Things Surely to Be Believed; Part 2

  • Author: Ray C. Stedman
Read the Scripture: Jonah - Malachi
Jonah - Malachi

1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me."

3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.

4 Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. 5 All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. 6 The captain went to him and said, "How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us, and we will not perish."

7 Then the sailors said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots to find out who is responsible for this calamity." They cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.

8 So they asked him, "Tell us, who is responsible for making all this trouble for us? What do you do? Where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?"

9 He answered, "I am a Hebrew and I worship the LORD, the God of heaven, who made the sea and the land."

10 This terrified them and they asked, "What have you done?" (They knew he was running away from the LORD, because he had already told them so.)

11 The sea was getting rougher and rougher. So they asked him, "What should we do to you to make the sea calm down for us?"

12 "Pick me up and throw me into the sea," he replied, "and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you."

13 Instead, the men did their best to row back to land. But they could not, for the sea grew even wilder than before. 14 Then they cried to the LORD, "O LORD, please do not let us die for taking this man's life. Do not hold us accountable for killing an innocent man, for you, O LORD, have done as you pleased." 15 Then they took Jonah and threw him overboard, and the raging sea grew calm. 16 At this the men greatly feared the LORD, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows to him.

17 But the LORD provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights.

1 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the LORD his God. 2 He said:
"In my distress I called to the LORD,
and he answered me.
From the depths of the grave I called for help,
and you listened to my cry.

3 You hurled me into the deep,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.

4 I said, 'I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.'

5 The engulfing waters threatened me,
the deep surrounded me;
seaweed was wrapped around my head.

6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit,
O LORD my God.

7 "When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, LORD,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.

8 "Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.

9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the LORD."

10 And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you."

3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city—a visit required three days. 4 On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned." 5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh:
"By the decree of the king and his nobles:
Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish."

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

1 But Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry. 2 He prayed to the LORD, "O LORD, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. 3 Now, O LORD, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live."

4 But the LORD replied, "Have you any right to be angry?"

5 Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. 6 Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. 7 But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. 8 When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live."

9 But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?"
"I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die."

10 But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?" 1 The word of the LORD that came to Micah of Moresheth during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah—the vision he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem.

2 Hear, O peoples, all of you,
listen, O earth and all who are in it,
that the Sovereign LORD may witness against you,
the Lord from his holy temple.

3 Look! The LORD is coming from his dwelling place;
he comes down and treads the high places of the earth.

4 The mountains melt beneath him
and the valleys split apart,
like wax before the fire,
like water rushing down a slope.

5 All this is because of Jacob's transgression,
because of the sins of the house of Israel.
What is Jacob's transgression?
Is it not Samaria?
What is Judah's high place?
Is it not Jerusalem?

6 "Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble,
a place for planting vineyards.
I will pour her stones into the valley
and lay bare her foundations.

7 All her idols will be broken to pieces;
all her temple gifts will be burned with fire;
I will destroy all her images.
Since she gathered her gifts from the wages of prostitutes,
as the wages of prostitutes they will again be used."

8 Because of this I will weep and wail;
I will go about barefoot and naked.
I will howl like a jackal
and moan like an owl.

9 For her wound is incurable;
it has come to Judah.
It has reached the very gate of my people,
even to Jerusalem itself.

10 Tell it not in Gath ;
weep not at all.
In Beth Ophrah
roll in the dust.

11 Pass on in nakedness and shame,
you who live in Shaphir.
Those who live in Zaanan
will not come out.
Beth Ezel is in mourning;
its protection is taken from you.

12 Those who live in Maroth writhe in pain,
waiting for relief,
because disaster has come from the LORD,
even to the gate of Jerusalem.

13 You who live in Lachish,
harness the team to the chariot.
You were the beginning of sin
to the Daughter of Zion,
for the transgressions of Israel
were found in you.

14 Therefore you will give parting gifts
to Moresheth Gath.
The town of Aczib will prove deceptive
to the kings of Israel.

15 I will bring a conqueror against you
who live in Mareshah.
He who is the glory of Israel
will come to Adullam.

16 Shave your heads in mourning
for the children in whom you delight;
make yourselves as bald as the vulture,
for they will go from you into exile.

1 Woe to those who plan iniquity,
to those who plot evil on their beds!
At morning's light they carry it out
because it is in their power to do it.

2 They covet fields and seize them,
and houses, and take them.
They defraud a man of his home,
a fellowman of his inheritance.

3 Therefore, the LORD says:
"I am planning disaster against this people,
from which you cannot save yourselves.
You will no longer walk proudly,
for it will be a time of calamity.

4 In that day men will ridicule you;
they will taunt you with this mournful song:
'We are utterly ruined;
my people's possession is divided up.
He takes it from me!
He assigns our fields to traitors.' "

5 Therefore you will have no one in the assembly of the LORD
to divide the land by lot.

6 "Do not prophesy," their prophets say.
"Do not prophesy about these things;
disgrace will not overtake us."

