contents of this book consist of a series of messages given at the monthly
meetings of the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony in
The Council of the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony received a request from amongst those hearing the messages to print them in a book. It was decided that it would be a useful collection of addresses to have in print.
The Books commonly known as the Minor Prophets seem to be a very much neglected section of Gods Holy Word, and the S.G.A.T. Council would be thankful to God if He used this publication to the deepening of interest amongst His people, and to awaken many to the relevance of the things spoken so long ago by these prophets.
The Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony adheres to the Authorised Version of the Bible, and quotes in this book are from that God-honoured translation.
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An Introduction to the Minor Prophets
By David McMillan
The subject we are considering is An Introduction to the Minor Prophets.
I would direct your attention to Acts 3: 21, which says, Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
A careful examination of the contents of those books of Scripture known to us as the Minor Prophets will reveal that the message of each one of those prophets falls into three categories. There are three clear aspects that we must distinguish in the contents of each of these books. There is a three-fold manner in which their message should be considered.
There is, first of all, the Personal aspect of their message. The Prophets, under God, wrote and preached to deal with the need of their own personal times and circumstances. Their message had relevance to the sins, conditions, and attitude of the people to whom they personally ministered. So their message met a personal need in the lives of Gods people in their own immediate times.
Another aspect of their message is the Practical aspect. The sins of the nations at the prophets time are to be found in our day. Gods people in our generation are guilty of the same sins as Gods people were in the days of each one of the Minor Prophets. Therefore the utterances that the prophets made when they described and denounced those sins, are relevant to our own day. Their pronouncements are up to date for the times in which we live. These pronouncements can and should be taken and applied personally and pointedly to the lives of Gods people today.
The tragedy is this, that when dealing with the Minor Prophets, there are many who only go as far as that. Those are the only two aspects of the prophets message that they consider - the personal and the practical.
But there is another much neglected and very important aspect of their message and that is the Prophetical or Predictive aspect of their message. That is the aspect of their message when they foretold what would take place in the future - not just the immediate future but also the very distant future, up to Christs second coming and the events that would follow His coming. It is this aspect (the prophetical) that we are now to consider and it is this aspect that we will continue to consider in this series. As we consider the prophetical aspect of the message of the Minor Prophets, there are certain introductory questions that we need to answer because there are certain objections raised against the pre-millennial view.
Do the Minor Prophets have a Definite Prophetical Message?
The first question is, Do the Scriptures in general and the Minor Prophets in particular, have a definite prophetical message? There are people, and more tragically, there are preachers, who, when you speak to them, say, I do not know what to believe about Christs second coming. They are completely lost and confused with regard to the whole subject. But there are others, and this is an even more serious error, who say, the Bible does not have a definite prophetical message beyond the fact that Jesus Christ will personally return to this earth. They tell us that the Bible does not really say what else will happen. They want us to believe that we cannot be sure about the events that will precede and the events that will follow the second coming of Jesus Christ. When we say to them that the Bible teaches that certain events will definitely take place, we meet with the response, You cannot be sure about that. They tell us the Bible is not specific; that it is not clear on the subject of prophecy.
Whether they want to admit it or not, those of the a-millennial school fall into the category of those who tell us the Scriptures do not teach a definite message about the end-time. It seems to me that those who are a-millennial can never tell what a passage of Scripture does mean, especially a passage from the prophets. An a-millennialist can only say what the passage does not mean. To the a-millennialist, the Bible is not definite on the end-time; the Bible does not have a definite prophetical message. He will say, I do not know what this passage means. He will tell you, You cannot be sure what it means, but one thing of which I am sure, it does not mean what you say it means. He can never [Page 4] tell you what it does mean; he can only tell you what he thinks it does not mean. A-millennialists and others like them do not have a sure message regarding the end-time and they want us to believe that the Bible does not have a sure message about the end-time. Be in no doubt, that is a very serious error. The Bible does not allow for that kind of position.
The Word of God itself says about the prophetical Scriptures, We have also a more SURE word of prophecy (2 Peter 1: 19). The prophetical message of the Scriptures is sure. It is a very definite message. And the prophetical message of the Minor Prophets, as a substantial part of the prophetic Scriptures, is a sure message. It is something definite, certain, and beyond dispute. Be in no doubt about it, the Minor Prophets have a definite prophetical message. It is ridiculous to hold that the Scriptures are definite in their message on every subject except for that of Christs second coming. And that is what these people want to tell us; that the Bible has a definite message on every subject except for the return of Jesus Christ. That is a ridiculous position to hold. The Minor Prophets have a definite prophetical message.
Should the Prophetical Scriptures be Studied?
The second question I want us to consider is, Should the prophetical Scriptures be studied? Does God expect or encourage us to find out what the Scriptures have to say about the last days? Is it right for the Christian to take time to study Bible prophecy? Is it right for the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony to hold meetings, to study the prophetic message of the Minor Prophets? There are those who declare that we ought not to study the prophetical Scriptures. They tell us that we should not study these passages. They say to us that the Minor Prophets are a dark place and we would do well to stay away from them. Another statement they make is, You put too much emphasis on prophecy. You would do well if you put the time that you spend studying these things to other uses. I am sure that we have all faced statements such as these. That is the voice that men raise to us.
There is a whole host of voices raised against studying the prophetic Scriptures, but be in no doubt that Gods voice leads in a different direction altogether. If you stop and think about it, these people are actually saying to us that there are parts of the Bible that we should not study. God intends His [Page 5] children to study every page, every chapter, every verse and every line of the Book that He has given us. The Lord does not intend any to stay away from certain books and passages of the Bible. Let me quote again from 2 Peter 1: 19. Peter teaches us about the Scriptures in general in these words, but especially the prophetic Scriptures, and he said, We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed. God directs us to study the prophetic Scriptures and that means that God is encouraging us to have these studies, emphasising the prophetical aspect of the message of the Minor Prophets. It is good that this series of studies has been arranged because there is no doubt that the Minor Prophets are a much neglected portion of Gods Word.
Many people, and sadly, there are preachers, who pay little or no attention to these twelve books of the Bible. For many this is an uncharted part of the Scriptures. It is a part of the Bible that they do not take time to read, let alone study. So we can take great encouragement from those words of the apostle Peter. Gods stamp of approval is upon what is taking place in this series of meetings, because Peter teaches us that it will be pleasing to the Lord to have these studies of the more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed. God encourages us to study the prophetical Scriptures.
Have the Minor Prophets been Entirely Fulfilled?
third question to consider is the main thought that I want to emphasise. The question is Have
the prophecies contained in the Minor Prophets been entirely fulfilled in past
events? As I said, this is the
main question that I want to emphasise by way of introduction to this series of
messages. The answer to that question is
a definite and unmistakable no. They have not been fulfilled. Those of the a-millennia] school tell us that
when Matthew 24 speaks of the great tribulation, that tribulation
took place shortly after our Lords ministry.
Some of them tell us that the tribulation that the Jews endured took
place at the fall of
Now there are prophecies in the Minor Prophets concerning the Person of Christ that were fulfilled completely with His birth and incarnation. We believe and accept that, but we want to emphasise and to stress that the prophetical message of those books goes much further than that. Their prophetical ministry was a great deal more far reaching with regard to the time element than the birth, life and earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is much of these prophecies which has yet to be fulfilled and my main purpose is to establish that fact in your mind clearly and unmistakably. I do not want anyone to be in any doubt that a lot of what the Minor Prophets wrote has not yet taken place. It is still unfulfilled, contrary to what those of other schools of thought want to tell us.
say that these books have little or no prophetical significance for today. They tell us that these prophecies were all
fulfilled, some of them under the Hebrew kings, some of them at our Lords
first coming or at the siege of
you look again at Acts 3:
21, that text proves beyond all question
that most of what the prophets wrote has not yet been fulfilled. Reading it with verse 20, it says, And He shall send Jesus Christ, Which before was preached
unto you; Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all
things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the
world began. Here are words that emphasise the fact that,
in the main, that of which the prophets spoke has not yet taken place. Peter speaks here of the restitution of all things. There are
things in this earth that are going to be changed, that are going to be
restored to the condition that existed in
The verse speaks of Christ being received up into heaven. That is a reference to His ascension. So it is clear that the things of which Peter speaks, the restitution of all things, had not taken place at Christs ascension. And all the while our Saviour is in heaven, these things will be unfulfilled. The heavens must receive Him until. That until marks His second coming, and it is only then, when He leaves heaven and returns physically and personally to this earth, that these prophecies will be fulfilled, and these times of restitution take place. Notice carefully in Acts 3: 21 that God has spoken of all these future things by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. Every prophet of God includes the twelve Minor Prophets. Every one of them has spoken about these things which are yet future, which are yet unfulfilled, things that will only take place when Jesus Christ comes again. The books of the Minor Prophets are mainly unfulfilled prophecy relating to the last days.
I want to give some principles that we need to keep before us in our study of these books of the Bible, principles that we glean from a careful study of the Scriptures, and principles that prove the fact that these prophecies have not been fulfilled as yet. I want to state and prove these principles from examples in the Minor Prophets themselves.
A Partial Fulfilment in the Past. A Complete Fulfilment in the Future.
The first principle I want to emphasise is this, that some prophecies have had partial fulfilment in the past, but their complete fulfilment is something is yet future. Many make the mistake of taking a limited fulfilment of a Scripture portion as the complete fulfilment of it. We need to understand that of the prophecies have a dual fulfilment. They have had a limited fulfilment in the past, but that has not been the complete fulfilment of that massage because the complete fulfilment is something which is still future.
In 2 Samuel 7: 12-14, where God is speaking to David, He says, And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for My Name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. Many [Page 8] apply those words solely to Solomon. Now there is no doubt that they were partially fulfilled in Solomon. But if you turn to Hebrews 1: 5, you will see that those words are a reference to Jesus Christ, and they will have their complete fulfilment in Him. It tells us, For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son? Those words will have their complete fulfilment, not in Solomon but in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Another example of that principle is found in the Minor Prophets themselves. In Zechariah 12: 10, the Scriptures tell us, They shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced. Now in John 19: 37, these words are quoted in connection with Christs first coming. So there are those who tell us that these words had their complete fulfilment then. But that is not so. It was only a partial fulfilment. For this same man who wrote the Gospel of John, when writing the Book of the Revelation many years later was still expecting that Scripture to be fulfilled at Jesus Christs second coming. In Revelation 1: 7, it says, Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him. John was still expecting this prophecy to be fulfilled when Christ returns.
Think also of the prophecy of Malachi 4: 5 concerning Elijah. That prophecy had a partial fulfilment in John the Baptist but the complete fulfilment of those words is yet future. Elijah the prophet himself still has a future ministry and a future work to fulfil. The prophecy was only partially fulfilled in John the Baptist.
There are other examples I could give but I trust that these will suffice to illustrate the principle that many prophecies have a partial fulfilment in the past but their complete fulfilment is something which is yet future.
Application is Not Interpretation
Another principle is the fact that application is not interpretation. Because a passage is applied in the New Testament to certain circumstances it does not mean that that is the interpretation of the passage. It does not mean that the [Page 9] events in the New Testament were the ultimate fulfilment of the prophecy.
For example, in Acts 2: 16-21, Peter
quotes the words that were spoken by the prophet in Joel 2: 28-32. Therefore we meet with comments such as Peter says Joels words were fulfilled at Pentecost. Peter said nothing of the kind. If Joels words were fulfilled at Pentecost,
then the events of Pentecost could never be repeated. But Pentecost was repeated - in the days of
the New Testament. The Spirit of God was
poured out at a later date exactly as on that very day. And Peter himself tells us so. In Acts 11: 15 when relating
to the church at
The Bible Means what It says
One final important principle is this, the Bible means what it says. It is a very simple principle but it is the one where people mostly go wrong. Do read the Minor Prophets. Read over each book in turn, but when doing so, remember that Israel means Israel, Jerusalem means Jerusalem, Zion means Zion (not the church), and Babylon means Babylon (not Rome), and so on. Take the words literally when you can.
at one final Scripture. It is a
well-known, very familiar verse, and it proves that names must be taken
literally, and that most of the prophecies are yet unfulfilled. It is Micah 5: 2. But thou, Bethlehem
Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee
shall He come forth unto Me that is to
be Ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth have been from of old, from
everlasting. This is a verse that is usually preached upon
when dealing with Christs first coming.
But it is a vital verse in dealing with the second [Page
10] coming of Christ. This is a key verse in all the prophetic
Scriptures. This verse proves the point
that we are making, that of which the Minor Prophets wrote is mainly
unfulfilled. You see, the verse speaks of Christ as the One Who is to be Ruler
a-millennialists will say to us, But Christ is
reigning now in
you spiritualise the second part of that verse which says, Ruler in
When you read these prophecies, read them literally, and you will see that the event of which Micah 5: 2 speaks is yet future, yet unfulfilled. Jesus Christ is yet to rule in the land of Israel. Accept at face value what the Bible says. Take the words literally.
And if you read the Minor Prophets in that way, then you will understand that much of which they wrote has not yet taken place. Remember as you study these twelve books, that the contents of them is mainly unfulfilled prophecy. Ask God to write that truth upon your heart. Keep that before you as you read and meditate upon these words. Most of their message is unfulfilled prophecy relating to the last days. Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.
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By J A Green
Hosea is not an easy book by any means. When I was a young man I used to he amazed at what I knew, whereas nowadays I am amazed how little I know! So I have given this Book great meditation and concentration. The Lord has blessed it to my soul and I trust He will bless the message of this wonderful prophet to us all.
I would like first of all, very briefly, to sketch a little of the background against which Hosea prophesied. Because David, in his past, had been a man of war, he had not accomplished his desire to build the house to Jehovah. But he left a blueprint of it for his wise son; and Solomon carried out the counsels and wishes of his father, and built a glorious house, exceedingly magnificent to Jehovah. And Solomons reign was wonderful for in all the borders round about he had rest and neither evil nor adversary occurred.
With the passing of Solomon, Jeroboam, the son of
Nebat, who made
Ahab, according to the word of the prophet of the
Lord, was slain with a Syrian bow drawn at a venture. It came to the point where the house of Jehu
came to the throne but that house was about to fall; the northern kingdom was
about to cease because of the idolatry that had set in. Jeroboam, the son of Nebat had set up at
is against that background that Hosea gave his word, in the divided kingdom
that God had tolerated for a season.
Now I would like to bring out a little of the character of the book. Hosea stands at the head of the 12 minor prophets. They were minor in point of bulk or content, not minor in inspiration. He stands worthily at the head of those 12 minor prophets. He was a man of experimental godliness. He was a man with a deep knowledge of God. As the book reveals, he was a man of prayer. He was a rustic, but a deeply cultured man as the metaphors he used through the book indicate to us. But he had a deep and penetrating knowledge of the requirements of God as revealed by the statement that the Lord requires mercy and not sacrifice and the knowledge of God (an experimental knowledge of God) more than burnt offerings (6: 6).
this book, as Spurgeon confided to William Williams, there are many excellent
gospel texts and Spurgeon preached on many of them. But in their primary application,
those gospel texts apply to
If Isaiah was the evangelical prophet, then Hosea was in his succession. Our Lord Jesus preached that marvellous sermon of the prodigal son that returned [Page 13] from the far country and received the blessing. So does Hosea preach about a prodigal wife and in symbol, his family and his marriage would teach us how the unfaithful of Israel shall yet be sought out by the Lord in His loving heart, brought back to Himself, made close to His bosom and blessed for ever.
There are moral difficulties in connection with his taking a fallen woman and rescuing her from her ways when she became estranged from him and buying and taking her back into the home, then reinstating her into all the privileges of a happy marriage relationship. I do not want to get intricately involved in those delicate matters but for anyone that is troubled by them, there are several explanations consistent with inspiration and with evangelical truth and with the great truth of the gospel. However we decide to explain this, we must preserve the great truth that God is not the author of sin. It is my judgment that the prophet took a pure woman, that she became estranged, that she went to another and that, in his loving obedience to God and his love for Gomer, he went out and brought her back and restored her to the full, happy marriage relationship. This gives to us, as well as to those members of his family that were born to the marriage, a picture of what God is going to do with Israel in a coming day.
name reveals that he is applying salvation to
If we look at chapter 1, we see
something of the scope of the book in the birth of the three children who were
born to Hosea and Gomer. The first child
was a son and was to be called Jezreel because God was going to break the bow,
i.e. the military strength of Ephraim and of
remember that it was to Jezreel that Ahab, when he had been slain, was returned
and it was there that his blood was washed out from the chariot, according to
the word of the Lords prophet. You
remember it was there that Jehu set out on that pathway to a bloodbath that
established him and his family upon the throne with the very cruel slaying of
Jezebel, the painted lady, who was thrown down from the window of the palace
and was eaten by the dogs - skull, hands and feet only remained. It was there that Jehu set out to exceed the
commandments of the Lord; he was obedient in visiting upon the iniquity that
Ahab and Jezebel had committed in Naboths vineyard. He was right to do that because the Lord
commanded it. But he exceeded his blood
guiltiness to the princes of
God said that for his obedience, four generations of his family would be on the throne, but that would be the limit. Now it was at the fourth generation when Hosea was prophesying, and this kingdom was about to fall. We reiterate what Amos says, that Gods eyes were upon the evil kingdom and that He was going to destroy it from off the face of the earth (9: 8). Here God says, it is going to cease. He also says that there is not going to be mercy and He pronounces over them that dreadful sentence not My people. But yet, towards the end of the chapter, almost amazingly, God says that they will not be cast away for ever, for it is said there that the time is coming when in the very place where He had said, Ye are not My people; there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the Living God (1: 10).
will be a marvellous time of blessing when they shall gather all
is the way with Hosea that the truth is not declared in the exact sequence in
which it works out historically. Towards the end of chapter 2, after saying in
the middle verses that God will allure
God will set up a wonderful chain of blessing. He Himself is at the top of the chain of prayer in that millennial day. God says that He will hear the prayers of the heavens and supply what is necessary to the heavens, and the heavens will hear the prayer of the earth, and the earth will hear the prayer of the corn, of the wine, and of the oil, and all shall hear the prayer of Jezreel, Israel (2: 21-22). Jezreel means sown again. Israel will be in that Jezreel setting, sown by the hand of Jehovah and the whole millennial scene of blessing will hear the prayers of Israel in that wonderful, coming day. Those three names that were mentioned in judgment in chapter 1 reappear as names of blessing. For God says that they will be His people and they will know the full tide of mercy in that day. So we read, great shall be the day of Jezreel. All three names appear now in blessing, which is very wonderful.
In chapter 3 there
is the truth that the great converted Hebrew, David Baron, called the interregnum.
At the beginning of the chapter, Gomer
returned to her own husband. There was a
payment made for her and she came home and abode many days in a position of
neutrality till faithfulness was established; till troth was known again in the
home and normal relationships resumed.
That is a parable of what God is going to do with
we read in chapter 3 that
In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah there were those that could not establish their genealogy. They were lacking the Urim and Thummin, the use of the ephod, the miraculous direction from God. Well, there is going to be a priest Who is going to stand up and He will be priest upon His throne. It will not be the type of the Urim and the Thummin, the lights and the perfections, the divine communication. It will be the fulfilment of it. The Lord Jesus will stand up and establish genealogy in that day. He has the right to the Throne of David.
In the first chapter of the New Testament, the genealogy of Jesus Christ is given.
He is the son of Abraham - that gives Him the title to the land; and He,
the son of David - that gives Him the title to the throne. All this time, from Hosea to the present,
Another fact is that they have been without a pillar and without idolatry. The word there is used in a bad sense as the tenth chapter shows. Hosea was speaking of the idolatrous pillar. There were other pillars that were raised. Jacob raised a pillar and it was approved of God; it was a pillar of worship and testimony. Isaiah 19: 19 tells us that in Egypt, in a coming day, there will be a worshipful pillar to Jehovah at its border and there will be an altar to Jehovah its centre, and three nations shall each form a third in a triad of blessing and God shall say, Egypt (is) My people, and Assyria (is) the work of My hands, and Israel (is) Mine inheritance (Isaiah 19: 25). But at present, the most we can say is that since they were carried away into captivity, they have been without idolatry.
