressed Israel – Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and the Medo-Persia. The four craftsmen were the nations used to overthrow Israel’s enemies. God raised them up to judge the oppression of His people.

Haggai – Chapter 2

Verse 1 – In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying:

Verse 2 – “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying:

Verse 3 – ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory?And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?

There were some that remembered the glory of the first temple, Solomon’s. Evidently, they were upset that this second temple was not as glorious as the first. God wouldn’t have said what He said if He wasn’t able to see into their hearts and feel their disappointment.

Verse 4 – ‘Yet now be strong Zerubbabel,’ says the LORD; and be strong Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest; and be strong, all you people of the land,’ says the LORD of hosts.’

Verse 5 – ‘According to the word that I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt, so My Spirit remains among you; do not fear!’

Verse 6 – “For thus says the LORD of hosts: “Once more, in a little while, I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land;

Verse 7 – ‘and I will shake nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory’ says the LORD of hosts.

Verse 8 – ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine; says the LORD of hosts.

Verse 9 – ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of host. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the LORD of hosts.”

Jesus, some 500 years later would walk in this temple and fill it with His glory and peace.

Verse 10 – On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying,

Verse 11 – “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Now, ask the priests concerning the law, saying,

Verse 12 – “If one carries holy meat in the fold of his garment, and with the edge he touches bread or stew, wine or oil, or any food, will it become holy?” ‘ ” Then the priests answered and said, “No.” (Can touching something holy transfer holiness, no.)

Verse 13 – And Haggai said, “If one who is unclean because of a dead body touches any of these, will it be uncleaned?” So the priests answered and said, “It shall be unclean.”

Verse 14 – Then Haggai answered and said, “So is this people, and so is this nation before Me, says the LORD, and so is every work of their hands; and what they offer there is unclean.”

Sin and selfish attitudes stain everything they touch. Even good deeds done for God can be tainted by sinful attitudes. Do you know people who only do things for others, expecting something in return?

Verse 15 – ‘And now, carefully consider from this day forward: from before stone was laid upon stone in the temple of the LORD –

Verse 16 – ‘since those days, when one came to a heap of twenty ephahs, there were but ten; when one came to the wine vat to draw out fifty baths from the press, there were but twenty.

For many years, the grain had only given 50 percent of harvest and the wine even worse.

Verse 17 – ‘I struck you with blight and mildew and hail in all the labors of your hands; yet you did not turn to Me,’ says the LORD.

Verse 18 – ‘Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the LORD’S temple was laid-consider it:

Verse 19 – ‘Is the seed still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have not yielded fruit. But from this day forward I will bless you.’ ”

The people relaid the temple foundation and immediately God blessed them. He didn’t wait for it to be complete. God will bless and encourage with our first obedient steps.

Verse 20 – And again the word of the LORD came to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying,

Verse 21 – “Speaking to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying: ‘I will shake heaven and earth.

Verse 22 – I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms; I will destroy the strength of the Gentile kingdom. I will overthrow the chariots and those who rule in them; the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by sword of his brother.

God promised to work on the behalf of His people to determine who would win the wars at that time.

Verse 23 – ‘In that day,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will take you, Zerubbabel My servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the LORD, ‘and will make you a signet ring; for I have chosen you,’ says the LORD of hosts.”

Making Zerubbabel as a “signet ring”, signifies his authority to act as God’s legitimate Davidic ruler, a right that God had removed from the evil King Jehoiakim.

Haggai’s message helped the people to get their priorities straight and stop worrying about things that didn’t matter. So many today are more worried about their personal “comfort,” than what matters most – God’s Kingdom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Book of Haggai – Chapter 1

Introduction:

In 538 B.C. Cyrus of Persia issued a decree allowing the Jews to return to their land and rebuild their temple. The first group to return was led by Zerubbabel, and in 536 B.C work on the temple began. Ezra, chapters 4-6, gives the background to the Book of Haggai and describes how the Samaritans hindered the building of the temple and wrote a letter to the Persian king to stop them.