7 Should it be said, O house of Jacob:
"Is the Spirit of the LORD angry?
Does he do such things?"
"Do not my words do good
to him whose ways are upright?

8 Lately my people have risen up
like an enemy.
You strip off the rich robe
from those who pass by without a care,
like men returning from battle.

9 You drive the women of my people
from their pleasant homes.
You take away my blessing
from their children forever.

10 Get up, go away!
For this is not your resting place,
because it is defiled,
it is ruined, beyond all remedy.

11 If a liar and deceiver comes and says,
'I will prophesy for you plenty of wine and beer,'
he would be just the prophet for this people!

12 "I will surely gather all of you, O Jacob;
I will surely bring together the remnant of Israel.
I will bring them together like sheep in a pen,
like a flock in its pasture;
the place will throng with people.

13 One who breaks open the way will go up before them;
they will break through the gate and go out.
Their king will pass through before them,
the LORD at their head."

1 Then I said,
"Listen, you leaders of Jacob,
you rulers of the house of Israel.
Should you not know justice,

2 you who hate good and love evil;
who tear the skin from my people
and the flesh from their bones;

3 who eat my people's flesh,
strip off their skin
and break their bones in pieces;
who chop them up like meat for the pan,
like flesh for the pot?"

4 Then they will cry out to the LORD,
but he will not answer them.
At that time he will hide his face from them
because of the evil they have done.

5 This is what the LORD says:
"As for the prophets
who lead my people astray,
if one feeds them,
they proclaim 'peace';
if he does not,
they prepare to wage war against him.

6 Therefore night will come over you, without visions,
and darkness, without divination.
The sun will set for the prophets,
and the day will go dark for them.

7 The seers will be ashamed
and the diviners disgraced.
They will all cover their faces
because there is no answer from God."

8 But as for me, I am filled with power,
with the Spirit of the LORD,
and with justice and might,
to declare to Jacob his transgression,
to Israel his sin.

9 Hear this, you leaders of the house of Jacob,
you rulers of the house of Israel,
who despise justice
and distort all that is right;

10 who build Zion with bloodshed,
and Jerusalem with wickedness.

11 Her leaders judge for a bribe,
her priests teach for a price,
and her prophets tell fortunes for money.
Yet they lean upon the LORD and say,
"Is not the LORD among us?
No disaster will come upon us."

12 Therefore because of you,
Zion will be plowed like a field,
Jerusalem will become a heap of rubble,
the temple hill a mound overgrown with thickets.

1 In the last days
the mountain of the LORD's temple will be established
as chief among the mountains;
it will be raised above the hills,
and peoples will stream to it.

2 Many nations will come and say,
"Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
to the house of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
so that we may walk in his paths."
The law will go out from Zion,
the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

3 He will judge between many peoples
and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.

4 Every man will sit under his own vine
and under his own fig tree,
and no one will make them afraid,
for the LORD Almighty has spoken.

5 All the nations may walk
in the name of their gods;
we will walk in the name of the LORD
our God for ever and ever.

6 "In that day," declares the LORD,
"I will gather the lame;
I will assemble the exiles
and those I have brought to grief.

7 I will make the lame a remnant,
those driven away a strong nation.
The LORD will rule over them in Mount Zion
from that day and forever.

8 As for you, O watchtower of the flock,
O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion,
the former dominion will be restored to you;
kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem."

9 Why do you now cry aloud—
have you no king?
Has your counselor perished,
that pain seizes you like that of a woman in labor?

10 Writhe in agony, O Daughter of Zion,
like a woman in labor,
for now you must leave the city
to camp in the open field.
You will go to Babylon;
there you will be rescued.
There the LORD will redeem you
out of the hand of your enemies.

11 But now many nations
are gathered against you.
They say, "Let her be defiled,
let our eyes gloat over Zion!"

12 But they do not know
the thoughts of the LORD;
they do not understand his plan,
he who gathers them like sheaves to the threshing floor.

13 "Rise and thresh, O Daughter of Zion,
for I will give you horns of iron;
I will give you hoofs of bronze
and you will break to pieces many nations."
You will devote their ill-gotten gains to the LORD,
their wealth to the Lord of all the earth.

1 Marshal your troops, O city of troops,
for a siege is laid against us.
They will strike Israel's ruler
on the cheek with a rod.

2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times. "

3 Therefore Israel will be abandoned
until the time when she who is in labor gives birth
and the rest of his brothers return
to join the Israelites.

4 He will stand and shepherd his flock
in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they will live securely, for then his greatness
will reach to the ends of the earth.

5 And he will be their peace.

When the Assyrian invades our land
and marches through our fortresses,
we will raise against him seven shepherds,
even eight leaders of men.

6 They will rule the land of Assyria with the sword,
the land of Nimrod with drawn sword.
He will deliver us from the Assyrian
when he invades our land
and marches into our borders.