There are some terrible descriptions in the prophecy about their idolatrous dealings at the time Hosea was speaking. He wrote of Ephraim being joined to idols: let him alone (4: 17). He wrote of the gray hairs of decadence and backsliding (7: 9). He described Ephraim as a backsliding heifer that is unwilling and unused to the yoke of Jehovah (10: 11). He spoke of them, in their burning lust and in their blood-guiltiness, as being like a bakers oven when it is heated to white heat and to full pitch (7: 6). He spoke of the priests eating up the sin of Gods people (4: 8), feeding upon the offerings and multiplying sin by their altars which were originally designed to take away sin [Page 18] (8: 11). And he said because of this they should be carried away and become wanderers among the nations (9: 17); hence the term the wandering Jew. He said that the time has come when a powerful enemy shall carry them away; they shall be locked in the wings of the wind and carried away (4: 19). He said that they have sown the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind (8: 7). He said also that judgment is going to grow up like hemlock in the furrows(10: 4), and they are going to taste the bitterness of the days of the Baalim and their idolatry (2: 13). They, indeed, were trafficking like Canaanites, with balances of deceit in their hand in their lust for gold (12: 7). They were committing all kinds of sins; there was no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God (4: 1). They were destroyed for lack of knowledge (4: 6). There was swearing, lying, and murder; also stealing, and adultery (4: 2), all being practised; but the crowning thing was idolatry.
captivity that would be theirs and the bitterness that they would reap would be
that which would cure them for ever of their idolatry. For those many days, from the days of the
captivity to the present time they have been without the idolatrous
pillar. Yes, they have been without the
communication of the ephod, without the Urim and the Thummin, without light
from God, without a voice from heaven but they have also been without the
idolatrous teraphim that were formed like humans and inhabited by demons and
from which they obtained voices and communications, speaking lies and vanities (Zechariah 10: 2). That has been
the peculiar position of
the parable of the seeking of the prodigal wife by Hosea, we find a beautiful
picture in that she was made to tarry until faithfulness and troth be
established and there could be a resumption of married life and the enjoyment
of that wonderful relationship. So it
will be with
Isaiah 62, the prophet is used to sound forth the intercession
of the Lord Jesus. This wonderful
chapter tells us that He Who ever liveth to make intercession for the
transgression for His people is on high now interceding for the
What is the
source of their salvation? Well, in Hosea 13: 9, there is what Spurgeon called the sum of all
Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is
thine help. He who has grasped this, says C. H. Spurgeon, has a
complete body of divinity, a complete compendium of theology. Salvation begins in the heart of God. In chapter 14, God says, I will love them freely. In chapter 11, He says Mine heart
is turned within Me, My repentings (compassions,
or repentances) are kindled together. O Ephraim, how shall I give thee up? All salvation
begins in the heart of God. I do not
know why men kick against the sovereign grace of God, for the truth is that,
because of the nature of fallen man, it is his only hope. Man is enslaved by sin. There is none that seeketh after God (Romans 3: 11). If there is to be any salvation whatsoever,
God must take the initiative. As it was
in creation, and as it is in providence, so it is in salvation In the beginning GOD. And so God
will begin that salvation. The source of
it is in His Own heart. If we are the
saved of the Lord, there was nothing else outside the heart of God that
influenced Him to save us. It is all
because He wooed. He doeth according to His
will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none
can [Page 20] stay
His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?
(Daniel 4: 35). He is
in one mind, and who can turn Him (Job 23:
13). Our God is in the heavens: He
hath done whatsoever He hath pleased (Psalm
115: 3). The hymnwriter wrote, He sits on no precarious throne nor borrows leave to be. He is a God Who purposes and acts; and He
intervenes in history and in the circumstances of men. It was so in our case. As many as were ordained to eternal life believed (Acts 13: 48). Those that were chosen in Him before the
foundation of the world were called of the Lord, and can now say In Whom we have redemption
through His Blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His
grace (Ephesians 1:7), and it will not be otherwise with Israel in that
coming day. So the source of their
salvation lies with God. God will take the initiative, and when the time comes,
He will take away the veil from the heart of the nation and He will turn
The basis of their salvation will be
precisely the same as ours. It will be the work accomplished on the
cross. What does it promise them? I will ransom them from the power of the grave (grip of Sheol), I will redeem them from death:
0 death, I will be thy plagues; 0 grave, I will be thy destruction (13: 14).
They are without sacrifice now, but they will not be in that coming day. How otherwise could they say, Take away all (our) iniquity and receive us graciously (14: 2)? How could the Lord Jehovah, the Infinite, the
High and Holy One, say, Mine anger is turned away (14:
4)? There is that sacrifice which has propitiated
God, which has averted His wrath, and which will bring blessing to
Zechariah 13 marks the
time element for it says, In that day, there shall be a fountain opened to the house of
David and to the inhabitants of
The Old Testament saints looked down the ages with eyes of faith undimmed and they saw the One that should come. We look back to Calvary because we stand in the meridian light of the New Testament, in the days of effected and accomplished redemption, with a man in the glory of God to show that God has accepted the sacrifice of Calvary; and we know the witness of the [Holy] Spirit in our hearts which is the witness to the ascended glory of Jesus. When Israel comes into blessing in that coming day, Gods anger will be turned away, He will love freely, they will know the redemption that is in Christ Jesus Whom God set forth to be a propitiation through faith by His Blood, to declare at this time His righteousness that He might be just and the justifier of him which is faith in Jesus. They will come into all the blessing of that. That will be the basis of their salvation.
They will also
have the dew of the Spirit. He says I will be as the dew unto
[* Luke 20: 35; Heb. 11; 35b; Rev. 3: 21, etc.]
will be a praising people. They will
take with them words of reality to confess, take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously. When they taste
and see that the Lord is good, they will render the calves (bulls) of our lips (14: 2). That is
rendered in Hebrews as the fruit of the lips, the going forth unto Him without
the camp ...
let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God
continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His Name
(13:13-15). In the Christian priesthood,
there is the presentation of our praise, the presentation of our possessions,
and Romans 12 refers to the presentation of
have been asked why I still address the Lord in archaic English! My reply was that we have a full range of
pronouns in the reverent approach of the Old English. It is a much richer and purer address to the
Lord. I prefer to speak to the Lord in
the purest English. That is really the
thought here. Only the very best is good
enough for God. So will we render the calves
of our lips, giving thanks to His Name. After all those centuries
they will grow as the lily for purity; they will send down their roots as the
cedars of Lebanon for strength and for endurance (14:
80: 18 tells us that they will never go back from Him again. The deeper the roots of the tree, the higher
the tree grows towards heaven. Thus, we
ought to be rooted and grounded in Him so that we shall never be moved. There is much slipping and sliding
today. We have to guard our hearts. We rejoice in eternal security, that the
sheep of Christ can never perish, and that none can pluck them out of His
hand. But the Scripture also says, they
hear My voice ... and they follow
Hosea concludes, Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein. As we think of this great [future] salvation shall we not join with that One on high, Who as the great intercessor, is praying for their salvation? Shall we not join in giving Him no rest until He establish and make Jerusalem a praise; until we see that righteous nation, the redeemed of the Lord, go in through the gates to make Jerusalem a city that is sought out of the Lord?
May the Lord bless these thoughts, wide in scope and issue, but ever leading on with one increasing purpose - the culmination of that moment when the Lord Jesus shall have that which is upon His heart as the great Intercessor in the glory, when He shall have the whole heart of the whole nation by His wondrous redeeming work and regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
* * *
By J H Laver
Joel is the name of several men of whom mention is made in the Bible. It is made up of two divine names - Jehovah and EI - and it means Jehovah is God and there is none other.
is generally accepted that the Joel who wrote the book named after him
prophesied at about 800BC in the days of Uzziah, king of
Grace is the inspiration of that government. It is seen acting as a restraint upon judgment, so that the plague of locusts was the occasion of the appeal of the prophet to his people to repent. This opened up the way for the people to return to God and rend their hearts rather than their garments.
When we arrive at the ultimate triumph, it is not that of a conqueror rejoicing over that which is broken and crushed, but that of a conqueror who rejoices that he gives peace, honour and deliverance. So the Lord granted in His mercy some measure of peace and a considerable amount of prosperity under the reign of Uzziah who was a very prosperous ruler. He was marvellously helped, till he was strong (2 Chronicles 26: 15). There was during this time of natural prosperity, widespread corruption.
When Jotham, Uzziahs son came to the throne, we read that although he himself did that which was right in the eyes of the LORD, the people did yet corruptly. During the early days of Joash, while he came under the influence of Jehoiada the priest, there had been a great revival of the worship of God and the ordinances of the temple.
The old men of Joels day would have remembered this, and it may be the reason why Joel addresses his prophecy to the old men of his generation (1: 2). They would recall days of spiritual blessing and prosperity, but because of the prevalent moral and spiritual declension, he is about to announce such judgments as neither they nor their fathers had known, and they are to tell it to the generation following.
The judgments are for several successive
generations. In this particular
aspect, Joels message is relevant for this day and age. Many of us sometimes reflect upon the past
when we were favoured with a measure of spiritual blessing and revival; when
the Holy Spirit was convicting of sin and leading to Christ; when sinners were
born again and the
chapter 1: 19, we see Joel in prayer to God, O LORD to Thee will I cry. It is clear to this man of God
Yet now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God; for He is gracious and merciful (full of compassion), slow to anger, and of great kindness (plenteous in mercy), and repenteth Him of the evil (2: 12-13).
He is slow to anger. As one commentator puts it, He halts the march of His wrath in order that men may repent. Joel, in his prophecy, makes mention of the day of the LORD no less than five times.
The phrasing of chapter 1: 15 is almost identical with the reference in Isaiah 13: 6, Howl ye: for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. It will be terrible, there is no escaping it. There is no resisting it. As a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.
They saw themselves under the tokens of His displeasure. It is the time to fast and to pray for their distress was very great. There is not the plenty which there used to be in their homes. Is not the meat cut off before our eyes (Joel 1: 16).
Joy and gladness were also cut off from the house of God. Joel also speaks of judgments in the form of four successive devourers - the palmerworm, the locust, the cankerworm and the caterpillar. All these insects are various species of locust, and the word translated caterpillar simply means devourer. So, in chapter 2: 25 the LORD refers to the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm and the others.
Joel now calls upon the drunkards to arouse themselves, but the new wine ... is cut off from your mouth (1: 5). Having in mind the great material prosperity of Joels day, he warns those that indulge in these things that the time will come when the situation will be reversed, and that the pleasures of sin are only for a season.
Our divine Lords teaching is relevant here as He charged His disciples Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth (Luke 21: 34-35).
have a similar warning by John in the Book of the Revelation when the time will
come when it will be said of
Furthermore, the Lord, through Joel, calls for lamentation, and the central theme of this lamentation is the forsaking of the house of the Lord, which is mentioned four times in the passage. Through the judgments of God, famine conditions prevail, and the meat and drink offering is withheld from the house of the Lord with the result that Joy is withered away from the sons of men, [Page 27] and joy and gladness (are cut off) from the house of our God (l: 12, 16). It reminds us of the situation in Nehemiahs day when he cast forth the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense ... Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? (Nehemiah 13: 9, 11).
further the call to prayer. The
withdrawal of natural provisions was often endured by the Lords faithful
people when His judgments were abroad in the earth, yet their joy did not
cease. The prophet Habakkuk had seen
is also here in Joel a call for a fast and for mourning and prayer in view of
the impending judgments. Sanctify yea fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders
and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God and cry unto the LORD
... O LORD, to Thee will I cry (1:
14, 19). This is our only hope and refuge in a day of
spiritual declension and departure from God.
In chapter 22, the day of the LORD is described as a day of darkness and of
gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, and the attackers of
the solemn call to mourning and supplication on the part of the leaders and the
people, Joel declares that the Lord will respond and be jealous for His land
and pity His people. Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto people, Behold, I will send you corn,
and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make
you a reproach among the heathen (nations) (2:
19). So the answer to the prayers of the people is
the reversal of [Page 28] the famine conditions and Israel is to be delivered from reproach, that
is to say, there will be ultimate deliverance, for the Lord Himself declared Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the
times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke
21: 24). So we read in Joel 2: 21, Fear not, 0 land, be glad and rejoice: for
the LORD will do great things, and deliver His people from the malice of their
enemies. Then will come to pass the
prediction in Psalm 126:
1-2, When the LORD turned again the captivity of
we have in chapter 2 that beautiful little
phrase repeated, and My people shall never be ashamed for they shall no more be a reproach.
See how ready God is to succour and relieve His people; how He waits to
be gracious as they humble themselves under His hand, and pray and seek His
face, He immediately meets them with His blessing. Gods promises are real answers to the
prayers of faith. God will be jealous
for His land and pity His people. He
will have respect to His Own honour and the reputation of His covenant with
destroying army shall be dispersed and defeated (verse 20). I will remove far
from you the northern army, and drive him into a land barren and desolate. They shall
perish for want of sustenance. They had
made the land barren and desolate, and now God will cast them into a land
barren and desolate. Thus, those whom God employs for the correction of His people come eventually
to be reckoned with. Ye shall know that I am in
the midst of
verses 28-32, we have a prophecy of how the
kingdom of grace will be introduced
by a plentiful effusion of the Spirit. And it shall come to pass
Afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh. We are not at
a loss or the meaning of this promise, neither can there be the slightest doubt
as to what the prophet is referring. The
apostle Peter, in Acts 2, gives an
infallible explanation of it, this is that. The [Holy] Spirit was abundantly poured out upon the apostles
of our Lord on the day of Pentecost.
That Pentecostal anointing was the very thing which was spoken of here
by the prophet Joel. (The
complete fulfilment of this prophecy will, of course, be at the second coming
of the Lord Jesus Christ ‑
Ed.). We have reference to this in Isaiah 44: 3. I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed. But the
promise is to all flesh, not upon
often read in the Old Testament of the Spirit of the LORD coming upon the judges and prophets whom God raised up for
special service, but now shall the [Holy] Spirit be poured out plentifully in a full
stream. The Lord says by the prophet
Ezekiel, When I
have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their
enemies lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of the nations; then
shall they know that I am the LORD
their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen; but I
have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more
there. Neither will I hide My face any
more from them; for I have poured out My Spirit upon house of
is a third reference made by Joel in chapter 2 to the great and terrible day of the LORD with a reminder
that before that day comes, there will come the signs in the sun, moon and
stars spoken of so frequently by our Lord Himself in Matthew
24. Yet in
The deliverance is sure to the remnant whom the Lord
our God shall call, such [Page 30] as are predestined unto eternal glory.
If ye be
Christs, says Paul, then are ye Abrahams seed,
and heirs according to the promise (Galatians
3: 29). As the chosen of God, we -[if we suffer with Him]-
are joint heirs with Jesus (
the third chapter of Joels prophecy we have the prediction of
Divine purpose is also to divide the nations and set their bounds according to the
number of the children of
in chapter 3, the Almighty is seen gathering
the nations together in the
there is to be a revelation of matchless grace.
The Jewish nation is a sinful and rebellious people in need of the mercy
of God. Despite the continued calls to
repentance they have persisted in rebellion and sin. They rejected the prophets
who were sent unto them. Our divine Lord
was crucified and the apostles persecuted.
Their attitude still is we will not have this man to reign over us. Yet the Lord
says of them, I
have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness have I
drawn thee (Jeremiah 31: 3). God has
hitherto, in a measure, protected His ancient people but in the day of their
deliverance, He will bless them profusely and make them a blessing, and the
source of this blessing will be The LORD dwelleth
now longed for will be realised when Christ comes again. They hear voice of God. The LORD
shall utter His voice from
* * *
Judgment of Assyria
Nahum and Obadiah
By Ian Shaw
Books of Nahum and Obadiah tell of the judgment of Assyria and
[*NOTE. The author assumes that none of the regenerate are to be left in the Underworld of Hades until the Great White Throne judgment! If this is true, and I believe it is not then, what is the meaning of the words: If any was not found written on the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15): and if the First Resurrection is one of reward - which it evidently is (Rev 20: 6. cf. Rev. 3: 21; Luke 20: 35) - then what is the meaning of the words: The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished (verse 5)? There is an ongoing judgment of Christians before the time of death; and there is a pre-resurrection judgment after the time of death, (Before: Acts 5: 1-11; 1 Cor. 6: 1-8; Rev. 2: 22; 3: 19. After: Heb. 9: 27; Rev. 11: 18).]
judgment is a pertinent part of Gods economy for the future, that is, it is
not something that is limited to the Old Testament. The Church in the New Testament was born out
of such judgment when Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Holy Spirit, and
temporal judgment came in upon the church immediately to the view of all that
were there on that terrible day. Our God
is a just God, a holy God, a righteous God, a God Who hates sin. Sin must be dealt with, often in time, but
always in eternity, and my hope and trust is that we have had our sins dealt
with at the cross of
and Obadiah are two of the smallest books of Scripture. Indeed, Obadiah is the smallest book in the
Old Testament. Looking at two books of
Scripture is not easy, but I plan to treat the subjects together, rather than
deal [Page 33] with the two
books individually. Picture in your mind
Assyria on the one hand,
The Essential Features of the Two Nations
1. Their Origination: The nation of
type of nation was
3. Their Economics: The Assyrians were aggressors. They were the bank robbers of those days, the vandals, those that took that which was not theirs. They stole, fought, killed. They were marauders.
the other hand, the Edomites were more of a commercial nation. In fact, the great trade route went through
and stopped in
pinnacle of success for
fact, Assyria had been warned almost a hundred years earlier by the prophet
Jonah, who was sent to
the whole of the Old Testament period,
these two nations were vastly different in size and in outlook, but they were
similar in practice. The human heart is
always the same, be it in
The Profiles of the Two Nations
1. The Political Profile: Although Nahum is the larger of the two books, it has
the briefest political description. From
Nahum 1: 1 we find the Assyrians called
their capital by a very grand name - Nineveh, but in
verse 8, the Lord calls it the place. Remember how
the disciples spoke to the Lord about the grand edifice of the temple and the
wonderful stones! In
By contrast, the political description given of
Obadiah also speaks of a confederacy, The men in thy confederacy....
the men at peace with thee (verse 7). They have an alliance of nations to offer
some degree of protection and care.
2. The Moral Prorile: Let us take an excursion into the heart, the motivations, the lives of these people. There is a moral profile of the Ninevites in Nahum 1. Notice their relationship to the Lord. They were Gods adversaries (12), and His enemies (1: 8). The Lord God did not make them so, but they have made themselves so, by their practices. They are against the Lord. These are passive statements. The general nature of these people is given as wicked, evil, and vile (1: 3,11,14). This is the nature children inherited from their parents, and the parents from their parents, generation after generation. But the single most telling point, which is not passive but active, is the particular nature of the Assyrians. They conspired against the LORD (1: 9). This is the same as many people - politicians, ecumenists - are doing today. But also, there was a particularly wicked counsellor there (1: 11), and it was he who plotted evil against the Lord. A wicked counsellor, who is diametrically opposed to the Lord and His truth is of the spirit of Antichrist.
other works mentioned are that they put bonds and yokes upon people (1: 13).
Surely that was opposed to the Lord.
He takes away the yoke and the bondage, but these people put others in
yokes and bonds. Verse 14 tells us they had a reputation, being known for their
idolatry. Reference is also made in verse 14 to their polytheism, for it speaks of the
house of their gods. This is what
In Obadiah, we have the
moral profile of the Edomites. Are they
any different? Verse 3 tells us that they had pride in their heart.
No mention is made of a physical idol but pride causes self to be
uppermost, and number one becomes the priority in the heart. Then an idol is set there, one that is very
difficult to remove. Notice that they
say in their hearts Who shall bring me down to the
ground? (verse 3). It is like the pride of a big bully in the
school playground challenging others to knock him down. Phrases like Though thou exalt thyself (verse 4),
shouldest thou have spoken proudly (verse
12) show that in the hearts of the
Edomites, not too different from [some of the Lords redeemed people
today and] the Assyrians, there was pride. They took great pride in their
At that time, it must have
been equally impregnable, and this is the reason these people took comfort,
trusting they had a safe location. But
they were deceived. The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee (verse 3); the men that
were at peace with thee (that confederacy mentioned earlier) have deceived thee (verse
7). According to verse 10, these were
people of violence violence specially reserved for Gods people. They were also an indifferent people. In the day that thou stoodest on
the other side (verse 11) they gazed upon their brother with a fixed air during
his affliction (verses 12-13). They were a nation born out of hatred. Esau hated his brother Jacob (Genesis 27: 41), and that hatred
continued in every generation; it festered like a canker in their society. That hatred was revealed in Obadiah 14.
So, we have contrasted and
compared a political profile and a moral profile
of these two nations. Politically, they were vastly different, but morally very similar. We have also seen that Assyrias main sin was
against the Lord, whereas
The Reasons Why the Two Nations are to be Judged
leads us on to the reason why these two nations will be judged. God is a loving God, but He is also a just
God, and He will give account to those who will be judged at the Great White Throne,
stating the reasons for their judgment and destruction. And it is no different with
The Lords opposition to the Assyrians was stated in eight charges against them (3: 1-4). (1) It was a bloody city. (2) It was a city full of lies. (3) It was full of robbery. (4) Its victims, that it took away in captivity, were never released. (5) The multitude of harlotries and seductive witchcrafts never departed. (6) It was the mistress of witchcraft. (7) It sold nations through harlotries. (8) It sold families through sorceries.
the Lords indictment against
First of all, their violence against their brother Jacob (Obadiah 10). The Edmites were not known for their aggression. They were more like vultures, which go in after the prey has been killed. A vulture waits at the side for the fierce animal to go away and leave the carcass, and it then goes for the pickings. A vulture is a very scraggy and scrawny creature. This is a reflection of its nature, and that is what the Edomites were like. They did not attack their brother. They waited till the aggressor did it, and then they went in to pick and pillage, take and steal anything of use, and to kill those that were still left. That was their violence. They were vicious in that way, especially against the Lords people.
The second indictment was that they stood and watched as their brothers were taken away into captivity. That is the crime of inactivity and is very pertinent today. It says in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a time for everything under [Page 40] the heaven. There is a time to keep silence, and a time to speak (17). Often, we are passive, inactive, inaudible. Maybe we watch and see the sins that are happening, and we do not speak as we should. Daniel Webster, the American commentator, said that there is nothing worse than when a righteous man does nothing. We ought to be active people.
