Studies in Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi

HAGGAI

The name Haggai is taken from the Hebrew word Hag for "festival."

DATE OF WRITING

Haggai is one of the post-exilic prophets. His book contains three discourses, all of which were written during the second year of Darius the Great. Darius was the third of the rulers of the Medo-Persia Empire. What Cyrus the Great had won and what his son Cambyses had extended, Darius took and secured and administered.

King

Dates

Biblical References

Cyrus the Great

550-530 B.C.

2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-8; Daniel 1:21

Cambyses

530-522 B.C.

Not mentioned in Scripture

Darius the Great

522-486 B.C.

Ezra 4-6; Daniel 9:1; 11:1

Xerxes

486-465 B.C.

Ahasueras of Esther

Artaxerxes

465-424 B.C.

Ezra 7; Nehemiah 2:1

 

HISTORICAL SETTING

The historical background for Haggaiís prophecy is given in the book of Ezra.

When the prophets, Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them, 2 then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak arose and began to rebuild the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them supporting them. (Ezra 5:1-2).

This was the period after the exile. Some of the Jews had returned to the land with Zerubbabel and had begun to rebuild their land and the Temple. But then opposition reared its ugly head and the people became discouraged. The work of rebuilding the Temple was abandoned and the Temple stood where it was in an incomplete mode.

Then God moved in a special way through two of His prophets to encourage the people to resume the work. Haggai was one of those prophets.

1:1-15

2:1-9

2:10-19

2:20-23

First Sermon

Second Sermon

Third Sermon

Closing words to Zerubbabel

Peopleís Work Prominent

Godís Work Prominent

Question: Twofold Response:

Question: Twofold Response:

Question: Twofold Response:

People reluctant to restore covenant fellowship

People unconvinced of restoration possibilities

People unfit to take part in restoration

Zerubbabel as symbol of the people

Charge to begin Building

Encouragement to Finish

Each of these sermons can be considered separately.

First Sermon 1:1-15

Question:

Twofold Response:

Is it time for you to dwell in paneled homes while the House of the Lord is desolate?

The people showed reverence for the Lord.

They came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God

Twice in this section Haggai calls for the people to consider your ways -- literally, "Set your heart" (1:5; 1:7).

  1. The people had a problem with priorities: Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate? (1:4).
  2. It is easy to understand how they could fall into this sort of thinking. We do it all the time. That means Haggaiís message can be applied to us today. Where are your priorities? Is the building of the Lordís house and the Lordís kingdom first place in your life?

  3. The people were experiencing a dissatisfaction: You have sown much, but harvest little; you eat, but there is not enough to be satisfied; you drink, but there is not enough to become drunk; you put on clothing, but no one is warm enough; and he who earns, earns wages to put into a purse with holes (1:6).
  4. There is a corollary between what you give to God and what you enjoy from God. I'm not saying that if you give God fifty dollars you will automatically get a hundred dollars. But I am saying that there is a satisfaction to be found in making the Lord a priority in your life.

    We are fond of saying that the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. Let me suggest that these are not two separate ends. When we enjoy God we do glorify Him and we are only bringing Him proper glory when we are enjoying Him.

  5. The people were more concerned with their own comforts than with the glory of the Lord: "Go up to the mountains, bring wood and rebuild the temple, that I may be pleased with it and be glorified," says the LORD (1:8).

Notice that it is entirely possible to be given over to comfort and to be at the same time dissatisfied. We've heard the old adage that money can't buy happiness and we've probably thought, "Well, I could always be miserable in comfort." But the truth is that there will be a dissatisfaction with that kind of comfort.

James 4:1 speaks of your pleasures that wage war in your members. There is something about the pursuit of pleasure that wars against the soul because pleasures and comforts are not enough to satisfy.

What is the answer to such a situation? It is given in verse 12. It is the fear of the Lord: And the people showed reverence for the LORD (1:12b).

It is not merely that the Lord gives satisfaction to us; rather our satisfaction is to be found in the very act of bringing reverence and worship to the Lord. It is that for which we were created and we find satisfaction in doing and accomplishing that for which we were created.

Second Sermon 2:1-9

Question:

Twofold Response:

How does this Temple compare with the Former Temple?