7 The remnant of Jacob will be
in the midst of many peoples
like dew from the LORD,
like showers on the grass,
which do not wait for man
or linger for mankind.

8 The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations,
in the midst of many peoples,
like a lion among the beasts of the forest,
like a young lion among flocks of sheep,
which mauls and mangles as it goes,
and no one can rescue.

9 Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies,
and all your foes will be destroyed.

10 "In that day," declares the LORD,
"I will destroy your horses from among you
and demolish your chariots.

11 I will destroy the cities of your land
and tear down all your strongholds.

12 I will destroy your witchcraft
and you will no longer cast spells.

13 I will destroy your carved images
and your sacred stones from among you;
you will no longer bow down
to the work of your hands.

14 I will uproot from among you your Asherah poles
and demolish your cities.

15 I will take vengeance in anger and wrath
upon the nations that have not obeyed me."

1 Listen to what the LORD says:
"Stand up, plead your case before the mountains;
let the hills hear what you have to say.

2 Hear, O mountains, the LORD's accusation;
listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth.
For the LORD has a case against his people;
he is lodging a charge against Israel.

3 "My people, what have I done to you?
How have I burdened you? Answer me.

4 I brought you up out of Egypt
and redeemed you from the land of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you,
also Aaron and Miriam.

5 My people, remember
what Balak king of Moab counseled
and what Balaam son of Beor answered.
Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal,
that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD."

6 With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?

7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

8 He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

9 Listen! The LORD is calling to the city—
and to fear your name is wisdom—
"Heed the rod and the One who appointed it.

10 Am I still to forget, O wicked house,
your ill-gotten treasures
and the short ephah, which is accursed?

11 Shall I acquit a man with dishonest scales,
with a bag of false weights?

12 Her rich men are violent;
her people are liars
and their tongues speak deceitfully.

13 Therefore, I have begun to destroy you,
to ruin you because of your sins.

14 You will eat but not be satisfied;
your stomach will still be empty.
You will store up but save nothing,
because what you save I will give to the sword.

15 You will plant but not harvest;
you will press olives but not use the oil on yourselves,
you will crush grapes but not drink the wine.

16 You have observed the statutes of Omri
and all the practices of Ahab's house,
and you have followed their traditions.
Therefore I will give you over to ruin
and your people to derision;
you will bear the scorn of the nations. "

1 What misery is mine!
I am like one who gathers summer fruit
at the gleaning of the vineyard;
there is no cluster of grapes to eat,
none of the early figs that I crave.

2 The godly have been swept from the land;
not one upright man remains.
All men lie in wait to shed blood;
each hunts his brother with a net.

3 Both hands are skilled in doing evil;
the ruler demands gifts,
the judge accepts bribes,
the powerful dictate what they desire—
they all conspire together.

4 The best of them is like a brier,
the most upright worse than a thorn hedge.
The day of your watchmen has come,
the day God visits you.
Now is the time of their confusion.

5 Do not trust a neighbor;
put no confidence in a friend.
Even with her who lies in your embrace
be careful of your words.

6 For a son dishonors his father,
a daughter rises up against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man's enemies are the members of his own household.

7 But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD,
I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me.

8 Do not gloat over me, my enemy!
Though I have fallen, I will rise.
Though I sit in darkness,
the LORD will be my light.

9 Because I have sinned against him,
I will bear the LORD's wrath,
until he pleads my case
and establishes my right.
He will bring me out into the light;
I will see his righteousness.

10 Then my enemy will see it
and will be covered with shame,
she who said to me,
"Where is the LORD your God?"
My eyes will see her downfall;
even now she will be trampled underfoot
like mire in the streets.

11 The day for building your walls will come,
the day for extending your boundaries.

12 In that day people will come to you
from Assyria and the cities of Egypt,
even from Egypt to the Euphrates
and from sea to sea
and from mountain to mountain.

13 The earth will become desolate because of its inhabitants,
as the result of their deeds.

14 Shepherd your people with your staff,
the flock of your inheritance,
which lives by itself in a forest,
in fertile pasturelands.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead
as in days long ago.

15 "As in the days when you came out of Egypt,
I will show them my wonders."

16 Nations will see and be ashamed,
deprived of all their power.
They will lay their hands on their mouths
and their ears will become deaf.

17 They will lick dust like a snake,
like creatures that crawl on the ground.
They will come trembling out of their dens;
they will turn in fear to the LORD our God
and will be afraid of you.

18 Who is a God like you,
who pardons sin and forgives the transgression
of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
but delight to show mercy.

19 You will again have compassion on us;
you will tread our sins underfoot
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

20 You will be true to Jacob,
and show mercy to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our fathers
in days long ago.

1 An oracle concerning Nineveh. The book of the vision of Nahum the Elkoshite.

2 The LORD is a jealous and avenging God;
the LORD takes vengeance and is filled with wrath.
The LORD takes vengeance on his foes
and maintains his wrath against his enemies.