Edomites stood and watched; they probably laughed and clapped their hands, for
they rejoiced when
indictment against them is that they spoke proudly (verse
12). Beware of pride,
and speaking proudly. Then
there were four other things. They
What God will do Against the Two Nations
these are the indictments against these two nations, what will God do to
them? In Nahum
1: 3-10, we have the Lords control and use of nature for His
purposes. God put this passage in the
Scripture to show His control over all the earth. He is not merely the God of Israel. When Joshua took the people of God over
But now, He is the Governor, the Upholder, and the Sustainer of all things. The atoms are being upheld and sustained by the very power that it took to create the world. If God took away His sustaining power, even for a fraction of a second, everything we see before us would be destroyed in a moment of time. But the Lord is gracious, and merciful, and long-suffering, especially to the elect.
In these verses (1: 3-10), we are told that the Lord is in the whirlwind; He is in the storm; the clouds are the dust of His feet; He rebukes the sea; He dries up the rivers; the mountains, Bashan and Carmel, wither; the mountains quake before Him; the flowers of Lebanon wilt; the hills melt; the earth heaves at His presence; the worlds inhabitants are moved at the presence of the LORD; His fury is poured out like fire; the rocks are thrown down by Him; with an overflowing flood He will make an utter end; darkness shall pursue His enemies; tangled thorns shall be devoured like the stubble fully dried. There is an apt description of this in verse 10 of what the Assyrians were like. They were folded like thorns and drunken like drunkards (i.e. twisted and disorderly). That was Gods holy estimation of them.
that is the Lords control of the lower creation, what is His control over the
higher creation? What will God do
He used the word, Behold, thus saying to the readers of Scripture, gaze, look ponder, consider what I am about to do. Notice the I am and I will. He said, Behold, I am against thee, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no [Page 42] more be heard (2: 13). The Lord does not mince words here. Ultimately, He says, this was what He would do because He was against them.
Also, we have what the Lord would do against these people in a particular manner. In Nahum 1: 2-3, The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies. The LORD ... will not at all acquit the wicked*.
[*NOTE. Always keep in mind the fact
that the word wicked is used throughout the
scriptures to describe
some of the Lords own redeemed people! Depart, I pray you,
from the tents of these wicked men
(Num. 17: 26).
I write unto you not to keep company, if a man
is named a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such a one
do not even eat. For what have I to do
with judging them that are without [outside of the
When on door-to-door visitation we meet men and women, the thing most prevalent nowadays is that people will admit that they are sinners. A generation ago it may have been different, but many today agree to being sinners. But then they take the terrible refuge saying that we are all sinners. That is right, of course, but they are taking their comfort from the fact that they feel to be no better and no worse than their neighbours. Have you ever heard anyone judge him or herself against another person and find that other superior? Their pretended superiority will not stand in the judgment day. God will deal with them as individuals (Psalm 1: 5-6). But the Lord says, I will not acquit.
is going to be no acquittal for these Assyrians. Verse 8
states, but with
an overrunning flood He will make an utter end of the place thereof -
that is true today. We sometimes hear
the proverb, that person is like a Philistine,
but we never hear the word
Lord says that He is going to open the gates of the river; that the palace,
that glorious palace of which we see evidence in the
is also a post-mortem judgment upon them found in chapter
3, what God will do after the
What will the nations do afterward? We are told that they will come and look, and
The testimony concerning the judgment of
Those of the south will come and possess the mountains of Esau. There are actual aggressors and hypothetical aggressors, thieves and robbers, grape gatherers. Jehovah said, If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night ... would they not have stolen till they had enough? If the grape-gatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes? (verse 5).
The destruction of these two nations, as mentioned in the introduction, was temporary. Temporal judgments come, in time. God intervenes in time and deals with peoples, with individuals. These two nations are struck a death blow. It is as if God cuts at the root of these two nations and they are destroyed. They will survive, but in few numbers. They will not have the glory they had.
The End of the Two Nations
is the same with
The Future Aspects Found in the Two Books
are a number of wonderful teachings in these two books. We conclude with happier thoughts by looking
at some of the prophetic future events. Thus saith the LORD ... Though I have afflicted thee (speaking
The book of Obadiah is most fruitful in the coming
* * *
By Ian Shaw
Our subject is
The Book of Habakkuk comes within the twelve books of the minor prophets. It is a good exercise to read through these twelve books in one sitting/reading, which can be done in about two and a half hours, and it is very worthwhile because of the rich variety. Because they are small, so much may be gained from them in a short period of time.
Habakkuk was a man of faith, and he was very troubled by what he saw around him. But he made his trouble known unto the Lord. He was a man of prayer. It is good to be a man or woman of faith but we must also be people of prayer. Habakkuk took his problems to the Lord. He set himself on his watch tower and waited, as we must always wait, for the Lords reply.
Habakkuk was unique amongst the twelve minor prophets for two reasons. Firstly, while he was upon his watch, waiting, he received, if I understand chapter 3 correctly, what we call a Christophany, that is, he experienced the appearance of God in the form of Jesus Christ, the pre-incarnate Christ. He saw the Lord coming to him in a marvellous way similar to others of the Lords people in Old Testament times, who experienced these direct, personal appearances of the Lord. Sometimes in these experiences, the Lord is called the Angel of the Covenant, or the Messenger of the Covenant. Habakkuk is unique in that none of the other minor prophets experienced the Lord in quite this way or manner.
But the prophet is also unique because of the rich variety of ways in which he reveals the Word to us. In chapter 1: 1 we see that the form of revelation given [Page 48] to him was a burden, or, weight. He had this weight which was revealed through his experience. He saw, as a man of faith, the things round about him and he was given the burden. That is the first form of Gods revelation that we find in the book.
Then four times it is mentioned that he had a vision, once in 1: 1, then in 2: 1. 2, and 3. The prophet, Habakkuk, saw and watched to see what He will say unto me (11). Then, Write the vision (22). For the vision is yet for an appointed time (13). So he had a burden but he also had a vision.
A third form of Gods revelation that is found in this book is the written revelation. He is told to write the vision (22). To make sure that it is recorded, Habakkuk was bidden to write it on tables, or, tablets, and make it plain and clear. Gods Word is not obscure. People, sometimes ministers, and certainly unbelievers, make Gods Word obscure. But Gods Word has to be clear, so that he that readeth can run.
A fourth form of revelation that is found in this book is prayer. Chapter 3: 1-16 is called a prayer of Habakkuk. Verse 1 indicates that it is also a psalm, and verse 19, where we find it given to the chief singer (musician) on my stringed instruments, shows that it is a hymn.
So, the second unique aspect of this book is the four forms of revelation by which this prophet received the Word of God, and has transmitted it to us. And God, in His marvellous providence, has preserved it for us.
The first verse says, The burden which Habakkuk the prophet did see, and I want us to keep that uppermost in our minds, the fact that he saw what he was about to write. It is very similar to John the apostle on the Isle of Patmos and the Book of the Revelation. He saw.
There are six visions at which I want us to look. Firstly, the vision that Habakkuk saw of his people. Secondly, the vision of the Chaldeans. Thirdly, the vision of the Lord. Fourthly, the vision of what will happen to his people. Fifthly, the vision that Habakkuk had of himself. And sixthly, the vision of the future. Through these six visions there is the theme of deliverance.
The Vision of His People
These people were those that he lived amongst, who were his ethnic blood group. Judah, Israel, the people of God, the people of the covenants, the people of the adoption, the people of the glory, the people of the Word of God, those that had received the law.
This first vision of Habakkuk which he saw was not so much a direct revelation. It is found in 1: 2-4. This vision that he had was what he saw as a man of deep faith in the Lord and in the glory of the Lord, so much so, that he looked around and was unhappy to the core of his heart because of that which he saw. He was not unhappy for himself. He was unhappy because what he saw fell far short of the glory of God.
as a man of faith, knew Gods standards.
He had them written in his heart and mind, and in this first vision, the
vision of his people, he saw that the people fell far short of the glory of
God. He was like those children of Issachar, which
were men that had understanding of the times, to know what
Do we understand the times in which we live? Like Habakkuk, we are personal observers of all things around us. Do they concern us? Do we mourn because of sin? Do we mourn because of the wickedness of the nation and the western world, and because we see men falling short of the standards of God? Are we, like Habakkuk, concerned? Have we a vision of the people amongst whom we live?
With his knowledge of the word and will of God, Habakkuk had this burden. He saw that they were not just his people, but they were also Gods people. It evoked from him a series of questions and statements which he directed inquiringly at the Lord. In verses 2-4 he made eight statements and questions and gives six complaints.
The first question was, O LORD, how long shall I cry? (verse 2). Here was a man with the burden of Gods glory and the burden of this sinful people on his heart and he has been crying, How long shall I cry? There is also this complaint, Thou wilt not hear (verse 2). He felt that the heavens were as brass. A second question was, How long shall I ... cry out unto Thee of violence? There was violence amongst the people with whom he lived. Then, Thou wilt not save, is the complaint.
And then he made other questions and statements. Why dost Thou shew me iniquity? Why dost Thou ... cause me to behold grievance (see trouble)? for spoiling (plundering) and violence are before me; and there are that raise up strife and contention. All this, and his complaint therefore was that the law, the divine standard by which his nation should have lived, was powerless. Thus judgment (justice) doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about (surround) the righteous; therefore wrong (perverse) judgment proceedeth. There was not a lack of the law nor of judgment. It was there, but it was perverted, twisted, mangled, and pulverised.
Just like the higher critics have been doing to our Bible for about two hundred years, trying to pulverise, squeeze, and ruin it so that they twist Gods Word in such a manner to try and make it say something that it was never intended to say.
Here the prophet with the vision of his people, had terrible burning questions upon his mind and he vocalised them and directed them unto the Lord. His complaints are not blasphemous. It is not being too familiar with the Lord. It is a man who is deeply concerned, and one who really knows what Gods standard is and knows that it has been openly flouted.
sum total of this is, that when he looked at his people in this first vision,
he did not look for the deliverance of
Now let me just interject a contemporary application for us before we go any further. We are [or should be] todays Habakkuks. The name means embracing or clasping, and we are to embrace the whole of Gods divine revelation, and make it our own. Let us make the Word of God part of the fabric of our thoughts. Let all the Word of God permeate our lives, guide our thoughts, so that when we make the decisions of life, whether small or large, they are based upon Biblical principles. As Habakkuks today, we should be applying the revelation of Gods Word practically, so that it might be said of us that we have understanding of the times, to know what we ought to do and say.
The Vision of The Chaldeans
Habakkuks second vision is found in 1: 5-17 and 2: 5-13, 15-29. It is the largest vision in the book and was given by direct revelation. There is no possibility that Habakkuk could have seen this by personal observation, as he had the first vision. This second vision required a direct personal intervention by God coming to one of His servants with the word of truth, and, indeed, this extensive answer was the response to Habakkuks questions and complaints.
The Lord is truly marvellous. We take to Him in prayer the things that are upon our heart and He answers every believing prayer of His people. His answer may be Yes, or it may be No. Or it could be Wait. It is marvellous to see that Habakkuk had taken these things to God and the Lord came with the divine answer. Admittedly, it was not the answer that he was expecting, and we, when we pray, often have in our minds the answer we expect to our prayer!
Gentile world powers had come and had extended so successfully. Everything was going their way, so they gave the credit to their gods. That was human error. The truth is in verse 6, where God says, For lo, I raise up the Chaldeans. Human error gives credit to men, whereas it was God Who raised up these Chaldeans. He allowed them to have, in part, some of their human desires.
But to the Babylonians, like other nations and all the
wicked people that have ever been, the Lord says, Thus far, and no further. All nations
are under the divine control of the Lord.
Habakkuks desire for Gods intervention and for the chastisement of
That was not what Habakkuk wanted to hear. And oftentimes the Word of God, when it comes to us, is not what we want to hear. But this was Gods Word and it came to Habakkuk, and was the direct answer to Habakkuks questions, statements and complaints. In my imagination, I can visualise Habakkuk in his room or on that watch tower, and the Lord gave this marvellous vision of the Chaldeans. I can see him beginning to feel weak and utterly inadequate to receive this message. The army is described in verse 8. Their horses were swifter than leopards and more fierce than the evening wolves. Their chargers were to charge ahead. Their cavalry was to come from afar. They would fly as the eagle that hastens to eat. They would have sieges, for they heap up mounds (verse 10). This is something of what they will do, and it is terrible for Habakkuk to see.
Of course, we look back now with hindsight and thus have the advantage over Habakkuk. When we look back with retrospect, we see that these things were necessary. But if we put ourselves in Habakkuks situation we would recognise this as the coming of a bitter and a hasty nation, and it was terrible, dreadful. We can imagine Habakkuk saying, Who is sufficient for these things? The Chaldean desire was for dominion of the world. They wanted to be masters of everything, to have dominion over everyone, to control the lives of all.
We may remember what the Lord did in His providence, when He allowed Hitler, who had this similar ambition, to go so far and no further.
Then, Habakkuk was given a dreadful description of the terrible treatment to which these Chaldeans subjected people that they gathered together like sand. Look at 1: 14-17. In these verses, men are viewed under two figures - fishes and creeping things. These metaphors show how extensive these Chaldeans were in dealing with individual people, not numbers.
In these days, many of us belong to big multi-national companies that simply use a number to identify their employees. But these were real people, like us, who had hearts that pumped blood around their bodies, people that had memories, loved ones, children, grandparents. They were real people. Look what the Chaldeans did to them. They take up all of them with the angle (hook), they catch them in their net, and gather them in their drag (dragnet) (verse 15).
I live not far from a coast and oftentimes go down to the harbour. I see the large nets hanging out to dry after they have been to sea. I am told that some of these nets are miles long. It staggers me to comprehend that, but they put these nets into the water. The weights take the furthest end down and they can grab them back again with a rope. The small fish go through the net and the others are caught. This is a picture of the Chaldeans gathering together all these people. That was their first inhumanity. Therefore they rejoice and are glad (verse 15). They were happy doing this, as I suppose many Nazi jackboots were in pursuing their exploits.
The second inhumanity is recorded in verse 16. Because by them their share was sumptuous, for they stole from the dead bodies of the people, they burned incense to their dragnet. That was going back to verse 11, they imputed it unto their gods and burned incense to a net of rope, just as the Assyrians worshipped metal covered wood and gold covered metal. They were doing the same.
The third inhumanity is found in verse 17, Shall they therefore empty their net, and not spare continually to slay the nations? There was no pity with these Chaldeans. They were very ruthless. They seem to have been insatiable, emptying the net of capture, just to refill and replenish. Their lust for the souls of men, their constant drive to conquer, the attendant reward of treasure [Page 54] consumed culture after culture. Their idolatry is described in verse 16, Therefore they sacrifice unto their net, and bum incense unto their drag. Then the metaphor of the creeping things that have no ruler over them. These Chaldeans, it would seem, had generals and they had a king but many of the individuals within the army were a law unto themselves. Their mandate was worldly dominion, and that was easy when an army are like minded with the principles of their leaders.
is what they were going to do, but what were they like? Well, Habakkuk was then given quite an
extensive profile of this evil and avaricious nation, teaching us that
it is only when we have gathered all the facts together, we can truly pray in
an informed and intelligent manner.
You see, while Habakkuk received this vision of the Chaldeans, after he
had seen the vision of his people, then was he able to set himself on his watch
tower and wait and pray. He could do it
more informed and more intelligently: in Habakkuks case, to pray fervently,
not for chastisement, as in the initial vision, but for deliverance. It was prayer for the temporal deliverance of
Now this revelation of what these Chaldeans were like, falls into two parts. There is a general description and a particular description.
The general description covers everyone within that nation. They were a bitter and hasty nation (1: 6), and they were terrible and dreadful (1: 7). That is what they were like as a group, an army, a people, a civilisation.
Then the particular description is given in 2: 5-20, and we see that everything was motivated by a particular aspect that is not too far from us today. Verse 5 says, Also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell [Sheol]. It would seem that wine or drink was the consuming passion of this nation. This is what motivated and controlled these people. They were drunkards physically with wine, but they were drunk with their own pride and passions and with the feeling of their own self importance, and also of their own destiny (1: 11). Remember that this is the first of the Gentile nations.
In the passage that follows, different groups of people are mentioned - the thief (2: 6-8), the liar (2: 6-8), the covetous (2: 9-11), the unscrupulous (2:12-14), the licentious (2: 15-17), the idolatrous (2: 18-19). All these things made up this nation. This was the particular description of the hearts and minds of these people. Our present society is very like them. There are so many things about these Chaldeans which indicate they were worse than the Assyrians. They had learned from the Assyrians, the last of the Semitic empires, and they were worse. There was no restraint. But in this graphic description of the personality of these people, we also have the proof that God will deliver. Chapter 2: 6 speaks of a taunting proverb. So that which is in the rest of that chapter is Gods taunting proverb of what would happen to these people.
destruction was to come upon the thieves (verses 6-8). You know the account in Daniel 5. Belshazzar was given the
message written by a hand on the wall.
He saw the writing but could not understand it, and Daniel was bidden to
go in and interpret this. The message
was one of judgment upon Belshazzar. The
Medes and the Persians had been camping outside those walls of
Verses 9-11 have a message for the covetous. The stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it (verse 11). These two inanimate objects, in a sense, are given voices, so that if all else were destroyed, the wood and the stone would witness against this covetous people. God knows the heart, and Psalm 139 teaches us that He also knows the motives which control our hearts. He Who knows the word before it has fallen upon the tongue, knew these people and He said that these things would witness against them.
In verses 12-14, there is a word for the unscrupulous. We read that the unrighteous ambitions will be replaced with righteousness. I like that. Gods righteousness is going to replace this wickedness. Now, of course, it was not to be at that time because it speaks of a future time, and these things will yet come to pass.
For the licentious in verses 15-17, destruction, both divine (verse 16), and human (verse 17) would come upon them.
For the idolatrous, dead religion will be replaced by the true, because The LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him (2: 20). The reference to the wood and stone is found again for they overlaid their wood and their stone with gold and silver (2: 19). Many times we read in the Scriptures, that idols have eyes but cannot see, noses but they cannot smell, mouths but they cannot speak. They cannot use the senses and yet that is what men bow down before and worship. If we compare that verse with the earlier one we notice that their very idols to which they bowed down, will speak against them in that day which is yet to come.
The Vision of The Lord
In this third vision there is a wonderful picture. For, although Habakkuk was given a personality profile in chapter 2, it seems that initially he did not understand Gods judgments upon these individual groups, because he set himself on the watch tower still concerned and praying for temporal deliverance. We are like that. It sometimes takes good spiritual, Biblical meditation. That is not the meditation of the eastern cults which empty their minds and allow them to be filled with whatever goes in, because we are told in the gospels that that will be demonic impressions. No, we take the Scripture and meditate upon it and, like a spiritual ruminator, chew it over in our mind until we receive understanding. It seems that Habakkuk had not yet experienced that.
The vision had come quickly, and the powerful impressions had laid upon his mind. It is just like us. When we are sitting under preaching, at the end of the message we usually remember some points and it may be, if we have [Page 57] opportunity later, we meditate and remember other points which may have been equally as important but which may not have impressed us initially. That is what happened to Habakkuk. He had received the large impressions but the smaller ones were still to filter through. In this third vision, Habakkuk was given a wonderful vision of the Lord, what and where He is and what He will do. This revelation outlined in this vision gave Habakkuk the confidence and the assurance for the deliverance of God.
First of all, attributes of God are mentioned (1: 12-13).
God is eternal. Art Thou not from everlasting (1: 12).
That is confirmed by His ways are everlasting (3:
6). Gods holy, Mine Holy One (1: 12). God is also the Judge, Thou hast ordained (appointed) them for judgment ... Thou hast established (marked) them for correction (1:
12). That is, the Chaldeans, not
Here the Lord came to Habakkuk in this tremendous vision of Who and what He is. In a sense, it was not bringing anything to Habakkuk that was new, otherwise it would be futile for us to sit under preaching week after week. We have to be reminded of truth, which, from time to time, has to be emphasised and explained and clearly brought out so that our hearts can be warmed by things.
So this vision of the Lord, as it came to Habakkuk here in 1: 12-13, was a marvellous confirmation to him. It is as if the Lord went into Habakkuks mind and brought that which was already there. We can do that with a tape recorder. We listen to a message and there is something we have not quite taken in. We cannot stop the preacher and ask him to explain that point again, but on a recording machine we can press the pause button, rewind and play again to get the salient facts.
It is as if Habakkuk had experienced this. The Lord had brought things to Habakkuks mind, and he responded Thou art from everlasting. He [Page 58] remembered that Jehovah is the God of the eternal covenant made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and he knew that Cod is a holy and righteous God, that sin must be dealt with, and that God is a judge, Who has appointed these Chaldeans for judgment and for correction, and that God is unmovable in all His ways. He is the unchangeable God. It is an inference from the rock that He is for ever the same, and it was upon this truth that Habakkuk could rest. And of course, he knew that God is pure in all His ways.
On the day that Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple (Isaiah 6), what did he do? If he had been a present day charismatic, he would have jumped up onto the pews clapping his hands, uttering words unspeakable. But not Isaiah. He said, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips (though a prophet!). When a person has a vision of the Lord, it shows the true wickedness of the human heart. It does not exalt, it humbles. Having a vision of God puts us in our proper place.
