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Monthly Archives: May 2013

… through nature, through types and symbols, through patriarchs and prophets, God has spoken to this perishing planet we call Earth.  Lessons must be given to humanity in the language of humanity … The principles of God’s government and the plan of redemptiion must be clearly defined.  The lessons of the Old Testament must be fully set to be understood by men.

… through long, dark years when ruler after ruler stood up in bold defiance of Heaven and led His people deeper and still deeper into idolatry, God sent message after message to His rebellious children.  Through His prophets He gave them every opportunity to stay the tide of apostasy and to return to Him … never was the kingdom of God to be left without noble witnesses to the mighty power of God to save from evil.  Even in the darkest hours some will remain true to their divine Ruler and in the midst of idolatry will live blameless in the sight of a holy God.  These faithful ones are numbered among the godly remnant through whom the eternal purpose of Jesus will finally be fulfilled.   

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God responds with a series of promises.  The foremost of these is the healing of the people’s maladies by the divine Physician.  God’s renewed relationship with Israel is likened to the dew that provides the only moisture available to flowers and trees during the long and dry summer season in Palestine.  It is also linked to the olive tree, which is considered especially valuable, a sort of crown of the fruit trees.  Its foliage provides shade, and freshness and its oil is used as food, skin lotion, and as fuel for lights.  Additionally, the great cedars of Lebanon are considered the most useful of the large-growth trees in the lands of the Bible.  Their highly prized lumber serves for the construction of temples and royal palaces.  The roots planted by God will produce such an abundance of fresh plants that Israel will become a garden full of blessings for the whole world.    

It reaffirms the promise that God’s salvation will have the last word.  In bidding the people to return to God, the prophet supplies the actual words that they should say in worship.  Their request should be that God take away the guilt that made them stumble.  They should also renounce their dependence on their addictions, whatever they may be, and totally reject idolatry; basically the same thing.  Addictions become our idols. 

How does God regard our ingratitude and lack of appreciation for His blessings?  When we see one slight or misuse our gifts, our hearts and hands are closed against him.  But those who received God’s merciful gifts day after day, and year after year, misapply His bounties, and neglect the souls for whom Christ has given His life.  The means which He has lent them to sustain His cause and build up His kingdom are invested in houses and lands, lavished on pride self-indulgence, and the Giver is forgotten.

Over and over in the books of the Bible we see my Lord Jesus pleading with His people to repent, just like He pleaded with me for many, many, many years ~ to put away their evil ways, to return unto Him, and to find life, not death, redemption, not damnation, hope, not despair.  There is nothing “minor” about this theme.  It is present truth ~ God’s message to us today is the same one He gave to those who lived in the time of these twelve writers who, though long gone, still speak to us today.  The question is , will we listen?  The answer is Yes, for it is a matter of life and death.  Your life ~ your death.

Indeed, whether through the marriage of Hosea to an unfaithful wife, or Jonah’s attempt to flee God’s prophetic call, or Zechariah’s amazing vision of Joshua and the angel (and with all the others, as well)  ~ the Minor Prophets together have a powerful message, one that comes through again and again, which is about God’s grace toward undeserving sinners.  Of which I am the worst.  The message is that God wants to save us from the devastation that sin/evil/sin, rebellion, and disobedience bring.  I should know, I gave in to all this evil in my heart, in the end this evil destroyed my entire life.  It did not take my life, only because Jesus’ love for me is everlasting.

That is the theme that every mortal should ponder, should immerse in deep study ~ that of God doing for us what we can never do for ourselves, which is to give us the gift of life, eternal life in Jesus. 

We are, however, going to explore it in a place where we do not often go, the “Minor Prophets,” the twelve short books that end the Old Testament. 

These prophets have been called “the Minor Prophets,” not because they are of less importance than the Major ones but only because their books are much shorter than those from the other Old Testament writers.

“the work of God in laying the glory of man in the dust, and doing for man that which it is not in his power to do for himself.”

And what is it that God does for us that we do not have the power to do for ourselves? 

Of course, He saves us from the most unnatural of acts, death ~ the eternal death that would be ours were it not for God’s grace as revealed in the plan of redemption.  In other words, it is the call to us, both as individuals and as a church, “to seek the Lord and live.”

Yes, humans die.  And here is the revelation:  we were created to be immortal.  We were originally created for eternal life.  The plan, from the start, was that we would live forever and never ever experience death.  Death, then, is an intruder ~ the most unnatural of all facts.  We are so used to death that we just accept it as “part of life.”

Death as part of life?  If that sounds absurd and paradoxical, it is because it is.  Death is the negation of life, not some aspect of it.

How did we get into this mess?  The answer is, of course, one word:  evil.  Evil leads to death.  Humans sin ~ therefore, humans die.  It does not get simpler than that, our evil nature.

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through evil, and so death spread to all because all have sinned”  Romans 5:12

 

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