However, sixteen years after the start of the temple, the people let their personal affairs interfere with doing God’s business. Haggai calls the builders to renewed courage in the Lord, renewed holiness of life, and renewed faith in God, who controls the future.

Haggai and Zechariah were both given the assignment of calling the people to finish God’s temple. Thus after fourteen years of neglected work on the temple, it was resumed in 520 B.C. and was completed in 516 B.C.

The Temple is Not Complete (Ezra 5:1)

Verse 1 – In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying,

Verse 2 – “Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, ‘This people says, ‘The time has not come, the time that the LORD’S house should be built.” ‘ ”

So, the Jews had returned to Judah from their Babylonian captivity. Zerubbabel is appointed governor and Joshua is high priest.

Verse 3 – Then the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet, saying,

Verse 4 – “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”

Instead of building God’s house of a place to worship in Judah, the people had spent their time on their own dwellings and stopped work on God’s house. God asked them, “Is this right?” Caring for only our personal needs while neglecting the things of God, will hinder our relationship with God because He is not made a priority.

Verse 5 – Now therefore, thus says the LORD of hosts: “Consider your ways!

Verse 6 – “You have sown much, and bring in little; you eat, but do not have enough; you drink, but you are not filled with drink; you clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; and he who earn wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”

Because the people had not made the temple first priority, nothing they did prospered them. They sowed in vain.

Verse 7 – Thus says the LORD of host: “Consider your ways!

Verse 8 – Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the LORD.

Verse 9 – “You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the LORD of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.

God was not multiplying what they produced. Why, after 70 years of captivity, did the people have to be told to put their God first? We are no different: God blesses and multiplies, and before long we start neglecting the things of God after we have what we want.

Verse 10 – “Therefore the heavens above you withhold dew, and the earth withhold sits fruit.

Verse 11 – “For I called for a drought on the land and the mountains, on the grain and the new wine and oil, on whatever the ground brings forth, on men and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”

In order for God to get their attention, He had to effect what they depended on the most – food! God has a way of getting our attention when we neglect Him. But the people needed to recognize it quickly so it wouldn’t get any worse.

Verse 12 – Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, with all the remnant of people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him; and the people feared the presence of the LORD.

When the leaders obeyed the Lord, the people followed.

Verse 13 – Then Haggai, the LORD’S messenger, spoke the LORD’S message to the people, saying, “I am with you, says the LORD.”

Verse 14 – So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God,

Verse 15 – On the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of King Darius.

The people began working on the temple just 23 days after Haggai’s message. Rarely did a message from a prophet produce such quick results.

Zephaniah – Chapter 3

Jerusalem’s Injustice

Verse 1 – Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, to the oppressing city!

After predicting the destruction of the surrounding nations, Zephaniah spoke of Jerusalem’s sin. The city of God and God’s people had become defiled. The people had pretended to worship God, but in their hearts were complacent and rejected God. They no longer cared about the consequences of turning away from God.

Verse 2 – She has not obeyed His voice, she has not received correction; she has not trusted in the Lord, she has not drawn near to her God.

God’s people had become so proud that they refused to listen to correction from God.

Verse 3 – Her princes in her midst are roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves that leave not a bone till morning.

Verse 4 – Her prophets are insolent, treacherous people; her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the law.

God held the rulers responsible for polluting the people. Leaders are held accountable to God for what hey teach, leading by example.

Verse 5 – The LORD is righteous, He is in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails, but the unjust knows no shame.

This verse perfectly describes our leaders in Washington today. Time and again some are caught in out right lies, and there is no shame! They continue to collect huge salaries and all the benefits of holding their seat to represent the American people. No one goes to jail for the crimes they commit. They continue to make laws contrary to God’s laws and don’t follow the laws they make themselves. They are is no difference in what they do and what Jerusalem was doing back them. There will be judgment and there will be punishment, God help them.

Verse 6 – “I have cut off nations, their fortress are devastated; I have made their streets desolate, with none passing by. Their cities are destroyed; there is no one, no inhabitant.

Verse 7 – I said, ‘Surely you will fear Me, you will receive instruction’ – so that her dwelling would not be cut off, despite everything for which I punished her. But they rose early and corrupted all their deeds.