This is what happened to Habakkuk. These things were being impressed upon his mind. A further confirmation of this is the position of God in the universe, The LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him (2: 20). All the earth silent before Him! There are times when we, as the Lords people, speak a little too much, and there are times when we ought to keep silent, to listen, and wait as Elijah did for that still, small voice.
gave Habakkuk confirmation, but surely the greatest of all is that appearance
of the Lord, that Christophany. God came from Teman, and the
Holy One from
The Vision of What Will Happen to His People
This fourth vision is found in Habakkuk 1: 12-13. It is very closely connected to the vision of the Lord. The Lord was very near to His people then, and is to us even now. He inhabits the hearts of His people.
Habakkuk in his perplexity directed another seven questions to the Lord found in verses 12, 13, 14 and 17. (1) Art Thou not from everlasting, O LORD, my God, my Holy One? Remember, he was taking these things into the fabric of his mind and being at this time. (2) Wherefore lookest Thou upon them that deal treacherously? (3) Why holdest Thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man who is more righteous than he? (4) Why makest men as the fishes of the sea? (5) Why makest men ... as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them? (6) Shall they therefore empty their net? (7) Shall they ... continually to slay the nations? These were the questions burning in his mind. But also in verses 12-13 we find Habakkuks confidence. First of all, confidence concerning Gods people, We shall not die (verse 12).
Initially, he prayed or desired chastisement, but he was brought to pray for deliverance, and this prayer was based upon the nature of God. So must our prayers be. We must pray in faith, believing that the Lord is, and that He is the diligent rewarder of His people. Our prayers must be based on the nature and character and being of God, otherwise we ask amiss (see James 4: 3).
The confidence was beginning to creep into Habakkuk. We shall not die. We have an everlasting God with an everlasting covenant. If the everlasting covenant is broken, then there is no everlasting God. That was the implication, and he realised that that could not be so. His confidence increased.
His second confidence was concerning the Chaldeans, O LORD, Thou hast ordained them for judgment; and O mighty God (Rock), Thou hast established (marked) them for correction (verse 12). Yes, the Lord was going to deal with this wicked and fierce nation. Possibly after he had seen the vision of his people and was then given a vision of the Chaldeans, maybe his faith faltered slightly, but then his confidence in his God was gained, Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity (wickedness) (verse 13).
His great problem was how could God use an unclean nation to chastise His people, but then he realised they were destined for correction themselves.
this temporal deliverance at this period of time was a preparation, or
foretaste of a greater future deliverance of
The Vision That Habakkuk Had of Himself
Habakkuks fifth vision is of himself, found in 2: 1-3 and 3: 6-19. This vision, like the first vision, that of his people, was born out of faith, experience and a resolve based upon Scriptural revelation. There is nothing better that we can do than to follow these eight principles. First of all, he watched (2: 1). He was Gods watcher. We are Gods watchers. He watched from his watch tower. A watch tower had to be a prominent place. We are not to be hidden. We are not to cloister ourselves away in nunneries or monasteries. These are so unbiblical. We are in the world and not of the world, but we are to be the light of the world and salt of the earth.
Also, he waited (2: 1). We are to be watching and waiting also. There are a lot of things around us which are wrong and evil. We do not like them. We speak against them when we have opportunity. We do not engage in them because we know that ultimately, as Habakkuk knew, the Lords people and the Lord will have the victory. Righteousness will be established, so we are to wait also.
Thirdly, we should be people of prayer (3: 1), in season and out of season, and, as Paul said, to pray without ceasing. When Paul wrote that, he spoke not so much of the act of prayer as the attitude. As believers we are to live and breathe a life of prayer.
Fourthly, part of the believing experience is a vast answer (2: 4 - 3: 19). It is the answer of the Lord, with nearly two whole chapters given to the question and statement of Habakkuk. And here are answers by the Lord to those four forms of revelation that we saw earlier, and by this marvellous appearance of the Lord which the prophet experienced.
Fifthly, we cannot leave this book without looking at the verse which so helped Martin Luther in the Protestant Reformation under the Lords hand, Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith (2: 4). That verse states the whole doctrine of justification by faith alone without works. We are to be people of faith, exercising faith continuously. Our lives are built on faith, something that the people of this world, our neighbours, friends, colleagues, acquaintances neglect completely. We have faith that the Lord will bring these things to pass. Although the Lord has seemed to have tarried, we are not like the scorners mentioned by Peter. We wait because we believe the Lord will fulfil His Word.
Sixthly, the physical effects are mentioned in 3: 16, When I heard, my belly trembled; my lips quivered at the voice: rottenness entered into my bones, and I trembled in myself, that I might rest in the day of trouble: when he cometh up unto the people, he will invade them with his troops. Habakkuk was saying he was affected when he saw the Lord. This is something that he physically experienced, his belly was unsettled, his lips quivered, rottenness entered his bones, he trembled within himself at the presence of the Lord. There are times in our lives when we have experienced such things. But our confidence is in Lord.
The book finishes with Yet (3: 18). We would not have guessed when we started the prophecy that it would have finished in such a way. We would never think that this was the same man. He concluded, I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. If at the beginning, he was the unhappy man, at the end of this book, he was the happy man. Habakkuk rejoiced in the Lord, and I think there is cause for true rejoicing in the Lord. It is not limited to an extrovert section of Christendom. It is for all Gods people to be happy in the revelation of the Lord as we see it exemplified wonderfully here in the closing words of Habakkuk.
Finally, the eighth aspect of living was his resolving The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like hinds feet, and He will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments (3: 19). Here was a completely different man. He was a man with a lightness of foot, joy in his heart, the Lord had given him back his strength.
I think of the latter verses of that hymn by John Newton, Amazing Grace, speaking of when we shall put off this mortality and this corruption, this weakness, this feebleness, and be changed into that wonderful glory yet to be. When Ive been there a thousand years, bright shining as the sun; Ive no less days to sing Gods praise, than when I first begun. We may be weak now, but we shall be strong.
The Vision of the Future
In closing, let us consider the sixth and final vision because Habakkuk saw the future also. In 2: 14 he spoke about the universal dominion of the Lord in the millennial period, For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. Does that not give you hinds feet? Does that not give you rejoicing? To see that there is this glorious prospect before us in this marvellous revelation.
We may wonder why the Lord injected these little verses in the most unusual places, but we see that it is not so unusual because, in verses 12-14, we read. Woe to him that buildeth a town with blood, and stablisheth a city by iniquity! Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the people shall weary themselves for very vanity? Here is human effort.
is the Chaldeans exemplified because as we know from exhibits in the
Then there is that whole portion (3: 3-16), where we find the marvellous truth of the second advent of our Lord Jesus and His coming to judge the nations. We read of the events upon the earth (verse 10), and of the astral events (verse 11), and marvellous glory (verse 13) coming to a people. Thou wentest forth for the salvation of Thy people, even for salvation with Thine Anointed; Thou woundest the head out of the house of the wicked, by discovering the foundation unto the neck.
we see in this marvellous book the temporal deliverance of
* * *
Judgment of the Nations and the
By David Park
Prophecy of Amos teaches how God treats sin, and how He views, apostasy. It shows that the Lord has not finished with
the nation of
1. The Prophets Background and Character
The opening two verses of the Book introduce us to the prophecy ‑ to the prophet, and to the book. The scene is set. The details of the prophets background and character are briefly stated.
opening words tell us about his work.
Amos followed a lowly occupation.
He may be called the herdsman prophet. We have his own testimony recorded for us in chapter 7, as he speaks about the call of God in
his life. In verses
14 and 15, Amos said to Amaziah, I was no prophet,
neither was I a prophets son; but I was an herdman,
and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: and the LORD took me as I followed the flock,
and the LORD said unto me. Go, prophesy unto My
a native of
We not only see his occupation in these opening words, but we see his home town. It was a town called Tekoa, a little place situated in highlands about 12 miles south of Jerusalem or 6 miles south of Bethlehem. This area is described in 2 Chronicles 20: 20 as wilderness, a place of barrenness. And so it may be assumed that he had a tough and hard life and would not have found it easy to obtain a living. He learned to endure hardness in Gods training school.
Amos never had any formal education in the schools of the prophets of his day as those who had gathered round Elijah and Elisha. But he was by no means untutored or ignorant. He was taught of the Lord. He possessed a deep knowledge of history and a deep understanding of the problems of his day.
also see in these opening verses the period of time in which he
prophesied. He ministered during the
reigns of Uzziah, king of
However, prosperity had corrupted the people, sin was widespread, and Amos very difficult task in challenging the abounding godlessness of this particular period of complacency, materialism, and hardness of heart. They were a difficult people. They did not want to hear his message. They only wanted to ridicule what he preached. That was the kind of period in which he ministered.
We also discover the message that he was to bring! This is indicated in these [Page 66] opening verses. It was a message of doom. The tone of the prophets message is set at the opening of the book where the earthquake is mentioned. You will see in verse 1 that he was called by God to minister two years before the earthquake. This earthquake must have been of exceptional severity, for Zechariah speaks of it nearly 300 years later as an event well remembered (Zechariah 14: 5). The earthquake seems to illustrate how God would shake the nations - divine judgment would fall. The whole book, except for a brief passage at the end, is a message of doom.
Furthermore, his native town, Tekoa, comes from the root meaning to blow the trumpet. The prophecy may be viewed as a trumpet blast. You will notice that in chapter 3: 6 the question is asked, Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? The trumpet was used to sound the alarm and even in the name of Tekoa we see the sounding of the alarm, the very calling of the prophet to blast the trumpet and so warn the people of his day.
The Lord is not to be thought of as an excuser of sin, but as an executioner of judgment against sin. The burden of Amos concerned punishment. He had a stern message for that complacent, self-indulgent age. He was the prophet of woe! God does not overlook or dismiss [wilful] sin. Hence the solemn warning from the Lord is pronounced to this people, Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark and no brightness in it? (5: 18-20). The Hebrews tended to look to the day of the Lord as the day of their glory and power, but Amos reminds them that in their unrepentant state it will be a day of darkness, a day when sin will be called to account.
2. Outline of the Book
Perhaps at this stage I could give a summary or brief outline of the Book.
Chapter 1 - 2: 3 - Judgment of Surrounding Nations
begins his prophecy of woe by crying against the surrounding nations who were
occupying territory given to
Chapter 2: 4-16 - Judgment
The thunder-storm of Gods wrath destined for the neighbouring
kingdoms, now spills over into
Chapter 3 - Judgment according to Privilege
I want you to notice in particular verse 2. You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.
the words in Deuteronomy 7: 6-8, speaking of
this unique relationship that they enjoyed with the Lord, it says, For thou art an holy people
unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a
special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the
earth. And the next verse shows us that it was
through the elective purposes of God. It
was not because there was any good thing dwelling in
Lord remembers the oath He had made. God
has a special love for the Jew. No one
can deny that if they study the Scriptures.
God had giver prophets and revealed His secrets to them.
Chapter 4 - Judgment by Chastening
rod of correction had been applied already to call this nation to repent before
it was too late. As you go down the 4th
chapter, you will find that God had sent famine, drought, pestilence, defeat in battle, and providential disaster but to no
avail. For again and again we read, Yet have ye not returned unto
Me, saith the LORD. God had
chastened His people. He acted to bring
them into the way again, to bring them to the place of repentance by applying
the corrective rod. But the people of
Chapter 5 & 6 - Judgment of the Careless and Complacent
from chapter 6, we are reminded again of the
complacency of the people, and how the judgment was to come to those who had
taken their ease. Woe to them that are at ease
Chapter 7 - 9: 10 - Judgment Symbolised by Visions
In these chapters, we have the vision of grasshoppers, the vision of fire, the vision of plumbline, the vision of summer fruit, and the vision of the Lord standing on the altar.
Chapter 9: 11-15 - A Joyful Restoration
last verses of the prophecy anticipate a day of joyful restoration. After all the warnings, after
all the threatenings, after all the judgments, after all the woes, after all
the doom, there is a message of hope.
The restoration of
Unfulfilled Purpose for the Nation of
passage is full of the I wills of
God. The I wills of God are always a blessing to me when I read them. God has revealed what He will do, and this
portion of His Word speaks of these things. I will command (verse 9). I will sift (verse 9). In
that day will I raise up the
tabernacle of David (verse 11).
I will raise
up his ruins (verse 11). I will build it as in the
days of old (verse 11). The
over-take the reaper (verse 13). These things are definite and plain. The
mountains shall drop sweet wine
(verse 13). The hill, shall melt
(verse 13). I will bring
again the captivity of My people of
A) Prospect of
God says, In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old. As in the days of old, tells us that God is going to raise up again that which was in a previous time. That Day is a reference to the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is the day of the Lord, about which the Scriptures speak so often. This dreadful day of Judgment will also be a day of Grace! In this day there will be a restoration of the kingdom.
The tabernacle referred to is not the tabernacle of Moses. The prophecy does not concern a re-establishment of the Levitical economy. The word employed for tabernacle bears no relation to that which stood in the wilderness. It is the Hebrew word sukkah which means booth or covert. It was a word used as far back as Jobs day, long before the tabernacle was erected in the wilderness. Amos is pointing to the dwelling place of David. One day it will be set up again. Verse 11 concerns the reintroduction of the kingdom. In this restored kingdom, north and south are reunited. They are unified. Both sections of the nation are made one under the royal banner of David. This will be fulfilled to the letter. The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and* of His kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1: 32-33).
[* NOTE. The and above should be seen as a disjunction - separating Christs millennial kingdom on this earth, from His eternal kingdom in a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21: 1).]
and time again through the Scriptures we are reminded of the re-establishment
of the kingdom. The apostles, right up
until the day that Jesus Christ was taken from them into glory, were still
looking for the reestablishment of the kingdom.
As they had studied the prophetic word, they realised that this was to
be. As they had spent time in the
presence of Jesus Christ [Messiah] during that three and a half year period, they were
all the more convinced that such a day which was yet to be. On the day that the Lord was taken up into
glory, they asked the question, Wilt Thou at this time restore again
the kingdom to
B) Possession of
verse says, That
they may possess the remnant of
C) Productiveness of
You will notice again and again in the prophetic word that we have the phrase, saith the LORD. The Lord has spoken these things. Behold, the days come, [Page 72] saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.
The restoration will bring unbelievable abundance. There will be no more curse or failing crops. The land will be rich and productive. The harvest lasts until the vintage, and the vintage continues to the seed-time. There is one continuous produce, one perpetual round of toil and success. The very mountains usually associated with barrenness and difficulty of cultivation are fertile and productive.
is a parallel reference in Joel
3: 18, where we are told, It shall come to pass in that day (that day - the coming of the Lord - [the day of a
thousand years]) that the mountains drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with
milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall
come forth of the house the LORD, and
shall water the valley of Shittim. This points to the
productive day [of the LORD] that will occur in the
D) Prosperity of
I will bring again the captivity of My
E) Promise of
a wonderful verse this is! And I will plant them upon
their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have
given them, saith the LORD thy God. The return of Jesus
Christ will make this fulfilment possible.
In the day of His coming,
The prophecy of Amos will see its
fulfilment in that day. What he foretells of 1sraels restoration has not yet
come to pass, nor can it till that day.
There are those who tell us that this prophecy is past,
that these concluding verses of Amos are over, fulfilled in Acts 15, when the Apostle James quoted from part
of this portion. But James only drew a
statement from the prophetic word by of illustration in regard to the salvation
of the Gentiles. He was merely applying
a principle. He simply said, To this agree the words of
the prophets (15: 15). He never once suggested that the prophecy of Amos was fulfilled. Oft times when a prophecy has been fulfilled,
we have in the Scriptures the words, That it might be fulfilled. Then we have
an indication that it is in fulfilment of what has been written aforetime. But there is none of that in Acts 15. He
could not have made the suggestion that the prophecy was fulfilled, because
this prophecy belongs to a future time.
These final verses of Amos have never seen their accomplishment by any
stretch of the imagination. But in that day they will.
For the Lord will bring about the restoration of
Oh, the joy to see Thee reigning, Thee, my own beloved Lord! Every tongue Thy name confessing; Worship, honour, glory, blessing brought to Thee with one accord: Thee, my Master and my Friend, vindicated and enthroned, unto remotest end glorified, adored, and owned!
One day the Lord and all that He has said will be vindicated, and we will see the fulfilment of these very words. May the Lord hasten that day for Jesus sake.
* * *
Among the Nations
By H J Gamston
As we consider the Prophecy of Micah, I want, first of all, to explain that he is called in Hebrew, Mika-yahu. Yahu being the ancient Name of the God of Israel, his name means, Who is like Yahweh (Jehovah)? Like that of Elijah, Elisha, Hosea, Joel, Obadiah and others, Micahs name is import. Such names coupled with that of God, or Yahweh, signified the persons attitude and allegiance to the One True God. In the case of Micah, it was a particular challenge to the false prophets as well as a general challenge sinners.
A verse on which to focus our attention as we consider this prophecy is found in Micah 7: 18, where we read, Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy. Our attention focuses immediately on the glorious truth that none can be so just as the God of Israel. None can be so merciful as He Who pardons the remnant of His heritage.
us remind ourselves at the outset of our message, that Gods justice and mercy
are only extended to those who truly repent of their sin and believe the Gospel
that Christ Jesus
came into the world to save sinners (1
Timothy 1: 15). He died upon the cross at
was a contemporary of Isaiah. Both
prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of
spoke through His two faithful prophets at a time when both
John Calvin, commenting upon these two prophets, said, It was indeed enough that one man was sent by God to bear witness to the truth; but it pleased God that Isaiah and Micah should deliver their message at the same time, as it were, with one mouth, and avow their consent, that all the disobedient might be proved guilty.
came with words of condemnation. But
let us also note that both came with words of
consolation. Both speak
of a future blessing and restoration of
We have in this prophecy of Micah, three prophetic addresses or messages. Chapters 1 and 2 make up the first address. Chapters 3 to 5 make up the second. And chapters 6 and 7 make up the third. All three addresses commence with the words Hear ... ye.
They are not three separate prophecies delivered to the people at three different times, as some have suggested. A closer look at them will prove that they are merely portions or sections of a single whole. There is a clearly marked and carefully planned progressive movement which is apparent in their contents.
The first speaks of a threatening judgment. The second of the announcement of the Messianic salvation. And the third, the admonition to repentance and humiliation under the chastening hand of the Lord, in order to participate in the promised [future] salvation.
Gods Warning to an Ungodly Populace
In the first address, we see something of Gods warning to an ungodly populace (chapters 1 & 2). Micah, having introduced himself in the first verse, then proceeds, in verses 2-4 with the introduction to his message. He starts with an appeal, Hear, all ye people (nations); hearken, O earth, and all that therein (the fullness thereof).
The Hebrew word for hear is the word shaw-mah. It means to hear with attention or hear with obedience. It means also that they give undivided listening attention. We have a similar appeal to the earth and its fullness Isaiah 1: 2, and in Deuteronomy 32: 1. It is an appeal for the people to be attentive while the message is being proclaimed.
his message was to be of a threatening and punitive (inflicting) character, a
message of judgment upon
see from verses 3-4, that what the prophet is about to announce in word
the Lord will confirm by deed. Gods faithful prophet announces and describes
the terrible coming of the Lord Jehovah in judgment. Micah describes Him as coming forth from His Holy Temple (1: 2), that
is, from heaven, the
description by Micah of this theophany or manifestation is founded upon the idea of a terrible storm, and
the action of earthquakes and of volcanoes. Judges 5: 4 - LORD, when Thou wentest out of Seir, when Thou marchedst out of
the field of
We need always to be aware that the Lords active holiness goes forth day by into all the earth. It goes forth either in salvation or in judgment. It is for this reason that, as the Lords people today, we need to stand firm in our condemnation of all that which is unholy.
I want us to note five things in this first message concerning Gods warning to an ungodly populace.
Micah teaches in the opening statement of verse 5, that God is not angry for nothing.
It was because of the
transgression of Jacob or as it means in
the original, the falling away, the rebellion, and also, the
apostasy. This apostasy, which
had led to idolatry, had spread everywhere.
It had become the sins
of the house of
would seem that all the graven
images, were obtained by making use 'of the hire or rewards of an harlot, namely,
through gifts given by idolaters. Dear
friends, let us always bear in mind, that God will be the avenger of all idolatry
in whatever shape or form it is presented.
The Psalmist reminds us that, Jehovah is righteous in
all His ways, and holy in all His
works (Psalm 145: 17). Because this
apostasy and idolatry had commenced in the kingdom of the ten tribes, Gods
punishment was to begin with them.
This prophecy has been literally fulfilled. Today, all that can be seen of the hire is heaps of stones (verse 6), not only on the hill summit but also in the fields below. Archaeologists have uncovered the foundations of what was once the place of kings Omri and Ahab.
goes on to inform the people that this judgment would not stop at
punishment is likened to an incurable wound (verse
9). Its malignancy would reach the very heart of
the nation, even to
The Lord Jehovah will come down, says the prophet in verse 3, and tread upon the high places of the earth. The coming forth and the coming down in this verse, expresses the thought of a repeated act. God still intends to cleanse the land from every idol. He will accomplish that which He has purposed to do. If God has said He will do a thing, then we can be certain that He will do it (see Zechariah 13: 1-2).
the concern felt by Micah. Declare
(or, publish) ye it not at
(c) The Doom of Many Cities (1: 10-16).
judgment was to penetrate other areas also.
