The book of Zechariah

“…’Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’…” (Zechariah 1:3)

Zechariah is another prophet. He and the prophet Haggai (see yesterday’s post) are both trying to encourage the people to complete Jerusalem’s temple, but the people keep getting distracted by other things. Sounds a lot like when God calls us to do something, but OUR plans take over or we are sidetracked and veer off God’s path. Zechariah was there to herd the people back to finish what they started.

Kind of like me finishing these Bible posts for the entire Bible. I said I was going to do it, so here I am finishing what I was called to do. Now there are only two posts left until we’ve done them all! Whether they helped you or not I’m thankful to all of you who have supported me in this endeavor. I enjoyed this journey probably more than anyone else. 🙃And I do encourage everyone to read the Bible, especially if it’s something that is nagging you–that might be God calling!

Not only is it a great goal to read the whole thing, but it is also great protection against people who use the Bible as a way to spread hate and fear. If you’ve read it, you can set many people straight (including yourself) and possibly inspire with your knowledge of Christ as love and mercy. It is better than sitting back allowing the world to fester in its own lie (fear and hate), as I did for so many years, almost to the point where I started to believe the lie myself. Get back to building that temple inside of you! 😄

The book of Haggai

“Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it…” (Haggai 1:7)

Go up into the mountains. Go to the high places where God dwells—the high road, the humble road, the merciful road, bring back wisdom from this “place” and live in that wisdom and pass on that wisdom so the people will see God through the work of your hands and heart.

The book of Zephaniah

“Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you never again will you fear any harm” (Zephaniah 3:14-15)

The last books of the Old Testament are the writings of prophets. The first part of Zephaniah is filled with terror, but then there is, of course, hope with faith in God. I look at a lot of these prophesies for cities and nations on an individual basis, in other words, instead of cities and nations, the words are speaking of an individual, of me, of you. And this book reminds me a lot of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. God said he would not destroy the towns if there was a good soul to be found within the city. This is the same of us. If there is just one good bit of us that is seeking God, (love), then we cannot be destroyed, because God lives in us. God won’t allow our complete destruction because it would be like destroying God. God wants to transform us, and many times God uses the pain we carry to do this. Have hope for the good bits, try to increase them, and look to the God within you.

The book of Habakkuk

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to tread on the heights.” (Habakkuk 3:19)

Habakkuk awaits the ruin of the unjust Babylonians. He complains twice to God that he wishes God would act now and “destroy” them. There are a couple of points here. First, as we all probably know, God doesn’t work on human time. God’s time is a mystery, but I CAN tell you that when I recite my prayers very slow, they feel much different than when I say them at a “normal” speed. I think when we slow down, something perhaps we’re not used to, it surprises our Spirit and we can then easily sense the difference. Like the intellect is finally giving way to the heart—and that is a special feeling. Second, sometimes the ruin of something allows for the growth of something better, we just have to be patient and eliminate ALL of our worldly expectations and allow God to move us through the fire.

The book of Nahum

“You have increased the number of your merchants till they are more than the stars of the sky, but like locusts, they strip the land and then fly away.” (Nahum 3:16)

Warning: according to Grammarly, my post today sounds worried and sad. 😬

Here, like in my Bible post on Joel, we have mention of the locusts again, generations after Jonah warned them of their evil ways the Assyrian city, Nineveh, has forgotten God again. Nahum is a prophet who had a vision of Nineveh’s destruction and is sent by God to warn them. The city was destroyed fifty years after Nahum’s prophecy.

So (forgive my venting) here is my prophecy, sort of: In 2019 our economy was doing very well. Just about every cute and affordable home in my neighborhood (I live in a historic downtown) was bought and torn down to make way for large and expensive ones. What happens when the character and the spirit of a place die? When I look at much of my town now, I feel like life itself has been stripped away from this place and replaced with the synthetic, opportunistic goals of a dying people. The houses they build look so cold and dead to me. What happens when the economy tanks and regular folks like me can’t afford big houses like that or can’t afford to maintain them? Not to mention the environmental impact when buildings are torn down, discarded, and new ones are built in their place. What happens to the neighborhood, the city, the people?

