Thoughts on the rest of the minor prophets, Day 31, Lent 2013

Today, I finished the Old Testament in this crazy Lenten reading schedule, one whole bible in 40 days.

Highlights from the end of the Bible.
Habakuk 2:4 Look at the proud! Their spirit is not right in them, but the righteous live by their faith. [This is a big topic in the New Testament. Paul points to this verse a couple times to show that God has always judged righteousness by faith, not by activities, which is why Abram was righteous before the 10 commandments were given.] 5 Moreover, wealth is treacherous; the arrogant do not endure. They open their throats wide as Sheol; like Death they never have enough. They gather all nations for themselves, and collect all peoples as their own. [In this context, where righteousness is found in the contrast between faith in God and faith and wealth, I agree with Paul's use of this verse.]

I empathize with the belief to live and let live, and all faiths lead to the same God, but over and over again, he trashes idol worship and later on celestial object worship.
Habakuk 2:18 What use is an idol once its maker has shaped it— a cast image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in what has been made, though the product is only an idol that cannot speak! 19 Alas for you who say to the wood, “Wake up!” to silent stone, “Rouse yourself!” Can it teach? See, it is gold and silver plated, and there is no breath in it at all. 20 But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him!

It does not seem that God considers all paths a path to him. The next prophet, Zephaniah has the same objection from God about worshipping other gods.
Zephaniah 1:4 I will stretch out my hand against Judah, and against all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off from this place every remnant of Baal and the name of the idolatrous priests; 5 those who bow down on the roofs to the host of the heavens; those who bow down and swear to the Lord, but also swear by Milcom; 6 those who have turned back from following the Lord, who have not sought the Lord or inquired of him.

Haggai seeks to motivates the returned exiles to finish building the temple they started. This is the story of 2 Chronicles 35-36, all of Ezra, Nehemiah, and the apocryphal book of 1 Esdras.

Zechariah is a mini-version of Ezekiel with all its craziness. There are some wild visions and gems of theology. Zechariah has an answer to the question of where God is when terrible things happen. Zech. 2:8 For thus said the Lord of hosts (after his glory sent me) regarding the nations that plundered you: Truly, one who touches you touches the apple of my eye. What a great expression! Chapter 5 has the crazy visions, among eight altogether, of a flying book and Miss Wicked in a basket. In Chapter 7, God tells his people, who are returning from exile, what religion that is from the heart looks like,8 And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: 9 “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.

Again, God is so not into idols. Zech. 13:2 The Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, promises to remove all idolatry from the land. Eternal One: On that day, I will certainly blot out the names of the detestable idols and false gods from the land. They will never again be remembered or worshiped in this place. What’s more, I will cut off from the land the disreputable prophets and the impure spirits they work for.

Malachi is the last prophet in the Old Testament. He seems like a Leviticus kind of guy, because he has gripes about their worship on the cheap. He talks about our common humanity. Malachi 2:10 Do we not all share one father? Has not one God created us all? Why do we all act deceitfully with our brothers and sisters and soil the covenant between God and our ancestors? God has plans to judge certain offenders. Malachi 3:5 Then I will approach you for judgment, and I will be a swift witness against the constant sorcerers; the chronic adulterers; the habitual liars; those who continue cheating wages from their hired laborer, a widow, or an orphan; and those who always reject the immigrant, not fearing Me, the Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies. 6 Because I am the Eternal One, I never change; as a result, you children of Jacob have not been destroyed though your blessing may have been delayed. It ends with a promise of Elijah's return, fulfilled by John the Baptist. Malachi 4:5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” See Luke 1:17.
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