The nations will come and I will fill this House with glory

The latter glory of this House will be greater than the former

Haggai lived in a day of past glory. The Temple was being rebuilt, but it fell far short of the glory of the former Temple. The people who were working on its rebuilding could not help but to compare it to Solomonís Temple and note that it did not measure up to the original.

It is hard to continue in faithfulness when you canít see the results. This chapter is written to combat that kind of discouragement.

This is covenant language. The covenant that God made with His people when He brought them out of Egypt is that He would be with them. His presence was seen in the cloud by day and in the pillar of fire by night.

The Pentecost event took place when, instead of a cloud and a pillar of fire over the Tabernacle, the Spirit of God came upon man and woman alike and was manifested in flaming tongues of fire over each person.

There is a lesson here. It is that the same Spirit that led the Israelites through the wilderness is with you personally today.

God shook the heavens and the earth...

- At creation

- At the flood

- At Sinai

- When Jesus came, there was a star in the sky, the sun turned black, there was an earthquake.

But the greatest shaking of all was not physical. It was spiritual. At Pentecost there was a shaking of the nations. They were shaken so that they might enter an unshakable kingdom.

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews quotes this passage to speak of the eternal kingdom to which we are called.

See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. 26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven."

And this expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe (Hebrews 12:25-28).

Are you having problems with your finances? Iíve never known a seminary student that wasnít. Have you been wishing that you had a rich uncle? You do have a rich Father -- all of the gold and silver belongs to him. He has blessed you with everything that you need.

But notice how that silver and gold and wealth are described as coming to Him. They are brought by the nations.

This was very literally fulfilled in Haggaiís day. The very people who had opposed the rebuilding of the Temple were ordered by the Persian King Darius to pay the full cost of the rebuilding of the Temple from the royal revenues in their own taxation district.

Moreover, I issue a decree concerning what you are to do for these elders of Judah in the rebuilding of this house of God: the full cost is to be paid to these people from the royal treasury out of the taxes of the provinces beyond the River, and that without delay (Ezra 6:8).

I believe this verse also to have a long range application. God has shaken the nations and they have come with their gold and their silver. That is US. We are not only the recipients of the wealth of the Lord, we are also the means by which that wealth is distributed.

The church in the United States is a wealthy church. But we are not called to come and hoard our wealth. We are mere stewards. We are called to be the means by which the Lord blesses His church universal.

It is true that the Temple became more glorious in the days of Herod the Great. But I do not believe this to be a prophecy of Herodís Temple. It is a prophecy of Christ. He is the prince of peace and the manifestation of the real glory of God.

What made the Temple glorious? It was not the gold or the silver. It was the presence of God. Godís presence was manifested in a baby. Jesus came to manifest the presence of God to men. He is the Immanuel -- the One who is God with us.

He is the One who came to be the Prince of Peace. Islam often presents itself as though it were a religion of peace. But the story of Mohammed is not a story of peace. On the other hand, when Peter whacked off the ear of the high priestís servant, Jesus told him to put his sword away. Jesus came to bring peace. He brought peace by dying.

Third Sermon 2:10-19

Question:

Twofold Response:

Does the Unclean produce that which is Clean?

Consider from this day: I have brought economic sanctions against you

Consider from this day: I will bless you

Haggai presents a riddle in this sermon. The riddle asks the question: "How does something that is unclean produce that which is clean?" The answer is obvious. It isnít possible.

This had direct application to that day when it came to the rebuilding of the Temple. The people were seeking to build an outward edifice of holiness, but they had not yet dealt with the inner sin in their own lives.

This question points us to the gospel. It is in Christ that we find the answer to the riddle. God has produced in Him the means by which we can be made clean.

 

EPILOGUE: CLOSING WORDS TO ZERUBBABEL

Then the word of the LORD came a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month saying, 21 "Speak to Zerubbabel governor of Judah saying, ĎI am going to shake the heavens and the earth. 22 And I will overthrow the thrones of kingdoms and destroy the power of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariots and their riders, and the horses and their riders will go down, everyone by the sword of another. 23 On that day,í declares the LORD of hosts, ĎI will take you, Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, My servant,í declares the LORD, Ďand I will make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you,í" declares the LORD of hosts. (Haggai 2:20-23).