Ten cities are mentioned in these next verses. The Hebrew name of each place depicts the
type of judgment which was about to happen within them. I was interested to discover that five of the
cities lay to the north of
d) The Deeds of the Oppressors (2: 1-11).
Chapter 1 has denounced the sins the nation against God. Chapter 2 denounces the
sins of the leaders or rulers against man.
It would seem that
But their evil deeds were known to the prophet. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it evil (Ecclesiastes 12: 14). For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known (Luke 12: 2).
All this evil was accompanied by a hardness of heart so as not to hear the message from Gods prophet, the end of which resulted in Gods judgment in giving them over to their evil desires. When man is given his desire, a desire not born of the Lord, then leanness of soul always accompanies it (see Psalm 106: 15).
of the nations ungodliness, under the influence and evil deeds of the men, and
the lying statements of the false prophets, the threat of banishment from the
land eventually took place. Gods purpose for the
We need to be aware that there is a day which is yet to come, when, Gods final judgment will rest upon all ungodliness. We have in these verses a picture of that final day of the Lord when the judgment of the Lord Jehovah will reduce the earth to chaos.
(e) The Deliverance of the Remnant (2: 12-13).
Some believe these last two verses to be an announcement of judgment by the false prophets; that Jehovah was going to gather the remnant and cast them into one heap into the sheepfolds of Bozrah, those who were left, following the slaughters in wars and other calamities that they too might be destroyed. It is my conviction, with that of Delitzsch and others, that Micah is indeed not a prophet prophesying lies of wine and strong drink (verse 11). He has salvation to proclaim, only not for the morally corrupt people of his own time. They will be banished out of the land; but the captivity and dispersion are not at an end.
For the Remnant of Israel as well as the Nation of Israel, when sifted and refined by judgments, the time will come when the Lord Jehovah will assemble them again, miraculously multiply them, and redeem them as their King, and lead them home. These are not the words of some false prophet speaking in the Name of the God of Israel, and saying, I will gather. Rather, we would expect a false prophet to say, Jehovah will gather. The fact that Jehovah will gather them is more in keeping with the remainder of the prophecy.
reference to The Breaker in verse
13, which literally means One Who breaks open, is a reference to
Gods Way to His Unfulfilled Promises
In this prophecy of Micah, I want you to notice in the second address Gods way to His unfulfilled promises (chapters 3-5). I want us to notice three things of which these chapters speak. They speak of:-
Times. The first thing spoken of is troubled times (chapter 3). Micah continues to expand on the judgment already seen in 2: 1-2. It begins with the same charge,
Hear, I pray you only this time it is to the
is directed against the Prophets of
it is directed against all
three classes of the leaders of the nation, the princes, the priests and the prophets
(verses 9-12). Because of their evil and lying practices,
But we ask, when did these things happen, and at what
All their peace seeking today will not bring with it
the blessings of the Lord God, which are predicted in the remaining chapters of
our prophecy, as well as in the other Books of the Minor Prophets, and also in
many other Scriptures. Nor will it
(b) Tranquil Times. The Lord would have us notice in this second address
that it not only speaks of troubled times, but it also speaks of tranquil times
(chapter 4). Note with
what little word this chapter starts But. How reassuring are the
Troubled times for
When the Bible speaks of the last days, it denotes the Messianic era. When you come across the phrase, in that day it refers to the immediate. Here Micah refers quite clearly to some other time, to the last or literally, the after days, that is, after the judgments which Micah has predicted will happen. The Jewish Nation is yet to experience a time of real peace.
In the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears [Page 83] into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit down every man under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it (4: 1-4).
Jehovah has said, I will assemble her that halteth (that is, which limps), and I will gather her that is driven out, (or scattered abroad), and her that I have afflicted (4: 6). Limping signifies a miserable condition. This misery has been inflicted upon them by Jehovah Himself. They are the ones whom Jehovah has punished for their sins.
The gathering of the nation, as we saw in chapter 2: 12-13, has already been promised. Here in verses 6-7, it is promised to the remnant. This remnant will then become a strong nation. Such a promise is as yet still unfulfilled. Many Jewish people, as individuals, have already come to saving faith in their Mesiah Yeshua. These have already found peace within the Church, but the re-gathering into a strong nation is yet to be fulfilled. The events which follow in the remaining verses of the chapter, are events which will precede the tranquil times.
(c) Triumphant Times. The third thing we notice in this second address is that it speaks not only of troubled times and of tranquil times; but it also speaks of triumphant times (chapter 5). Many preachers over the years have made use of verse 2, to proclaim the first coming of our Lord at His Incarnation. They give little or no thought whatsoever that this verse speaks also of His second coming in His glorification. This is one of those Bible verses which has only found a partial fulfilment so far.
we do have in this verse the Prophecy of His Birth, He shall come. Yes, we do have in this verse
the Place of His Birth,
rest of the story is found in the words, to be Ruler in
allegorise the last part of the verse and call
first coming was literal, He was literally born in
this is not the end. He is coming again
to be Ruler in
Such an one will arise. He is called in Scripture, the Antichrist (1 John 2: 18; 4: 3; 2 John 7). The apostle Paul calls him that man of sin (2 Thessalonians 2: 3), who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God (2 Thessalonians 2: 4). He will come bringing in a false peace. I say false, because this will ultimately lead to the last great conflict, and the final overthrow of Satan and his Antichrist. And then shall that Wicked (lawless one) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming (2 Thessalonians 2: 8).
This is an event which the world has yet to
experience. It will take place prior to
the restoration of the glory of
Then in the remainder of chapter 5: 3-9 we have described, Israels vindication at the end of the great tribulation, or, as it is called, the time of Jacobs trouble (Jeremiah 30:7). The nation of Assyria was the enemy in Micahs day, and was representative or a type of the Antichrist, the Assyrian, mentioned in verses 5-6, who, in the great tribulation period will seek to blot out Gods plan and purpose for His chosen people, Israel.
from Pharaohs time to our day and beyond is leading this colossal attack. But the Messiah will be the Champion of the
revelation of the Messiah in this portion is indeed full. He is first seen as Babe born in
Gods Word to an Ungrateful People
This leads us to consider finally the third address, Gods Word to an Ungrateful People (chapters 6-7). Micah having declared in his first address the judgment which has fallen upon the nation because of its sins; having declared in his second address the salvation awaiting the remnant saved and purified through judgment, now proceeds to point out the way of salvation, by telling them that they have brought the judgment upon themselves by their ingratitude and resistance to His commandments.
In this third address He tells them through His prophet that it is only through sincere repentance that they can participate in His covenant mercies. He rebukes them and contends with them for their unkindness (verses 3-5). God is not unkind to them, for notice, they are addressed with the words O My people. This emphasises their relationship to Him despite their sin. He reminds them of all the way in which He had cared for them. He rebukes the them and contends with them for their ignorance (verses 6-9). He rebukes them and contends with them because of their injustice (verses 10-15). Finally, He rebukes them and contends with them because of their idolatry (verse 16).
God is still exhorting His wayward people to remember His mercies of old. He anticipates the day when they will know
His greatest mercy of all: that is, eternal life through the sacrifice of His
We close with the words of Micah (7: 18-20), Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from days of old.
Blessed day when He comes to reign from His Holy Hill of Zion, when faith shall give way to sight, and we shall see our glorious King. He is coming again, and in that day, The LORD shall be King over all the earth: in that day there shall be one LORD, and His Name one (Zechariah 14: 9).
* * *
Day of the Lord
By C A Monk
subject is the Book of Zephaniah - its three chapters about
The prophetic books vary from sixty-six chapters down to one chapter. Zephaniah is one of those lovely sort of cameos of that whole section of the Word of God from Isaiah to Malachi. A cameo is a small but complete picture of a vast whole. Thus in Zephaniah, it is quite remarkable how the Spirit of God led this man to prophesy that which we have in these three chapters. To him it was one continual revelation. Men have divided it into chapters and verses in later years.
This book has four parts. In chapter 1: 1-13, there is the chastening of the Jews by the Lord. Then in 2: 4-15, there is the punishing of the nations by the Lord. Then in 3: 1-13, we have the restoring of the nation by the Lord. And concluding, in 3: 14-20, is the blessing of the nation by the Lord.
The Chastening of The Jews
read in chapter 1: 1-7, The
word of the LORD which came unto
Zephaniah ... in the days of Josiah the son of Amon, king
a prophet to
you imagine it? Here was that nation
called by God, blessed with the divine blessings that were made in covenant
with Abraham, and here they are worshipping in
spoke of Zephaniah as a cameo. Going
Surely this is because our land is worshipping the stars of heaven. I do not suppose that there is a secular publication, that is, newspaper or magazine, where there is no horoscope. It is not included to fill a page, but because it helps to sell what is wanted. And even in religious circles, how many are swearing by the Lord and then by Malcham - confusing God and mammon, God and the devil! It is sad. Yet it was happening in those days.
Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand. This was a great warning by Zephaniah to those people - the day of the LORD is at hand. Indeed, the hand of the Lord was coming in judgment upon that land. And we need to realise that many centuries after Zephaniahs time, in the day in which we live, we have to declare that the day of the LORD is at hand, the day of judgment. Many may not listen. Many may scorn.
Peter tells us that people will
say, Where is
the promise of His coming? (2 Peter 3: 4). This is the
worlds attitude, with no thought of judgment to come. And even to this blessed nation of
Verse 8 says, It shall come to pass in the day of the LORDs sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the kings children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel. Judgment was to start in high places, amongst the royalty. Zephaniah prophesied in Josiahs reign. Looking back into the nations history, Josiahs father, Amon, was an idolater, and an evil man. Long before Solomon had departed from walking in the ways of the Lord. Even today, our royal house is in complete turmoil. There was a time when our royal house would have stood for the truth of God. Sadly, that does not appear to be so now.
In the same day also will I punish all those that leap on the threshold, which fill their masters houses with violence and deceit. And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that there shall be the noise of a cry from the fish [Page 91] gate, and an howling from the second, and a great crashing from the hills. Howl, ye inhabitants of Maktesh, for all the merchant people are cut down; all they that bear silver are cut off (1: 9-11).
It seems to me that in those days when Zephaniah was testifying to those people, it was a commercial world which he was addressing. The Maktesh was the place of the market where all the buying and selling would be. That was a central feature of their lives. Commerce had overtaken this people and they were trusting in trade rather than in God. Is that not so today? All those that leap on the threshold (verse 9). People were taking advantage of others. There nothing new under the sun. The situation today that we see is pictured before by us by Zephaniah.
And says, It shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees: that say in their heart, The LORD will not do good, neither will He do evil (1: 12). Therefore they infer that He does nothing. Do we not hear that today so often and so blatantly?
Therefore their goods shall become a booty, and their houses a desolation: they shall also build houses, but not inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, but not drink the wine thereof. The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung. Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in day of the LORDs wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His Jealousy: for He shall make even a speedy riddance of all them that dwell in the land (1: 13-18).
What an awful declaration of Gods anger even against that nation. He says that the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy. He was jealous for His Own glorious Name. Because the people had departed from Him, He comes as a consuming fire.
Really this section continues to 2: 3. Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired (or, a nation not desiring to worship the Lord); before the decree bring forth; before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORDs anger come upon you. Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORDs anger (2: 1-3).
In the remainder of chapter 2 there is a complete parallel between the departure and the wickedness amongst the nation of the Jews and of the same thing among the nations round about them. But the wonder of Gods grace is that although He declares His anger against these peoples, He brings too the message of His divine grace and mercy. I think it is most lovely that He brings it to them because they are His covenant people. He had made a covenant will them. He had made a covenant with Abraham, with David, and they were His covenant people. They had departed from Him. They had broken the covenant. But God is so mercifully blessed in this that He does not break His part of the covenant with them. They are still His people.
in 1: 1-2: 3 there is this great declaration of Gods anger, but
it is the anger of chastening. He gives
blessing to His people when they seek Him.
Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which
have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye
shall be hid in the day of the LORDs anger. It had been so at the time of leaving
[* See 1 Cor. 10: 6, 11. cf. Num. chapter14; 16: 24, 33-35.]
The Punishing of The Nations
is a complete contrast. The Lords hand will come upon Philistia, of which
And the coast shall be for the remnant of
the house of
believe that God is revealing His hand at the present time because
But he says that the coast shall be for the remnant of the
The Bible says of the Assyrian
that he was the rod of Gods anger (Isaiah 10: 5).
he continues, I have heard the
was highlighted recently when Mr Saddam
Then the prophet goes on, This they shall have for their pride,
because they have reproached and magnified themselves against the people of the
LORD of hosts (2:
That is the secret. They oppose
the people of the Lord of hosts. The LORD will be
terrible unto them: for He will famish all the gods of the earth; and men shall
worship Him, every one from his place, even all the
isles of the heathen. Ye Ethiopians
also, ye shall be slain by My sword. And he shall stretch out his hand against the
north, and destroy Assyria; and will make
the prophet speaks of that very nation which had plundered and taken the
nations of the world do what they think they like, but they are not aware that
they are under the great purpose of Jehovah.
And Zephaniah says that Assria and
all that picture, we might ask, who has the
blame? God is destroying the nations
The Restoring of The Nation
Chapter 3 turns back to
But in spite of that, the prophet says, The just LORD is in the midst thereof. What a blessed statement! However this nation had acted in the sight of God, He had not left or deserted them.
The just LORD is in the midst thereof; He will not do iniquity: every morning doth He bring His judgment to light, He falleth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame. And God says, I have cut off the nations: their towers are desolate; I made their streets waste, that none passeth by: their cities are destroyed, so that there is no man, that there is none inhabitant. I said, Sure thou wilt fear Me, thou wilt receive instruction; so their dwelling should not be cut off, howsoever I punished them: but they rose early, and corrupted all their doings (3: 5-7). And even under the hand of God bringing this punishment to them, yet they had not really learned the lesson.
Therefore wait ye upon Me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for My determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them Mine indignation, even all My fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of My jealousy (3: 8). This is a reference of the days yet to come, for He says, For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the Name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent (3: 9). Yes, that day is coming and this is the testimony of Zephaniah concerning those things that will happen.
From beyond the rivers of
It is remarkable to think of those Old Testament people. What was their faith resting on? It was resting on the promise of Gods Word and resting in the same Precious Person as our faith is resting in.
Lately, I have been thinking about the lack of rain
and my mind has gone to Elijah. Elijah
was a man who stood before the Lord. And
there is only one standing of any person who stands before the Lord. It is the standing in the Precious Person and
merit of the Lord Jesus Christ. Some may
say that Elijah did not even see the day of the Lord. He did see it, by faith, for when he was on the mount of transfiguration he spake with Moses and
with the Lord about His
decease which He should accomplish at
the prophet says here, I will
also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people. They were
not ranked as kings and the affluent of the nation, but were an afflicted and
poor people, a remnant according to the election of grace. The remnant of
We have been reading of a sad situation which the people of other nations had upon them. But now, God says of them that He will turn to them a pure language, the pure language of Gods grace and mercy, the pure language [Page 98] of His revealed salvation. The Jews had this great evidence before them that their salvation as individuals and as a nation rested upon the shed Blood of a Substitute. Individually, as they brought their sacrifices to the priest, and as a nation, as on that great day of atonement their Gods mercy and blessing was evident because of blood that was shed. This is the pure language of the people of God, this remnant of a people that God had formed for Himself.
divine grace is manifested in the precious Blood of Jesus that cleanseth from
all sin. That is the glory of it. This believing remnant of
The Blessing of The Nation
finally, in the latter part of chapter
3, we have, it seems to me, the time of
that restoration when the blessing comes.
Sing, O daughter of
Zechariah tells us of the exact place to which He is coming. Olivet will be the place of His return as surely as it was the place from where He ascended. And we read of the great occurrences which will happen physically when He does come.
The LORD ... hath
cast out thine enemy: the King of Israel, even the LORD is in the midst of thee. He will come as the Mighty Conqueror. The forces of the evil one will have their
final fling at this nation, but the Lord is there. He will overthrow the evil forces. In
that day it shall be said
Then it comes to a sacred, loving bond of relationship. He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing. The mighty King and Captain is the Husband. The loving relationship between the bride and the bridegroom is referred to here, because, at that day, the whole election of grace, both of Jews and Gentiles, shall be that glorious body [bride]* of Christ. As John in the Revelation, reveals to us, the bride is the Lambs wife. He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in His love, He will joy over thee with singing. What a sacred revelation this is!
[* NOTE. Keep in mind the fact that the Bride will be taken out of the Body the Church. An undisclosed standard of personal righteousness is what our righteous Judge is looking for as qualification! (Rev. 19: 8; Matt. 5; 20). cf. Luke 20: 35; Phil. 3: 11, etc. Christs judgment is presently on-going! (1 Cor. 6: 1-10; Gal. 6: 6, 7; Eph. 5: 14-18).]
By Gods matchless grace, we have this great anticipation as we look forward to the day of His coming. There are many of that Jewish nation today still in bondage, still in darkness, but one day their eyes shall be opened, their burdens shall be lifted. Yes, they shall wail because of Him, because of what they have done to Him, but when they see the King they shall fall down before Him. Great is His grace and mercy.
How we should therefore ever seek, especially I feel amongst the Jewish people today where we have the opportunity, to help to bring the Word of God to them, that even before that glorious day comes there shall be Jews saved by grace to see the Redeemer and call Him blessed. Jews and Gentiles have earned and are worthy of the punishment of God as much as those evil nations but in His mercy He corrects us and chastens us and He gives us that divine promise, Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought His judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the of the LORDs anger (2: 3).
Yes, Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in Thee. Let the water the Blood from Thy wounded side which flowed be of sin the double cure. It is, one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Ephesians 4: 5).
Peter was delighted that Cornelius, a Gentile, was saved. And Paul had the great and urgent desire that his brethren, the Jews, should be brought to a saving knowledge of the Lord. May we feel it too, looking for that glorious [millennial] day when we shall be together. As Paul tells us in Ephesians, the middle wall of partition broken down (see Ephesians 2: 14), Jews and Gentiles are one on that glorious foundation of Jesus our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
* * *
By John Douglas
The Book of Ezra is the inspired history of the time when Haggai the prophet ministered. The two books therefore, the prophecy (Haggai) and the history (Ezra) should be brought together in the context of time.
is left to Haggai the prophet to tell us to consider our ways. Haggai is the one who points us to the
mountain. We understand the reference to
be to the Mount of Olives and to the
Haggai and Ezra
Haggai has his problems, as we detect. He has problems on the inside and problems on the outside. The strange thing is, that the prophecy, that is, the Book of Haggai, reveals the difficulties that Haggai had on the inside with the people of God, but there is no mention of the difficulties he had with the adversaries who were on the outside. We would know nothing of these adversaries unless we had the inspired history in the Book of Ezra. When we examine that history, it makes mention of the difficulties Haggai and others had with the adversaries on the outside. But in Ezra there is no reference to difficulty of any kind with the people of God. We would know nothing of the difficulties Haggai had with the people of God unless we had the prophecy.
You will see then how essential it is, if we are to have a right view of the times, to bring together these two books from the inspired canon. The history on the one hand, the Book of Ezra, and the prophecy on the other hand, setting forth in detail the substance of the ministry of Haggai. These two books then complement each other.
The history shows us the battle on the outside. There, the Lords enemies in a most insidious and threatening manner have set themselves to stop the work of God. For example the history informs us that they weakened the hand hands of workers, they troubled the leaders, they hired counsellors, they wrote letters engaging not only in the threats of violence but also in assiduous political activity.
the prophecy shows us a battle of a more agreeable nature, for Haggai certainly
found that he had to stir up the Lords people, and they were resolutely set in
their own ways. Consequently we may
refer to his ministry to
there is nothing introduced in Scripture that is coincidental. I take these truths which are set forth in
the prophecy to be instructive and to be prophetic in their nature; because if
we allow that, in the book of Haggai, there are foreshadowings of the time to
come, we can say the scene that existed then in the days of Haggai is being
reproduced in our time. The enemies of
A New Testament Key
Let us think of the prophecy of Haggai as a platform, on which is built, line by line, portion by portion, Gods prophetic truth. There is a foreshadowing in his prophecy not only of things to come, but of glorious things to come. There is a very positive message in the prophecy of Haggai. The key to the right understanding of this little prophecy is in the New Testament. The prophecy of Haggai is quoted only once in the New Testament. The quotation from the Book of Haggai which is entered into the New Testament is such that the average person would never have chosen, if the selection had been left to his discretion. Haggai 2: 6 happens to be the portion emphasised in the New Testament.
We turn to the Epistle to the Hebrews, as the key to a right understanding of Haggais prophecy lies in the quotation found in this letter. Hebrews 12: 26-27 says, Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Yet once is the quotation from the Book of Haggai and the average person would hardly have made this selection if the discretion had been given to him.
When we think of the quotation itself we might well say we are mystified as to the significance of it, but there must be some significance in these two words. Remember the apostle Paul is writing with instruction from on high and he carries the breath of God upon him. This quotation is made by the sovereign direction of the Holy Spirit. Consequently the Lord definitely has a purpose in choosing these words from the prophecy of Haggai.