Once the area is no longer suited to their investment needs the newcomers who are using these homes solely to increase their pocketbooks will move on. And who will be left but the people who had always called this town their home–but now my town is almost unrecognizable, ruined (in my opinion) by opportunistic people (locusts) such as these.

The book of Micah

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)

Now here’s something…WE, our bodies, hearts, and minds are Israel. Now, read it to reference yourself: “…though you (you the reader) are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me (Christ) one who will be ruler over Israel…” In other words, out of each person who seeks Christ—the beautiful qualities He represents, love, charity, grace, mercy, etc., for those who seek to be these things, Christ will be born in them—and something very old, from ancient times, perhaps the purity of God’s first creation? If we could ever strive to be that pure! Free of malice and deceit, not only against others but against ourselves. There is something very organic in Christ, very real and that is why we call Him Truth. And Truth is always pure. Though we are small, we can do great things if we abide in Truth.

Paul’s 1st Letter to the Corinthians

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh…three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Saint Paul is so good and his words so powerful that I did not think this needed any additional stuff from me. No explanation is needed.
Who doesn’t love Saint Paul the Apostle?

The book of Jonah

“You have been concerned about this plant [providing you shade], though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:10-11)
Jonah loved a single leaf that was providing him shade while he sat back to watch what would become of the evil city of Nineveh, but he sat idly by while a worm ate up the leaf he loved. How stupid, right? Well God explains that God too, loved the people of Nineveh, so how can God sit idly by and watch a “worm” (evil) eat it up? God sent Jonah, a prophet, to relay God’s message to the king of Nineveh, but Jonah disliked the people of the city so much he escaped this call, in which case he was brought back to the city in a whale’s mouth.
The story of Jonah is so charming and cute! Though it is meant to be looked at as an allegorical tale, I think it shows God’s sense of humor, and that God will stop at nothing, when God calls, to show us what our calling is. Not only that, but it proves that God’s call for us is to help each other see God, recognize God, and know that God loves us no matter who or what we are/were. And its message says that we are to help those we dislike. Even those who storm the capital because of their “confusion”. How can you help someone see God today, tomorrow, etc.?

The book of James

“With the tongue, we praise our Lord and Father and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters this should not be. Can freshwater and saltwater flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” (James 3:8-11)

I often make the mistake of talking too much, not so much in large crowds anymore, but in small groups. I know and understand now why monks take an oath of silence. The more I talk the further away from my real self, my Godself, I seem to get. I feel more like myself when I am alone—when I don’t have to react, or entertain, or respond. I remember Joan Chittister said the same thing in her book ‘Called to Question’. I often come away from parties or small get-togethers thinking I must be two different people. A part of me likes to make people laugh and the other part likes silence and is serious and reflective. I often have trouble accepting my funny side, it feels slippery to me–like I say too much to please the ears of people and in these hasty, split-second moments, I seem to disregard God’s presence in my life and this makes me uncomfortable. I guess my conundrum right now is how to be myself and not hinder or stagnate my spiritual growth. And maybe I’m taking it too seriously. I have given up cursing other people, but it’s making a fool of myself that I sometimes regret, even though it makes me laugh. I know there is a way to be a balanced version of both. I pray I’m able to find that balance.

The book of Obadiah

“On that day you stood aloof while strangers carried off his wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them.” (Obadiah 1:11)

The last part of this verse reminds me of the Psalm of David 22:18 and the gospels when Christ was crucified and lots were divided for his garments. How many stood by indifferently as a criminal went free and Christ was crucified in his place? The short book of Obadiah explains what happens to the nation of Edom when it failed to help both Judah and Jerusalem. Edom’s indifference to its suffering neighbor is how much of the world operates. Instead, some people want more riches and power ignoring the suffering of those in need. Why are some people like this? The lay theologian, William Stringfellow, would say that it’s because we are in bondage to the principalities and the powers, and it was those who cried, “Crucify him!” that were displaying their shackles. In the crucifixion, we see a dismal view of our human nature to bend to peer pressure and fear. But we can go forth in this year by not standing aloof to the injustices of the world and not being afraid to be the black sheep among the white.