3 The LORD is slow to anger and great in power;
the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished.
His way is in the whirlwind and the storm,
and clouds are the dust of his feet.

4 He rebukes the sea and dries it up;
he makes all the rivers run dry.
Bashan and Carmel wither
and the blossoms of Lebanon fade.

5 The mountains quake before him
and the hills melt away.
The earth trembles at his presence,
the world and all who live in it.

6 Who can withstand his indignation?
Who can endure his fierce anger?
His wrath is poured out like fire;
the rocks are shattered before him.

7 The LORD is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him,

8 but with an overwhelming flood
he will make an end of Nineveh ;
he will pursue his foes into darkness.

9 Whatever they plot against the LORD
he will bring to an end;
trouble will not come a second time.

10 They will be entangled among thorns
and drunk from their wine;
they will be consumed like dry stubble.

11 From you, O Nineveh , has one come forth
who plots evil against the LORD
and counsels wickedness.

12 This is what the LORD says:
"Although they have allies and are numerous,
they will be cut off and pass away.
Although I have afflicted you, O Judah ,
I will afflict you no more.

13 Now I will break their yoke from your neck
and tear your shackles away."

14 The LORD has given a command concerning you, Nineveh :
"You will have no descendants to bear your name.
I will destroy the carved images and cast idols
that are in the temple of your gods.
I will prepare your grave,
for you are vile."

15 Look, there on the mountains,
the feet of one who brings good news,
who proclaims peace!
Celebrate your festivals, O Judah,
and fulfill your vows.
No more will the wicked invade you;
they will be completely destroyed.

1 An attacker advances against you, Nineveh .
Guard the fortress,
watch the road,
brace yourselves,
marshal all your strength!

2 The LORD will restore the splendor of Jacob
like the splendor of Israel,
though destroyers have laid them waste
and have ruined their vines.

3 The shields of his soldiers are red;
the warriors are clad in scarlet.
The metal on the chariots flashes
on the day they are made ready;
the spears of pine are brandished.

4 The chariots storm through the streets,
rushing back and forth through the squares.
They look like flaming torches;
they dart about like lightning.

5 He summons his picked troops,
yet they stumble on their way.
They dash to the city wall;
the protective shield is put in place.

6 The river gates are thrown open
and the palace collapses.

7 It is decreed that the city
be exiled and carried away.
Its slave girls moan like doves
and beat upon their breasts.

8 Nineveh is like a pool,
and its water is draining away.
"Stop! Stop!" they cry,
but no one turns back.

9 Plunder the silver!
Plunder the gold!
The supply is endless,
the wealth from all its treasures!

10 She is pillaged, plundered, stripped!
Hearts melt, knees give way,
bodies tremble, every face grows pale.

11 Where now is the lions' den,
the place where they fed their young,
where the lion and lioness went,
and the cubs, with nothing to fear?

12 The lion killed enough for his cubs
and strangled the prey for his mate,
filling his lairs with the kill
and his dens with the prey.

13 "I am against you,"
declares the LORD Almighty.
"I will burn up your chariots in smoke,
and the sword will devour your young lions.
I will leave you no prey on the earth.
The voices of your messengers
will no longer be heard."

1 Woe to the city of blood,
full of lies,
full of plunder,
never without victims!

2 The crack of whips,
the clatter of wheels,
galloping horses
and jolting chariots!

3 Charging cavalry,
flashing swords
and glittering spears!
Many casualties,
piles of dead,
bodies without number,
people stumbling over the corpses-

4 all because of the wanton lust of a harlot,
alluring, the mistress of sorceries,
who enslaved nations by her prostitution
and peoples by her witchcraft.

5 "I am against you," declares the LORD Almighty.
"I will lift your skirts over your face.
I will show the nations your nakedness
and the kingdoms your shame.

6 I will pelt you with filth,
I will treat you with contempt
and make you a spectacle.

7 All who see you will flee from you and say,
'Nineveh is in ruins—who will mourn for her?'
Where can I find anyone to comfort you?"

8 Are you better than Thebes,
situated on the Nile,
with water around her?
The river was her defense,
the waters her wall.

9 Cush and Egypt were her boundless strength;
Put and Libya were among her allies.

10 Yet she was taken captive
and went into exile.
Her infants were dashed to pieces
at the head of every street.
Lots were cast for her nobles,
and all her great men were put in chains.

11 You too will become drunk;
you will go into hiding
and seek refuge from the enemy.

12 All your fortresses are like fig trees
with their first ripe fruit;
when they are shaken,
the figs fall into the mouth of the eater.

13 Look at your troops—
they are all women!
The gates of your land
are wide open to your enemies;
fire has consumed their bars.

14 Draw water for the siege,
strengthen your defenses!
Work the clay,
tread the mortar,
repair the brickwork!

15 There the fire will devour you;
the sword will cut you down
and, like grasshoppers, consume you.
Multiply like grasshoppers,
multiply like locusts!