Notice the closing promise of this book. It is that Zerubbabel would be made like a signet ring. A signet ring had a special use:

This is a significant promise, for it is the overturning of a curse that had been made back in the book of Jeremiah.

"As I live," declares the LORD, "even though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were a signet ring on My right hand, yet I would pull you off; 25 and I shall give you over into the hand of those who are seeking your life, yes, into the hand of those whom you dread, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans." (Jeremiah 22:24-25).

The blessings of God had been taken away in the days of Coniah, but now there is a promise of their restoration under Zerubbabel. The promise is that Zerubbabel would be "like a signet ring."

Where do you put a signet ring? On your right hand (see Jeremiah 22:24). That is where we find Jesus -- He is seated at the right hand of God. He is the fulfillment of this promise. He is the descendant of Zerubbabel who would be the signet ring of God.

 

ZECHARIAH

The name Zechariah means "Yahweh remembers." It is a fitting name for a prophet who comes on the scene after the Babylonian Captivity to remind God's people that He has not forgotten His promises.

 

ZECHARIAH COMPARED WITH REVELATION

There is an interesting correlation between the book of Revelation and the first six chapters of Zechariah. The symbolism that is found in Zechariah is echoed in the book of Revelation.

Zechariah

Revelation

Four horsemen/chariots (1 & 6)

Four horsemen (6)

Man with a measuring line measures Jerusalem (2:1-2)

Man with a rod measures the Temple Mount (11:1-2)

Picture of Satan ready to accuse Joshua the high priest (3:1)

Satan described as accusing the brethren (12:10)

Lampstand and two olive trees said to represent the two anointed ones (4:1-14)

Lampstand and two olive trees said to represent the two witnesses (11:3-12)

Flying scroll signifies the curse that is going over the land (5:1-3)

Seals of the book bring forth judgments upon the land (6:1-17).

The book of Zechariah can be divided into three major parts.

1:1

Eight Visions

Four Horsemen

1:18

Horns and smiths

2:1

Measuring Line

3:1

Joshua the Priest

4:1

Zerubbabel and the Lampstand

5:1

Flying Scroll

5:5

Woman and Basket

6:1

Four Chariots

7:1

Two Sermons

A Call for True Justice

8:1

A Promise of Future Restoration in Jerusalem

9:1

Two Burdens

Judgment on the Enemies of Israel

12:1

The Coming of the Lord

 

AN OPENING CALL TO REPENTANCE

In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo saying, 2 "The LORD was very angry with your fathers. 3 Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Return to Me," declares the LORD of hosts, "that I may return to you," says the LORD of hosts. 4 Do not be like your fathers, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Return now from your evil ways and from your evil deeds."' But they did not listen or give heed to Me," declares the LORD. (Zechariah 1:1-4).

Zechariah writes in a day of return. Since the days of Cyrus the Great, the Jews who lived in Captivity had been permitted to return to the land. But only a very small percentage had chosen to do so.

It had gotten comfortable in Babylon. I can see how that can happen. We tend to get comfortable where we are and, before long, it is harder and harder to get out of our "comfort zone."

But the problem of which Zechariah speaks is not a matter of physical location as much as it is one of spiritual location. He does not chastise them for not having returned to the land -- he chastises them for not having returned to the Lord.

 

VISION OF THE HORSEMEN

I saw at night, and behold, a man was riding on a red horse, and he was standing among the myrtle trees which were in the ravine, with red, sorrel, and white horses behind him. 9 Then I said, "My lord, what are these?" And the angel who was speaking with me said to me, "I will show you what these are."

And the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered and said, "These are those whom the LORD has sent to patrol the earth."

So they answered the angel of the LORD who was standing among the myrtle trees, and said, "We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth is peaceful and quiet." (Zechariah 1:8-11).

Zechariah sees a vision of four horsemen. They will be seen again at the end of this chapter and again in chapter 6. The horses are identified by their color.

Zechariah 1

Zechariah 6

Revelation 6

Four horsemen

Four chariots

Four horsemen

ē Red
ē Red
ē Sorrel
ē White
ē Red
ē White
ē Black
ē Dappled
ē White
ē Red
ē Black
ē Ashen (Green)

Sent out by God to patrol the earth

Four spirits of heaven going out to patrol the earth

Called by the four living creatures around the throne

Notice that all three passages identify these four horsemen/chariots as being sent out by the Lord and from His throne. They are heavenly messengers who go out to do heaven's bidding.