The more God punished the Israelites for their sin, the more they sinned. Watch out when you continue in your sin, your heart will grow hard against the things of God. It will become callous.

Verse 8 – “Therefore wait for Me,” says the LORD, “Until the day I rise up for plunder; My determination is to gather the nations to My assembly of kingdoms, to pour on them My indignation, all My fierce anger; all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy.

There is coming a time, when God will judge all people according to their works (Revelation 20:12). We should never try to avenge ourselves, God’s justice will come.

Verse 9 – “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord. God will purify our speech, so that we all speak the same glorifying language. We will all worship Him in unison.

Verse 10 – From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, the daughter of My dispersed ones, shall bring My offering.

Verse 11 – In that day you shall not be shamed for any of your deeds in which you transgressed against Me; for then I will take away from your midst those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty in My holy mountain.

Verse 12 – I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.

Verse 13 – The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.”

The Promise of Restoration

Verse 14 – Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!

Verse 15 – The LORD has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The king of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst; you shall see disaster no more.

Verse 16 – In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak.

Verse 17 – The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you in His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Verse 18 – “I will gather those who sorrow over the appointed assembly, who are among you, to whom its reproach is a burden.

Verse 19 – Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you; I will save the lame, and gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame in every land where they were put to shame.

Verse 20 – At that time I will bring you back, even at the time I gather you; for I will give you fame and praise among all peoples of the earth, when I return your captives before your eyes,” says the LORD.

The world is not always and forever, be filled with evil. There will be a day when all of Israel’s enemies will be destroyed and our LORD comes to dwell among us. Zephaniah points out that gladness results when we allow God to be with us. We do that by faithfully following Him.

Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Zephaniah – Chapter 2

Call to Repentance

Verse 1 – Gather yourselves together, yes, gather together, O understand nation,

Verse 2 – before the decree is issued, before the day passes like chaff, before the LORD’S fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of the LORD’S anger comes upon you!

Verse 3 – Seek the LORD, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger.

The Old Testament prophets announced news of destruction, but they also offered God’s mercy, the only way of escaping by turning back to God and stop sinning.

Verse 4 – For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon desolate; they shall drive out Ashdod at noonday, and Ekron shall be uprooted.

These four cities mentioned here were the cities of Philistine, the nation southwest of Judah, age-old enemies of Israel from the days of Joshua. They were known for their cruelty and their constant taunting of Israel. These were four of the five major cities. The fifth was Gath which had probably already been destroyed.

Verse 5 – Woe to the inhabitants of the seacoast, the nation of the Cherethites! The word of the LORD is against you, O Canaan, land of the Philistines: “I will destroy you; so there shall be no inhabitant.”

Verse 6 – The seacoast shall be pastures, with shelters for shepherds and folds for flocks.

Verse 7 – The coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed their flocks there; in the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening. For the LORD their God shall intervene for them, and return their captives.

All though God said He would destroy Judah, He would save a remnant, a people who remained faithful to Him. These were the ones that would return from exile.

Verse 8 – “I have heard the reproach of Moab, and the reveling of the people of Ammon, with which they have reproached MY people, and made arrogant threats against their borders.

Verse 9 – Therefore, as I live, says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Surely Moab shall be like Sodom, and the people of Ammon like Gomorrah – overrun with weeds and salt-pits, and a perpetual desolation; the residue of My people shall plunder them, and the remnant of My people shall possess them.”

This remnant was primarily of Judah and ultimately of all Israel. The Lord would give this remnant the territory of other nations to them, reversing the curse of Deuteronomy 28:62-66.

Verse 10 – This they shall have for their pride, because they have reproached and made arrogant threats against the people of the LORD of hosts.

Verse 11 – The LORD will be awesome to them, for He will reduce to nothing all the gods of the earth; people shall worship Him, each one from his place, indeed all the shores of the nations.

The nations of Moab and Ammon trace their roots to Lot’s incest with his daughters after escaping the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. God was going to destroy these two cities exactly like He did Sodom and Gomorrah. When we are mocked and ridiculed for our faith, remember, God hears and will defend those that stay faithful to Him.

