The Minor Prophets: Malachi

The Minor Prophets Hosea

THE MINOR PROPHETS // MALACHI

I. Historical background

    A. Around 450 B.C. (Coffman); 445-432 B.C. (Hailey); 460-425 B.C. (Waddey)
    B. “The time in which Malachi prophesied is determined by material within the book rather than from the opening lines of the book as has been true with earlier prophets. It is a time of careless priests (Mal. 1:6-2:9), skepticism (Mal. 3:14; 2:17), and of inter-marriage (Mal. 2:11-16). The temple is evidently completed and sacrifices are being offered (Mal. 1:7-10). Judah is under a governor (Mal. 1:8). Edom has been destroyed (Mal. 1:1-5).” (Lewis)
    C. “The book itself does not give the date of its writing. However, most scholars agree that the writer of the book dealt with much the same problems as were prevalent during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah….The Temple was rebuilt about 520-516 B.C. Then about 60 years later (around 456 B.C.) Ezra had come home from Babylon to Jerusalem to help encourage and reorganize the nation. Then, about 13 years later (around 444 B.C.), Nehemiah came to Jerusalem and directed the rebuilding of the wall. This seems to have been close to the time of the conditions and events described in Malachi. Thus it seems that the Jews had been home about 100 years in Malachi’s time.” (Warren)
    D. “For a full picture of the conditions in Judea during the period one should read Ezra 7-10 and the complete Book of Nehemiah.” (Hailey)

II. About the prophet

    A. “Nothing is known of the life of the author of this book. Some scholars even doubt that we know his name. They contend that since ‘Malachi,’ which is the Hebrew word for ‘my messenger,’ appears nowhere else as a proper name it should not be considered to be one in connection with this book.” (Warren)
    B. Some object to the supposed anonymity of the book, including Coffman and Hailey. “No other OT prophecy is anonymous, nor may we reasonably supposed Malachi to be an exception.” (Coffman)
    C. Malachi “might have meant My Angel or Messenger, or it may be taken as an adjective Angelicus. Either of these meaning would form a natural name for a Jewish child, and a very suitable one for a prophet.” (Smith)

III. Lessons for today

    A. God hates divorce (2:16)

      1. Hatred is a strong emotion, but it is applied to several specific sinful attitudes and actions (Proverbs 6:16-19; Deuteronomy 12:29-31)
      2. “Such a vigorous warning and exhortation from the Lord in a former decadent and permissive age should not be silenced; its principle should be heralded to the ends of the earth in our own time.” (Hailey)
      3. Single Christians should take great care in choosing a mate, since God’s intention for marriage is a life-long commitment (Matthew 19:4-6; 1 Corinthians 7:10-13)
      4. “Disregard for marriage vows is disastrous for the individual, society and the nation.” (Waddey)

    B. “God is never satisfied with partial, or incomplete, service.” (Woods)

      1. “Malachi teaches that although ritual may be important in religion, it is not an end in itself. Ritual is only of value when it expresses a deep and sincere spiritual worship unto God.” (Hailey)
      2. The people of Malachi’s day were not doing all that they should or could in giving back to God (1:8; 3:8-10; cf. Leviticus 22:18-20)
      3. “Notice that they were not robbing God in the sense that they were taking money, but they simply were not giving as they had been commanded!” (Warren)
      4. “Every spiritually minded person who ever lived instinctively accepted the principle that, to God one must give the very best….The reprobate priesthood of Malachi’s times were accepting the sick, the lame, and the blind, and doing many other things forbidden.” (Coffman)
      5. Does God expect more us to do or give than we are able? No, but neither should we underestimate how much we are able to do or give! (2 Corinthians 8:9-15)
      6. When we commit to something, we must be sure to follow through once we have the ability (Ecclesiastes 5:4-5)

    C. Our attitude toward correction should be one of repentance (3:16)

      1. Malachi preached against the sins of the people, resulting in a change of heart and life in “those who feared the Lord”
      2. “Malachi foresees the repentance of some, though not all the people. They would speak with one another. No doubt their speaking would concern the need for repentance, for genuine worship. As always, the fear of Jehovah would prove the beginning of wisdom for Jehovah would hear and remember.” (Gill)
      3. Today, we must listen to the preaching of the Word, even when it is uncomfortable to hear (2 Timothy 4:2), and respond appropriately (James 1:21-25)

Resources
Coffman, James Burton. (1983). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 4: Zechariah and Malachi. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/malachi.html]

Gill, Clinton R. (1971). Minor Prophets: A Study of Micah through Malachi. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/BSTSMP/BSTSMP_SIPDF.pdf]

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Smith, George Adam. (1906). The Book of Twelve Prophets, Vol. II. New York, NY: A.C. Armstrong and Son. [Online at https://archive.org/stream/bookoftwelveprop028005mbp]

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/TTMP/TTMP_SIPDF.pdf]

Warren, Lindsey D. “The Living Message of Zechariah.”(1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Woods, Guy N. (1957). Adult Gospel Quarterly: January, February, March 1958. Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate Company.

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The Minor Prophets: Zechariah

The Minor Prophets Hosea

THE MINOR PROPHETS // ZECHARIAH

I. Historical context

    A. “In the eighth month of the second year of Darius” (1:1); beginning in late 520 B.C. (Coffman; Gill; Howard; Lewis; Waddey); “chapters 9-14, is generally thought to be from a later period of his ministry” (Waddey)
    B. “Darius, after fighting some nineteen battles, put down the rebellious challenges of his authority; and there was nothing to hinder the Jews rebuilding of the Temple except their own lethargy. Zechariah, along with Haggai, whose prophetic career began some two months earlier, successfully led the people in rebuilding it. It is altogether possible that Zechariah saw the rebuilt temple completed in 516 B.C., and that he lived and prophesied long after that event.” (Coffman)
    C. “The first eight chapters consist of the prophecies dated according to the reign of King Darius during his second, third and fourth years of rule….Chapters 9-14, however, find us in an altogether new setting—one of sharp contrast to the first eight chapters. There is no more reference to the construction of the temple; heathen forces not even mentioned before are now detailed; war seems just a breath away and the love and peace and tranquility seems to have vanished.” (Howard)
    D. “The book of Zechariah may be thought of as a sequel to Haggai. The temple was begun and constructed in the midst of conflict, but it would be completed. Zechariah looks beyond the immediate temple to the Messiah and the spiritual temple of God, and to the final consummation of God’s purpose in the glory of the Messiah and His rule. This would be accomplished amid great opposition, but Jehovah would fight for His people and give them victory.” (Hailey)