In this case, they go out to patrol the earth and they return to report that the earth is at peace and rest. This report elicits a response:

Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, "O LORD of hosts, how long wilt Thou have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which Thou hast been indignant these seventy years?" (Zechariah 1:12).

The angel says in effect, "Wait a minute, Lord! These nations that are at peace and rest are the same ones that gloried and delighted in the fall of Jerusalem. Aren't you going to do anything about that?" In answer to that query, the Lord replies:

So the angel who was speaking with me said to me, "Proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion. 15 But I am very angry with the nations who are at ease; for while I was only a little angry, they furthered the disaster. 16 'Therefore, thus says the LORD, "I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house will be built in it," declares the LORD of hosts, "and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem."' (Zechariah 1:14-16).

This is the same promise that God made in the book of Habakkuk. It is a promise that He will balance the books.

MAN WITH THE MEASURING LINE

Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there was a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2 So I said, "Where are you going?" And he said to me, "To measure Jerusalem, to see how wide it is and how long it is."

3 And behold, the angel who was speaking with me was going out, and another angel was coming out to meet him, 4 and said to him, "Run, speak to that young man, saying, 'Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls, because of the multitude of men and cattle within it. 5 'For I,' declares the LORD, 'will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.'" (Zechariah 2:1-5).

This is reminiscent of the vision of Amos who saw a plumb line that was set against the city as a sign of judgment. This time, a man is out to measure the city of Jerusalem to see its dimensions. He is told that Jerusalem is going to be so big that walls will not be able to contain her.

This is a promise, not so much of the literal city, but of the heavenly city. God is our wall and our fortress and our deliverer.

This truth had some practical ramifications for Zechariah's day.

For thus says the LORD of hosts, "After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye. 9 For behold, I will wave My hand over them, so that they will be plunder for their slaves. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me." (Zechariah 2:8-9).

Zechariah is told that those nations who had been involved in the plundering of Judah in the Babylonian Captivity would themselves be plundered. The reason for this is because the Lord has a special covenant relationship with Israel -- she is the apple (literally the pupil) of His eye.

"Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst," declares the LORD. 11 "And many nations will join themselves to the LORD in that day and will become My people. Then I will dwell in your midst, and you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. (Zechariah 2:10-11).

The Lord says that there is coming a day when He shall come and will dwell with His people. Not only that, but also many of the surrounding nations shall also come and will join themselves to the Lord.

This was fulfilled in the coming of Jesus. He is the One in whom the Lord came to Israel to dwell in the midst of His people. It was following His death and burial and resurrection and ascension that the nations were gathered to join themselves to the Lord.

 

VISION OF JOSHUA THE PRIEST

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?" 3 Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments and standing before the angel. 4 And he spoke and said to those who were standing before him saying, "Remove the filthy garments from him." Again he said to him, "See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes." (Zechariah 3:1-4).

What a wonderful symbol is presented here! All of the elements are present. There is the guilty priest, clothed in his filthy garments with nothing to commend himself. There is Satan, the accuser. There is the Judge of the earth. The good news is pronounced that iniquity is to be removed and that the once guilty priest will be re-clothed with festal robes.

Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who are sitting in front of you-- indeed they are men who are a symbol, for behold, I am going to bring in My servant the Branch. (Zechariah 3:8).

Joshua is a symbol for the people of God. Like them, he is pictured as having been accused by Satan, but then God moves in and takes away his dirty robes and replaces them with clean, white robes.

"For behold, the stone that I have set before Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will engrave [literally, "inscribe"] an inscription on it," declares the LORD of hosts, "and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day. 10 In that day," declares the LORD of hosts, "every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree." (Zechariah 3:9-10).

We are confronted by a stone on which are seven eyes. The seven eyes points to the sevenfold manifestation of the Spirit of God (Revelation 5:6 and Isaiah 11:2).

But what is the stone? I think it is the same stone that was introduced earlier in the Scriptures. It is the Stone that the builders rejected (Psalm 118:22). It is the tested stone of Isaiah 28:16. It is a reference to the One on whom would be the Spirit of the Lord.