Only Two Words
The verse says, For thus saith the LORD of Hosts; Yet once (Haggai 2: 6). And those are the words that most of us, if not all of us, would have passed by as being of little or no significance, and yet these are the two words quoted by the Holy Spirit in Hebrews. These are the two words on which the argument of the apostle stands. So I must press upon your attention that there is a lesson in interpretation taught to us in Hebrews that we should not miss at any time. [Page 104] I want you to grasp the lesson, to lay hold upon it in such a way as never to forget it.
We know that the Scriptures are inspired. We believe in plenary, verbal inspiration. We know that when the Holy Spirit singles out two words like these for our attention there must be something very meaningful here, and I have suggested that this is the key to the right understanding of the prophecy of Haggai. Who would have thought of singling out these two words, yet once, leaving out others, like Haggai 2: 7, which refers to the Desire of all nations and the filling of Gods house with divine glory, and Haggai 2: 22, where God announces that He will overthrow the throne of the kingdoms, and destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen, among whom are the Gentiles who dominate the earth?
But these two words yet once provide the key to everything in the prophecy. We should ponder the two words. They are simple enough. What do you make of them? Some may be prepared to admit they could read the words twenty times or more and still be as mystified as ever. Well, we want to find out what the lesson is, because it is a lesson taught by the Holy Spirit of God Himself.
Haggais Prophecy for the Future
This prophecy in Haggai, to which illusion is made in Hebrews 12, is still for a future time.
The apostle takes up the quotation from the Book of Haggai long after the
There is an understanding of the redemptive work of God in the hearts of the people to whom Paul writes, but he is still saying yet once more. There is s signification in these words taken from the Book of Haggai, a signification which appears to be lost on many of Gods people nowadays. The shaking of [Page 105] heaven and earth is still future. That is the first thought. The use of these two words, Yet once, in the Bible by the Holy Spirit the second time, that is, the New Testament as well as in the Old Testament, tells us of a prophecy most dramatic in its fulfilment. This is an annunciation of the shaking of heaven and earth.
There are some people who have a wonderful imagination for spiritualising things that are to be understood plainly. I would never deny that there is a spiritual interpretation in Scripture. In fact, I would be enthusiastic about supporting a spiritual interpretation of Scripture providing that anything there that should be understood literally, is still taken literally.
If, for example, we take Genesis 1, the history given there of creation is undoubtedly inspired of God and we are to understand the chapter literally. But it also wonderfully true, that Genesis 1 has a spiritual, or even a mystical interpretation, an interpretation alluded to in the New Testament, for Paul tells of God, Who commanded light to shine out of darkness (2 Corinthians 4: 6). He is giving a spiritual application to an historical passage. But that spiritual treatment does not in the least take away from the literal understanding of the chapter.
The same is true of the prophetic passages. There is a uniformity all the way through the Bible. We can see the striking similarity in the operations of God unto salvation all the way through the passages of time. Gods ways do not change. The message of redemption is still the same. The prophets who pointed to Christ were just forerunners of the apostles and others who later held up Christ the Mighty to save. This symmetrical form to Scripture should be apparent to us all. There is a literal value as well as a spiritual value. When God speaks about the shaking of the heaven and the earth, we have to say that this event has not yet occurred. The earth has gone on. This is the so-called argument of Uniformitarianism that the earth has gone on as it was from the beginning. And the earth and the heavens have not yet been shaken in the way that Haggai 2 and Hebrews 12 describe. The event is still future.
The second thing I want you to notice in Hebrews 12: 26 is that the shaking of heaven and earth is intimated by a promise from God. It is therefore certain of fulfilment. Whose voice then shook the earth. We ask the question, Was that literal? Was there a physical shaking of the earth? Or are we understand this reference to be solely spiritual? The reference here is to that which is physical, Whose voice then shook the earth. The earth really did shake. But now He hath promised (the word promised is the certification of the prophecy and it indicates the certainty of the fulfilment), saying, yet once more I shake not the earth only (the way that I did then), but also heaven.
We have learned then two things from the argument of yet once more. First of all, that the shaking of heaven and earth is still future; and secondly, that this prophecy is certain as to its fulfilment for it is guaranteed by the promise of the unchanging God.
thirdly, this momentous and cataclysmic event, still future, is to b compared
to an occurrence of ancient time. I refer you to the words then
and now in the verse 26. There is a contrast opening up very obviously
between a period called then and a period called now. Let me suggest to you that when we have the
reference to the past indicated by then we may consider the
giving of the law at Mount Sinai, that moment when
things then must come to mind as we look at the two words, the powerful
argument and the memorable lesson and interpretation the Holy Spirit gives us
through the pen of the apostle Paul, in Hebrews 12. The shaking of heaven and earth is still
future. The prophecy itself is
guaranteed inasmuch as we have a statement made that God has promised to bring
this about. And in [Page
107] the third place, as we have
indicated, the illustration for the event is to be taken from a very important
occurrence in the time past, and that important occurrence is the giving of the
The Shaking of the Earth at
Paralleled with the Lords Coming
We may light on some types here and there through the Bible, that have come our attention because of our own study. But in this case the Holy Spirit of God Himself is making the reference. The sad thing is that multitudes of Christians have missed it. People have gone through the prophecy of Haggai time after time and have never seen the connection, and some have gone through the chapters of the letter to the Hebrews and yet have not lifted at all the significance of the apostles argument. Is there not a type here taken from ancient time, a picture which is being redrawn, which first of all we can begin understand as we go to Mount Sinai? This is another mountain to go to. There are things there that, as we gaze on them and think about them, will tell us of the time to come.
For example, this shaking of the heaven and the earth. Will the heavens and the earth be shaken when the Lord Jesus returns? I go to Revelation 6 in the interest of saying that when the Lord comes back there will be a tremendous cataclysmic upheaval in the heavens and in this earth. And I beheld when He had opened the sixth seal, and, lo (the word beheld and the word lo here are equivalents employed in Scripture, with the very intention of focusing our thoughts, getting our attention, and saying, look at this), there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; and the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree [Page 108] casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places (6: 12-14). If these words do not describe a cataclysmic upheaval in the universe, I do not know what they do tell us. It is significant that when the Lord returns, the entire universe, in other words, Gods creation, will pay testimony to the event.
11: 15, And the seventh angel sounded, (this is the last trump which is to sound at the coming of our Saviour
the Lord Jesus Christ); and there were great voices in heaven,
saying, The kingdoms of this world are
become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. That is still future. The kingdoms of this world are not yet the
kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.
The kingdoms of this world are opposed to His truth. In the sense of omnipotence, of course, the
Lord is still on the throne, and the things that we see in the world will never
get out of hand. The Lord will never
lose His omnipotence, but as to an allegiance to God in the hearts of men or
recognition for the Bible in these nations, these kingdoms do not belong to the
But when the last trumpet sounds a great transformation is to occur, the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ. Anyone knows that the last trump heralds the coming of the Saviour, and even though people disagree about prophetic events, all Christians are agreed that the last trump heralds the coming again of the Lord Jesus. Well, the Bible tells us that precisely at that moment, when the last trumpet sounds, a great and radical change will occur in the kingdoms of this world. They will become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign for ever and ever.
The Temple of God Opened to let the Ark be Seen
Then in verse 19 of the same
chapter, And the
Now, at this time, there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail (Revelation 11: 19). These words surely cannot be accidental. They have to mean something, and I suggest that since we are talking about the time of the sounding of the seventh trumpet, that is, the time our Lords return, these statements are to be taken at full value. The entire universe will tremble in the presence of the great God. The hour of the Saviours return has come. There is the trumpet sounding. There are the lightnings, there are the voices, the thunderings, the earthquake, the great hail. Of course there is a convulsion in the heavenlies and a convulsion on this earth. We cannot overlook these things.
Revelation 16: 16-18 says, And He gathered them together unto a place called the Hebrew tongue Armageddon. And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. It is, therefore, perfectly to expect such things. This is an ungodly world. We are talking about the conclusion of an age of utter heathendom. Men have no thought for God; no time for God, they have cast away His law long since. Here is a world which has forgotten God, and these men are to understand that God is, that Jesus Christ is His dear Son. The Saviour is coming again. So the earth trembles in the presence of its Maker. There is such a great earthquake, the Scripture says in this place, that there never was the like since men were upon the earth. Given that this earthquake is so mighty and so great, pay attention to the detail of Scripture.
Verse 19 of the same
chapter adds, And the great
city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and
Repeated Reference to the Shaking of Heaven and Earth
But just to indicate there are other references to the same event in Scripture, let us understand that Luke 21: 25-26 contains the words, And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; mens hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. Mark the word shaken. We have seen it in the Revelation. We have seen it in the prophecy of Haggai. We have seen the thought taken up in the letter to the Hebrews, and these things are to be understood of events yet future. There is no getting away from it. We have the words of the Lord Jesus. Nothing could be plainer or more explicit. Here on the earth, distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring, and there in the heavenlies, the powers of heaven shall be shaken. It is on the highest authority that the universe will tremble in the presence of its Maker, when the Saviour comes. We have moved away from the Revelation, not that we feel like deserting it, but we have gone to the gospels and have listened to the words of the Saviour, and the same thing is being taught. Mark the uniformity of the teaching which runs all the way through the Bible. There is nothing disjointed or out of place. We do not have to work feverishly to try and create a harmony for the harmony is already there.
In Matthew 24: 29-30, Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. There is that word shaken again. Do you remember the words in Revelation that there would be so mighty and so great an earthquake such as the world had never [Page 111] seen? This is still future. But someone may say, As a Christian, I have been taught a style of prophetic teaching which moves me to deny all this. We would have to say in the first place that we have drawn your attention to the actual words of the Lord and we have not forced any interpretation on anyone.
The Logical Way of Understanding Scripture
We have to say in the second place, that to announce a literal fulfilment of these very prophecies does not put a strain on anybodys intelligence. It is a possible interpretation of these Scriptures that these things could be fulfilled exactly as the Saviour says they will. Of course, I have to go further than that for I do not only believe this is a possible interpretation, but that really and truly it is the only way of understanding it. No one can cast aside these prophecies as if they were words of no or little account, because they are such as could be fulfilled. And I put it to you that your faith in Christ and in the Scriptures demands that you accept the fulfilment of them.
So we see there is a cataclysmic upheaval in the heavens and in the earth, plainly announced in Scripture: in Haggai, through the gospels and Pauls letter to the Hebrews, and onwards to the last book in the Bible. And there is this striking uniformity all the way through. We cannot and must not run away from that. We may not close our eyes to that glaring truth in the Scriptures. There the truth stands and truth is a bold thing. Truth really cannot be evaded.
A View of the Mount from Exodus
As already stated, there is a type,
there is a very interesting picture. We
turn to Exodus 19 to take in the picture in full colour in all its
dimensions. I think we have demonstrated
that the lesson taught in Hebrews
12, originally drawn from Haggai 2, is based on an incident in history, the giving of the law, the
appearing of the Lord on
Five Ways to View the Coming of the Lord at
There are at least five ways in which the coming of the Lord is set forth Exodus 19. First of all, in verse 9, And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud. Here is the coming of the Lord. We have that word lo or behold again. And some will have in mind the New Testament quotation, Behold, I come quickly. There is an annunciation of the coming of the Lord. There is no doubt in my mind but that it is intended we are to look at the chapter prophetically as well as historically. Lo, I come. We should ask ourselves the question, how is the coming of the Lord viewed if there is a type, if there is a picture in Exodus 19 of a forthcoming event, when the heavens and the earth shall be shaken? What are we to learn about the Lords coming?
(1) A Coming in the Cloud. Well, firstly, in verse 9, there is a coming of the Lord in the cloud. When you read in Thessalonians of the coming of the Lord in the clouds and of believers going up to meet the Lord in the air, do not think of those clouds as being the clouds that we normally discern in the heavens from day to day. No, those are not the clouds that are in mind.* When the Saviour comes in the clouds, He will come in the clouds of divine Glory. We have to talk about the manifestation of the presence of God in a way similar to that which was noted in Old Testament times. I am talking about the Shekinah Glory of the Lord. The cloud covered the tabernacle. The cloud in a way pictured the Saviour in His role as the Messiah. The cloud is like the mediator, the cloud is between the blinding brightness of the Glory and the people who are called to worship. Without the cloud in between, the people would have perished. So in a way the coming of the Lord in the clouds, as far as His people are concerned, intimates the mercy of God. Acceptance in the person of the mediator.
[* On the contrary: He [Jesus] was taken up; and a CLOUD received him out of their sight Why stand ye looking into HEAVEN Jesus, which was received up from you into heaven, shall so come IN LIKE MANNER as ye beheld him going into heaven (Acts 1: 9-11, R.V.). Are there no clouds in heaven? How else can this passage be correctly interpreted?]
Lord came down to Sinai in the clouds and His coming in the clouds was to be a
means of faith particularly on the part of
(2) A Visible and Glorious Coming. Secondly,
in verse 11, And be
are to be ready for the Lords coming), against the third day: for the third day the
LORD will come down in the sight of
all the people upon
(3) To Meet
the Lord. Thirdly, in verse 17, And Moses brought forth the people out of
the camp to meet with God. The coming of the Lord in verse 17 is such that
(4) The Lord Descends in Fire. Fourthly,
in verse 18, And
mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Let [Page
114] me say, in flaming fire. Does not the
apostle tell us of the coming of the Saviour, in flaming fire taking vengeance
on them who know not God, and obey not the gospel? The event is
foreshadowed at Sinai. He came in fire: and the smoke
thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. This is why
Haggai firstly and Paul secondly draws an argument from this event. God is saying, Yet
once more, I will shake not the earth only as I did at Sinai. God shook the earth only at that time. Exodus 19:18 happens to be
one reference, just one out of a number, where we learn the mount was
shaken. The Psalms tell us that the
earth was shaken at that time when the Lord descended on
(5) His Coming to the Top of the Mount. Fifthly,
verse 20, And
the LORD came down upon
With the Sound of the Trumpet
Verse 19 reads, When the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake. Hebrews 12 with its inspired commentary or this shows that neither Moses nor the people could endure the sight nor the sound. Both the sight and the sound proved to be too much for them. Such was the sight, the awesome view of the holiness of God and the glory of God [Page 115] that mens hearts quaked with fear. Even Moses, who was experienced in meeting with God, said, I exceedingly fear and quake. Moses trembled and the people could not endure the sight of what they saw nor could they take the sound of the trumpet, and the sound of Gods voice any more.
the Lord comes back, these things that are foreshadowed here will all be
fulfilled. Some have spoken
about the shout of the Lord when He returns, and have indicated that the shout
is silent, heard only by those who believe. Well, the shout of the Lord, the voice of the
Some Results of the Lords Coming for Israel
at verse 16, and notice the mention of thunders and lightnings as well as the sound of the trumpet. There is a striking parallel here.
I think that you should study the parallel more fully in time to
come. I said just now and I want to make
reference to it before I come to the end of the service, that the divine
purpose declared for
When you look at Exodus 19: 4, some things
may be suggested concerning the purpose of God for
It says at the end of the verse, and let me supply the personal pronoun for
this is understood in the passage, And I brought you unto Myself. In a greater
and more wonderful way, the Lord is to bring
In verse 5, reference is made to obedience to the divine voice,
obedience to Gods Holy Word and to His covenant. That is another mark, a characteristic in
itself, of the new
And thirdly, verse 5 shows
Gods Word cannot fail. The covenant of
God cannot go by the board. If we are Calvinists
at all in theology, if we have any sense of the immutability of the covenant
and the certainly of Gods divine purpose, then we have to say this word must
stand, and God will keep His covenant. He certainty will, with His ancient people. Surely we are not going to advocate now
acceptance by works as if
And look at verse 6. This is
something never fulfilled in the past.
But will find its full realisation in the future, Ye shall be unto Me
a kingdom priests, and an holy nation. What is a priest in the Biblical sense? He is one who is near to God. One who is anointed to intercede. He is called to teach the word and certainly
exhibit the holiness of God to others.
Well, here is a kingdom of priests.
Postscript: The Downfall of the Antichrist
In Haggai 2: 21-22 there is a follow-on to the shaking of the heavens and the earth. We have established that the shaking of the heavens and the earth is certain. Here is a prophecy still awaiting fulfilment. We are looking into the future. A prophecy guaranteed in itself by the statement that it is a promise from God. We have drawn on the picture given by inspiration of the scene at mount Sinai, and we have learned from Hebrews 12 that this is a picture of the end time, that glorious day when the Glory of the Lord will return to this world: the coming of Christ. Hebrews tells us that.
Haggai 2: 21-22 adds this, I will shake the heavens and the earth and it is Paul who says He has not done that yet, I will shake the heavens and the earth: and I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms - not the thrones, but the throne suggesting the confederacy of the nations; that coming together of the kingdoms of the Gentiles. There is one throne among the wicked that the Book of the Revelation and other prophecies speak about, and that is the throne and the power of the antichrist. The nations have pledged themselves in this unholy confederacy, to give their power to him, and Satan also, by intention has given his power to him, but the Lord is saying, mark the words, I will destroy the strength (or the power). Let me read the verse that way, I will destroy the power of the kingdoms of the heathen.
not imagine because the word heathen is used here that it is different from the
word elsewhere translated Gentiles. No. The word in every place is the same. We can with entitlement use the word Gentiles
here, I will destroy the power
of the kingdoms of the Gentiles. The day of the Gentiles is at an end when the
Saviour returns. That is a powerful
statement. The power of this unholy
confederacy is to be crushed and broken when the Lord comes back, and this is
the time set for
* * *
Israels Trial and Transformation
By John Douglas
Let us turn to the Book of Zechariah and read from chapters 1 and 2. And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words (1: 13). Then another angel said, Run, speak to this young man (14). We learn from this that Zechariah the prophet, who was contemporary with Haggai, was a young man. It may be that Haggai was an older and revered servant of the Lord. Be that as it may, Zechariah plainly was a young man and presumably had many years yet to spend in the ministry. There is a great deal in that verse alone.
You can see the importance that the angels place on every word of Christ. Now the servants of the Lord ought to follow the example of those angels. We should fix the utmost importance upon every word spoken by the Saviour.
The Ready Attention of the Angels to the Word of the LORD
Notice too, the alacrity with which the angels seek to carry out the Lords command. Not only their interest in what He says, but their immediate response, indicated by the word run. In the vision of Ezekiel 1, the angels ran to and fro like a shaft of lightning, so diligent were they in doing the Kings business. I am certain that there are no accidental inclusions in Scripture and these things are for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come (1 Corinthians 10: 11). Consequently, Gods people too should see that the Kings business requireth haste (see 1 Samuel 21: 8). We should run and not drag up the heavenly hill with weary feet and slow. We should run in so far as we are able. Some may not be very good at running, but at least they should have the desire in their hearts to run with diligence at the Lords commands.
And, of course, the angels are interested in communicating the Word of the Lord, and this is of primary significance in the verse - Run, speak. They communicate the Lords Word, and again, this is a sterling example for the Christian.
The message in this verse to be communicated is,
But the day is coming when those walls will not be required. There is a glorious time coming when the wall of defence is none other than the Saviours immediate presence. For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her (verse 5). So externally, as well as internally, there is a display of glory. There is the enjoyment of that same glory signifying the immediate presence of the Lord. The walls are there, but these walls are far better than those that man could construct or ever did construct. And this verse 5 shows the return of the Shekinah glory.
The Coming of the LORD to Dwell in
Verse 10 reads, Sing and rejoice,
O daughter of
Then, better still, I will dwell. The Lord promises to come as the Shekinah. The word Shekinah comes from the Hebrew verb to dwell. There are a number of verbs which signify a dwelling, but the word is used here which gives us Shekinah. He will come to dwell in the fullness of glory associated with the Shekinah - I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD. It does not seem necessary to preach at all after reading words like these, but we will say some things about this marvellous book of the Old Testament, this intriguing prophecy bearing the name of Zechariah.
The Whole Prophecy in a Single Verse
The very briefest synopsis we could have of the Book of Zechariah occurs in chapter 1: 13. When it comes to definition, we all like something simple yet comprehensive. There must be many young Christians, as yet untaught and inexperienced, who on coming to a book like Zechariah will profess themselves at an utter loss to understand the visions and the prophecies. They are likely to ask for something which will at once show the scope of the book, and show perspectives in view in Zechariah. Here, the prophecy of Zechariah is condensed into a single verse, And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words.
There are three things to think about in relation to this verse. Firstly, the message is described as good words and comfortable words. Secondly, there is the angel who talked. That is very important. And thirdly, there is the answer. The LORD answered. These three thoughts together sum up the prophecy of Zechariah very simply and comprehensively.
For one thing, this prophecy is an answer from God. We need not be in any dilemma as to our circumstances in life, much less with respect to the future when we have an answer from God. In this prophecy, the message of Zechariah is, in its entirety, an answer from God to the voice of His Son. I have already asked you to give attention to the words found in this verse 13, words that relate to the Angel who talked with the prophet. This Angel, as He is described, is the communicator. He is the One Who relays the Word of the Most High. He delivers the message of the Eternal to Zechariah. He is the Word of the Father. He is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is mentioned in one way or another eleven times in the first six chapters of Zechariah.
