Complacency Is Deadly

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At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent… (Zephaniah 1:12). 

When I taught a series on the minor prophets, I noted that Zephaniah wanted to share some really, really good news, but first, he had to make his audience confront the really bad news. The really bad news is that we all have sinned and fall short of God’s righteous standard. The really, really good news is that God has provided forgiveness for our sins through Jesus. 

Sadly, one of the things that keeps us from addressing the sin in our heart is complacency. The King James Version of Zephaniah 1:12 says that the people were “settled in their complacency.” If you look up the definition of the Hebrew word here, it literally means settled on their lees. 

Look at the full verse in the NIV: “At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps and punish those who are complacent, who are like wine left on its dregs, who think, ‘The Lord will do nothing, either good or bad.’” 

This phrase—“who are like wine left on its dregs”—puts the people at a tipping point. The lees or dregs of a barrel is where the wine is at its finest color and flavor. But wine that has “settled” is right at the point of curdling. 

God is addressing people who have become self-satisfied. They have reached the place that they have called their “good life.” They want nothing to disturb them; especially not any teaching or preaching that may bring the conviction of the Holy Spirit. 

So they have deluded themselves. They have said, “If everything seems to be going well for me, then I must be doing everything right. Don’t tell me anything that might make me uncomfortable.” Outward appearances and circumstances can be deceiving. We have to listen for the voice of the Holy Spirit. We must never become complacent in our relationship with Jesus. 

A very similar warning is sounded for the church in Laodicea. Jesus called them complacent when He said that they were neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm. They, too, had also stopped listening to the Holy Spirit because they had complacently said to themselves, “I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” 

Laodicea was at the point where they should have been at their finest, but instead their complacency had brought them to a place of curdling—a place where Jesus threatened to spit them out of His mouth! 

Complacency is deadly! 

The solution: listen to the rebuke and discipline that the Holy Spirit brings, and repent of complacency. If we do, we will discover the inestimable, eternal riches that only a vibrant relationship with Jesus can give us (Revelation 3:14-22). 

Let us never become settled on our lees, but let us be ready to be poured out for our Master’s enjoyment and glory. May I suggest that we all regularly pray the prayer of David: “Search me, O God. Point out any sin that I have complacently allowed to remain in my heart” (Psalm 139:23-24). And when that sin is revealed, don’t wait to repent because your wine is just about to curdle! But the restoration that repentance will bring to your heart will allow the richness and vibrancy of your life to be pleasing to your Savior! 

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Faith Over Fear

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I am always interested when I see contrasts in the Bible. Things like:

  • Live this way, not that way
  • These people are blessed, these people have trouble 
  • If you do this, you won’t have this 

So an interesting contrast caught my eye in the story where Jesus calms the storm (Matthew 8:23–27). Jesus is sleeping peacefully in the middle of a storm that is described as “furious [where] the waves swept over the boat.” The disciples were anything but peaceful—they thought they were going to drown—so they yelled for Jesus to wake up. 

Before Jesus calmed the storm, He says, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” 

That’s the phrase that caught my attention. Notice the contrast between “little faith” and “so afraid.” In other words, small faith means big fear! 

Strong’s Greek dictionary defines “little faith” as “dread (by implication) faithless.” So it appears there is an inverse proportion between faith and fear. 

The word that Jesus used for “afraid” is only used here and in the same story in Mark 4:40, and in Revelation 21:8 which lists people who will be excluded from entrance into heaven.

The phrase “so afraid” (or “O ye of little faith” in the King James Version) is just one word in Greek: olgiopistos. The root word pistos is faith, but I find the prefix oligos very descriptive. It means: 

  • small in quantity 
  • short in time 
  • slight in intensity 

In other words, it is faith that is immature, or hasn’t been used much, or hasn’t been applied to a particular circumstance. This word olgiopistos is used five times in the New Testament, and only used by Jesus. 

