It is the last Monday
in 2016 so that means this is the last post for the One Year Bible for this
year. Next week will be post #1 for 2017 as we start fresh again. I hope you
all will be joining us next year as well. If you were at all like me, seeing
the end of the book is both exciting and rewarding. It is no small task to read
the entire Bible. There are parts that are not much fun to read and there are
parts that are hard to relate to. I think the best part for me is seeing how
all the pieces fit together. The story as a whole is so much more powerful than
some sections taken out of context. I hope that as you hear scripture being
read in worship, you can fit it into its context and fill in some of the blanks
in your mind to get the whole picture. I have finished my reading so this post
will make reference to some things that you may have not read yet. Don’t worry,
you can always come back and read the post again. With that, on to the last
study of the year...
The Old Testament
This week we spent
time in the book of Zechariah. The book of Zechariah is a post-exilic book,
meaning it was written to the people who had returned to Jerusalem at the end
of the exile in Babylon. It has many interesting and detailed images written in
apocalyptic form. It was nice that we were reading from the book of Revelation
at the same time since John seems to have used Zechariah for some of his
imagery. This is not to say that John plagiarized his book but he did use other
sources to help him make sense of what he was seeing. Many scholars have a
difficult time with the prophecies in the book because there is no consensus on
the historical context of many of the images. We know that some are obviously
Christological (The Branch, illusions of Palm Sunday (9:9), looking on the one
whom they have pierced (12:10)) and others must have some context in the day
that we are too far removed to see. Eric Hartzell has this to say in his
commentary on Zechariah: Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai. He too had
seen the captivity and had returned. With Haggai, he say the people’s apathy
toward building God’s house. He joined in the message of Haggai who spoke for
God...”Build my house!” The book of Ezra tells us. “Now Haggai the prophet
and Zechariah the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in
Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them” (Ezra
5:1) There are many striking pictures in the book of Zechariah. Some of them
are surrealistic and in kaleidoscopic colors. Some are stark and strange.
Zechariah painted with prophetic brush on the imaginations and consciences of
his people. We come upon these paintings today and see that over the years the
colors have not faded and the images have not been blurred. He painted hell and
heaven; he preached God’s law and his gospel. Zechariah was also a prophet who
spoke words directly describing the coming Savior. In this book we hear words
that we recognize from the Passion History of our Lord. Zechariah knew the
Savior by inspiration and by prophecy.
A few more days in
2016 sees the reading of the book of Malachi and the finishing of Revelation.
Here are the vital
stats for Malachi:
PURPOSE: To confront
the people with their sins and to restore their relationship with God
TO WHOM WRITTEN: The
Jews in Jerusalem and God’s people everywhere
DATE WRITTEN: about
Haggai, and Zechariah were post exilic prophets to Judah. Haggai and Zechariah
rebuked the people for their failure to rebuild the temple. Malachi confronted
them with their neglect of the temple and their false and profane worship.
KEY VERSES: “Surely
the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace...But for you who revere my
name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you
will go out and leap like calves released from the stall” (4:1-2)
LAW THEMES: Rejection
of Edom; condemnation of unfaithful priests; divorce; unfaithfulness in
offerings; the day of the Lord.
GOSPEL THEMES: Love
for Israel; the Lord’s faithfulness; the messenger of the covenant; deliverance
Malachi’s literary style employs a dramatic use of questions asked by God and
The book of Malachi is
another post-exilic book and has many connections with the book of Nehemiah.
Kenneth Barker in the book introduction of Malachi in the NIV Study Bible says:
Although the Jews
had been allowed to return from exile and rebuild the temple, several
discouraging factors brought about a general religious malaise: (1) Their land
remained but a small province in the backwaters of the Persian empire, (2) the
glorious future announced by the prophets had not yet been realized and, (3)
their God had not yet come to his temple with majesty and power to exalt his
kingdom in the sight of the nations. Doubting God’s covenant love and no longer
trusting his justice, the Jews of the restored community began to loose hope.
So their worship degenerated into a listless perpetuation of mere forms, and
they no longer took the law seriously. Malachi rebukes their doubt of God’s
love and the faithlessness of both priests and people. To their charge that God
is unjust because he has failed to come in judgment to exalt his people,
Malachi answers with an announcement and a warning. The Lord they seek will
come—but he will come “like a refiners fire”. He will come to judge—but he will
judge his people first.
Malachi ends with a
warning of the Day of the Lord. As we have discussed before in this blog, this
Day is always referring to the Day of Judgment; the day that God will put an
end to the wickedness of this world once and for all. It is never a good day
for those apart from God, but for those who believe it will be a good day.
The New Testament
It would take me weeks
to give you all the info needed to understand the book of Revelation. One of my
seminary classes was devoted to this book and we spent hours trying to figure
out what it all meant and to try to make some applications for ourselves. For that
class I read the biggest book of my scholastic career (almost 700 pages!!). I
learned a lot and I am struggling trying to figure out how I can give you the
condensed version. I will give you some highlights from my big commentary
authored by Louis Brighton:
The book of
Revelation is the last book of the Bible. Whether it was written last or not,
the church was led to place it at the end of the canon because she saw in it
the completion of God’s revelation. Nothing further would be revealed by God
until the second coming of Jesus Christ. Revelation is thus the culmination of
the entire story of salvation contained in the Bible. It is the end point of
all that is written in both the OT and NT. for it draws all of revelation, both
prophetic and apostolic, to its final goal: the exalted reign of Jesus Christ
as King of Kings and Lord of lords and the fulfillment of the promise of the
new heaven and earth. As
the last book of the Bible and the completion of God’s revelation to his
church, it is the lens through which the entire Scripture is to be viewed.
Revelation reveals and confirms that Christ was prophetically promised and that
his incarnation, death and resurrection happened so that God’s creation could
be restored to its original glory and righteousness. Revelation thus points to
the final meaning and the final answer to all that is revealed in the Bible. In
addition, as the last book, Revelation puts an official stamp on all of God’s
revelation, a final confirmation of the divine truth and origin of God’s spoken
and written Word. This finality points to the urgency of the last times, in
which all things will be brought to an end—an urgency which reminds the
Christian to Hold fast to the faith and which encourages the church to complete
Brighton goes on to
The message of
Revelation reveals two ongoing phenomena: the terrifying sufferings and horror
on earth, and the reign of Jesus Christ as Lord in his heavenly exalted glory.
As these two phenomena are described, God’s people on earth are encouraged to
cling in hopeful faith to the eternal heavenly glory that beckons them in
Christ. In turn they also are strengthened and encouraged for the work of
Christ’s mission on earth. The tribulations and sufferings portrayed lead the
Christian not to pessimism and despair but to realism. The adversities and
troubles prophesied will come to pass, and Christians will suffer because of
and through them, as will unbelievers. Such plagues and distresses demonstrate
God’s wrath and judgment for the purpose of motivating the godless to
repentance. God’s own people also experience these same sufferings and plagues,
for the dragon, Satan uses these sufferings and plagues in his attempt to
destroy the church and her witness.
With all this being
said, the most important thing to get out of a reading of the book of
Revelation is that God is in control, his wrath is coming, it is time to
repent, God will be victorious and all those who put their trust in him will
have the blessings of eternal life. If this is all you got out of the book,
then great. The other stuff is there to help make this point clear.
Bits And Pieces
I think the best way
to finish out this study is to quote from the last Psalm, number 150:
Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his
sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his
acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the
sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with
tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with
the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that
has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
I cannot say it any
better myself. AMEN!!!