There are similar words, the exact equivalent with the same Hebrew word in the original, in 1: 14. So the angel that communed with me. It is the same thing. The word communed does not indicate any thing more than the talking of verse 13. Just as we can say too, the talking in verse 13 is to be equated with the communion of verse 14. The Lord talks to you. That is communion. When you speak to Him, that is communion. We are looking then at the Angel who talked with him. In verse 11, the title is enlarged to the Angel of the LORD.
forces that are sent forth by the Most High with the role of taking a
superintending view of the nations of the earth, that is, the Roman earth,
instead of helping
The Angel of the LORD an O.T. Title of the Saviour
In the Old Testament Scriptures, this unique title The Angel of the Lord belongs exclusively to Jesus Christ. Thus I can say, the Angel Who talks with the prophet is very clearly identified. He is the Angel of the covenant. He is our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Do not be put off by the term angel. I think most Christians suffer from preconceived ideas about the word angel. They dream up some kind of celestial creature, perhaps complete with wings, but shining in heavenly glory. No doubt the word angel can describe one of those celestial creatures who stand in the presence of God, but the word is not by any means confined to the created beings who serve the Lord in heaven.
We are helped to a clearer understanding of the title The Angel of the Lord when we consider the word angel as it is rightly construed as the messenger. Take the word evangelist - or evangel. In spelling these words, we find the word angel in the structure. Angel means a messager. Evangelist means a good messenger. Evangel is used as an equivalent of the gospel. The Evangel Christ means the good news, the good message, and consequently an angel the messenger of the Lord.
Revelation 2 or 3, you will read about the angel of the church at
This Book of Zechariah the Word of Christ
Suffice to say one of the titles of Christ in the Old Testament is The Angel the LORD. He is the Angel Who did the talking, Who communicated the message. Hence the Book of Zechariah is the Word of Christ. It is not just the word of the prophet. It is rather the word the prophet received from the lips of the Saviour. Now that is wonderfully uplifting. I am glad when I look at the Person I find Him first as the Man seen by night in verse 8 standing among the myrtle trees that were down in the bottom of the valley and behind Him there are these forces about which we have talked, represented by the red horses, the speckled, and the white. He is the One then, the Man Christ Jesus, the Angel of the Lord, the Messenger of the Covenant Who does the communicating throughout the Book of Zechariah. He is the Christ of God. He is the Coming One. He is the Blessed Redeemer and we rejoice in the proclamation of H name.
He is the One Who cries in verse 12 the cry of the Saviour. What is
this but the mediation of Christ? He is
still fulfilling that role. He is
exalted to the right hand of the Father where He continues to make intercession
for us seeing He ever liveth
to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7: 25). He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him. So the
Father is listening to the intercession of the Son. In verse 12, Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt Thou not
have mercy on
When I take my synopsis, as I
have supposed it to be, verse
13; when I have said this prophecy of
Zechariah is an answer from God, it is an answer from God in a very striking
and unique fashion. It is the answer
from God the Father [Page 123] to the voice of His Son. And the LORD
answered the Angel that talked with 'lie with good words and comfortable words. The Lord
Jesus never offered a prayer but it was answered. And when He engages in intercession for the
fulfilment of the covenant promised to
prophecy is also an answer from God to the cry of His ancient people, because the Lord Jesus is speaking vicariously. Everything He does as our Saviour is done
vicariously. He takes our place now in
the heavenlies. He took my place on the
tree. He took my place when He went down
into death for me and He took my place when He rose again from the dead. He took my place when He ascended into
heaven. Everything the Saviour does in the work of our salvation is done
vicariously for His Own people. And here
he speaks for
The Seven Occurrences of Yet in This Prophecy
may see in a secondary way, looking at verses 14 and 17,
how Zechariah is urged to cry aloud. Verse 14, So the Angel (even the
Saviour) that communed with me said unto me, Cry
thou, saying, and verse 17 Cry yet. This little
word yet which comes four times in verse 17 has to be given emphasis. One
could go through the verse without seeing that this little word has much
significance, but the equivalent of the word yet is still. So it could be, Thus saith the LORD of Hosts; My cities (the cities of
All that we see at the moment
would forbid such a thing. The situation
may be most discouraging, even appalling, but My cities will still, for all
that, be spread abroad. The LORD
shall still comfort
may interest you to know that, as far as I could find, this word yet or
its translation in the English is used seven times in the prophecy in relation
to fulfilment of the covenant for
There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the
Then if we go back to the key verse, to Zechariah 1: 13 The LORD answered the Angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words. Here is an answer from God to the enigma of the centuries. In the analogy of the branches of the olive tree, as shown in Romans 11, these branches which have been plucked away in judgment, are to be grafted in again to the parent stock. This is a picture of Israel, as a nation, being restored to redemptive union and fellowship with God, and these branches, once they are re-implanted on the parent stock, will flourish and bring forth fruit. Paul says in Romans 11: 25 that this is a mystery. Why a mystery? Because men left to themselves (and we have to include some Christian people in this) cannot see how such a wonderful work can ever be done.
Why Good and Comfortable Words?
the answer is, there are good words and there are comfortable words for
In the second place they are good words and comfortable words because they are immensely beneficial. Think of the word good. Consider too, the word comfortable. We could enlarge on them but any words that are good, especially the words of the Lord Jesus - and this in the context of all the suffering through the ages of those who belong to the tribes of Israel - if there are good words and comfortable words, any who belong to the stock of Jacob cannot lose by turning to the Lord. It is a matter of grave difficulty for a Jew who hears the gospel to step into the arms of Christ. He fears he may lose his Jewishness. He may also live in terror of persecution. He may consider all that he stands to lose. But remember, these are good words and comfortable words. They can do nothing but good. They are immensely beneficial.
Thirdly, they are called good and comfortable
words because of their power to spiritually transform the people who are in
view here, the elect remnant of
Zechariah a Most Appropriate Name
think too, we can see the promise of good in the name of the prophet. Zechariah is not only a name for a very young
and useful servant of the Lord. The name
means the Lord even Jehovah
will remember, the thought being, He
will remember His people, He will remember His covenant, He
will remember the cry of His Own Dear Son.
The Lord will remember. I say,
the name of the prophet, as it stands here heading up these memorable
prophecies, [Page 126] tells us plainly the Lord will never forget His covenant. The Lord will never forget
the background to the prophetical contents of Zechariah is in the return of the
remnant after 70 years exile in
Let us identify that for simplicitys sake. The first return taking place under Zerubbabel, if you like, in Zechariahs day, and the second, the great return which is to take place as an event coinciding with the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ. The second return then, as we look at some of these contrasts belongs to the period of our Lords return, to the true and full restoration of Israel, to their being joined with Christ.
The Two Returns Contrasted
first return occurs in Zechariahs lifetime when it was a day of small things (4: 10). The return under Zechariah or Zerubbabel was
really a day of small things. But the
second return, which we associate with the appearing Jesus Christ, will be a
day of great things (8: 6). The first
return occurs when
first return occurs in a period when
That first return occurs at a time (this is important
too) when God is largely hidden from the view of His people. This is so today. God is largely hidden from the view of
The Climatic Fulfilment of the Good and Comfortable Words
And these good and comfortable words are expanded throughout the remainder of the prophecy. These good and comfortable words will take on the highest relevance when we reach the point described in Zechariah 9: 17, and the explanation there is striking, How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty! This is the day of our Lords return. This is the day, in relation to His millennial kingdom, of His coronation, His enthronement on this earth, when men shall say, How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty! [Page 128] When the Lord returns and the trumpet sounds, when we shine in His likeness it will be said, the beauty of the Saviour will dazzle every eye in the crowning day that is coming by and by.
were also asking, why comfortable? It is
because, at the height of their fulfilment, they set forth Christ. They magnify
His beauty. They make Christ the
Treasure of His saints; that men will say, How great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty! This is the
picture of Christ in the prophecy - the picture of Christ at His return. Make no mistake about it,
the return in Zechariahs day is a symbol in the prophecy of a greater
return. This future restoration for
In chapter 8 we discern the marvellous character of this redemptive work, the visitation of grace, this powerful revelation of the Saviours person and His divine glory. Thus saith the LORD of hosts: If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in Mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts (8: 6). That which is a great thing in the eyes of man is not considered by the Lord to be a great thing. In other words, it not hard for the Lord to do. We have that question in Genesis 18: 14, Is any thing too hard for the LORD? Praise His name, there is not.
Is it Marvellous in Your Eyes?
relation to the fulfilment of all the covenant prophecies, if God has to change
this earth, if God has to turn the
Thus we spoke about the mystery as something so wonderful man could never see it coming to pass. And there are Christians today, many good people who love the Lord, who just cannot see these things in the Bible. I would lend them my glasses any day! I do not know why they cannot see these things. But maybe, it is because it is too marvellous. But is anything too hard for the Lord? Listen. Any of this is nothing to God.
It is nothing for the Lord to transform the likes of me into the image of Christ. I cannot understand that, and I do not know why the Lord would ever do such thing for me. And you will say the same for yourself. Is not that a marvellous thing? It certainly is. And when you stand redeemed by Blood and transformed into His image, you will certainly feel what a wonderful thing it is to be like the Saviour, to be wholly like Him and to shine with His resplendent glory as you reflect it. That is a wonderful thing.
it comes to the opening of the graves, gathering together the scattered dust of
Gods saints, that is not a hard thing for the Lord. It may be counted an almost impossible thing
by many who like to think they have rational minds, but its not too hard for
the Lord to do it, and when the time comes for Him to split wide open the
The God Who spoke the worlds into existence is the God Who says He will do such a thing and if God can turn out such a vast display of His omnipotence and omniscience in this creation He can certainly change the Dead Sea. That is nothing. This is the argument here, but it remains with us a marvellous thing, and rightly so, for we ought to exalt the Lord when we consider such a thing.
The Restoration of
the passage parallels to portions like Psalm 126: 1-3. When the LORD turned again the captivity
I like those Scriptures that encourage us to have a great view of God. We are not discouraged. This is not a despondent theology. It is rather an uplifting theology, and it gives a grand view of God and a great view of the Bible. It exalts Scripture. It does not diminish it in any way.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and
our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen (the Gentiles), The LORD
hath done great things for them (verse 2). Great things, we may suggest, marvellous things, and verse 3 gives the answer back to that suggestion. Yes, that is right.
Isaiah 66: 8 is likewise a
very significant parallel passage. Who hath heard such a thing? The sense of
it is, who could have believed such a thing? Who could take it in? Who could accept it? I have to admit there are thousands of
Christians who cannot take it in. There
are thousands of good people who belong to the Lord and certainly love the
Gospel who just cannot take it in. Who hath heard such a thing? Who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one
day? or shall a nation be born at once? Is such a
thing possible or likely? Is it too
marvellous for words? Well, the Lord
says it may be marvellous to men but it is not to Him. This is the restoration
The Gathering of the Nations
want you to notice that the Lords answer
in the prophecy of Zechariah with good words and comfortable words also means
There are three figures here in chapter 12 used of
Can we see the direction in which the
The Necessity for a Literal Understanding of Scripture
was a beloved, highly esteemed theologian.
He genuinely loved the Saviour.
The Lord Jesus was dear to him, and he did a wonderful [Page
132] work. But he was not impressed with pre-millennial
teaching, and in theology he decided to set about debunking a belief in the
literal fulfilment of Gods prophetic word.
At one point, the eminent professor said that there cannot be a literal
antichrist sitting in a temple in
suggested that if this were to take place it would mean three things. (1) It
would mean that
at Zechariah 12: 10, maybe one of the key verses in all
the Bible, well worthy of contemplation.
And I will pour upon
the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of
Zechariah 12: 10 - The Trinity
notice that, as we speak about the salvation of the elect remnant, the
operation of the Members of the divine Trinity is brought into view. They shall look upon
Zechariah 12: 10 - Looking Away Unto Jesus
Salvation of the elect in
Zechariah 12: 10 - The Special Work of the Holy Spirit
too, by verse 10, that this revelation of Christ is the direct work of
the Holy Spirit. I will pour upon the house of David, and
upon the inhabitants of
Zechariah 12: 10 - The
see too that this salvation is wrought on the grounds of grace, by the Spirit of grace.
Zechariah 12: 10 - The Holy Spirit in the World
During the Tribulation
from having the Holy Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit is away out the world
at that time, I suppose there is no subject in the Bible that is really more
identified with the work of the Holy Spirit than the work of the re-gathering
Zechariah 12: 10 - Supplication in the Spirit
But we will stay with chapter 12: 10. Do you see the word supplications? The spirit of grace and of supplications. The cry that will be heard in heaven and answered in heaven. The cry of His saints in that terrible hour of affliction that is coming upon this earth is generated by the Spirit. Consequently it is absolutely certain to be answered. The Spirit of grace and of supplications What does the word supplication mean? Supplication is one of those terms frequently on the lips of Gods people at church prayer meetings. I would say whatever fellowship you belong to, you have heard numerous people use the word supplication. Probably if I descended the steps of this pulpit and made my way down the aisle and if I were to say Could you tell me what supplication is? you might say, Supplication is prayer.
then the word prayer is used about prayer, so
why use an extra word? Is it merely a
synonym with no special meaning? Do you
not think supplication must mean something additional to prayer? In the Old Testament, to take the thought in
the Hebrew, the word supplication, in every
place means to entreat the mercy of God. God be merciful to me, the sinner. Here is the elect remnant of
Zechariah 12: 10 - The Coming Again of the Lord Jesus
In relation to
The LORD Shall be King
about the world? Chapter 14: 9, The
LORD shall be King over all the
Well, there is the coming of
the Lord, not only in relation to
When it says there shall be one LORD and His Name one, the meaning is, that there will be no false teaching. Here, there, and yonder, men will see eye to eye. The truth of God will be clearly established in such a fashion that no man will abide in confusion about any of the things of God, and instead of having some separated here, and some who are different yonder, they are all under the one banner, united in Christ. And that is true ecumenism.
Lastly, there are beautiful portions about
Israel Will be The Holy Land
have travelled quite a number of times to
the name appears here in Scripture (2: 12). Thus we may use it if we wish, the holy land, as long as we know what it
means. The land will be radically
changed when the King comes, and for the first time in all of history the
Comfortable Words from Zechariah
closing, I read some lovely words from one or two places in Zechariah.
Look at chapter 8: 8, And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in
the midst of
look at chapter 8: 20-21, There
shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities, those who will say Let
us go speedily (and the margin shows that the word speedily, while it is necessary, is just one way of
putting it. You could say let us come assuredly with equal entitlement or you
could say let us come continually) to pray before the LORD. These thoughts all belong to the
passage. Naturally only one English word
can be used. Let us come speedily, let
us come assuredly, let us come continually to
pray. Many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in
are awaiting the day when the trumpet shall
sound. Is it a marvellous thing? Is it too marvellous? Has the Lord answered you with good words and
comfortable words concerning
Chapter 10: 6, I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them (they are saved by grace, through the Blood): and they shall be as though I had not cast them off. I think those are marvellous words. They shall be as though I had not cast them off. There are the branches that were plucked out of the olive tree and they are being put back into place. And when those [Page 138] branches are re-implanted into the parent stock, they will flourish and they will bring forth fruit abundantly. They shall be as though I had not cast them off. Men and women, this is the Lords doing and it is marvellous in our eyes!
* * *
Refining and Renewal of
By Wesley Irwin
Malachi was the last of the writing prophets. After him there was what is known as the 400 silent years. These were four hundred years when the voices of Gods prophets were silent. The prophecy of Malachi records the last words that God gave to the writing prophets until Divine Inspiration compelled them to take up their pen 400 years later. There is a finality attached to these words of Malachi.
The last words of men quite often are weighty, carrying considerable significance. The words of dying men often register and abide with us because they were their last words. In fact, the Bible illustrates this. How weighty and significant are the last seven utterances or cries of Christ from the cross. How powerful is our Lords last word to His disciples before His ascension, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16: 15). It was after that saying, that our Saviour ascended into heaven. How significant, how powerful, how weighty are last words!
This is the last word of prophecy in the Old Testament and I would have you know that it is significant, not merely because it is the last prophecy of the Old Testament, but it is important because in this very short book of fifty-five verses, we have twenty references to Thus saith the LORD. Here is a book, where a considerable portion of it is the direct words of God. This is a book where we have not merely the words of the prophet, but where we have a book that is full of the words of Jehovah Himself. How important, then, it is that we give attention to that which God Himself has said.
was one of the post-exilic prophets, i.e. he ministered after the people of
the people of Israel were back again in their own land, and the temple was
rebuilt, and the worship of God was again implemented to some degree, we find
that, despite the initial enthusiasm and the restoration work that had already
been done up until this point in time, Israel were not worshipping or following
the Lord as they ought. Their religion had
become dead and formal. They had their
ceremonies and performed the rituals, but God was left out.
Jehovahs Rebuking of Israel
Malachi 1: 1 makes it clear who is being addressed in this
book. The burden of the Word of the LORD to
sad, however, that, in bringing this prophecy to
You may have noted as you have
read through the Book of Malachi that seven times
1. Rebuked for Despising Gods Love. In Malachi 1: 2, it says, I have loved you, saith the LORD.
Yet ye say, Wherein hast Thou loved us? The phrase I have loved you is only two words in the original, but much meaning
and significance is to be found in these words.
And, let me state that He still loves
did God love
That is what Paul tells me
and I believe Paul. Paul asks the
question in Romans 11: 1, Hath
God cast away His people? And remember Paul was writing after
In Malachi 3: 6, God says, For I am Jehovah, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Why has God not cast away His people despite their sin? Why has He love toward them still? It is because Jehovahs purpose towards His people never changes. He is the unchangeable God and He has an unchangeable purpose, and my sin, or the Jews sin, will not change that purpose of God.
2. Rebuked for Despising Gods Name. In Malachi 1: 6,
of their relationship to Him, Isaiah could say, Doubtless Thou art our Father (63: 16), but
us not point the finger at
3. Rebuked for Corrupting Gods Worship. In verse 7, there is another wherein, and
Verse 8 tells how they profaned and corrupted the worship of God. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts. The Lord was looking for the best of the sacrifices. They were commanded to come to God with the best of their flocks, because God deserves the best, and of course there was also typical significance in bringing the best.
Deuteronomy 15: 21 states the kind of sacrifice that they were to bring. And if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or
have any ill blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the LORD thy God. They were not to bring anything with a
blemish. They were to bring that which
was perfect. And here was
Malachi tells us that what they were offering to God they would not dare offer unto the governor. They would not dare offer it unto a man but were prepared to give it to God. Verse 8 says, Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? If you were to give to a man what [Page 144] you give to God, Malachi says (or the Lord says), do you think he would accept it? Yet you expect God to accept it!
I have to say that even to this day, the Jewish people are offering unacceptable worship to God. They are still rebuked today. Let us not forget that. They are corrupting the worship of God. And let us apply it to our own hearts. Let us ensure that as we come before God, our worship and that which we offer Jehovah is acceptable.
It is a very serious thing to worship God. Men ought to worship God, but it is a serious thing, and I am often challenged by what I read in Ecclesiastes 5. The Lord certainly would not in any way want to hinder us from worshipping Him, but He gives us this caution, Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few (Ecclesiastes 5: 1-2).
4. Rebuked for Divorcing Their Wives. The next rebuke
is in Malachi 2: 14. It is a
different word but the sense is essentially the same. Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth,
against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the
wife of thy covenant. Here they are rebuked for divorcing their
wives. It is appropriate that we mention
this at a time when our government is trying to make it even easier to get a
divorce. Here were the people of God,
and they were rebuked because they were divorcing their wives. This is something that God hates, For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that He
hateth putting away (2: 16). How tragic
that in our own land we are told that half of the marriages are ending in
divorce. God undoubtedly rebukes our
nation. And He rebuked
5. Rebuked for Calling Evil Good. In Malachi 2: 17, we read Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied Him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, [Page 145] and He delighteth in them. They are rebuked for calling evil good, and good evil. Isaiah tells us, Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil (5: 20). What a terrible state this nation had degenerated to! They were so mixed up in their views that what was evil they called good, and what was good they called evil. And God rebuked them.
6. Rebuked for Not Keeping Gods Ordinances. Malachi 3: 7 says. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from Mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto Me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? They were rebuked for failing to honour God with their substance. They had gone away from Him. That which rightly belonged unto Him, that which God had given to them, they kept back, and God rebuked them.
Jehovahs Refining of Israel
God is a jealous God, Who is jealous for His Own glory, for the honour of His
Own Name, and He is a God Who will take steps to make
His glory known. He will not permit
those who ought to be showing forth His glory to continue in that way whereby
His Name is dishonoured and shamed. The
Jews who returned from
1. It is a separating work. The Bible teaches that when the Lord returns, He will do a work of separation. Malachi 3: 2 describes God as the refiner. He is like a refiners fire, and like fullers soap, and one of the tasks of the refiner is to separate. You will know the illustration of the smelter, where the metal is heated to an exceeding heat so that the impurities are taken away until only the pure is left. That is a separating work. When the Lord Jesus comes to this earth again that is the kind of work He is going to do.
Matthew 3: 12, John the Baptist was speaking. He said, talking of the Lord Jesus, Whose fan is in His hand, and He will
thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the gamer; but He will
burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. John the Baptist was saying that the fan is a
winnowing fan. In
also have this teaching of separation in Matthew 25: 31-34, where
the context is definitely the second coming of Christ. When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels
with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall
be gathered all nations: and He shall separate them one from another, as a
shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and He shall set the sheep on His
right hand, but the goats on the left, Then shall the King say unto them on His
right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom
prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Here is the Lord doing a work
of separation, as the refiner.