In addition to this story, it is used in Matthew 6:30 and Luke 12:28 when Jesus tells us not to worry about the things that God will provide for us—things like food, clothing, and shelter. Jesus uses this word for Peter when he began to sink in the water after walking a few steps toward Jesus. And Jesus uses it in Matthew 16:8 when He warns His disciples about the “yeast” of the Pharisees and Sadducees that can creep into their hearts and spoil their faith. (Check out all of these verses here.)

In mathematical circles, this relationship between faith and fear is one that would be called inversely proportional. When our faith is high, our fear is low; when our fear is high, our faith is low. I also think it is very eye-opening that the mathematical symbol for inverse proportionality (∝) is the same symbol called ichthus that the early church used to represent Jesus.

Faith and fear cannot coexist in the same heart. Sometimes our faith is small in quantity because we haven’t fed our faith with God’s promises. Sometimes our faith is short in time because we want things done on our time schedule. And sometimes our faith is slight in intensity because we are unsure if God can “come through” in this particular situation. 

Whatever the case, when we feel any fear, we need to ask for faith. We need to return to God’s Word and be assured that His promises are applicable regardless of the situation we are in. As our faith grows, our fear has to diminish! 

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Sure And Secure

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We have looked at all of the psalms with a Selah pause, but there is one bonus message that we need to consider, and I think it’s a perfect wrap up to this series. 

Outside the book that bears his name, there is no other mention of Habakkuk anywhere else in the Bible. The author himself gives us no biographic information, nor does he give us dates as most of the other prophets do. However, there is enough information inside his short book that allows us to make some solid inferences:

  • based on his instructions in 3:19 we can infer he is a Levite and a worship leader—notice that he says “my instruments” 
  • we know for certain he is a song writer and a prophet (1:1; 3:1) 
  • he is a prophet with a heavy message—the word oracle in in the opening verse is probably better translated a “burden” 
  • he is a contemporary of Jeremiah, who spoke to backsliders, but Habakkuk speaks to the godly remnant to help them make sense of what’s happening in their crumbling culture 

Habakkuk does something that isn’t seen anywhere in the Bible except in the Psalms: he calls godly people to Selah—not once, but three times! 

In our look at the Selahs of Psalm 55 we noted how David’s Selahs almost came as an interruption of his anxious thoughts. Habakkuk’s Selahs follow this same theme. That’s because Habakkuk’s culture (like ours today) was increasingly unrighteous, unstable, and unsure. This prophetic worship leader wants righteous people trying to stand strong in their unrighteous culture to know that our surety and stability must come from our unshakable relationship with our righteous God. 

We’ve said that one of the definitions for Selah is “pause and calmly think of that,” but for Habakkuk’s Selahs I want to modify it slightly: Pause to interrupt your doubtful thoughts and consider this…. What he wants us to consider, I believe, comes from the opening words of his song in chapter 3—

Lord, I have heard of Your fame; I stand in awe of Your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known; in wrath remember mercy (v. 2). 

We are to pause to consider that God has already shown His unrivaled power in the past, and then we stand firm to see Him move again “in our day, in our time” so that the unrighteous will have an opportunity to repent and turn to Him. 

The first Selah is after v. 3 in which Habakkuk references Mount Paran. How did God show His fame there? Moses recorded it this way: 

The Lord came from Sinai and beamed upon us from Seir; He flashed forth from Mount Paran, from among ten thousands of holy ones, a flaming fire, a law, at His right hand. (Deuteronomy 33:2)  

Selah—pause to interrupt your doubtful thoughts and consider this: God did this before and He can do it again. His glory will cover the heavens, His praise will fill the earth, His power will be so evident that the earth will quake and nations will tremble (vv. 4-6). All of this to reassure the righteous and arrest the attention of the wayward unrighteous.  

The second Selah is after v. 9 where Habakkuk is still describing all that God will do personally to rescue His righteous ones. Selah—pause to interrupt your doubtful thoughts and consider this: God did this before—see the almost identical language David uses in Psalm 18:3-17—and He can do it again. All of this to reassure the righteous and arrest the attention of the wayward unrighteous. 

