Haggai 2 - Day 971 (link to reading)
Scripture: Haggai 2
Commentary (bible.org): The prophet Haggai’s third message (2:10-19) to the remnant that had returned from the Babylonian captivity tells us how we can experience God’s true blessing. As we saw in his first message, the people to whom he was preaching were, for the most part, believers. They had made the difficult commitment to leave their familiar circumstances in Persia and return to the Promised Land. We see their commitment to the Lord in that one of the first things they did when they got back was to rebuild the altar and to begin to rebuild the temple. But they encountered strong opposition from the Samaritans and other peoples of the land, and the project came to a halt.
Meanwhile, they got busy with their own work and their own houses, and the temple got set aside. About 15-16 years later, God raised up Haggai with the message, “Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses while this house lies desolate?” (1:4). The people responded and the work on the temple started again.
In Haggai, the first and third are messages of rebuke or exhortation. The second and fourth are messages of encouragement. The first message told us to seek first God’s kingdom, not our own priorities. This third message shows that not only should we seek first God’s kingdom, but that we must do so from pure hearts.
Application: Our motives matter to God. We can "do" all the right things like the Pharisees, but if our heart isn't pure, then we're wasting our time.
Prayer: Lord, purify my heart...
Haggai 1 - Day 970 (link to reading)
Scripture: Haggai 1:1-7
Summary (insight.org): Haggai’s prophecy came at a time when the people of Judah were extremely vulnerable. They had been humbled by their exile to Babylon, hopeful in their return to their Promised Land, and then so discouraged by opposition in their rebuilding of the temple that they had quit (Ezra 4:24). Now, sixteen years later, with Haggai blaming their lack of food, clothing, and shelter on their failure to rebuild the temple, the Jews were receptive to his message of rebuilding the Lord’s house.
Unlike most of the other prophets, Haggai explicitly dated his prophecies, down to the day. He gave four separate messages, the first on August 29, 520 BC (Haggai 1:1); the second on October 17, 520 BC (2:1); and the final two on December 18, 520 BC (2:10, 20). These messages encouraged the people of Judah to finish building the temple and to have hope in God for the promise of blessings in the future.
Application: Salvation is God's gift to us based on His grace. His blessings come from our obedience. Like a good parent, God rewards His children when we obey His commandments.
Prayer: Lord, help my unbelief...
Zephaniah 3 - Day 969 (link to reading)
Scripture: Zephaniah 3:14-20
Commentary (workingpreacher.org): What if God barged into the midst of our daily lives, if God made God’s presence known? How would you feel? How would you respond? What change would God’s presence bring? The prophet Zephaniah wrestles with these very questions. In Zephaniah’s visions the presence of God brings both judgment and joy. The oracles in the majority of the book announce cosmic destruction as divine judgment for the sins of Israel and, specifically, the priesthood. With vivid and at times disturbing language, the prophet envisions the arrival of the Day of the Lord, the time in which God will act to restore justice and to bring judgment on faithless, sinful nations. The Day of the Lord, promises the prophet, “will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zephaniah 1:15-16). The arrival of the Day of the Lord represents a calling to account that demands repentance and humility before God’s mighty judgment.
It is in this context that the final oracle of the book has such striking resonance. Its tone shifts dramatically as the arrival of God’s presence brings celebration and cause for joy. It is a grand reversal as the expected judgment instead becomes overwhelming mercy that leads to new life: “Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies. The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more” (Zephaniah 3:14b-15). The arrival of God’s presence dispels fear. It opens the door to a new future.
Application: I believe in Jesus because I know I have sinned and deserve punishment, but instead, God has forgiven me.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are...
Zephaniah 2 - Day 968 (link to reading)
Scripture: Zephaniah 2
Commentary (thefellowship.site): After calling Judah to gather, Zephaniah proceeds to call Judah a "shameless nation" (Zephaniah 2:1). Having read the description of this nation in Zephaniah 1:4-6, we know that this is not an unwarranted accusation. But as we read this, let's not distance ourselves and think that this is for an ancient society thousands of years ago. Do you see that the same charge God brings on Judah is the same thing He can level on us today? We cannot remove ourselves from this passage, and we know that this description of "shameless nation" is also us. We too, are prone to partial repentance from a heart with mixed allegiances. Like Judah then, today, we often profess faith in God but still cling on to things of this world such as our idols and security.
Application: Our sins separate us from God. Zephaniah called all of Judah to hear God's warning, not just the obvious sinners. Reading the Old Testament prophecies should convict us of our sins and motivate us toward repentance.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner...
Zephaniah 1 - Day 967 (link to reading)
Summary (insight.org): The book tells us that Zephaniah prophesied during the reign of Josiah, the king of Judah from 640 to 609 BC (Zephaniah 1:1). We can begin to pinpoint exactly when Zephaniah prophesied by accounting for a few details in the text. First, in 2:13 the prophet predicted the fall of Nineveh, an event which occurred in 612 BC. Further, Zephaniah made frequent quotations from the Law (for example, compare 1:13 to Deuteronomy 28:30, 39), a document that remained lost in Judah for much of Josiah’s reign. Therefore, Zephaniah more than likely prophesied in the latter part of Josiah’s rule, after the king discovered the scrolls of the Law in 622 BC (2 Chronicles 34:3–7).
This all means that Zephaniah grew up under the reign of Josiah’s predecessors: Josiah’s grandfather, the evil king Manasseh, and Manasseh’s son, the young and evil Amon. As a young man, the prophet-to-be would have been surrounded by the trappings of idolatry, child sacrifice, and unjust killings—strong influences on a young mind (2 Kings 21:16; 2 Chronicles 33:1–10). But Zephaniah grew into a man of God, able to stand before the people and proclaim God’s message of judgment and hope to a people that had gone astray.
Application: It's easy to fall into a rut and do the same things over and over again because that's what we've always done. Sadly this truth applies to God's children too. Over time, even the joy and wonder of having a relationship with God can start to fade. Remember that the grass is not greener on the other side of the fence, the grass is greener where ever it's watered.
Prayer: Lord, help me remember all the good things You have done...
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