That brings us to the inscription. I'm not absolutely certain what is the inscription. But I'm reminded of something the Lord said to Isaiah, "Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands" (Isaiah 49:16).

What are the marks on the palms of the hands of Jesus? They are the marks of His love for us.

There was another inscription that was brought to mind whenever you spoke of the priesthood.

The Exodus passages seem relevant considering these were articles worn by the priests who were mediators at that time between God and Israel.

It is at the cross that these two concepts of God's holiness and God's love find their meeting. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that we might be made holy.

 

TWO WITNESSES

Then the angel who was speaking with me returned, and roused me as a man who is awakened from his sleep. 2 And he said to me, "What do you see?" And I said, "I see, and behold, a lampstand all of gold with its bowl on the top of it, and its seven lamps on it with seven spouts belonging to each of the lamps which are on the top of it; 3 also two olive trees by it, one on the right side of the bowl and the other on its left side." (Zechariah 4:1-3).

The next vision involves a lampstand of gold. This was as familiar a sight to Zechariah as a vision of stars and stripes would be to an American. It is Temple-language. There was in the original Tabernacle a golden lampstand with seven spouts, each holding a lamp.

In addition to the lampstand, Zechariah sees two olive trees. One is on either side of the lampstand. If he recognizes the lampstand as a familiar figure, he does NOT recognize the meaning of the olive trees. How do we know this? Because he says so.

4 Then I answered and said to the angel who was speaking with me saying, "What are these, my lord?"

5 So the angel who was speaking with me answered and said to me, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord."

6 Then he answered and said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel saying, 'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts. 7 'What are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain; and he will bring forth the top stone with shouts of "Grace, grace to it!"'" (Zechariah 4:4-7).

Notice the answer. It is an answer that points initially to Zerubbabel. Who is Zerubbabel? He is the leader and representative of those who have returned to the land.

However, we are not to take this to mean that it was Zerubbabel's power or prestige that is in view here, for it is 'not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts (4:6).

Zechariah hears the reply, but he still is not entirely certain what is meant by the reply. So he repeats the question:

And I answered the second time and said to him, "What are the two olive branches which are beside the two golden pipes, which empty the golden oil from themselves?" 13 So he answered me saying, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." 14 Then he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who are standing by the Lord of the whole earth." (Zechariah 4:12-14).

Who are the two olive branches of the vision? They are the two anointed ones. Which two anointed ones are mentioned in Zechariah's prophecy?

These two symbols represent the leaders who represent the people of God. I believe this gives us a clue who the same two symbols represent when we come to see them in the book of Revelation -- they represent the people of God.

There is a lesson here. It is that as go the leaders, so will go the people. This means that leaders have a great responsibility to trust in the Lord.

 

MESSIANIC PROPHECIES IN ZECHARIAH

There are several striking Messianic prophecies to be found within the latter chapters of the book of Zechariah.

  1. The Triumphal Entry: Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
  2. Silver and the Potter's House: And I said to them, "If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!" So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. 13 Then the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them." So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD (Zechariah 11:12-13).
  3. This prophecy is given in the context of wages being given to Zechariah rather than to some future personage. What we have is a parallel of contrast between the actions of Zechariah and the actions of a future person to whom was paid 30 shekels of silver.

  4. The One who was Pierced: And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born (Zechariah 12:10).
  5. In this case, we have a prophecy given in the context of what the Lord is promising to do. It begins back in verse 1 where the Lord is first introduced.

    Finally in verse 10 we see the same person saying, I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication. Do you see the point? It is still the Lord who is speaking. He has been speaking since verse 1 and He is still speaking. It is He who says that they shall see Him whom they pierced.

  6. The Striking of the Shepherd: "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against the man, My Associate," Declares the LORD of hosts. "Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones." (Zechariah 13:7).

 

VICTORY AT THE MOUNT OF OLIVES

Behold, a day is coming for the LORD when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished, and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.

3 Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. 4 And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. (Zechariah 14:1-4).

There have been several different interpretations given to this passage, depending upon which millennial view is held.

1. The Historic View.

Zechariah is written at the height of the Persian Empire. Israel is no more and Judah is a tiny vassal under the sway of that Empire.

But there is coming a day when Jerusalem will again be "on the map." It will be a time when the nations come against Jerusalem. It will be a time of great devastation. And yet, amazingly enough, Judah will be saved by the hand of the Lord.