The final Selah is at the end of v. 13 where Habakkuk describes what God will do to the enemies of His people. He uses words of decisive victory—crushed, stripped, pierced, trampled. 

Once again, Selah—pause to interrupt your doubtful thoughts and consider this: God did this before and He can do it again. More specifically, Jesus is the Decisive and Ultimate Victor over sin and death! Check this out: 

Then the end will come, when [Jesus] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after He has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:24-26) 

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the Cross. (Colossians 2:15) 

Do not be afraid. I [Jesus] am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17-18)

When our culture is becoming increasingly unrighteous, unstable, and unsure, what an unshakable surety and security we have standing on Christ the Solid Rock. As the old hymn reminds us—when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay!

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our lengthy Selah series, you can find all of the messages by clicking here. 

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God Bless America?

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

On this 4th of July weekend, is it right for us to pray for God’s blessing on America? I have blogged before about being careful with our terms that are biblical, unbiblical, or non-biblical. Clearly, the phrase “God bless America” is non-biblical—that is, this phrase doesn’t explicitly appear in the Scripture. But are there principles in the Bible that can make that phrase biblical? 

Yes, I believe so IF we recognize why we have been blessed by God. 

In God’s perfect timing, the next psalm in our series looking at the Selahs in the Psalms is one that addresses this topic. 

Notice the very first word in Psalm 87 is the personal pronoun “He.” There is an assumption the sons of Korah make that their readers will know that “He” is The Creator and Sustainer of the Universe. In fact, they see God as the Prime Mover in this psalm, putting His words at the very middle of the psalm (v. 4). 

Just before these quotation marks, we are invited to Selah—pause and carefully listen to God. He announces heavenly citizenship for age-old enemies of Israel: Rehab, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, Cush. Peoples from all of these nations are identified as: “those who acknowledge Me” and three times He says they are “born in Zion” (vv. 4-6). 

God desires that none should perish. He wants people from every nation, tribe, and language to enjoy His presence forever in the eternal Zion. 

The sons of Korah remind us of just how blessed Zion truly is (vv. 1-3) and how God establishes all who have Zion citizenship (v. 5). God does this so that all people will see God’s blessing on those people who acknowledge Him as their Lord and King. 

So let’s return to my earlier question: Is it right and biblical for Christians to pray for God to bless America? 

Let me ask it another way: Has God blessed America? I believe He has and we should be eternally grateful. I believe this nation was founded on biblical principles, and recognized as a place where people could have the freedom to worship God.

Will God continue to bless America? Psalm 87 says the blessing will last only as long as we Americans acknowledge, “All my fountains are in You” (v. 7). This is a call for us to continually recognize God as our Foundation and Source. We also have to remember that the blessing is only to us so that it can flow through us to all peoples, languages, and tribes. 

The blessing stops when we dig our own wells, or we try to hoard the blessing. 

There are two phrases in this psalm that stand out to me as prophetic. 

  1. Selah (listen to this) and then “I will record” (vv. 3-4) 
  2. The Lord will write in the register” (stop to celebrate) Selah (v. 6)

God keeps perfect records of those who are citizens of Zion because they have acknowledged Jesus as the One who paid the price for their sins to be forgiven. So when John gives us a glimpse of the eternal Zion, he tells us about the rejoicing over those who are there “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9-10, 7:9-10, 21:22-27). 

Just as Revelation records spontaneous praise to God, the sons of Korah build in those Selah pauses to worship too:

  • Glorious things are said of God—praise Him! 
  • He has blessed us by His presence in our midst—praise Him! 
  • People from all tribes are entering Zion—praise Him! 

May God continue to bless America so that we can use those blessings to tell the world about His love as we invite them into a personal relationship with Jesus! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our Selah series, you can find the full list by clicking here.