2. It will
be a saving work. The Babylonian captivity may have purged
Zechariah 12: 9-10, it says, And it shall come to pass in that day (and that is a reference to the coming of
the Lord), that I will seek to destroy all the nations
that come against
read in Isaiah of a nation being born in a day, converted to the Lord. That is how
Joel 2: 31 you will find similar language, the great and the terrible day of the LORD,
and that is when our Lord comes. That is
Who is coming? Malachi describes Him as the Messenger of the covenant and that points to one person, even Jesus Christ. That is Who is coming.
Jehovahs Renewal of Israel
our Lord returns to this earth, and
Ezekiel 34: 25-27, the Lord says, And I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause
the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall [Page 149] dwell safely in the
wilderness, and sleep in the woods. And
I will make them and the places round about My hill a
blessing: and the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall
yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I
am the LORD. The
* * *
Gods Mercy on the Nations
By S J Clarke
Whereas with the majority of the prophets, both Major or Minor, the Holy Spirit has indicated the period when the prophecies were given, the Book of Jonah is silent on this point. We know, of course, that the book of Jonah is an historical record. The Lord Jesus spoke of it as history (see Matthew 12:'‑,‑41).
in 2 Kings 14: 24-27, we are told of an actual prophecy spoken by
Jonah. It is the only other occasion in
which Jonah is mentioned in the Old Testament.
He (that is, Jeroboam II) did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD: he departed not from all the sins
of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made
the Jews were discussing the Person of the Lord Jesus, there were those opposed
to Him, who said, Search, and
look: for out of
there any indication when Jonah prophesied?
Well, 2 Kings 14 records events in the reign of Jeroboam II, so
evidently it was before that time. In
the previous chapter, we are told the anger of the LORD was kindled against
About this time, as we are told in Hosea 1: 1, The Word of the LORD came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. While we cannot be specific as to when Jonah prophesied it was certainly earlier than this point of time in the reign of Jeroboam. It would appear, therefore, that Hosea prophesied for a period, at least, contemporaneously with Jonah himself.
we look at the very first words
of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning
In Amos 6:14, God says, Behold, I will raise up against you a nation, O house of Israel, saith the LORD the God of hosts; and they shall afflict you from the entering in of Hemath unto the river of the wilderness. So here is a prophecy through Amos that they would have problems, not only with Syria, which, as we have seen, was a constant threat to them, but also from Assyria - because Damascus was the capital of Syria, and Nineveh was the capital of Assyria.
look again at Hosea. We have said that
these two prophets were, at least for a time, contemporaneous. We find in
Hosea, They shall not dwell in the LORDS
land ... they shall eat
unclean things in
can, therefore, be safely assumed that during the prophesying of the days of
Jonah, Assyria and
now, though God has told him that he should, Arise, go to
here was a man who knew God. I do not
question that. The death of Elisha is
recorded in 2 Kings 13. As he lay dying, Elisha told Joash the king to smite
with his arrows. As he only smote three
times, Elisha was angry with him saying, Thou shouldest have smitten five or six times ... now
thou shalt only smite
On three occasions at least the Word of the LORD came unto Jonah. We have it twice in Jonahs prophecy itself - in the very first verse of the prophecy, and in the first verse of chapter 3, the Word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time. And we know from 2 Kings 14 that the Word of the LORD had come to Jonah on that occasion. I have no doubt that the Word of the LORD had come to him at other times.
was a man therefore whose heart was open to God. God had raised him up as a
prophet. I know there is a Baalam
earlier in the Scripture but Jonah cannot be equated with a man like Baalam,
who had no interest in the people of
When during the storm, the shipmaster said to him, Call upon thy God (1: 6) he replied, I fear the LORD (1: 9). Those were his precise words. And I would not doubt that that was the case. Here, then, was a man who said he feared the LORD, and yet was prepared to seek to flee from His presence. But in reading through the whole of this book, we are confronted with a man who, in his measure, was in touch with God, albeit, temporarily, through national bigotry, he was found outside Gods will and pleasure.
It is a very vain thing for anybody to seek to flee from the presence of the LORD. Psalm 139: 7-8 says, Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in hell [Sheol - the place of the dead], behold Thou art there.
chapter 2: 2, Jonah equates his experience outwardly, as being in
the belly of hell*, and well we might understand in
the crisis of his life that he should speak of his experience in that way. If I make my bed in hell [Sheol], behold, Thou art there. If
I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
even there shall Thy hand lead me (Psalm 139: 8-10). The Psalmist
is here saying that a man might dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea. Well, this is something that Jonah was trying
to do in getting away from God, and on making this journey on the
It is like that in the experience of the people of God. If we are truly His, I believe the Spirit of God will bear witness, perhaps in a negative way, that we are away from Him, and a barrier is created between our souls [in Sheol = Hades] and Himself [in Heaven].
Why was Jonah seeking to flee from the presence of the Lord? What was he trying to do? Well, as I understand his motives at the time, Jonah was trying to place himself in a position where his responsibility could not be expected to [Page 154] be fulfilled. Now, I think there is a message in that for each one of us. You see, it is so easy to want to be in a position where we are bereft of responsibility before God and man. I feel personally, that there is quite a lot of that in the Church today. I have sometimes thought that a perfect Church, if such there be, is a Church where every gift that God has given to His people, and that includes every believer, has the opportunity to find expression. But sadly, so often the responsibilities in connection with the corporate life of the people of God are such that those responsibilities fall on a minority.
Here, then, is a lesson that we can learn from Jonah. Jonah wanted to place himself in a position where his responsibility of preaching to the Ninevite, would not be expected of him. But the Word of the LORD came to Jonah and he found that it was not as easy as that. And God had to bring Jonah back to the place where he had to face up to his responsibility.
Jonah 2: 7, the prophet says, when in the belly of the great
fish, When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto Thee,
into Thine holy temple. We know that in the history of
Now, we have already answered the question, at least in part, why did Jonah flee? But it certainly was not through the fear of man. Read all that is said about Jonah in this book. When they had this tremendous storm, the vehement wind and the waves being lashed against the ship, even the experienced mariners were afraid, and they did not know what to do. They were crying unto their gods, and when they told Jonah to cry unto his God, he told them to cast him overboard. He knew that it was through his disobedience that this trouble had come upon the ship. The troublous conditions were directed by God against Jonah himself and he knew it.
I referred previously of Gods Spirit bearing a witness with our spirit, as there do come those times, when, in our own heart of hearts, we are made aware why certain circumstances may come upon us. Hence, we see the utter bravery of this man. Place yourself in his position when he told the these people to cast him overboard. It seemed absolutely impossible for him to survive and it must have taken a man of bravery to be prepared to offer himself in this way.
Another thing that impresses me is that when he was in the belly of the fish, he kept his mind. In that situation, I am sure that I would have fainted. Yes, it was a miracle. I do not doubt that. But nevertheless we must not take away the natural element for here was a man in the belly of this great fish that God had prepared, who prayed to God under those conditions. It is marvellous how under any condition in which we may find ourselves, we can pray to God and He has promised to hear us. And even Jonah, a man who had sought to flee from Gods presence and now realised he must return, could pray.
thing about this man is that he does, eventually, go to
in Jonah 1-3: 8, the king decrees, Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily
unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence
that is in their hands. It must have been a violent community for the
king to make such a specific reference to it.
And yet, Jonah, in response to the Word of the Lord the second time was
prepared to go. So, it is evident that
the reason why Jonah sought to flee from the presence of the Lord was as a
patriot. Though he recognised
In fleeing initially, all went well for Jonah. Sometimes, it happens like that We have to be very careful lest we make too much of favourable circumstance, in interpreting the will of God. I believe there should be some importance attached to them, but not too much. The reverse may be the case, to test our faith and obedience. And the other way round, unfavourable circumstances do not necessarily mean we are out of the will of God.
Think of Abraham. He was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance and when he arrived, he found a famine (Genesis 12: 1-10). So with Jonah, when seeking to flee from Gods presence, he found a ship waiting for him. Just right, we may say. This reminded me of those words in Hebrews 11: 14-15, They that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. Well, here in the case of Jonah, the opportunity seemed to be there to flee from the presence of God, and consequently, I repeat, we need to be very careful how we interpret, whether negatively or positively, the providential circumstances of our lives.
Another impressive aspect about Jonah in this terrible storm is that he was down in the sides of the ship fast asleep. It would seem that here was a man with a warped conscience. It is a sad thing if, outside the will of God, we can go to sleep. I think of the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25). Everyone would acknowledge, that that conveys our minds to the days just prior to the coming of the Lord Jesus, and to the midnight cry, Behold, the Bridegroom cometh. Every one of those virgins, the wise ones as well as the foolish, slumbered and slept.
We are told in the previous chapter (Matthew 24: 12), that the last days would be characterised by increasing iniquity, and the love of the majority as a result would wax cold. Such statements should be challenging to us. When we think of the condition of the world, of this country in which we find ourselves, who would deny that there is abounding iniquity on every hand? Is it causing our love to the Lord to wax cold? Well, here we find a man, who, away from God in his own heart, was fast asleep.
What a contrast to
the Lord Jesus in that boat after He had said, Let us pass over unto the other side (Mark
4: 35), and a storm arose, but the Word
of the Lord was sufficient. At least, we
say that now as we are on dry
ground, in peaceful circumstances, but
those disciples, had had experience of the
This experience of Jonah was costly. It seemed all right initially. He had to pay the fare. That was a cost, but what a cost he had to pay later. Thus we are reminded of some of the possible consequences of acts of disobedience in which we may find ourselves.
matter that is fascinating in this first chapter is that Jonah, by his act of
disobedience, found himself in a contradictory position. Now, what do I mean by that? Well, he was fleeing from ministering to the
Gentiles and here he is getting on a ship that was controlled by Gentiles. In other words, he flees from ministering to
We read in verse 6, So the shipmaster came to him, and said unto him, What meanest thou, 0 sleeper? arise, call upon thy God, if so be that God will think upon us, that we perish not. Here is the man of God, a man who claimed afterwards to fear the LORD, and yet he is having a Gentile tell him to call upon his God. It is such a contradictory position. Is it not possible that at times the Lord orders our circumstances in a way that we are humbled before God because a rebuke may come from a non-believer. Here, instead of Jonah being a witness to these people, in a sense, the shipmaster was ministering to him.
Another remarkable thing is, as illustrating his contradictory position, he was intended to go to the Ninevites and to denounce their sin, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown (3: 4), but Jonah found himself confessing his sins before this man. That is what happened. They said every one to his fellow, Come, and let us cast lots ... and the lot fell upon Jonah. Then said they [Page 158] unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? He had already told them that he was fleeing from the presence of Jehovah. Apparently he had not told them much more, and perhaps, as Gentile sinners, it did not mean much to them.
He was a Jew. He had his God and here he was running away from Him. We are distinctly told the men knew that he fled from the presence of the LORD because he had told them (verse 10). But now, in this passage they are asking him, What is thine occupation? What a question to ask a prophet of the Lord! Here is a man who purports to be a messenger of God; God gives him message and he flees from the responsibility because he does not like it!
The previous prophecy, of which we know (2 Kings 14: 25), was quite palatable, but this one was not. What is thine occupation? This could come to us, could it not? If we were to answer this question in all honesty, there might be times when we felt challenged and searched in heart. And what does he say? I fear the LORD.
Because Jonah now realised the critical nature of the circumstances in which they found themselves, he was being brought to his senses. I fear the LORD, he said. He knew why the storm was there. It was because of his disobedience and in saying, I fear the LORD, how does he describe Him? The God of heaven (verse 9). The God Who had provoked the tempestuous winds and storm; the God of heaven is responsible for this. Which hath made the sea. Yes, the sea, which was raging all around them, and threatening, as they thought, their very lives. And this is my God. He made this sea. And He hath made the dry land. And he was to be vomited out from the belly of the great fish onto dry land. In effect, he is saying, Jehovah, Whom I fear, is responsible for the conditions in which we now find ourselves. The only way in which you are going to be saved in this calamity is to cast me forth into the sea.
The response of the Gentiles is interesting. They show a care for Jonah more than he showed for the Gentiles. He did not want the Gentiles to receive a message to which they would respond by repentance, and yet, when they receive his reply to cast him into the sea, we are told, Nevertheless the men rowed hard to bring it to the land. They rowed hard; they toiled. This people [Page 159] had a heart, and they were concerned for Jonah. They knew he was responsible for their perilous situation. But they showed this care, a care which he lacked for them.
give now a quote from the Gospel by Luke, a Gentile. It does not occur in Matthew. Matthew and Luke are the two New Testament
passages that refer to Jonah and to this experience, and it is described as a sign unto the Ninevites (Luke
I think this is very important. Jonah
ultimately, of course, was vomited onto the dry land, and he made his journey
There were other prophets who were similar. We think of Hosea, Isaiah and Ezekiel. These men had to go through experiences in a way that they became identified with the message that they had.
the Word of the LORD came to him the
second time and he reached
You see, here was Jonah offering himself for the salvation of these Gentile mariners, the sea having become, in a way, the place of death for him. He says in chapter 2, All Thy billows and Thy waves passed over me (verse 3); Thou hast brought up my life from corruption (verse 6); and Out of the belly of hell [Sheol, the place of the dead in the underworld, (Matt. 12: 40. cf. 16: 18.)] (verse 2). These are all expressions of a death experience, used typically by the Lord Jesus as anticipating His Own death and resurrection. There is the picture here of Jonah going down into hell (sheol) after experiencing all Gods waves and billows passing over him.
So, the vomiting onto dry land was a picture of resurrection. It was very much as good as that. Jonah had, indeed experienced a miracle. How many people would have survived it? God preserved him so that he did not see corruption. Indeed, he said, Yet hast Thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God (verse 6). It was a situation which could be described as one that was liable to corruption, but God enabled him, in His Own way, to be cast forth onto this land. So the whole experience became an essential part of his message, and a powerful factor by which he gave it.
This is like the Lord. We all fall, but it is a fact that God often uses even our failures as contributory to our qualifications for ministry. God is able to overrule the very failures of our lives. I believe that if we went through the Scriptures, we would find many occasions where God has sovereignly overruled failures and adverse events for them to be steps in the unfolding of His purpose.
God was not only merciful to the Ninevites but He was also merciful to Jonah. The Word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time. We are reminded of Abram. We recall, because of the famine in the promised land, he went down into Egypt (Genesis 12: 10), where it seems there was failure on his part but God brought him back to the place where he had been at the beginning (Genesis 13: 3). God is like that. He does not discard us. He does not take the attitude, I will have no more to do with you now you have failed Me so miserably. So with Jonah. Jonah had made a very sad mistake. He sinned very seriously, but the Word of the LORD came unto Jonah the second time.
only was Jonah a sign to the Ninevites but he was a sign to the Israelites. This is interesting.
[* A-millennialists take note!]
Now, in the prophecy of Hosea, which, as has already been seen, could have been contemporary with this, or very soon afterwards, God says, I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early. Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight (5: 15-6: 2).
is rather interesting that in Hosea
7: 11, the prophet says, Ephraim also is like a silly dove without
heart. That word dove
is exactly the same word as Jonah. That is what
Jonah means - a dove. So we might translate
this. Ephraim is like a silly Jonah. Thus Jonah became a type of
I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see My glory. And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations (various names are mentioned) that have not heard My fame, neither have seen My glory; and they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles (Isaiah 66:18-19).
But the time will come when they [the dead in Christ] will declare the glory of the Lord after this [first] resurrection
experience. They have been
buried amongst the nations, as Jonah [Page 162] was buried in
the heart of a great fish. Then, on the repentance of the preserved
remnant, God will use them. They will be
used by Him in such way that Isaiah could speak of
In this book of Jonah, there shines out a Divine principle that has been true throughout the ages, the principle of resurrection. Adam was sent into a deep sleep for the formation of Eve. Joseph, to all intents and purposes, was a man who was dead. Jacob thought he was, and even the brethren of Joseph thought he was dead, or at least, gone and forgotten, although not actually forgotten, because when Joseph was made known to them eventually, their consciences were quickened.
We can go through Scripture and see how this principle of resurrection found consistently in the Word of God. You see, God does not use the energy of the flesh. God, to use us, will need to humble us so that we can say, Not I but Christ. Compare John 12: 24, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. We know that is a principle of nature. Paul said, Death worketh in us, but life in you (2 Corinthians 4: 12). This is the principle or the basis of spiritual fruitfulness. And this is what Jonah had to learn.
Another lesson we learn from this is that God does not deal with us on the basis of His knowledge of our future. I believe God deals with us as we are at present. We may fail some time in the future. It does not appear, generally speaking, that God withholds blessing now because He knows that one day shall fail again.
is the case of Jonah. God would have His
way. I think that is lovely. He
spoke to Jonah the second time, and Jonah, in effect, had no option but to go. In chapter 1: 2, Arise, go to
In the first chapter, God prepared a great fish. In the last chapter, He prepared a worm. God prepares worms as well as great fishes. And God can use the great fish and God can use what we might call, the worthless worm. God knew that Jonah would fail, but that did not withhold the blessing from him.
God has given us these lessons, and no doubt there are others that can be learned from this book. God has given this extract from Jonahs history in order to be an encouragement for us today.
is one further very important thought to be mentioned. If, as has been said, Jonah prophesied just
after Elisha, then he must have been the first of the minor
prophets. That is significant in
that, as the first of the prophets, God showed
As Paul says, Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also (Romans 3: 29). And we who belong to Him can say, Amen, because He is our God as well. So we find how Gods vision, Gods purpose is not only for the Jew (a very important aspect of His purpose), but it is universal in that it is not confined to one nation, but worldwide in its embrace.
* * *
Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony Manifesto
(This manifesto was drawn up at the commencement of the S. G.A. T and first published in 1919. It has not been altered in any way during subsequent years).
The conveners of the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony Meetings desire to make a clear statement of their position in relation to PROPHETIC TRUTH, in the spirit of love and humility, recognising that we only know in part.
We adhere to the principle of receiving the Word of God, in its literal sense, except where obviously figurative, and in so receiving Prophetic Truth, emphasise the fact that this enhances, and does not diminish, experimental enjoyment of the Doctrine of Grace, also so learned.
We, therefore, affectionately lay before you the points on which our testimony is, and will be, united, and invite our readers prayerfully to consider these things, in subjection to the Word of God, and in dependence upon God the Holy Spirit.
1. We receive the doctrine of the FREE AND SOVEREIGN GRACE OF GOD, viz:
(a) The Co-Eternity and Co-Equality of the Three Persons in the One Godhead.
(b) The Full Verbal Inspiration of the Scriptures.
(c) The Incarnation, Sinlessness, Atonement, Resurrection and Ascension of God the Son.
(d) The Substitutional Obedience and Death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(e) The Election, Redemption, Regeneration, Justification, Imputation of Christs Righteousness to, Sanctification, and Final Preservation of all the Saints.
(f) The Total Depravity of all Mankind, and Entire Perversity from God of the Natural Will.
(g) The Eternal Life of the Righteous, and Eternal Punishment of the Wicked.
2. The NEAR APPROACH of the RETURN of the LORD is our confident HOPE.
3. His RETURN we expect as PRE-MILLENNIAL, and following:
(a) The Apostasy
(b) The Ten Kingdom Confederacy.
(c) The Revival
(d) The Reign of Antichrist.
(e) The Great Tribulation.
4. The PURPOSES of the Lords Coming we believe to include:
(a) The Resurrection of all departed Saints, and the Glorification with them of the living Saints.
(b) The Destruction of the Antichrist - the Man of Sin - the Lawless One.
Conversion and Restoration of
(d) The Gathering Out of His Kingdom of All things that offend.
(e)The Reign over the Earth, and Manifestation of the Kingdom in Righteousness - Satan being bound and the Earths groan hushed.
(f) The Judgment of the Great White Throne, at the End of the Millennial Kingdom.
(g) The Creation of the New Heavens and New Earth after the Millennium.
5. The SIGNS which we Discern of His Near Approach are:
(a) The rapidly increasing Apostasy of Christendom, with Lawlessness.
(b) Worldwide Testimony of the Gospel, in order to complete the taking out from the Gentiles a People for His Name (Acts 15: 14).
(c) The Promotion of Federations, Unions, Leagues, and Alliances, both Ecclesiastical, Social, Commercial, Industrial, National, and International APART FROM God, His Christ and His Truth.
(d) The Reorganisation of the
(e) The Reopening of the East, especially of
(f) The Fall of Absolute Monarchies, and Spread of Constitutional Government. The Rise of Democracy, with Social and Industrial Unrest.
6. SPIRITUAL APPREHENSION of these things, by the teaching of the Holy Spirit, we deem to be ESSENTIAL to a COMPLETE TESTIMONY OF TRUTH,
which will lead to practical separation from worldly principles, policies, and pleasures, and to more loyal devotion to the Lords service.
THE SOVEREIGN GRACE ADVENT TESTMONY
seeks to make known the Word of God.
Watching and Waiting is the magazine regularly published expounding Doctrinal and Prophetic Truth.
For your free specimen copy(ies) apply to the S.G.A.T. Secretary:
Stephen A Toms
* * *
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