II. About the prophet

    A. “The name Zechariah means ‘Jehovah remembers,’ or ‘Jehovah has remembered.” (Howard)
    B. “In contrast to Haggai, who was a ‘layman,’ Zechariah was a Levitical priest, and a member of one of the outstanding priestly families.” (Gill)
    C. “The writings of Zechariah reflect an engaging personality, a simple, hearty, practical man. His spirit was dedicated to love, justice and man’s need for freedom and a happy home.” (Waddey)
    D. Some believe Christ speaks of the prophet’s death in Matthew 23:34-35 (Howard), while others believe it is a different Zechariah to whom the Lord refers (Coffman, Hailey, Lewis, Waddey)

III. Lessons for today

    A. It was always in God’s plan to include other nations in His kingdom (2:3-4, 11; 9:9-10)

      1. “‘Jerusalem shall be inhabited without walls…’ This never applied to the literal Jerusalem, except for part of a century before the people were able to rebuild the walls. The simple meaning is that God’s eventual city, as realized in the Church of Jesus Christ, shall not be a fortified citadel, but a world-wide fellowship that no walls could limit or contain.” (Coffman)
      2. “‘In that day…’ is a phrase often associated in the prophecies with ‘the times of the Messiah.’” (Coffman)
      3. “This projects the prophecy into that distant day when Messiah would come to dwell among the Hebrews (John 1:14) and would invite all nations to become his disciples (Matt. 28:19). Gentiles would have access to the divine promise through the gospel (Eph. 3:6).” (Waddey)
      4. “The Lord looks beyond the physical descendants of Israel to a nation that includes some from among all the nations, Gentiles as well as Jews. In the midst of such a people Jehovah will dwell.” (Hailey)

    B. The importance of following God’s will in worship (chapters 7 and 8)

      1. The people had instituted a fast seventy years prior to remember and mourn the destruction of the temple (7:3)

        a. Other fasts had also been established at the same time in different months (8:19)
        b. “The four fasts the Jews have been keeping in memory of Nebuchadnezzar’s coming against Jerusalem (tenth month), of the breach made in the wall (fourth month), of the burning of the house of Jehovah (fifth month), and of the murder of Gedaliah (seventh month)…” (Hailey)
        c. “This preoccupation with weeping, mourning, and fasting represented a radical change in Jewish religious life. Weeping and sorrow replaced hymns and thanksgivings; and Watts affirmed that, ‘The practice has survived into this century at the so-called “Wailing Wall” in Jerusalem.’” (Coffman)

      2. The fact is that God only established one fast for the Jews to observe on a continual basis: the Day of Atonement, observed on the tenth day of the seventh month (Leviticus 23:27-32)

        a. The fast mentioned in Zechariah “was not of godly sorrow for past offences, but of selfish regret for loss of their country and their liberty. They pitied themselves, but they had not learned to fear Jehovah.” (Hinckley, quoted by Coffman)
        b. “Zechariah reminds them that this fasting had been done to bewail their exile and ruin. It had not come from divine commandment; therefore, it did not possess the deepest spiritual meaning.” (Howard)
        c. It was instituted by the people for the wrong reasons, not by God nor for God (7:5)

      3. We are warned against binding things on others that are not authorized or commanded by God

        a. Matthew 15:9; Colossians 3:17
        b. While we have examples of Christians fasting in Acts (13:2-3; 14:23), we are not commanded to observe a fast collectively as a church at appointed times
        c. When we fast, our motivation must be pure (Matthew 6:17-18), and when done in a marriage relationship, fasting must be done with mutual consent between husband and wife (1 Corinthians 7:5)
        d. It is an individual decision, and should not be bound on others
        e. “Fasting, for the Christian, is strictly a voluntary matter. It should arise out of a feeling of intense need, not as a result of mere formality.” (Jackson)

    C. The existence of Christ before He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14)

      1. The Angel of the Lord appears throughout the Old Testament, going all the way back to Genesis; in the NKJV the word “Angel,” when used in this context, is generally capitalized indicating the translators believed Him to be Deity
      2. This Angel of the Lord is featured prominently in the book of Zechariah
      3. “The following observations will establish that this mighty angel was no less than the Word of God, the preincarnate Christ. The angel of Jehovah told Moses that his name was ‘I AM THAT I AM.’ Jesus also claimed that he was I AM (John 8:58).

      “The angel led Israel through the wilderness and provided their needs (Ex. 14:19-20). Moses reported that Jehovah directed Moses to smite the rock that the people might drink in the desert. But Paul tells us that the rock they drank of was Christ (1 Cor. 10:24).

      “In the Book of Joshua, the angel is the prince or leader of Jehovah’s host or army (5:14). In Revelation 19, we see the army of heaven and its notable leader. Then John sees his name which is ‘The Word of God’ (19:11-16). In his Gospel, John identifies the Word of God as the only begotten of the Father, who became flesh (John 1:1-4,14).

      “The angel told Manoah that his name was wonderful (Judg. 13:16-18). Isaiah, in his famous prophecy of Messiah said, ‘His name shall be called Wonderful…’ (9:6).

      “Isaiah calls him ‘The angel of God’s presence,’ which means ‘of his face’ (63:9). The Hebrews writer says Christ is ‘the very image of his (God’s) substance’ (1:3).”…

      “The angel of Jehovah can be worshiped (Josh. 5:4). No mere man or created angel can be worshiped acceptably (Acts 10;25,26; Rev. 22:-8-9). But Jesus commonly accepted the worship of men (Matt. 28:17)….