16 You have increased the number of your merchants
till they are more than the stars of the sky,
but like locusts they strip the land
and then fly away.

17 Your guards are like locusts,
your officials like swarms of locusts
that settle in the walls on a cold day—
but when the sun appears they fly away,
and no one knows where.

18 O king of Assyria, your shepherds slumber;
your nobles lie down to rest.
Your people are scattered on the mountains
with no one to gather them.

19 Nothing can heal your wound;
your injury is fatal.
Everyone who hears the news about you
claps his hands at your fall,
for who has not felt
your endless cruelty?

1 The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received.

2 How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, "Violence!"
but you do not save?

3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.

4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.

5 "Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.

6 I am raising up the Babylonians,
that ruthless and impetuous people,
who sweep across the whole earth
to seize dwelling places not their own.

7 They are a feared and dreaded people;
they are a law to themselves
and promote their own honor.

8 Their horses are swifter than leopards,
fiercer than wolves at dusk.
Their cavalry gallops headlong;
their horsemen come from afar.
They fly like a vulture swooping to devour;

9 they all come bent on violence.
Their hordes advance like a desert wind
and gather prisoners like sand.

10 They deride kings
and scoff at rulers.
They laugh at all fortified cities;
they build earthen ramps and capture them.

11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—
guilty men, whose own strength is their god."

12 O LORD, are you not from everlasting?
My God, my Holy One, we will not die.
O LORD, you have appointed them to execute judgment;
O Rock, you have ordained them to punish.

13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil;
you cannot tolerate wrong.
Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?
Why are you silent while the wicked
swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

14 You have made men like fish in the sea,
like sea creatures that have no ruler.

15 The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks,
he catches them in his net,
he gathers them up in his dragnet;
and so he rejoices and is glad.

16 Therefore he sacrifices to his net
and burns incense to his dragnet,
for by his net he lives in luxury
and enjoys the choicest food.

17 Is he to keep on emptying his net,
destroying nations without mercy?

1 I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

2 Then the LORD replied:
"Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.

3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come and will not delay.

4 "See, he is puffed up;
his desires are not upright—
but the righteous will live by his faith -

5 indeed, wine betrays him;
he is arrogant and never at rest.
Because he is as greedy as the grave
and like death is never satisfied,
he gathers to himself all the nations
and takes captive all the peoples.

6 "Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying,
" 'Woe to him who piles up stolen goods
and makes himself wealthy by extortion!
How long must this go on?'

7 Will not your debtors suddenly arise?
Will they not wake up and make you tremble?
Then you will become their victim.

8 Because you have plundered many nations,
the peoples who are left will plunder you.
For you have shed man's blood;
you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.

9 "Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain
to set his nest on high,
to escape the clutches of ruin!

10 You have plotted the ruin of many peoples,
shaming your own house and forfeiting your life.

11 The stones of the wall will cry out,
and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.

12 "Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed
and establishes a town by crime!

13 Has not the LORD Almighty determined
that the people's labor is only fuel for the fire,
that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?

14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
as the waters cover the sea.

15 "Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors,
pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk,
so that he can gaze on their naked bodies.

16 You will be filled with shame instead of glory.
Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed !
The cup from the LORD's right hand is coming around to you,
and disgrace will cover your glory.

17 The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you,
and your destruction of animals will terrify you.
For you have shed man's blood;
you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.

18 "Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it?
Or an image that teaches lies?
For he who makes it trusts in his own creation;
he makes idols that cannot speak.

19 Woe to him who says to wood, 'Come to life!'
Or to lifeless stone, 'Wake up!'
Can it give guidance?
It is covered with gold and silver;
there is no breath in it.

20 But the LORD is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him."

1 A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet. On shigionoth .

2 LORD, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD.
Renew them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy.

3 God came from Teman,
the Holy One from Mount Paran.
Selah
His glory covered the heavens
and his praise filled the earth.

4 His splendor was like the sunrise;
rays flashed from his hand,
where his power was hidden.

5 Plague went before him;
pestilence followed his steps.

6 He stood, and shook the earth;
he looked, and made the nations tremble.
The ancient mountains crumbled
and the age-old hills collapsed.
His ways are eternal.

7 I saw the tents of Cushan in distress,
the dwellings of Midian in anguish.

8 Were you angry with the rivers, O LORD
Was your wrath against the streams?
Did you rage against the sea
when you rode with your horses
and your victorious chariots?

9 You uncovered your bow,
you called for many arrows.
Selah
You split the earth with rivers;

10 the mountains saw you and writhed.
Torrents of water swept by;
the deep roared
and lifted its waves on high.

