It helps to understand a bit of what is happening in Zerubbabel’s back story. We know from reading Haggai that he was the governor of Judah after the people returned from exile in Babylon. What I didn’t remember was that he was the grandson of King Jehoiachin, a king in the line of David (see Jesus’ lineage in Matthew 1:12).
You may recall from my reflections on Jeremiah 22 and 2 Kings 24, that King Jehoiachin had fallen out of favor with God. Jehoiachin was taken captive to Babylon in the first deportation of God’s people and imprisoned. God had promised David in 2 Samuel 7:12-16 that there would always be an heir on the throne. Fast forward to the Israelites’ return from exile, and the question is now, “what about Zerubbabel?”
Haggai is one of the post-exilic prophets who spoke to those returning from exile in Babylon. Haggai’s messages begin the second year of King Darius’ reign in approximately 520 B.C. Babylon had been defeated by King Cyrus in 539 B.C.
The Persian Empire was in control in those days, and the Israelites had been allowed to return to their homeland. From what God says through Haggai, it appears the people are still living selfishly and not putting God in first position. His temple still lies in ruins.
Zephaniah asserts that judgment day is coming soon, and he is not referring to the end times here but to a specific time in history yet to come for those first hearing his words. Zephaniah is not the only prophet talking about it either. God is using many “mouthpieces” to get the message out that he is not happy with his people.
It’s good to take a moment of silence in our own day to take an account of what’s going on in our lives. Do our actions glorify God or disappoint him? Do we see chaos, worry, doubt, thrill, busyness, fear, loneliness, great success, embarrassing failures? What is happening in your life right now? Is God part of the picture? If not, invite him in!
Welcome to Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament. Its message is about oppression and betrayal, from both vantage points. We’ll also see examples of being the “innocent bystander” in perilous times. It’s thought that Obadiah would have written this prophecy sometime after the Babylonian conquest, but it is not clearly stated.
Obadiah’s message reveals God’s dramatic response to anyone who would harm his precious children. Edom was one of those nations, located southwest of the Dead Sea. The Edomite people were descendants of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. Remember the story about the birth right in Genesis 27? We see time and again in the Old Testament references to the hostilities and struggles Edom had with God’s people, Israel.
What ripe fruit did you picture in the basket Amos saw? I pictured mangos. Our neighbor has as a gigantic mango tree, and there is no way anyone can get to the fruit near the top (without a crane). Eventually, the ground is covered with those forgotten ripe fruit. We’re in the season now where you have to watch where you walk in their yard; it’s like a mine field of fallen fruit.
What I loved about Amos’ vision is that he and God had a conversation about it. God wanted to make sure Amos understood the significance he was meant to take away. Even though the vision was telling of a very unpleasant outcome, the mere fact that Amos communicated with God must have been an exquisite experience. Can you just imagine what that would be like?