Verse 12 – “You Ethiopians also, you shall be slain by My sword.”

Which were slain when Nebuchadnezzar invaded Egypt, with which Ethiopia were allies.

Verse 13 – And He will stretch out His hand against the north, destroy Assyria, and make Nineveh a desolation, as dry as the wilderness.

Just as Zephaniah predicted, Nineveh was wiped out in 612 B.C. by the Babylonians, who would become the next world power.

Verse 14 – The herds shall lie down in her midst, every beast of the nation. Both the pelican and the bittern (hedge hog) shall lodge on the capitals of her pillars; their voice shall be at the threshold; for He will lay bare the cedar work.

Verse 15 – This is the rejoicing city that dwelt securely, that said in her heart, “I am it, and there is none besides me.” How has she become desolation, a place for beasts to lie down! Everyone who passes by her shall hiss and shake his fist.

The destruction of this great city, Nineveh, was like if we predicted the destruction of Tokyo, Moscow, or New York. They were so rich in culture, technology, and beauty, that they thought it could never happen to them. However, if you will remember, Nineveh had repented for a time after Jonah preached and God had prospered them.

Please don’t ever forget where your blessing come from. I’ve seen this happen to so many when they live in favor and blessings and then soon forget where it all came from. Everything we have is because God chose to allow us to possess it. Arrogance and the spirit of pride are not a characteristic of one of God’s children!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Book of Zephaniah – Chapter 1

Introduction:

Zephaniah focuses on the need to live in righteousness before God. Zephaniah hammers home the message repeatedly that the day of the Lord, judgment day, is coming. Zephaniah traces his lineage back four generations to Hezekiah. If Zephaniah was the great-great-grandson of the godly King Hezekiah, then he was the only prophet with royal descent.

Zephaniah tells the doom of Nineveh, which happened in 625 B.C. His prophecy can be dated between 640 and 612 B.C.

Verse 1 – The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah the son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, the king of Judah.

Josiah followed God during his reign of Judah. The Book of the Law was discovered in the temple and after reading it, Josiah began a great religious revival in Judah (2 Kings 22:1-23;25). Although the revival turned the nation back to God, it did not fully eliminate idolatry and lasted only a short time. Twelve years after Josiah’s death, Judah was invaded by Babylon.

Verse 2 – “I will utterly consume all things from the face of the land,” says the Lord;

Verse 3 – “I will consume man and beast; I will consume the birds of the heavens, the fish of the sea, and the stumbling blocks along with the wicked. I will cut off man from the face of the land,” says the Lord.

Verse 4 – “I will stretch out My hand against Judah, and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will cut off every trace of Baal from this place, the names of the idolatrous priests with the pagan priests –

When Israel had entered the promise land, they had never fully wiped out the idols of Canaan. Before long they began to worship their pagan idols as if they were their own god. Their chief god was Baal.

Verse 5 – Those who worship the host of heaven on the housetops; those who worship and swear oaths by the LORD, but who also swear by Milcom;

Verse 6 – Those who have turned back from following the Lord, and have not sought the LORD, nor inquired of Him.”

Milcom was more likely the Ammonite god, interchangeable with Molech.

Re-read these verses again. Understand what the people were doing. They were mixing worshiping Yahweh with these pagan gods. They use to follow God, but had learned some new thing and mixed it in their worship.

What do we call someone who “use to follow God but doesn’t anymore?” A backslider. What do you think happens to a backslider when they refuse to turn back to God? They do not go unpunished.

Verse 7 – Be silent in the presence of the Lord God; for the day of the LORD is at hand, for the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests.

A day of judgment and a great slaughter occurred during the invasion of the Babylonians.

Verse 8 – “And it shall be, in the day of the LORD’S sacrifice, that I will punish the princes and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with foreign apparel.

Verse 9 – In the same day I will punish all those who leap over the threshold, who fill their master’s houses with violence and deceit.

This foreign apparel was forbidden by law. For instance, men’s garments worn by women, and vice versa, and heathen usage in the worship of Mars and Venus (Deuteronomy 22:5). By dong this, they showed a desire to please these foreign gods. God hated it!