11 Sun and moon stood still in the heavens
at the glint of your flying arrows,
at the lightning of your flashing spear.

12 In wrath you strode through the earth
and in anger you threshed the nations.

13 You came out to deliver your people,
to save your anointed one.
You crushed the leader of the land of wickedness,
you stripped him from head to foot.
Selah

14 With his own spear you pierced his head
when his warriors stormed out to scatter us,
gloating as though about to devour
the wretched who were in hiding.

15 You trampled the sea with your horses,
churning the great waters.

16 I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.

17 Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
For the director of music. On my stringed instruments.

1 The word of the LORD that came to Zephaniah son of Cushi, the son of Gedaliah, the son of Amariah, the son of Hezekiah, during the reign of Josiah son of Amon king of Judah:

2 "I will sweep away everything
from the face of the earth,"
declares the LORD.

3 "I will sweep away both men and animals;
I will sweep away the birds of the air
and the fish of the sea.
The wicked will have only heaps of rubble
when I cut off man from the face of the earth,"
declares the LORD.

4 "I will stretch out my hand against Judah
and against all who live in Jerusalem.
I will cut off from this place every remnant of Baal,
the names of the pagan and the idolatrous priests-

5 those who bow down on the roofs
to worship the starry host,
those who bow down and swear by the LORD
and who also swear by Molech,

6 those who turn back from following the LORD
and neither seek the LORD nor inquire of him.

7 Be silent before the Sovereign LORD,
for the day of the LORD is near.
The LORD has prepared a sacrifice;
he has consecrated those he has invited.

8 On the day of the LORD's sacrifice
I will punish the princes
and the king's sons
and all those clad
in foreign clothes.

9 On that day I will punish
all who avoid stepping on the threshold,
who fill the temple of their gods
with violence and deceit.

10 "On that day," declares the LORD,
"a cry will go up from the Fish Gate,
wailing from the New Quarter,
and a loud crash from the hills.

11 Wail, you who live in the market district ;
all your merchants will be wiped out,
all who trade with silver will be ruined.

12 At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps
and punish those who are complacent,
who are like wine left on its dregs,
who think, 'The LORD will do nothing,
either good or bad.'

13 Their wealth will be plundered,
their houses demolished.
They will build houses
but not live in them;
they will plant vineyards
but not drink the wine.

14 "The great day of the LORD is near—
near and coming quickly.
Listen! The cry on the day of the LORD will be bitter,
the shouting of the warrior there.

15 That day will be a day of wrath,
a day of distress and anguish,
a day of trouble and ruin,
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness,

16 a day of trumpet and battle cry
against the fortified cities
and against the corner towers.

17 I will bring distress on the people
and they will walk like blind men,
because they have sinned against the LORD.
Their blood will be poured out like dust
and their entrails like filth.

18 Neither their silver nor their gold
will be able to save them
on the day of the LORD's wrath.
In the fire of his jealousy
the whole world will be consumed,
for he will make a sudden end
of all who live in the earth."

1 Gather together, gather together,
O shameful nation,

2 before the appointed time arrives
and that day sweeps on like chaff,
before the fierce anger of the LORD comes upon you,
before the day of the LORD's wrath comes upon you.

3 Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land,
you who do what he commands.
Seek righteousness, seek humility;
perhaps you will be sheltered
on the day of the LORD's anger.

4 Gaza will be abandoned
and Ashkelon left in ruins.
At midday Ashdod will be emptied
and Ekron uprooted.

5 Woe to you who live by the sea,
O Kerethite people;
the word of the LORD is against you,
O Canaan, land of the Philistines.
"I will destroy you,
and none will be left."

6 The land by the sea, where the Kerethites dwell,
will be a place for shepherds and sheep pens.

7 It will belong to the remnant of the house of Judah;
there they will find pasture.
In the evening they will lie down
in the houses of Ashkelon.
The LORD their God will care for them;
he will restore their fortunes.

8 "I have heard the insults of Moab
and the taunts of the Ammonites,
who insulted my people
and made threats against their land.

9 Therefore, as surely as I live,"
declares the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel,
"surely Moab will become like Sodom,
the Ammonites like Gomorrah—
a place of weeds and salt pits,
a wasteland forever.
The remnant of my people will plunder them;
the survivors of my nation will inherit their land."

10 This is what they will get in return for their pride,
for insulting and mocking the people of the LORD Almighty.

11 The LORD will be awesome to them
when he destroys all the gods of the land.
The nations on every shore will worship him,
every one in its own land.

12 "You too, O Cushites,
will be slain by my sword."

13 He will stretch out his hand against the north
and destroy Assyria,
leaving Nineveh utterly desolate
and dry as the desert.

14 Flocks and herds will lie down there,
creatures of every kind.
The desert owl and the screech owl
will roost on her columns.
Their calls will echo through the windows,
rubble will be in the doorways,
the beams of cedar will be exposed.

15 This is the carefree city
that lived in safety.
She said to herself,
"I am, and there is none besides me."
What a ruin she has become,
a lair for wild beasts!
All who pass by her scoff
and shake their fists.