      “These appearances of the angel of Jehovah, in ancient times, are called theophanies, i.e., when God assumes the form of an angel or a man in order to speak and act visibly and audibly to men, to provide them some revelation or guidance.” (Waddey)

Resources
Coffman, James Burton. (1983). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 4: Zechariah and Malachi. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/zechariah.html]

Gill, Clinton R. (1971). Minor Prophets: A Study of Micah through Malachi. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/BSTSMP/BSTSMP_SIPDF.pdf]

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Howard, V.E. “The Living Message of Zechariah.”(1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Jackson, Wayne. “Is Fasting for Christians Today?” ChristianCourier.com. [http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/231-is-fasting-for-christians-today]

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/TTMP/TTMP_SIPDF.pdf]

The Disciples’ Questions in Matthew 24


Matthew 24:1-3

I. AN OVERWHELMING ANNOUNCEMENT

    A. The temple would be destroyed (Matthew 24:2)
    B. The troubled disciples ask, “When?” (Matthew 24:3)

II. “WHEN WILL THESE THINGS BE?” THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM

    A. A lot of things will happen that are not signs (Matthew 24:4-14)
    B. There will be a sign to flee (Matthew 24:15-28; cf. Luke 21:20)
    C. The fall of the Jewish state (Matthew 24:29-31)
    D. The parable of the fig tree (Matthew 24:32-35)

III. WHAT ABOUT THE END OF THE WORLD?

    A. Of that day and hour – no signs or warnings (Matthew 24:36)
    B. Similar to the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39)
    C. Are you ready, or have you become distracted? (Matthew 24:40-44)
    D. The faithful and wise servant (Matthew 24:45-47)
    E. The evil servant (Matthew 24:48-51)

The Minor Prophets: Haggai

The Minor Prophets Hosea

THE MINOR PROPHETS // HAGGAI

I. Historical context

    A. “In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month” (1:1); 520 B.C. (Coffman, Hailey, Lewis, Waddey)
    B. “Significantly, Haggai did not date his message from the times of any Jewish ruler, for both Israel and Judah had been removed from their homeland and had been enslaved by Assyria and by Babylon. Thus it was necessary to date his prophecy from the rule of a pagan king, contrasting sharply with the custom of earlier prophets.” (Coffman)
    C. The Jews that returned from Babylonian captivity began work on rebuilding the temple (Ezra 3:10)

      1. Their opponents complained to Artaxerxes, who decreed that the reconstruction must stop (Ezra 4:21)
      2. After Darius came to power, the Jews did not attempt to resume their efforts on the temple structure until the Lord spoke through Haggai (1:1)
      3. “The effect that Haggai’s prophetic work had on the Jews is at least partly seen in the fact that, twenty-three days after his first address was made, the work on the temple began (Hag. 1:1,15). Four years, six months and two days after Haggai’s first address, the work on the temple was completed (Hag. 1:1; Ezra 6:15).” (Deaver)

    D. “Concerning the destruction of the temple by Nebuchadnezzar’s troops, we read in II Kings 25:9 that it was burned, not demolished. This would explain why so few could do the work of rebuilding in only four years. The original temple built by Solomon was seven years in construction.” (Waddey)

II. About the prophet

    A. “Haggai, as a person, remains obscure. No one else in the Old Testament shares the name, the literal meaning of which is ‘festival.’ He is mentioned in Ezra 5:1 and 6:4 and referred to in Zechariah 8:9. He is named two times in the apocraphal I Esdras and Sirach 49:11.” (Gill)
    B. “Haggai had been in exile with his fellow Hebrews in the land of Babylon. He was among the faithful remnant that returned in 536 B.C. On the basis of 2:3, it is thought by some that he was an old man who had seen Solomon’s Temple before it was destroyed.” (Waddey)
    C. “Jewish rabbis attributed some of the Psalms to Haggai, as did the early church fathers. In the Vulgate he is credited with (Ps. 111); in the Septuagint with Pss. 137, 146, 147, 148; and in the Peshitta with Ps. 145.” (Waddey)

III. Lessons for today

    A. The importance of “thus says the Lord”

      1. “The basis of all successful preaching is ‘saith Jehovah.’ It got results then, and such preaching will get results today.” (Hailey)
      2. “The outstanding feature of Haggai’s style is found in his oft repeated declaration that he was speaking God’s word. ‘Thus saith Jehovah,’ ‘the word of Jehovah of hosts’ and similar expressions ‘are used twenty-six times in the four short addresses of thirty-eight verses.’” (Coffman)
      3. Haggai “teaches that when we heed the teaching of God’s teacher, who faithfully delivers the divine message, we are obeying God. In the words of Christ, ‘He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me…’ (John 13:20). It is worth noting that all the people obeyed God and began to work on God’s house. None are so great or important that they are excused from obedience and participation in the Master’s Cause.” (Waddey)
      4. There are so many false doctrines prevalent in the religious community, we must be diligent in our study of the Word so we can discern between truth and error
      5. Romans 10:17; 2 Timothy 3:16-17

    B. The importance of proper priorities (1:4,9)

      1. Putting first things first
      2. We talk about this a lot – why?
      3. Hailey quotes Farrar: “When a good work is awaiting its accomplishment, the time to do it is now.” (Hailey)
      4. Matthew 6:19-20, 33; Colossians 3:1-3
      5. “To be eagerly zealous for one’s own material welfare and house, running enthusiastically to care for it but loitering negligently in his responsibility to the Lord, is to invite retributive consequences.” (Hailey)

    C. “Obligations do not disappear merely because opposition appears.” (Deaver)

      1. Hailey again quotes Farrar: “Discouragement however profound is not an adequate reason for neglecting duties, even when they seem to be encompassed with difficulty. ‘Be strong and work’ is a glorious motto for human life.” (Hailey)
      2. Haggai 2:4
      3. “Their strength, like that of God’s saints today, is ‘in the Lord, and in the strength of his might’ (Eph. 6:10). In this power through the strength of the Lord nothing that comes within the promise of God’s will is impossible to His people. While God provides the strength, the believer must do his part; he must work. When strength through faith is combined with work, obstacles vanish….They should be of good courage, for if Jehovah, the God of all forces, is for them, who can be against them?” (Hailey)
      4. Did the early church face opposition to the truth? (Acts 4:17-18)
      5. Even among the disciples, there were factions that worked against the church’s mission (Acts 20:29-30)
      6. What must our response be when we are warned to be silent about God’s grace and peace and love and mercy? (Acts 4:19-20)
      7. “The church must continue to support the truth (I Tim. 3:15), help the needy (Gal. 6:10), reach the lost (Matt. 28:19,20), edify herself (Heb. 10:25). And the church must not allow the world to make her over in its image so that she, too, no longer cares about spiritual affairs. The Jews refused to build for a while because the world forced her to that end. The Jews became apathetic for a while because the world influenced her to so become.” (Deaver)
      8. 1 John 5:4