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Thursdays With Spurgeon—Accepting It For What It Is

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

Accepting It For What It Is

…For the mouth of the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 1:20).

     In the Word of God the teaching has unique dignity. This Book is inspired as no other book is inspired, and it is time that all Christians avowed this conviction. …  

     Where are we if our Bibles are gone? Where are we if we are taught to distrust them? If we are left in doubt as to which part is inspired and what is not, we are as badly off as if we had no Bible at all. I hold no theory of inspiration. I accept the inspiration of the Scriptures as a fact.

From The Infallibility Of Scripture

I, too, accept the inspiration of the Scriptures as a fact. Every single word is perfectly inspired by the Holy Spirit. Even the order in which the words are spoken.

During the summer months, I like to lead my congregation through a study of the Book of Psalms. Currently, we are looking at the psalms that contain the word Selah. 

It is distressing to me to see how many “modern” translations of the Bible either relegate the word Selah to a footnote (like the NIV which says, “The Hebrew has Selah [a word of uncertain meaning] here”), or completely disregard this word (e.g. The Message, The Contemporary English Version, and The Living Bible, to name a few). 

Why? Do we think we are so much smarter now that we know which words the Holy Spirit truly inspired, and which ones we can leave out?

Once we start down this path, what is to stop us from modifying any word in the Bible? Many liberal-minded people want to tell us “what God really meant” in some passages, or to water down the inspiration so much to try to make it “culturally relevant” that they end up destroying its very meaning. This is not only a slippery slope, but it is something that God has already warned us against doing: 

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. (Revelation 22:18-19)

Let us accept the Word of God for what it is: Words that the mouth of Almighty God has spoken, not words that we think can be modified, improved, or eliminated. 

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Links & Quotes

The seed your weakened hand is sowing
May ripen to a harvest broad,
Which yet may help, without your knowing,
To fill the granaries of God! —Margaret J. Prescott

My friend and podcast partner Greg Heeres talked about growing and learning through change. You can check out the rest of this episode of The Craig And Greg Show here.

Sometimes the prophetic language in the Bible can be a bit confusing. Like the phrase: “A time, times, and half a time.” Here is how Dr. Henry Halley unpacks this—

“It denotes the duration of the other horn of the fourth beast (Daniel 7:25). It denotes the period from Daniel to the time of the end (Daniel 12:6–7). It is used in Revelation 12:14 as identical to 42 months and to 1260 days (Revelation 11:2–3; 12:6, 14; 13:5), the period of time the Holy City was trampled, the two witnesses prophesied, the woman was in the wilderness, and the revived beast was on the throne. 

“The word ‘time,’ in the phrase ‘a time, times, and half a time’ is generally taken to mean year; the phrase thus means three and a half years, which is 42 months, or 1260 days. 

“By some, this is taken to refer to a literal three and a half years. Others, on the year-day interpretation (Numbers 14:34; Ezra 4:6), take it to be a period of 1260 years. Still others look upon the figures, not as defining time limits or periods, but as being symbolic: 7 Is the symbol of completeness, while three and a half, which is half of 7, represents incompleteness—that is, the reign of evil will be only temporary.” —Halley’s Study Bible (check out all of the biblical references in this quote by clicking here)

“Ambivalence toward the Law of God is troubling. Theologians discard the Law, and pastors either reject or neglect it. Jesus said that keeping and teaching the Law of God was a mark of Kingdom greatness (Matthew 5:17-19). Apparently that’s not a goal many of us aspire to. He also said that when the Law of God is neglected, love grows cold (Matthew 12:24). The ubiquitous lack of love in our world today is undoubtedly related to our failure to teach and live according to the Law of God. … 

“Pastors have three main resources for the work and business of ministry: The Word of God, prayer, and their personal example (Acts 6:4; 1 Peter 5:1-3). If any of these fails, their ministry will as well. Especially must pastors be seen to be men zealous for the Law of God, to obey all the counsel of the Lord in His Word and to resist the devil and overcome every temptation. Jesus did. Paul did. John said this is the way love flourishes (1 John 5:1-3). Throughout this generation, failures of obedience on the part of highly visible pastors have contributed to the Church’s becoming an object of scorn by many unbelievers, while believers have been largely silent about their failings. We must be diligent in obeying Christ if we would teach others to do so and thus fulfill our calling to the Kingdom and glory of God.” —T.M. Moore

New wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) analysis dates the Shroud of Turin to the first century.