Verse 10 – “And there shall be on that day,” says the LORD, “The sound of a mournful cry form the Fish Gate, a wailing from the Second Quarter, and a loud crashing from the hills.

Let me insert a bit of trivia here: I’ve noticed that Zephaniah uses all capitals when he says “LORD” which reflects the original term “Yhwh (Yahweh).” “LORD” is the English rendition of the Hebrew “Adonai.” The Jews considered “Yhwh” so sacred, they did not pronounce it.

Verse 11 – Wail, you inhabitants of Maktesh! For all the merchant people are cut down; all those who handle money are cut off.

Verse 12 – “And it shall come to pass at that time that I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and punish men who are settled in complacency, who say in their heart, ‘The LORD will not do good, nor will He do evil.’

Verse 13 – Therefore their goods shall become booty, and their houses a desolation; they shall build houses, but not inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards, but not drink their wine.”

Verse 14 – The great day of the LORD is near; it is near and hastens quickly. The noise of the day of the LORD is bitter; there the mighty men shall cry out.

Some people think of God as an indulgent heavenly grandfather, existing to only grant wishes. The don’t believe He is All Powerful and that  there is a coming judgment. However, a day will come for judgment for those who are content to live in their sin, indifferent to Him, or unconcerned about justice. When people are indifferent to God, they seem to think He is indifferent to them, not so.

Verse 15 – That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness,

Verse 16 – a day of trumpet and alarm against fortified cities and against the high towers.

Just as sure as the Babylonians invaded Judah, a day of the LORD is coming again (Revelation 20:12-15). God’s final day of judgment is sure, but so is His ability to save. To be spared from this terrible judgment, recognize that you have sinned, if not saved already, that sin will bring His judgment, that you cannot save yourself, and that God alone can save you.

Verse 17 – “I will bring distress upon men, and they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall pour out like dust, and their flesh like refuse.”

Verse 18 – Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’S wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy, for He will make speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land.

The righteous eagerly await “The Day of the LORD,” but the unrighteous don’t even think about it. They never consider the things of God. Every prophecy, every prediction that has been written in God’s word, either has come to pass or will in the future. The Day of the LORD will be a terrible day and only those in Christ will be saved!

 

 

In His Presence

In His Presence

There is the omnipresence of God, the inner presence of God, and the manifest presence of God

Omnipresence of God is that, He is everywhere. The Inner presence is when the Holy Spirit comes to live in us when we are born again. The manifest presence makes His presence known.

Psalm 139:7 – Where can I flee from Your presence. So God is everywhere.

Here is my question, “Can we live in the presence of God all the time?” For instance, when we truly worship, we can feel the presence of God, He makes Himself known.

God walked and talked with Adam and Eve in the cool of the day. But what did we lose when Adam and Eve fell? Moreover, what did Jesus come to restore? His presence!

Genesis 3:8 – And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Sin always causes us to try to hide from the presence of God, even in a worship service. Sometimes the guilt of what we’ve done, will come rushing in during these times, and Satan will tell us we shouldn’t worship because that will mean we are a hypocrite, not worthy. Not true. When we blow it, is when we really need to worship in the presence of God the most. We can enter into the presence of God boldly, because of Jesus blood.

So in Genesis when it says they hid themselves from the presence of God, it’s not talking about the “Omnipresence” of God. Because if God’s everywhere, and He is, how can you hide from His presence? They were hiding from His manifest presence, made known presence.

God was talking to Moses in Exodus 33:14, 15 – And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Verse 15) Then he (Moses) said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here.

Again God’s not referring to His omnipresence, it’s His manifest presence. He is going to make His presence known to Moses when He goes with him.

God wants to make Himself known to each of us, because He wants to do something for us that no one else can do.

So, can we leave the presence of God?

First, let me say this: “It’s not possible to leave the omnipresence, but it is possible to leave His manifest presence. Adam and Eve hid from the presence of God because they had been disobedient, so the answer is “Yes.”

Look at chapter 4 of Genesis. Cain murders Abel. Genesis 4:16 – Then Cain went out from the presence of the LORD and dwelt in the land of Nod on the east of Eden.