    Resources
    Coffman, James Burton. (1982). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 3: Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Haggai. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/haggai.html]

    Deaver, Mac. “The Living Message of Haggai.” (1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

    Gill, Clinton R. (1971). Minor Prophets: A Study of Micah through Malachi. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/BSTSMP/BSTSMP_SIPDF.pdf]

    Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

    Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

    Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/TTMP/TTMP_SIPDF.pdf]

The Minor Prophets: Zephaniah

The Minor Prophets Hosea

THE MINOR PROPHETS // ZEPHANIAH

I. Historical context

    A. Prophecy came during the reign of Josiah (1:1)

      1. 640-609 B.C. (Lewis); 630-625 B.C. (Hailey); prior to the start of Josiah’s reforms in the 620s B.C. (Coffman; Waddey)
      2. “The most conclusive argument in favor of placing Zephaniah in the pre-reform years of Josiah is found in the fact that when the copy of God’s law was found in the renovated temple, the king appealed to the prophetess Huldah, not to Zephaniah, indicating that by the time of the beginning of Josiah’s reforms Zephaniah was already dead.” (Coffman)

    B. “The fact that Zephaniah denounces foreign customs, worship of the heavenly bodies, religious syncretism, and practical skepticism makes some basis for the claim that the prophet precedes Josiah’s reform.” (Lewis)
    C. “The world order was rapidly changing. The great Assyrian Empire that had dominated the Middle East for 150 years was in a state of disintegration and decay….Savage Scythian hordes were sweeping all across the land….The powerful Babylonian kingdom under Nabopolassar was set to crush under his feet the entire region.” (Waddey)
    D. Manasseh “rebuilt the high places, reared altars to Baal and Ashtoreth, and built altars to the host of heaven. He committed the abomination of making his son pass through the fire, practicing augury and enchantment, and dealing with familiar spirits. To all this he added the sin of bloodshed, filling Jerusalem with innocent blood (see II Kings 21; II Chron. 33:1-9)….Ammon, who succeeded Manasseh, followed in the steps of his father; his reign was likewise one of great wickedness (II Chron. 33:21-25).” (Hailey)
    E. After these two evil kings, Josiah reformed Judah by tearing down the idols and reinstituting the law of God, but his reformation was short-lived and the nation was carried into captivity by the Babylonians

II. About the prophet

    A. “The name ‘Zephaniah’ means ‘He whom Jehovah has hidden.’” (Lewis)
    B. Zephaniah provides a partial ancestry which includes a man named Hezekiah (1:1)
    C. “Many believe this Hezekiah to have been the king of Judah by that name, the great-grandfather of King Josiah. If this is the case, then the prophet Zephaniah was not only of royal blood, but also a relative of the reigning king. Some scholars note that this connection may have given Zephaniah greater influence in the national affairs and closer access to the king.” (McGill)
    D. “His reference to Jerusalem as ‘this place’ (1:4) suggests that Jerusalem was his home. His acquaintance with the conditions of the city (3:1ff.) further confirms this point.” (Hailey)

III. Lessons for today

    A. Zephaniah speaks much about the day of the Lord (1:14-18)

      1. “The day is ‘at hand’ (1:7), ‘near’ (1:14), a day of darkness and of terror (1:15, 16). It comes as a judgment against sin (1:17), accompanied by great convulsions of nature (1:15). It falls upon all creation—man and beast, Hebrews and the nations (1:2, 3; 2:1-15; 3:8). The day of Jehovah is a day of doom! The prophet sees it as a day of terror, imminent and falling upon all creation as a judgment for sin. Only a remnant will escape, but it is a day of deliverance for the faithful.” (Hailey)
      2. “In gripping poetry in which one can feel the very foundations of earth quaking, Zephaniah describes the terrors of the day affecting man, beast, bird, and fish (Zeph. 1:2,3).” (Lewis)

    B. The danger of complacency (1:12)

      1. “In the stupidity of their hearts they ignored Jehovah and were indifferent to Him. They looked on Him as one would an idol who possessed power to do neither good nor bad.” (Hailey)
      2. “In America, during the Revolutionary War period, it was fashionable among some of the citizens to claim to be Deists. The main tenet of Deism was the very same falsehood that was believed in Jerusalem in the days of Zephaniah—that the Lord would not in any way intervene in the affairs of men.” (McGill)
      3. Deism is refuted by even a cursory reading of the Scriptures; God did intervene on several occasions, executing punishments on the disobedient
      4. If God is not concerned with the affairs of men, why are we commanded to pray? (1 Timothy 2:1-4; James 1:5-8)

    C. Warning against trusting in material riches (1:18)

      1. “They would be unable to bribe the enemy even with all the silver and gold they had accumulated and laid up. The destruction had been determined by Jehovah and there would be no escaping the judgment against their sins.” (Hailey)
      2. The riches of this world will do nothing for us in eternity (1 Timothy 6:7)
      3. The riches of this world are “uncertain” (1 Timothy 6:17), susceptible to destruction and theft (Matthew 6:19)
      4. Consider the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:16-21)
      5. Where should our treasure be? (Matthew 6:20-21)
      6. In what and in whom must we trust for salvation? (Romans 1:16; 5:8-11)

