Good evening! We have one week left, and the Bible continues to stir my heart every day! Today we read nine books! Granted, each are very short books, but they deal with different time periods and have different purposes, though many are written in a similar light. The brief recap today includes Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Tomorrow we begin the New Testament. It may be helpful to write a tiny note next to the book names in your BIble with the date it was written, who it was written to, and why. It's an easy way to help memorize the general flow of each book if you haven't yet done so.
The book of Obadiah was written by Obadiah around either the mid-9th century B.C. or around 600 B.C., though it's not easy to date exactly. Obadiah was written to and about the Edomites in Edom. Edom is a name given to Esau, one of the two son's given to Isaac. Edom means "red; of blood." The prophecies against Edom dealt with the long-awaited destruction of Edom. The nation of Edom had been at odds with Israel since ancient times. For example, Edom does not allow passage to Moses and the Israelite people in Numbers 20:14-21. There is also Esau's separation from Jacob (Israel) and his renaming of Edom in Genesis 25. Judges 11:17 is another account of Edom not allowing passage to Israel through their land. David struck down every male in Edom in 1 Kings 11:15. "...upon Edom I cast my shoe" is a quote from Psalm 60:8, one of many Psalms referring to Edom. Isaiah prophecies about the destruction of Edom in chapter 11, 34, and 64. Ezekiel prophecies about the destruction of Edom in chapter 25 and elsewhere. You probably get the point. Edom was always contending with Israel since the Ancients. Obadiah is the shortest book in the Bible, but written with great fervor about the impending judgment and destruction of Edom.
Jonah was written by Jonah around 785-760 B.C. It was written before the Assyrian exile of Israel and is a book showing the powerful mercy and grace of God, as well as the ability by all people, Israelite or Gentile, to repent and turn to God. God created those in Nineveh and God was concerned about them, but Jonah was not. God wanted them to be saved. Jonah was swallowed by a fish for 3-days for running away from God. Have you ever run away from God?
Later in the book, God created the vine for Jonah's shade, because God is compassionate. In the morning, a worm ate the vine that provided shade, and Jonah was concerned about the vine when it was no longer there, because he no longer had shade. What is God illustrating here? Was Jonah right to be angry? Was he justified in being upset that he longer had shade? God gives and God takes, but Jonah, as a prophet, seemed only concerned with his own well-being, and instead of using this unique opportunity granted to preach the word of God to now open, noble hearts in Nineveh, he is sulking, angry, and only concerned about the weather! God shows the condition of Jonah's heart with this illustration, telling Jonah that his selfishness could keep salvation from 120,000 people. "And how are they to heart [the message of God] without someone preaching?" (Romans 10:14). Likewise, we must put one foot in front of the other and speak the message of God to all people.
Micah wrote this book after the fall of Israel to Assyria in 722 B.C. Many of the minor prophets focus their message on either the Northern Kingdom of Israel or the Southern Kingdom (Judah). However, Micah warns both nations, and he echoes many of the points that Isaiah makes in his book. MIcah 5:2 tells prophecies that the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.
Ever want to ask a good trick-question? Ask a good friend which prophet preached to Ninevah. Surely they will respond with Jonah, which is correct! However, Nahum also preached to Ninevah about 120 years later around 612 B.C. (maybe up to 50 years earlier). During the day of Jonah, Nineveh, a region in Assyria, repented, but now Nahum warns them of a second judgment, for they had strayed from God and neglected his word. After Nahum was written, Ninevah was annihilated.
Written around the same time as Nahum, Habakkuk speaks to the Southern Kingdom Judah just before their fall to Babylon in 586 B.C. Habakkuk is another prophet who addresses the sin of Judah and calls them to repentance. Habakkuk also questions God, for many of the nations around Babylon were superpowers at the time; but in time Babylon would would conquer it all. God calls Habakkuk to trust him, and reminds him to "live by faith" (2:4).
Zephaniah wrote around 630 B.C. just before Judah fell to Babylon. Zephaniah is another prophet that wrotes to Judah and calls them to repentance. Judah continued in their wickedness, and Zephaniah admonishes them, that if they continue, captivity would come with haste by the mighty hand of God.
Haggai wrote after the captivity in Babylon, and he encourages the Israelites in Jerusalem to continue rebuilding the temple (stories of which are found in Nehemiah and Ezra earlier in the Bible). At the time that Haggai wrote, the construction had ceased because of opposing people and nations. The book of Nehemiah shows signs of the opposition that Nehemiah received from Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem, but he is confident and continues leading the people to God and to continue working diligently.
This book is written before and after the reconstruction of the temple in the 6th and 5th centuries B.C. Zechariah wrotes to the smaller group (remnant) of Israelites who had come back out of exile. They were weak in their faith, and they were finding it especially hard to find encouragement in the law of the Lord. Zechariah comforts them, and reminds them of God's counsel and power. Zechariah also speaks of Jesus in chapter 9, 11, and 12. He prophecies that Jesus would be on a donkey on his way into Jerusalem, that he would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, and that he would be crucified. Wow, such amazing accuracy!
Malachi is written after the return of the exiles from captivity. It was written in approximately 430 B.C. and reminds the Israelites to keep God as first in their lives. Malachi also prophecies of John the Baptist in 3:1, that he will prepare the way for the Lord.
A passage from Bible Hub helps to illustrate the amazing contrast between the beginning of the Bible in Genesis, and the end of the Old Testament in Malachi, which is fitting as we finish the Old Testament today.
"Malachi, the last book of the Bible, ends very differently than it began in the book of Genesis. Let us compare them:
Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” This was a beautiful and perfect relationship with God.
Malachi 4:6, “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”
Consider the large contrast between the very first verse and the very last verse. Afterward, consider that “the sin of mankind” made all the difference. The Old Testament begins with the magnificent power of God’s creation and ends with fear and separation from God and in need of a Savior. The Old Testament closes with a sad dreary clunk..."
Keep these things in mind as we begin the New Testament tomorrow and read of Jesus, who the Israelites/Jews had waited so long for. If we keep the Old Testament in mind when we read the New Testament, we begin to see the Bible in 3D, 4K High-Definition. It comes to life, and the history of the Jews (our ancestors) comes to life!