Jonah did the same thing. Jonah 1:3 – But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.

Big question: So how do you leave the manifest presence of God? Simple – You don’t do what God told you to do! And if you continue not doing what God told you to do, you will develop a hardness of heart.

He told Adam and Eve not to eat from the a certain tree; He told Cain to deal with his attitude about God accepting Abel’s offering; and God told Jonah to go to Nineveh. They all disobeyed and left the manifest presence of God, by their own choice. When the Holy Spirit nudges, speaks to us, either through God’s word, a person, pastor, or a prompting, we know we need to do or not do something, and we ignore it, that is willful disobedience. I’m not talking about making mistakes.

It’s not always the big things that we’re disobedient in, sometimes it’s the little things that we just don’t want to do. It can be an attitude towards someone, or it could be a calling on your life that we refuse to change or do.

How do we then, enter His presence and stay there?

There are many ways, obedience being one, but worship is a biggy. Psalm 95:1, 2, O come, let us sing to the LORD! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. (Verse 2) Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

Psalm 100:2 – Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing.

There will be a joy in our hearts that only God can place there, when we are truly content with being in His presence, no guilt, condemnation, will be present, because we know we are forgiven.

We all are going to have really good days, and really bad days, but wouldn’t you rather have them both with Jesus, knowing your trust and confidence is with the One who can change things. He controls it all!

So start each day in His Presence! GOD LOVES YOU!!

Habakkuk – Chapter 3

Habakkuk Prays for God’s Mercy

Verse 1 – A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, on Shigionoth.

Verse 2 – O Lord, I have heard your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.

The Hebrew word Shigionoth refers to a type of song. Habakkuk knew that discipline was coming to the people of Judah, but he asked that God show mercy.

Verse 3 – God came from Teman, the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise.

Paran is the desert region, extending from south of Judah to Sinai. The word Selah occurs 71 times in Psalms and three times in Habakkuk. The precise meaning is unknown, but it most likely is a musical term. It could be a signal to lift up the hands or voice in worship, or it could be an exclamation like “Amen” or “Hallelujah.”

Verse 4 – His brightness was like the light; He had rays flashing from His hand, and there His power was hidden.

Verse 5 – Before Him went pestilence, and fever followed at His feet.

Verse 6 – He stood and measured the earth; He looked and startled the nations. And the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills bowed. His ways are everlasting.

Verse 7 – I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction; the curtains of the land of Midian trembled.

Verse 8 – O Lord, were You displeased with the rivers, was Your anger against the rivers, was Your wrath against the sea, that You rode on Your horses, Your chariots of salvation?

Verse 9 – Your bow was made quite ready; oaths were sworn over Your arrows. You divided the earth with rivers.

Verse 10 – The mountains saw You and trembled; the overflowing of the water passed by. The deep uttered its voice, and lifted its hands on high.

Verse 11 – The sun and moon stood still in their habitation; at the light of Your arrows they went, at the shinning of Your glittering spear.

These verses speak of when God parted the Red Sea and pharaohs chariots and all his army were drowned; and now when Joshua was fighting and needed it to stay daylight, God made the sun stand still. God, over and over, fought His peoples battles as they stood still and watched.

Verse 12 – You marched through the land in indignation; You trampled the nations in anger.

Verse 13 – You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for salvation with Your Anointed. You struck the head from the house of the wicked, by laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah

Habakkuk confirms hope for the believers in deliverance, because God never changes. God’s Anointed One was portrayed as Moses, Joshua, and David, representing the Messiah.

Verse 14 – You thrust through with his own arrows the head of his villages. They came out like a whirlwind to scatter me; their rejoicing was like feasting on the poor in secret.

Not only the kings were overthrown by God’s hand, but His hand passed through the villages on the wicked individuals who took advantage of the poor.

Verse 15 – You walked through the sea with Your horses, through the heaps of great waters.

Verse 16 – When I heard, my body trembled; my lips quivered at the voice; rottenness entered my bones; and I trembled in myself , that I might rest in the day of trouble. When he comes up to the people, he will invade them with his troops.