    D. The power of hope (2:3; 3:9-20)

      1. “It is to be noticed that his is not a general call to repentance that can turn aside the calamity. It would seem that the day of grace is already passed. Doom awaits. There is no hope of recovery but only that some may escape.” (Lewis)
      2. “But the call is to the meek, the humble, the lowly, and the submissive who bend their wills to a higher power.” (Hailey)
      3. Concerning 3:11, Coffman wrote, “The only way that the shame from transgressions can be removed is through the forgiveness of sins, to which there is undoubtedly a reference in these words, the same being another characteristic of the Messianic times, as indicated in Jeremiah 31:31-35.” (Coffman)
      4. “When Jesus received in our behalf the judgment of God upon our sin (II Corinthians 5:21), He purged us of all those things for which we need to be ashamed.” (Gill)
      5. “In the closing verse (3:20) God through Zephaniah promised Judah’s return from captivity, even before the Babylonian Captivity began.” (McGill)
      6. “Note the use of the personal pronoun ‘I’ in verses 18-20: ‘I will gather,’ ‘I will deal,’ ‘I will save,’ ‘I will make,’ ‘will I bring you in,’ ‘will I gather you,’ ‘I will make,’ ‘when I bring back your captivity before your eyes.’…The work of redemption will be the work of the Lord.” (Hailey)

Resources
Coffman, James Burton. (1982). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 3: Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Haggai. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/zephaniah.html]

Gill, Clinton R. (1971). Minor Prophets: A Study of Micah through Malachi. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/BSTSMP/BSTSMP_SIPDF.pdf]

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

McGill, James R. “The Living Message of Zephaniah.” (1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/TTMP/TTMP_SIPDF.pdf]

“How Do You Know Me?”

John 1:43-48

I. NATHANAEL

    A. His confusion (John 1:46)
    B. His character (John 1:47; cf. Matthew 3:8-9; Mark 7:20-23)
    C. His question and Christ’s answer (John 1:48; cf. Matthew 6:3-4,6,17-18)

II. GOD KNOWS ALL HIS CHILDREN

    A. In the Old Testament

      1. He knows those who trust Him (Nahum 1:7)
      2. “Your right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:1-10)

    B. In the New Testament

      1. God cares for His creation (Matthew 6:25-30; Hebrews 13:5-6)
      2. Christ knows us; He knows what we are doing (Revelation 2:2,9,13,19; 3:8)

III. THE THINGS WE DO IN THIS LIFE MATTER — BOTH GOOD AND BAD

    A. Do we really understand this? (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 3:15-17)
    B. There are some that God will not know

      1. “You who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23)
      2. “Workers of iniquity” (Luke 13:27)
      3. “The face of the LORD is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12)

[This is the first in a series of lessons focusing on “Questions the Disciples Asked.”]

The Minor Prophets: Habakkuk

The Minor Prophets Hosea

THE MINOR PROPHETS // HABAKKUK

I. Historical context

    A. 612-606 B.C. (Hailey); 612-605 B.C. (Waddey); the middle of the seventh century B.C. (Coffman); “shortly before the rise of the Babylonians to power” (Lewis); 608-597 B.C. (Gill)
    B. “Babylon, formerly a tributary state of Assyria, was rapidly rising to prominence under king Nabopolassar….In Judah, the evil sons of Josiah, Jehoahaz and Johoiakim, reigned. Social, political and religious conditions were deplorable (See. 1:2-4)….For a look at the historical record, see II Kings 23:29-37.” (Waddey)

II. About the prophet

    A. “Habakkuk means ‘embrace’ or ‘ardent embrace.’” (Hailey)
    B. “He may have been a contemporary of Jeremiah and Zephaniah. If so, he prophesies shortly after Nahum.” (Gill)
    C. “Nothing is definitely known of the life of Habakkuk, his occupations, parentage, place of birth or anything else. There have been many traditions such as that of his being the son of the Shunamite woman who was raised to life by Elijah, and others; but none of them is considered to have any value.” (Coffman)
    D. “Tradition says that he fled to Egypt when the Babylonians took Jerusalem in 587 B.C.” (Waddey)

III. Lessons for today

    A. There is nothing wrong with seeking clarification when we don’t understand why things happen the way they do, so long as we seek in faith (1:2-4,13; Psalm 73:16-17)

      1. “Brief as Habakkuk’s writing is, it contains some valuable insights regarding two questions very much alive in our day. How can God allow, or rather how long will God allow social evil and violence to go unchecked? And how can a just God use the warfare of wicked men to punish those apparently less wicked than the punisher?” (Gill)
      2. The “social evil and violence” of 1:2-4 refer to Judah’s own sin, while the “wicked” of 1:13 is directed more at the Chaldeans

        a. Habakkuk is not the first of the minor prophets to decry the iniquity of the people of God (Hosea 4:2; Micah 6:12-13)
        b. “Despite all of the terrible wickedness, God apparently did nothing about it; at least it seemed so to Habakkuk.” (Coffman)
        c. “His complaint was that Jehovah would not save, but Jehovah does not violate the sovereign will of man by directly interfering.” (Hailey)
        d. It is not difficult to find evil in our day and age, either – it is everywhere: at work, at school, on the computer, on the television
        e. “Habakkuk’s question is simply ‘why doesn’t God do something about the situation?’ He has more courage than we moderns. He addresses his questions directly to God Himself. He accuses God of not hearing when he prays. His prayers have lifted the specific sins of violence before God. In return he sees more and more of that about which he has prayed.” (Gill)
        f. Yet, despite the evil in Judah, Habakkuk is confused why God would use a nation even more evil to discipline Judah
        g. “The answer to this lies in the truth that the redemption of anyone on earth was related to the fidelity and perseverance of a remnant of Israel until, in the fullness of time, the Messiah would be delivered upon the earth. Furthermore, the wickedness of Israel had reached a degree that threatened the achievement of that goal; and it was the utmost necessity of preserving a remnant of Israel to remain faithful to God that resulted in their destruction, judged a necessity by the Lord.” (Coffman)
        h. It was not that Babylon was more righteous, but that Judah had fallen so far from God’s Word – they needed to be set right
        i. When we struggle in life, even at the hand of an enemy, let us take a step back and reexamine ourselves and our spiritual situation and be sure we are doing all we can to live faithfully and set a proper example for others

      3. “The key thought of the book is, When we are bewildered at the apparent triumph of the wicked at the expense of the saints, we must trust God’s providential rule and be faithful to Him.” (Waddey)