There is a partial fulfillment of these events in the Maccabee Revolt of 168 B.C. Judah lay between two warring superpowers - the Seleucid Empire to the North and Egypt to the south (Daniel's King of the North and King of the South). Jerusalem underwent a terrible time of persecution. But a deliverer arose. All recognized that the hand of the Lord was present (if you doubt this, then read the books of Maccabees).

The result of that time of war was that Israel again became independent and that the Temple was again made holy.

It should be noted that the Jews were not completely united during this war. Indeed, not all of the Jews were living in the land. There were a great many who had remained in Mesopotamia and there was also a large colony living within Egypt.

The Jewish community in Egypt had built their own Temple in Elephantine. This might help to explain the special emphasis which Zechariah has in the "family of Egypt" making the pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem (14:17-18).

2. A View to the Church.

From an apocalyptic point of view, the world as it had been throughout history ended when Jesus Christ died and rose again and ascended into heaven. The cross is the center-point of history. Nothing has ever been the same since then.

Within 40 years of the Messiah taking His stand on the Mount of Olives, Jerusalem was destroyed. But the destruction of the nation of Israel did not mean the destruction of God's people - for a new Kingdom had arisen -one made up of the Holy Ones of the Lord.

This Kingdom began with "living waters" which flowed from Jerusalem and through Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost ends of the earth until men of every nation proclaimed Jesus as their Lord and King (Zechariah 14:8-9).

This bride of Christ has a special security which no man or emperor can take away (Zechariah 14:11; Revelation 21:2).

In the end, those who belong to the bridegroom shall be saved and those who do not choose to honor Him shall be cursed.

3. The Futurist View.

This view pictures the return of Jesus to the Mount of Olives, conquering His enemies and establishing His complete kingship over all the earth (note that it is possible to hold this future view with either the Premillennial or the Amillennial - and perhaps even the Postmillennial Positions).

 

MALACHI

The Hebrew word Malachi literally means, "My messenger." It is not entirely clear from the context of the book if this was to be taken as a title or the name of a prophet.

Many of the prophets that we have seen give an exact dating of their prophecies. Malachi does not. We can see, however, that the concerns raised by Malachi are those which were issues during the ministries of Ezra and Nehemiah. Neither Ezra nor Nehemiah make reference to Malachi even though Malachi was likely a contemporary with them.

The book of Malachi can be outlined in two major points:

The book is made up of a series of statements and corresponding questions between God and the people of Israel.

1:1

God says: "I have loved you"

People answer: "How have you loved us?"

God has blessed Israel above other nations

1:6

God says: "If I am a father, where is my honor?"

People answer: "How have we despised your name?"

The people have not offered their best to the Lord

2:10

People ask: "If we are brothers, why do we deal treacherously with one another?"

The people have defrauded one another, especially in the area of divorce

2:17

God says: "You have wearied the Lord with your words"

People answer: "How have we wearied Him?"

The people have asked for justice, but have not acted justly.

3:1

Promise of a Coming Messenger.

3:6

God says: "Return to Me and I will return to you"

People answer: "How shall we return?"

The people are to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse

3:13

God says: "Your words have been arrogant against Me"

People answer: "What have we spoken against you?"

They have taken the attitude that it is vain to serve the Lord

3:16

Epilogue: Promise of Coming Judgment and Restoration

A closer examination of the book reveals that it is chiastic in design.

The Lord is just: He loves Israel but will destroy wicked Edom (1:1-5)

Priests have cheated the Lord in their offerings (1:6-14)

  • Lord wishes that someone would shut the gates

In the past God sent his covenant to Levi (2:1-9)

  • Levi kept Godís covenant
  • You have turned aside from the way

Stop being faithless! (2:10-17)

In the future Godís messenger will come (3:1-6)

  • He will be the messenger of the covenant
  • He will prepare the way of the Lord

People have robbed God in tithes and offerings (3:7-12)

  • Lord will open the windows of heaven

The Lord is just: He will reward the righteous but will destroy the wicked (3:13 - 4:6)

 

GOD'S UNDESERVED LOVE FOR ISRAEL

"I have loved you," says the LORD. But you say, "How hast Thou loved us?" "Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" declares the LORD. "Yet I have loved Jacob; 3 but I have hated Esau, and I have made his mountains a desolation, and appointed his inheritance for the jackals of the wilderness." (Malachi 1:2-3).

