The reality is, true biblical faith is based on knowledge of God and His Word. You can't believe in the promises of God if you don't know what they are or trust a God whom you know little about.
Struggling through reading the lesser-known Old Testament passages and long prophetic oracles may seem to have little relevance to everyday 21st-century life. But there are important things we can learn from the Old Testament. First, the New Testament is based on the Old Testament. Second, the Old Testament reveals the character of God. Third, the Old Testament has transformational power. Its message transcends time, geography, and culture. It speaks to everyone, everywhere, in every situation.
If you aren’t Jewish, then you’re what the Bible calls a “Gentile.” Most folks who follow the Jewish Messiah, Jesus, are just that—Gentiles. And as Gentiles, most of us don’t always understand Jewish Scripture, the Old Testament. This is particularly true when it comes to reading the prophetic books of the Bible. However, it’s helpful to keep in mind that the Old Testament makes the first announcements of Messiah’s coming and ministry. And few prophetic books have more prophecies about Messiah Jesus than the book of Isaiah.
Malachi was the last call of the Old Testament. Prophesying after the days of Nehemiah, Malachi witnessed the settled, stagnant, corrupt indifference of God’s people, which the prophet deplored. The people’s intermarrying with foreigners (non-Jews), neglecting to pay tithes, and offering blemished sacrifices at the altar caused Malachi to confront and warm them of the consequences of their actions.
The prophet Haggai had led the way in rebuilding the temple…but the people lost focus during the process. The prophet Zechariah rolled up his sleeves and plunged, with reckless abandon, into the work of helping his friend Haggai. But Zechariah’s style was very different. Rather than rebuking the workers, he relied on words of inspiration and positive encouragement to motivate the people.
Haggai was God’s spokesman sent to awaken and arouse the post-captivity Jews from their lethargy. With determined focus, he pursued one major goal: to complete the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. He was a “get it done” leader; a highly motivated man who attacked indifference as the enemy it was. Haggai (and later Zechariah) was used by the Lord to afflict the comfortable, convincing them there was no excuse for delay.
In the first section of Zephaniah’s book he announced sure judgment with a simple yet forceful style. Then, in the second section, he tenderly prophesied that God would send relief and blessings on His people. Through it all, Zephaniah emerged as a choice prophet in a long line of tough and tender men.
Can we trust modern-day seers? Should we listen when they predict the coming of Christ and the end of the world? And when their message doesn’t square with Scripture, what should we believe? Is there a prophet we can trust? In this timely and timeless message, Chuck Swindoll answers these questions and gives us a checklist of what we should look for in a trustworthy prophet.
Habakkuk, witnessing the evils around him, wrestled with God’s seemingly indifferent attitude. It was an offensive contradiction to His holy nature. But when God revealed His plan, an even greater problem arose. So Habakkuk decided to get alone and wait for his mind to clear. God gave him a fresh vision…hope beyond his despair, which resulted in a time of meaningful prayer as Habakkuk praised the awesome Lord of heaven and earth.
One hundred years after Jonah’s visit, Nahum wrote to the next generations living in Nineveh, announcing judgment because those who had been converted in Jonah’s time had refused to pass on to their children and grandchildren (the people of Nahum’s day) the knowledge and fear of the true God. Negligence led to this terrible consequence. The result? God had to destroy such an apostate people.
It is doubtful the poor peasants of Judah ever had a stronger champion than fellow countryman Micah, the powerful preacher. Though neither as intellectually gifted as his contemporary Isaiah nor as popular as his peer to the north Hosea, Micah nevertheless defended the downtrodden with vigilant zeal. He cared for his people and warned them of certain punishment if they refused to repent.