Verse 17 – Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls –

Verse 18 – Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

Verse 19 – The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on my high hills.

Habakkuk’s feelings for God was not controlled by the events surrounding him or Judah, but by faith in God. Our trust in the One true God should not change because of what happens to us.

The prophetic message of Habakkuk is that while God may seem to appear inactive at times , in the face of violence all around, He is still in control of events far larger than even His prophets knew in order to ensure that His purpose for individuals and nations are accomplished. THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH!

Habakkuk – Chapter 2

Verse 1 – I will stand upon my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am reproved (corrected).

The watchman of the tower was often used by prophets to show an attitude of expectation. Habakkuk would patiently wait for God to answer him.

Verse 2 – Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it,

Verse 3 – for the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

These two verses are entire sermons by themselves. We can apply them to our own lives, which should mean something to someone who has ever waited on God to answer.

When we set goals for the kingdom, we start to see ourselves in a certain position of where we desire to be. The revelation that comes from God will be planted in our spirits. The longer we dwell on it, it begins to grow and expand. Write it down! What God places inside of us, He will bring to pass. He says even though it tarries, “wait for it.”

In this case with Habakkuk, God told him to write down his vision of the coming army so there would be no misunderstanding, because it would surely come.

Verse 4 – “Behold the proud, his soul is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.

The proud put their trust and faith in themselves to succeed and prosper in this life. However, the “just,” humble their hearts under God’s mighty hand and live knowing “God is for them and not against them.”

Verse 5 – “Indeed, because he transgresses by wine, he is a proud man, and he does not stay home. Because he enlarges his desire as hell, and he is like death, and cannot be satisfied, he gathers to himself all nations and heaps up for himself all peoples.

The Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar were filled with an insatiable desire of conquest. Just another reason for their punishment.

Verse 6 – “Shall not all these take up a proverb against him, and a taunting riddle against him, and say, ‘Woe to him who increases what is not his – how long? And to him who loads himself with many pledges’?

Verse 7 – Will not your creditors rise up suddenly? Will they not awaken who oppress you? And you will become their booty.

Verse 8 – Because you have plundered many nations, all the remnant of the people shall plunder you, because of men’s blood and the violence of the land and the city, and of all who dwell in it.

Even though God used Babylon to punish Judah, Babylon would not go unpunished. Babylon’s plunder form the nations is like a debt from creditors that they must eventually repay.

Verse 9 – “Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of disaster!

Verse 10 – You gave shameful counsel to your house, cutting off many peoples, and sinned against your soul.

Verse 11 – For the stone will cry out from the wall, and the beam from the timbers will answer it.

Verse 12 – “Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, who establishes a city by iniquity!

Verse 13 – Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts that the peoples labor to feed the fire, and nations weary themselves in vain?

Babylon’s wealth had come form the misfortune of others, but these riches would be fuel for fire. Wealth acquired by lying, cheating, and stealing, will be dealt with by God. We make sure our appetite for money doesn’t override our love for God and His ways.

Verse 14 – For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

Verse 15 – “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbor, pressing him to your bottle, even to make him drunk, that you may look on his nakedness!

Verse 16 – You are filled with shame instead of glory. You also drink! and be exposed as uncircumcised! The cup of the LORD’S right hand will be turned against you, and utter shame will be on your glory.

Verse 17 – For the violence done on Lebanon will cover you, and the plunder of beasts which made them afraid , because of men’s blood and the violence of the land and the city, and of all who dwell in it.

Babylon had stolen lumber form the forests of Lebanon. They had built their city on stolen timber.

Verse 18 – “What profit is the image, that its maker should carve it, the molten image, a teacher of lies, that the maker of its mold should trust in it, to make mute idols?

Verse 19 – Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Awake!’ Silent stone, ‘Arise! It shall teach!’ Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and in it there is no breath at all.

Verse 20 – But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

The Babylonians put their trust in their pagan god Marduk, which was lifeless. People do the same thing today by putting their trust in their bank accounts, homes, businesses, and government. That is idol worship. It doesn’t have to be an object made of wood, silver, or gold. Our total confidence should always be in “Our God!”