The Lord illustrates His love for Israel by contrasting it with His treatment of Esau, the brother of Israel. Here were two brothers. They were from the same mother and the same father. They were twins. Yet the Lord showed His love to one and not to the other.

It is not that Jacob was a better man than Esau. Jacob was actually something of a scoundrel. He was a cheat and a trickster. His name literally meant "heel-grabber" and translated to something akin to our colloquial phrase when we describe one who is pulling my leg.

Jacob was shown the favor of God, not because he earned or deserved that favor, but merely as a manifestation of the unmerited grace of God.

God says, "I loved you when you were unlovable. You therefore ought to respond in gratitude and thanksgiving."

There is a lesson here about the grace of God. Grace properly understood does not lead to licentious living. A true understanding and application of God's grace is a motivation for godly living.

 

THE PROBLEM OF DIVORCE

"For I hate divorce," says the LORD, the God of Israel, "and him who covers his garment with wrong," says the LORD of hosts. "So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously." (Malachi 2:16).

To understand the issue of divorce and how it had come about, we have to go back to the book of Ezra to see the first two migrations back to the land. Because of the long, hard journey, there had evidently been more young men to make the journey than there had been young women.

Many more of the Jews remained in Mesopotamia and still other Jewish communities were growing up in Egypt and in other parts of the world.

If you are a young man who has returned to the land and you desire to take a wife and there is a distinct shortage of marriageable women to be found among the Jews, then where do you turn? They began to take wives from among the non-Jewish peoples.

Alarmed at this situation, Ezra goes to pray to the Lord. He prays a prayer of repentance. While he is praying, someone makes a suggestion.

"So now let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives and their children, according to the counsel of my lord and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law." (Ezra 10:3).

Ezra comes out from the house of prayer, hears the decision and agrees with it. As bad as divorce was, Ezra concluded that it was much worse to bring a curse on the covenant community. The motion had been made, it was seconded and put to a vote.

Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah opposed this, with Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supporting them. (Ezra 10:15).

There was a very small dissenting vote. Were the minority right or wrong? The Bible does not say. It is uncommon to see a dissenting vote in the Bible. Do you remember the last one previous to this? It was in the days of Joshua and Caleb. Everyone else wanted to abandon the proposal to enter the Promised Land. Only two people disagreed.

There is a lesson here. There are times when the minority vote is correct. They might not be seen to be correct until much later. That is okay. You be sure to be faithful, even if you are in the minority.

We are not told here who was right and who was wrong. But we ARE told that this issue had lasting repercussions. It is entirely possible that people now were using the issue of past practice as an excuse to dissolve their marriages.

The same thing is taking place in the church today. If statistics are correct, the church in America has reached the point where divorce statistics have nearly caught up with those of the pagans. We need to model holy marriages before the world.

 

THE COMING OF THE LORD

"Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3:1).

Throughout the prophets, we have seen promise after promise that the Lord is going to come. But here we are told of the coming of one who would precede the coming of the Lord. It is the MESSENGER - the "Malachi" of God.

The duty of this messenger would be to clear the way before the Lord. He would be a forerunner. He would get the people ready to meet the Lord.

They would meet Him when He comes suddenly to His temple. We can recall the vividness of the description with which the Gospels describe the entrance of Jesus into the Temple. Coins clatter. Tables are overturned. A whiplash cracks. The Lord has come suddenly to His Temple.

 

HEALING IN HIS WINGS

But for you who fear My name the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. (Malachi 4:2).

What does this mean when it says that the Lord has wings?

The phrase translated "in his wings" also carries the idea of "corners" or an "outer edge." It is often used this way to speak of literal wings (Genesis 1:21; 7:14; Exodus 19:4; 25:20; 37:9; Leviticus 1:17). But it can also be used to speak of the "corners" of a personís robe. These outer corners of the robe came to be known as a personís "wings."

In what way is there healing in the Lordís wings? One significant fulfillment of this prophecy is to be found in Matthew 9:20 where a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Jesus and touched the fringe of His cloak. Do you see it? She touched His WINGS and in them she found healing.

 


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