1 Woe to the city of oppressors,
rebellious and defiled!

2 She obeys no one,
she accepts no correction.
She does not trust in the LORD,
she does not draw near to her God.

3 Her officials are roaring lions,
her rulers are evening wolves,
who leave nothing for the morning.

4 Her prophets are arrogant;
they are treacherous men.
Her priests profane the sanctuary
and do violence to the law.

5 The LORD within her is righteous;
he does no wrong.
Morning by morning he dispenses his justice,
and every new day he does not fail,
yet the unrighteous know no shame.

6 "I have cut off nations;
their strongholds are demolished.
I have left their streets deserted,
with no one passing through.
Their cities are destroyed;
no one will be left—no one at all.

7 I said to the city,
'Surely you will fear me
and accept correction!'
Then her dwelling would not be cut off,
nor all my punishments come upon her.
But they were still eager
to act corruptly in all they did.

8 Therefore wait for me," declares the LORD,
"for the day I will stand up to testify.
I have decided to assemble the nations,
to gather the kingdoms
and to pour out my wrath on them—
all my fierce anger.
The whole world will be consumed
by the fire of my jealous anger.

9 "Then will I purify the lips of the peoples,
that all of them may call on the name of the LORD
and serve him shoulder to shoulder.

10 From beyond the rivers of Cush
my worshipers, my scattered people,
will bring me offerings.

11 On that day you will not be put to shame
for all the wrongs you have done to me,
because I will remove from this city
those who rejoice in their pride.
Never again will you be haughty
on my holy hill.

12 But I will leave within you
the meek and humble,
who trust in the name of the LORD.

13 The remnant of Israel will do no wrong;
they will speak no lies,
nor will deceit be found in their mouths.
They will eat and lie down
and no one will make them afraid."

14 Sing, O Daughter of Zion;
shout aloud, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
O Daughter of Jerusalem!

15 The LORD has taken away your punishment,
he has turned back your enemy.
The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you;
never again will you fear any harm.

16 On that day they will say to Jerusalem,
"Do not fear, O Zion;
do not let your hands hang limp.

17 The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

18 "The sorrows for the appointed feasts
I will remove from you;
they are a burden and a reproach to you.

19 At that time I will deal
with all who oppressed you;
I will rescue the lame
and gather those who have been scattered.
I will give them praise and honor
in every land where they were put to shame.

20 At that time I will gather you;
at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise
among all the peoples of the earth
when I restore your fortunes
before your very eyes,"
says the LORD.

1 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest:

2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "These people say, 'The time has not yet come for the LORD's house to be built.' "

3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?"

5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it."

7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build the house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored," says the LORD. 9 "You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?" declares the LORD Almighty. "Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the oil and whatever the ground produces, on men and cattle, and on the labor of your hands."

12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the LORD their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD.

13 Then Haggai, the LORD's messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: "I am with you," declares the LORD. 14 So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God, 15 on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius.

1 On the twenty-first day of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 2 "Speak to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people. Ask them, 3 'Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory? How does it look to you now? Does it not seem to you like nothing? 4 But now be strong, O Zerubbabel,' declares the LORD. 'Be strong, O Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. Be strong, all you people of the land,' declares the LORD, 'and work. For I am with you,' declares the LORD Almighty. 5 'This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt. And my Spirit remains among you. Do not fear.'

6 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,' says the LORD Almighty. 8 'The silver is mine and the gold is mine,' declares the LORD Almighty. 9 'The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,' says the LORD Almighty. 'And in this place I will grant peace,' declares the LORD Almighty."

10 On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Haggai: 11 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Ask the priests what the law says: 12 If a person carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, oil or other food, does it become consecrated?' "
The priests answered, "No."

13 Then Haggai said, "If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?"
"Yes," the priests replied, "it becomes defiled."

14 Then Haggai said, " 'So it is with this people and this nation in my sight,' declares the LORD. 'Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.

15 " 'Now give careful thought to this from this day on —consider how things were before one stone was laid on another in the LORD's temple. 16 When anyone came to a heap of twenty measures, there were only ten. When anyone went to a wine vat to draw fifty measures, there were only twenty. 17 I struck all the work of your hands with blight, mildew and hail, yet you did not turn to me,' declares the LORD. 18 'From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the LORD's temple was laid. Give careful thought: 19 Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.
" 'From this day on I will bless you.' "

20 The word of the LORD came to Haggai a second time on the twenty-fourth day of the month: 21 "Tell Zerubbabel governor of Judah that I will shake the heavens and the earth. 22 I will overturn royal thrones and shatter the power of the foreign kingdoms. I will overthrow chariots and their drivers; horses and their riders will fall, each by the sword of his brother.

23 " 'On that day,' declares the LORD Almighty, 'I will take you, my servant Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel,' declares the LORD, 'and I will make you like my signet ring, for I have chosen you,' declares the LORD Almighty."