    B. “The just shall live by his faith” (2:4)

      1. “The Chaldean shall fall, says, God, ‘because his soul is puffed up, it is not upright in him’ (2:4a). In contrast, ‘the righteous shall live by his faith’ (2:4). To Habakkuk, ‘faith’ means much more than our common definition. To him it meant faithfulness, honesty, integrity, trustworthiness!…Thus his message to his people is, Whatever happens, you must believe in God and trust that he is working all things for your good (Rom. 8:28; Acts 27:25).” (Waddey)
      2. “It is not a contrast between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ per se but between the haughty soul who sets his will against that of God on the one hand and the one who lives by faith on the other. The New Testament will make this contrast even more sharply in terms of the carnal as opposed to the Spirit-directed. (eg. Galatians 5:16-25)” (Gill)

    C. The five woes against Babylon (2:6-19)

      1. “The five woes decried against Babylon are interesting to not in light of the concept of a universal moral law. They are plunder (2:6-8); ill-gotten gain (2:9-11); violence and bloodshed (2:12-14); and human debasement (2:15-17); all of which would leave every rational and moral being in an outcry of rage. These things are universally morally wrong. The last charge against them is idolatry, which is, in essence, the rejection of the very God who created them (2:18-19).” (Lusk)
      2. “The universal arrogance and conceit which mark the conduct of evil men today is exactly like that of the ancient Babylonians, and shall be as little effective against the will of God, as was theirs.” (Coffman)

Resources
Coffman, James Burton. (1982). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 3: Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Haggai. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/habakkuk.html]

Gill, Clinton R. (1971). Minor Prophets: A Study of Micah through Malachi. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/BSTSMP/BSTSMP_SIPDF.pdf]

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Lusk, Maurice W., III. “The Living Message of Habakkuk.” (1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/TTMP/TTMP_SIPDF.pdf]

The Minor Prophets: Nahum

The Minor Prophets Hosea

THE MINOR PROPHETS // NAHUM

I. Historical context

    A. Written between 663-612 B.C. (Hailey, Miller); about 614 B.C. (Gill); “just before” 612 B.C. (Lewis); around 650 B.C. (Coffman)
    B. Around 100 years after Nineveh repented at Jonah’s preaching
    C. Like Jonah, Nahum only prophesied to Nineveh, but he delivered a message of doom and destruction (1:1)

      1. “Two sins, particularly, were the object of the prophecy, these being (1) military exploitation and (2) commercial greed. It may be doubted if there was ever upon earth a more heartless example of cruel, sadistic, savage military lust than that displayed by Assyria. Nahum referred to Assyria as ‘The Emptiers’ (2:2), and a customary synonym for them in ancient history was ‘The Breakers.’” (Coffman)
      2. Waddey adds “slavery and witchcraft (3:4-5)” to the sins decried by Nahum
      3. “Assyria, of which Nineveh was the capital, was a nation largely geared for aggressive war….Nineveh saw men and nations as tools to be exploited to gratify the lust of conquest and commercialism.” (Lewis)
      4. “The character of the Assyrian rulers and people in general was that of excessive cruelty.” (Hailey)

    D. The accuracy of the prophet’s message is on display in 1:8, in which he writes about “an overflowing flood”

      1. “The enemies of Nineveh had been repulsed for the third time, and the king believed the siege was broken, and ordered a great drunken feast to celebrate the victory! Melting snows sent a terrible flood that swept away miles of the city’s fortifications and walls. Only that, coupled with the drunken feast, led to its fall!”
      2. “The Medes, Babylonians, and Scythians united to attack the city under the Median King Cyaxares….So complete was her overthrow that for centuries no one even knew the location of her ruins.” (Waddey)

II. About the prophet

    A. “The name Nahum means ‘comfort’ or ‘compassion.’” (Lewis)
    B. “Little is known of the prophet Nahum, yet he impresses his readers as a man of scholarship and culture. His loft poetic style lends to him this quality and dignity.” (Miller)
    C. “He was contemporary with Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Jeremiah.” (Gill)

III. Lessons for today

    A. Only God’s kingdom will stand forever

      1. Few could have fathomed the fall of Assyria while they were in power; the same could be said about the rule of the Babylonians, the Medo-Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans

        a. Yet, as all earthly kingdoms do, they eventually fell
        b. Nahum’s prophecy shows the utter destruction of Nineveh (2:10; 3:7,19)
        c. There is but one kingdom that will never fall, and that was established 2000 years ago during the days of the Roman empire, as prophesied by Daniel 2:44

      2. Our love for country must never exceed our love for God

        a. We have a greater citizenship than our American citizenship (Philippians 3:20-21)
        b. While we must submit to the laws of the land, let us never forget that God’s law is above all (Romans 13:1-7)
        c. Our attitude toward our leaders, whether we agree with their policies or not, should be one of prayer and peace (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

    B. Sin infuriates God (1:2,6,14)

      1. Jehovah is a jealous God in that He wants preeminence in your heart

        a. “He, being the creator and benefactor of man, will not accede the honor of worship to idolatrous pagan gods. He will not allow man to share affection for Him with another.” (Miller)
        b. Cf. Exodus 20:5; Joshua 24:19-20; Matthew 6:33; Colossians 3:2
        c. “His jealousy may be compared to that of a husband for his wife; He will brook no rival; He will not be supplanted by another in the affection of His people.” (Hailey)

      2. Jehovah is a vengeful God against impenitent evil

        a. “Only God is qualified to avenge. He does so in complete justice. In the case of Nineveh, He had gone to great lengths (cf. Jonah) to warn them of the consequence of their sin.” (Gill)
        b. “His avenging is not to be thought of as ‘getting even with,’ but of vindicating His own righteousness by inflicting a just judgment upon offenders.” (Hailey)
        c. Cf. Romans 11:22; 12:19; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9

    C. God protects His own (1:7,15)

      1. In the midst of this declaration of destruction against vile Nineveh, the prophet reminds His readers of God’s goodness toward the faithful
      2. “It is a characteristic of all God’s prophets that, in the very midst of the most terrible announcements of doom and punishment, there always appears the word of hope, encouragement, solace, or reassurance for God’s true people. He never forgets them.” (Coffman)
      3. “In love and protective care, He knows fully those that take refuge in Him. His power is as great to protect as it is to destroy.” (Hailey)
      4. “God’s goodness is for those like David whose great desire was to be in subjection to God, humbled in His presence and happy in His fellowship.” (Miller)
      5. Cf. Psalm 46; 91