Not all viruses need to be eliminated. A study has discovered 5500 new RNA viruses on the ocean, finding “an entire phylum, the Taraviricota . . . found all over the oceans, which suggests they’re ecologically important.” The Creator knew what He was doing!

The Human Jesus

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

We saw that our beautiful Jesus became grotesque—taking our ugly sin on Himself so that He could clothe us with His perfectly righteous robe. In so doing, He became even more resplendent. His friend John saw Him in such radiant beauty that he crumbled to his knees at the sight of His majesty (Revelation 1:12-16)! 

Just like John and others in the Bible, when we see ourselves in contrast to His awesome beauty, we often feel shabby and unworthy to be in His presence. Job expressed his desire to somehow get away from this Perfection (Job 7:11-21). Ultimately, in his desperation, Job utters something prophetic—

God is not a mere mortal like me that I might answer Him, that we might confront each other in court. If only there were someone to mediate between us, someone to bring us together, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that His terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of Him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot. (Job 9:32-35) 

When we are confronted with the perfection of God, we all want “someone to arbitrate”—someone who will fairly represent both sides. We need someone both God and man. Since man cannot become God, only God can become man. Isaiah prophesied it this way, “God saw that there was no one, He was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so His own arm achieved salvation for Him” (Isaiah 59:16). 

This Arbitrator or Mediator is Jesus the Christ! 

Jesus means “help from Jehovah.” This is His human name given to Him at His birth (Luke 1:31; Matthew 1:21, 25; Luke 2:21). 

Christ or Messiah means “anointed by God” and is His divine title. Often His title is used with the definite article “the” to signify that Jesus is the One and Only Messiah (Luke 2:26-27; John 1:41; Matthew 16:16; Acts 10:38). 

William Barclay commented on this: “Peter states [that Jesus was a human descendent of David] in the first recorded sermon of the Christian Church (Acts 2:29-36). Paul speaks of Jesus Christ descended from David according to the flesh (Romans 1:3). The writer of the Pastoral Epistles urges men to remember that Jesus Christ, descended from David, was raised from the dead (2 Timothy 2:8). The writer of the Revelation hears the Risen Christ say: ‘I am the root and the offspring of David’ (Revelation 22:16).” 

Many times this human name and divine title are linked together. In Hebrews, the name Jesus is used more times than any other title (19x), and Christ is the second-most used title (15x).

(For my Patreon supporters, I’ve shared a list of all of the titles for Jesus used in the book of Hebrews.)

Hebrews makes it perfectly clear how important it is that Jesus was made fully human just like us. We read phrases like

  • “made a little lower than the angels,” which was David’s way of talking about humans (see Psalm 8:4-6) 
  • “made perfect through suffering”—only humans can suffer 
  • “flesh and blood” 
  • “made like His brothers in every way” 
  • “His life on earth”

Remember that I said the most-used titles in Hebrews were Jesus and Christ. The third-most used title in Hebrews is high priest (14x). Only the Human Jesus and the Divine Jesus could be the perfect High Priest and Mediator that Job longed for, and that you and I have to have!

This post is a part of a bigger series on prayer with the subtitle: “Learning to pray in the awesome name of Jesus.” So what does it mean that we can pray in the human name of Jesus? 

It means we don’t have to pray majestic prayers in order for God to take notice. We can pray very human prayers, we can groan with real human pain, we can growl with real human anger. Our totally human Jesus understands us, and the totally divine Christ runs to help us! 

