Good morning! Malachi is our reading for today, and so we finish the Old Testament today! Malachi dates from sometime during the reign of the Persians, after the release of Babylonian captives and the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s temple. The book critiques the religious leadership in the decades afterward, adopting the voice of God to denounce the half-hearted way that the temple priests uphold God’s ways.
Good morning! Can you believe we only have two days left of the Hebrew Scriptures?? I’m looking forward to working through the gospels and the rest of the New Testament with you starting Saturday (please invite folks now if you think they might like to join in), but for today we finish the book of Zechariah with chapters 10-14.
Good morning! Today’s middle portion of Zechariah (chapters 7-9) finishes out the first section of this book with commentary on the spirit of fasting, then the universal promise of Jerusalem. With chapter nine we start the second portion of Zechariah, which was written some years after the temple’s successful reconstruction, according to biblical scholars.
Good morning! Today we start our second-to-last book of the Old Testament, that of Zechariah. This book gathers together two separate voices (or more likely, communities). We’ll start to hear from “Second Zechariah” tomorrow, but the prophet in focus today comes from an educated, priestly background (attested by his pedigree in 1:1 and 1:7). He makes common cause with Haggai, advocating for rebuilding at the site of the temple in Jerusalem. Almost twenty years after returning from Babylon with Cyrus the Persian’s permission to rebuild, the temple was still unfinished. Haggai and Zechariah were active at the same time, but Zechariah prophesied for somewhat longer if we take the historical references in the text at face value. These men succeeded in their advocacy, because historians believe the temple was fully restored and rededicated just a couple years after Zechariah’s time.
Good morning! It’s hard to believe in this rush through the final “minor” prophets, but we only have five more days of reading the Hebrew Scriptures! We start the New Testament this Saturday (October 1st), when we will again be on to something very new (yet rooted in all that has been so far). This week would be a great time to invite others to consider joining Daily Bible for the three months we have left! But before we get there, today we read two other small prophetic books, Zephaniah and Haggai.
Good morning! Before we get started with the books of today’s passage (Nahum and Habakkuk), I want to take a moment and remember what a daunting and daring project we are part of. Those who have been along this Daily Bible journey for the past nearly-nine months (!) probably share with me the sense that we didn’t really know what we were getting into. Over the past few months especially, I have found myself overwhelmed by the thought of how much of the Bible I really don’t know, even though I’ve read through it before. If you have struggled—like me—to get a deeper sense of Scripture in this format which calls for engagement with others as well as the biblical text, I salute you for accepting the challenge and doing your best day by day. In the midst of what could feel like a daily slog, let’s pause to remember what a remarkable thing we are about, and the ways this common commitment has brought us together. Whether you are a daily reader and commenter, or you’re able to participate very occasionally—thank you for your efforts! Often-overlooked books like Nahum and Habakkuk are some of the texts we take time to consider in this middle part between famous Old Testament and New Testament books.
Good morning! The seven chapters of Micah compose our full reading today. This prophet comes from Judah in the south, around the same time as Isaiah, Amos and Hosea. He experiences the fall of Israel, and is familiar enough with its cities to invoke them in these chapters. We may be most familiar with Micah 6:8 (a powerful and compact summary of God’s desire for human behavior), but there’s more to this prophet. He entwines oracles about divine judgment with others of divine restoration, conveying trust that though the path of righteousness leads to hardship sometimes, God will see the righteous through to a pleasant reward.
Good morning! Today we have two minor prophets as our focus, but one of them is quite well known. Obadiah is a one-chapter book focused on the sins of Edom, a neighboring community to Judah which takes its name from Jacob’s brother Esau (also called Edom). After the chapter excoriating Edom, we get the delightful little book of Jonah, which is worth spending more of your time on today.
Good morning! The prophet Amos’ critique of wealth and ease, with its foretelling of divine judgment, continues today with the remainder of the book (chapters 6-9). Amos uses a variety of visuals to describe the military conquest, plague, famine and death which await the unrepentant people. In addition to these visuals, I also find interesting the prophet’s self-disclosure about where his power comes from, as well as how he undermines the idea that Jews are the only “chosen people”.
Good morning! Today and tomorrow we commune with the prophet Amos, who was one of the earliest prophets, born in Judah around the eighth century BCE but active in Israel. Amos preaches during a time of relative stability in both kingdoms (about fifty years before Israel’s demise), and this book is largely a record of his speeches. Amos’ greatest concern is that the prosperity of Israel does not flow equally to all parties. Elite landowners benefit from many years of peace, but social injustice keeps prosperity from reaching folks on the bottom of the social ladder. Furthermore, Amos denounces the religious presumption by which wealthy people follow the letter of temple law, yet betray its spirit in how they treat the poor. Today in Amos 1-5, the prophet warns of divine judgment on neighboring cities, then on Israel itself, as the punishing “day of the Lord” draws near.