Resources
Coffman, James Burton. (1982). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 3: Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah and Haggai. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/nahum.html]

Gill, Clinton R. (1971). Minor Prophets: A Study of Micah through Malachi. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/BSTSMP/BSTSMP_SIPDF.pdf]

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Miller, Max R. “The Living Message of Nahum.” (1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/TTMP/TTMP_SIPDF.pdf]

The Minor Prophets: Micah

The Minor Prophets Hosea

THE MINOR PROPHETS // MICAH

I. Historical context

    A. Micah 1:1, “in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah”; 740-700 B.,C. (Coffman); 735-700 B.C. (Hailey)
    B. “Because of the nature of the persons and reigns of these kings, Micah saw the leadership of Judah swing from holiness, peace, and prosperity, to crass idolatry and immorality, and then, almost desperately, back again toward righteousness and national respectability.” (Gill)

      1. “Jotham is best described as holy, his reign as peaceful and prosperous. (Cf. II Chronicles 27:2-6)” (Gill)
      2. Under Ahaz, Gill writes, “The southern kingdom became a mere satellite nation, a vassal state, tributary to Tigleth Pileser’s Assyrian Empire.” (Gill)
      3. “The third king mentioned by Micah is regarded as a reformer. Hezekiah, the thirteenth king of Judah, and the son of the Baal-worshipping Ahaz, became king at the age of twenty-five. Most of his energies were given to attempting to undo what his father had done in the corrupting of God’s people with idolatry.” (Gill)

    C. “Although, like all of God’s prophets, he was concerned with social injustice and oppression, it was the religious corruption and their forsaking of the true God which drew the principal focus of his denunciations, that of course, being the cause of the social wrongs.” (Coffman)
    D. “Thus Micah spoke in a time of social unrest, national insecurity, and religious turmoil not unlike those of the United States in mid-twentieth century. He viewed evil as a failure to grasp the nature of true religion, and believed that the only remedy was to strike at the source by denouncing the wickedness and demanding repentance upon pain of national annihilation. He would have agreed with James 1:27 completely.” (Gill)

II. About the prophet

    A. “Micah is a shortened form of Micaiah, cf. 1 Kings 22, which means ‘Who is like Yahweh?’” (Lewis)
    B. “Though contemporary with Isaiah, he appears to have begun prophesying a few years later (cf. Isa. 1:1; Mic. 1:1).” (Hailey)

      1. “Micah was a country preacher in contrast with Isaiah, a man of the city.” (Williams)
      2. “Micah’s home was Moresheth near Gath, the old Philistine city. It was a rural farming village some 22 miles from Jerusalem…” (Waddey)
      3. “Nothing is known of his occupation, although it is usually assumed that he was a man of humble status, much as was the prophet Amos, and quite unlike the prophet Isaiah who was an associate of kings.” (Coffman)

III. Lessons for today

    A. The Lord’s church (kingdom) was planned long before Jesus took on the form of man (4:1-5:15)

      1. “Micah 4 is a prophecy of the establishment of the church (kingdom of Christ) and shows conclusively that the church was a subject of Old Testament prophecy and was not an afterthought on the part of God….The church existed in purpose in God’s mind (Eph. 3:10), in prophecy (Mic. 4:1-6; Isa. 2:2-4; Dan. 2:44), in promise (Matt. 16:13-18), in preparation (Luke 16:16…), and finally in completion (Acts 2:36-47).” (Williams)
      2. “‘In the latter days’ is the English rendering of the phrase which fixes the time when it shall come to pass. The phrase in reminiscent of Hebrews 1:2. There we are told that God, having spoken to the fathers in the prophets has spoken to us in a Son. No more conclusive evidence is needed to connect Micah’s prophecy with the Messianic age. The rabbis so understood this term.” (Gill)
      3. This was no general prophecy that could have been interpreted differently under various circumstances; Micah and the other prophets spoke in specifics to prove the truth of their prophecies to future generations (e.g. Bethlehem, 5:2)
      4. Waddey points out seven things about the kingdom that Malachi states in 4:1-5:

        a. “It would be superior to all earthly kingdoms (4:1).
        b. “It would be a universal kingdom of many peoples (4:1).
        c. “It would grow by teaching rather than by war and conquest (4:2).
        d. “It would originate from Jerusalem (4:2).
        e. “It would come with a new law from Jehovah (4:2).
        f. “It would be a peaceable kingdom (4:3-4).
        g. “It would last forever (4:5).” (Waddey)

    B. God expects His people to be just and kind (6:8)

      1. Cf. Matthew 6:33; Romans 13:8-10; 1 John 1:7; James 2:13
      2. The parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37)
      3. Micah 6:8 “is often misinterpreted to mean merely ‘doing good to one’s fellow human beings’; and while God’s true religion certainly does include that, it is a satanic error to proclaim that, ‘Nothing more is needed.’ To be truly forgiven requires acceptance of the revealed will of God and full compliance with the conditions given therein to the fullest extent of human ability. And, although the grace of God will surely make provision for one who falls short while sincerely striving to do God’s will, there is no promise of salvation for the willfully disobedient.” (Coffman)

    C. The magnitude of God’s mercy (7:18-19)

      1. A vivid description of the scope of God’s forgiveness
      2. Cf. Psalm 103:12; Jeremiah 31:34; Acts 3:19

Resources
Coffman, James Burton. (1981). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 2: Hosea, Obadiah and Micah. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/micah.html]

Gill, Clinton R. (1971). Minor Prophets: A Study of Micah through Malachi. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/BSTSMP/BSTSMP_SIPDF.pdf]

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/TTMP/TTMP_SIPDF.pdf]

Williams, Charles R. “The Living Message of Micah.” (1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