Don’t try to sanitize your prayers to make them sound acceptable. Jesus didn’t! How awesome it is to have a High Priest who is both fully human and fully divine! 

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in this series on prayer, you can find a link to all of them by clicking here. 

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Our Blessed Hope

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

As we wrap up our series looking at our foundational belief statements, I want to combine the last four statements together, not only because they all cover the same theme of end-times events, but also because these statements should give every Christian hope! 

  • “Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate.” —G.K. Chesterton 
  • “One of the great enemies of hope is forgetting God’s promises.” —John Piper 
  • “Hope is not wishful thinking; it’s well-founded believing!” —Craig T. Owens 

Christians have a fantastic, unshakable, blessed hope on which we can stand not only secure but joyful! 

Foundational truth #13: “The resurrection of those who have fallen asleep in Christ and their translation together with those who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord is the imminent and blessed hope of the church.” 

This blessed hope in the future helps us live with joy today! Knowing that death has been defeated and Jesus will come back to take us home with Him should fuel us to say “no” to the temporary pleasures of sin, and live such godly lives that it turns others’ eyes to Jesus (Titus 2:11-14; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). 

Foundational truth #14: “The second coming of Christ includes the rapture of the saints, which is our blessed hope, followed by the visible return of Christ with His saints to reign on earth for one thousand years.” 

Sometimes you will hear Christians talk about the “rapture” of the Church. Although this word itself isn’t in the Bible, the Greek word harpazo in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 means “catching up.” It also means “to eagerly claim for one’s self,” which reminds me that Jesus is thrilled to bring His Bride home to be with Him forever! After the Church has been caught up to Heaven, a period of tribulation will plague the earth, followed by Christ’s Second Coming and His millennial reign (Zechariah 14:4-5; Revelation 19:11-15; 20:1-10). 

Foundational truth #15: “There will be a final judgment in which the wicked dead will be raised and judged according to their works. Whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, together with the devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, will be consigned to the everlasting punishment in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” 

Christians have no fear of the second (or final) death because our names are written in the Book of Life (Luke 12:4-6; Revelation 20:11-15). Not only is there judgment for the wicked, but there will be rewards for the righteous. 

Foundational truth #16: “In keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). Revelation 21-22 give us a small glimpse of our eternal home. 

In light of these truths, how should Christians live while still on earth? I think there are three ways we should live: 

  1. Live circumspectly
  2. Live on-mission
  3. Live unafraid

(see Ephesians 5:15; Matthew 28:18-20; Proverbs 24:11-12; Jude 1:20-25) 

With this blessed hope of the Second Coming of Jesus and our security in knowing we will remain with Him forever, let’s tell everyone we can how they too can know what it is to live with this hope in their heart. 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series exploring our foundational beliefs, you can access the full list by clicking here. 

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It’s A Big Deal

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible. 

I get a little leery when people are advocating for a government that is friendly to Christianity. In biblical history and world history, Christians tend to backslide when things are going smoothly for them. 

Difficulties and even persecution cause us to evaluate if what we’re standing on is really a sure foundation (2 Corinthians 1:9; Philippians 4:10-13). 

As the Jews returned from their exile in Babylon, things were going fairly easily for them. And as they had done so many times before, they began to backslide. The Archeological Study Bible noted, “This generation was not guilty of the gross idolatry of its forefathers. Rather, these Israelites embraced a kind of dead orthodoxy, in which they tried to get by with the minimum that their faith required.”  

Onto this scene comes a prophet named Malachi. Malachi means “My messenger,” and we don’t know if this was actually the prophet’s name or not, but he took it on as his nature, delivering the heavy words of God. In fact, he held the words of God with such respect that when he says this is “an oracle,” he literally is saying, “This is a heavy burden to bear!” 