The Minor Prophets: Jonah

The Minor Prophets Hosea

THE MINOR PROPHETS // JONAH

I. Historical context

    A. 800-750 B.C. (Coffman); “belonging to the reign of Joash…approximately 800 B.C.” (Butler); “The date may be fixed at some time in the general period around 780 B.C.” (Hailey)
    B. Nineveh was a powerful, fortified city on the Tigris River, 250 miles north of Babylon and 500 miles east of Jonah’s home
    C. “The Urartu nation threatened Nineveh in Jonah’s day. National repentance helped them survive the Urartu threat but soon they reverted to their wicked ways and in 612 B.C. God delivered the mistress of the world into the hands of the Babylonians, Medes, and Scythians. So great was her overthrow that three hundred years later Alexander’s Macedonian troops searched for but could not find a trace of her ruins.” (Waddey)

II. About the prophet

    A. “His name, ‘Jonah,’ meant ‘dove’ in the Hebrew; a name strangely inappropriate for a man of his hostile temperament.” (Waddey)
    B. Jonah also appears in 2 Kings 14:25, where it is written of Jeroboam, “He restored the territory of Israel from the entrance of Hamath to the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which He had spoken through His servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet who was from Gath Hepher.”
    C. Coffman believes that Jonah himself is the author of this book, pointing to the fact that he was “in all probability, a great and popular hero to the entire Jewish nation,” concluding that “no other person except Jonah would have written a book which casts the prophet himself in such unfavorable light….His disobedience, his petulance, and his anger over the repentance of the Ninevites, etc., exhibit characteristics and attitudes which no later Jew could conceivably have attributed to a national hero.” (Coffman)
    D. “Fairbairn’s interpretation of Jonah’s behavior at the withdrawal of Nineveh’s destruction is tied in with this purpose of Jonah’s mission. Mr. Fairbairn is persuaded that Jonah is so desperately anxious that his own people, Israel, repent he believes the only thing that will bring about this repentance is a terrible manifestation of God’s judgment upon this wicked Nineveh. So when Nineveh is spared, Jonah is ‘grieved and vexed sore,’ not because he is a sadist and delights in seeing thousands of people suffer, but because he is sure that now Israel will not repent.” (Butler)

III. Lessons for today

    A. You cannot run or hide from God

      1. In his futile attempt to flee, did Jonah forget the omnipresence of God? (Psalm 139:7-11; Amos 9:2-4)
      2. “He was fleeing from the presence of Jehovah—something no one can do. No doubt the prophet realized this; but out of his distaste for the work to which he was called, he was determined to make the attempt. He was ‘resigning his job’ as a prophet.” (Hailey)
      3. “Jonah was simply trying to rid himself of the responsibilities of his official status in this one particular task of going to Nineveh. The phrase ‘…presence of Jehovah’ is often used to indicate some official capacity (cf. Gen. 41:46; Deut. 10:8; I Kings 17;1; 18:15; II Kings 3:14; Lk. 1:19). Jonah’s intention was not to hide himself from the omnipotent God, but to withdraw from the service of Jehovah.” (Butler)
      4. “Jonah learned, and through his valuable experience millions have learned, that when God enjoins a disagreeable duty, it is far easier to go and do it than to run away from it.” (McGarvey)

    B. It is the message, not the messenger, that saves

      1. The message was summarized for posterity in a mere eight words (3:4), and despite the messenger’s desire to fail (4:1), “the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them” (3:5)
      2. While we should do our best to present God’s Word so people will understand, it is not our presentation that convicts them – it is God Himself, through His Word (Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 3:5-7)
      3. If we pay too much attention to a speaker’s eloquence, we may overlook omissions (Acts 18:24-25)

    C. God cares for the entire world

      1. Jonah was sent to Nineveh, a city noted for its wickedness
      2. “God is willing and anxious to save even the heathen nations if they repent. His love is infinite and universal; therefore, His concern is for all.” (Hailey)
      3. We see in the book of Jonah how God defines “the world” as it is used in John 3:16, and we are shown that the “any” of 2 Peter 3:9 includes those men deem unworthy and undesirable
      4. It does not matter where a person is from or what has done in the past, if he is willing to repent and walk in the ways of the Lord, God wants that soul to be saved (Acts 10:34-35)
      5. The book of Jonah “illustrates God’s providential concern for all nations of the world, while rebuking the narrow intolerance of the Hebrews who though God only cared for them.” (Waddey)

    D. The blessings and warnings of God are conditional upon man’s response

      1. The Calvinistic doctrine of “unconditional election” is false and has done great harm to the cause of Christ
      2. God’s message through Jonah was destruction, but God changed his mind because of Nineveh’s response (Jonah 3:10; Jeremiah 18:7-8)
      3. “Still another purpose of this magnificent book is to demonstrate that there is always an element of contingency in the promises of God, whether of judgment and destruction on the one hand, or grace and salvation on the other. Jonah is a vivid example of the truth revealed by Jeremiah….Of course, this is exactly the truth of which Jonah was ignorant; but the experiences related in the book that bears his name abundantly illustrate it….The whole religious world of our day which receives a ‘once saved, always saved’ doctrine of salvation is dwelling in the same darkness. If a wicked man turns from his wickedness and obeys the Lord, he shall be saved; and, if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and disobeys the Lord, he shall be lost.” (Coffman)
      4. “It was not until the repentance of the Ninevites was manifested through works that their salvation was effected by God! Works are both necessary for salvation and a result of salvation. This is a very plain doctrine of both the Old and New Testaments. Even belief is said to be a ‘work’ by the Lord Himself (cf. Jn. 629…).” (Butler)
      5. Still today, God will only save those who are obediently faithful (Mark 16:16; Hebrews 11:6; 1 John 1:7)

Resources
Butler, Paul T. (1968). The Minor Prophets: The Prophets of the Decline. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/BSTSTMP/BSTSTMP_SIPDF.pdf]

Coffman, James Burton. (1981). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 1: Joel, Amos and Jonah. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/jonah.html]

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

McGarvey, J.W. (1896). Jesus and Jonah. Cincinnati, OH: The Standard Publishing Co. [Online at http://icotb.org/resources/JESUSANDJONAH.pdf]

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at http://www.restorationlibrary.org/library/TTMP/TTMP_SIPDF.pdf]