Malachi uses the phrase “LORD Almighty” (or LORD of Hosts in the KJV, and Lord of Heaven’s Armies in the NLT) twenty-four times. By contrast with the other minor prophets…

  • Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, and Jonah use this phrase zero times 
  • Micah and Habakkuk each use it once
  • Nahum and Zephaniah each use it twice
  • Haggai uses it 12 times (or 32 percent of the total verses in his book) 
  • Zechariah uses the phrase 46 times (which 22 percent of his total verses) 

But Malachi’s 24 times is 44 percent of his total verses! In other words, he wanted his audience to be crystal clear that it wasn’t him who was speaking, but the King of kings was speaking to us through Malachi! 

God is still speaking through Malachi to us today! Just like Israel in Malachi’s day, I think Christians today run the very real risk of backsliding. Just like Israel, when we forget the weightiness of the glory of the LORD ALMIGHTY we can begin to slip into an it’s-no-big-deal attitude. 

By contrast, when we’re honoring the LORD of Hosts, and reverencing Him, and desirous of His glory being seen, it’s a very big deal that we listen to His voice and closely follow His commands.  

So Malachi’s six warnings to the Israelites of his day should still be heeded by Christians today. We should examine ourselves very closely to see if we have the same it’s-no-big-deal attitude. We should ask ourselves, “Are we…

(1) …offering less-than-our-best sacrifices? Are we just giving God the leftovers?”  

(2) …listening to church leaders that don’t reverence God’s name?” 

(3) …honoring the sanctity of marriage?” 

(4) …self-seeking instead of neighbor-loving?” 

(5) …withholding the full tithe from our local church?” 

(6) …following God only for personal gain?” 

(Check out all of the verses for these questions by clicking here.) 

If this study of the minor prophets—especially these last three—has told us anything, it’s that God keeps His word. When He says He is coming back as the righteous Judge, that will happen. In fact, it could happen at any moment! 

We must be ready! We must guard our hearts against the it’s-no-big-deal attitude. We must reverence our awesome God. The things of God are a very big deal indeed (see Hebrews 10:37-39; Revelation 22:12-16). 

To guard ourselves against this backsliding attitude, we must live every day reverencing the awesome, weighty, majestic name of Jesus! 

If you’ve missed any of the messages in our series exploring the powerful lessons in the the twelve minor prophets, please click here to get the list of all of those messages. 

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Confident, Bold, and Joyful

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

Zechariah pronounces more messianic prophecies than any other biblical writer, with the exception of Isaiah (and he wrote 66 chapters!). These prophecies are fulfilled in Christ’s First Advent, and promised for His Second Advent. Check these out for yourself…

(All of the biblical references for the above chart can be viewed by clicking here.) 

(All of the biblical references for the above chart can be viewed by clicking here.)

Why is it so vital that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies? 

(1) The historicity of these fulfilled prophecies gives us a confidence for the future. 

These fulfilled prophecies assure us that God is sovereign over all history. There are no accidents, and God needs no help from anyone else in fulfilling what He has promised. As a result, no world event—no matter how big it may seem—should be able to rattle us! 

(2) The authenticity of what God has done gives us boldness for today. 

When God does the miraculous, He authenticates His Word. This authenticity has always made God’s people stand out (see Genesis 41:39). It’s also why people recognized Jesus as the divine Son of God (John 3:2; 9:30-33). So we can live with the boldness to know that what God says He will do, He will do! 

(3) The exclusivity of God’s promises and fulfillment of those promises gives us joy for our testimony. 

Only Jesus could have done all of this (Luke 24:26-27, 44), so only Jesus can fulfill what is still remaining to be fulfilled! We can have supreme joy in knowing that only Jesus is our hope of salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). 

It’s vital that we know this is true so that we can live confident, bold, and joyful! Our confident boldness and our bold joy both glorify God and attract seekers to Him. 

If you’ve missed any of the other messages in our series looking at the major lessons from the minor prophets, you can access all of those messages by clicking here. 

You may download a PDF version of the above charts by clicking here → Zechariah prophecies for the First Advent or here → Zechariah prophecies for the Second Advent

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