1 In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo:

2 "The LORD was very angry with your forefathers. 3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Return to me,' declares the LORD Almighty, 'and I will return to you,' says the LORD Almighty. 4 Do not be like your forefathers, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.' But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the LORD. 5 Where are your forefathers now? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6 But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your forefathers?
"Then they repented and said, 'The LORD Almighty has done to us what our ways and practices deserve, just as he determined to do.'"

7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.

8 During the night I had a vision—and there before me was a man riding a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in a ravine. Behind him were red, brown and white horses.

9 I asked, "What are these, my lord?"
The angel who was talking with me answered, "I will show you what they are."

10 Then the man standing among the myrtle trees explained, "They are the ones the LORD has sent to go throughout the earth."

11 And they reported to the angel of the LORD, who was standing among the myrtle trees, "We have gone throughout the earth and found the whole world at rest and in peace."

12 Then the angel of the LORD said, "LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?" 13 So the LORD spoke kind and comforting words to the angel who talked with me.

14 Then the angel who was speaking to me said, "Proclaim this word: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, 15 but I am very angry with the nations that feel secure. I was only a little angry, but they added to the calamity.'

16 "Therefore, this is what the LORD says: 'I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,' declares the LORD Almighty.

17 "Proclaim further: This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'My towns will again overflow with prosperity, and the LORD will again comfort Zion and choose Jerusalem.' "

18 Then I looked up—and there before me were four horns! 19 I asked the angel who was speaking to me, "What are these?"
He answered me, "These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem."

20 Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen. 21 I asked, "What are these coming to do?"
He answered, "These are the horns that scattered Judah so that no one could raise his head, but the craftsmen have come to terrify them and throw down these horns of the nations who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people."

1 Then I looked up—and there before me was a man with a measuring line in his hand! 2 I asked, "Where are you going?"
He answered me, "To measure Jerusalem, to find out how wide and how long it is."

3 Then the angel who was speaking to me left, and another angel came to meet him 4 and said to him: "Run, tell that young man, 'Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. 5 And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,' declares the LORD, 'and I will be its glory within.'

6 "Come! Come! Flee from the land of the north," declares the LORD, "for I have scattered you to the four winds of heaven," declares the LORD.

7 "Come, O Zion! Escape, you who live in the Daughter of Babylon!" 8 For this is what the LORD Almighty says: "After he has honored me and has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye- 9 I will surely raise my hand against them so that their slaves will plunder them. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me.

10 "Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you," declares the LORD. 11 "Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. 12 The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem. 13 Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling."

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. 2 The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"

3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. 4 The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes."
Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you."

5 Then I said, "Put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by.

6 The angel of the LORD gave this charge to Joshua: 7 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'If you will walk in my ways and keep my requirements, then you will govern my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you a place among these standing here.

8 " 'Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch. 9 See, the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day.

10 " 'In that day each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree,' declares the LORD Almighty."

1 Then the angel who talked with me returned and wakened me, as a man is wakened from his sleep. 2 He asked me, "What do you see?"
I answered, "I see a solid gold lampstand with a bowl at the top and seven lights on it, with seven channels to the lights. 3 Also there are two olive trees by it, one on the right of the bowl and the other on its left."

4 I asked the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?"

5 He answered, "Do you not know what these are?"
"No, my lord," I replied.

6 So he said to me, "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: 'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.

7 "What are you, O mighty mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become level ground. Then he will bring out the capstone to shouts of 'God bless it! God bless it!' "

8 Then the word of the LORD came to me: 9 "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands will also complete it. Then you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you.

10 "Who despises the day of small things? Men will rejoice when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel.
"(These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range throughout the earth.)"

11 Then I asked the angel, "What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the lampstand?"

12 Again I asked him, "What are these two olive branches beside the two gold pipes that pour out golden oil?"

13 He replied, "Do you not know what these are?"
"No, my lord," I said.

14 So he said, "These are the two who are anointed to serve the Lord of all the earth."

1 I looked again—and there before me was a flying scroll!

2 He asked me, "What do you see?"
I answered, "I see a flying scroll, thirty feet long and fifteen feet wide. "

3 And he said to me, "This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished. 4 The LORD Almighty declares, 'I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of him who swears falsely by my name. It will remain in his house and destroy it, both its timbers and its stones.' "

5 Then the angel who was speaking to me came forward and said to me, "Look up and see what this is that is appearing."

6 I asked, "What is it?"
He replied, "It is a measuring basket. " And he added, "This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land."

7 Then the cover of lead was raised, and there in the basket sat a woman! 8 He said, "This is wickedness," and he pushed her back into the basket and pushed the lead cover down over its mouth.

9 Then I looked up—and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings! They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth.

10 "Where are they taking the basket?" I asked the angel who was speaking to me.

11 He replied, "To the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When it is ready, the basket will be set there in its place."

1 I looked up again—and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains—mountains of bronze! 2 The first chariot had red horses, the second black, 3 the third white, and the fourth dappled—all of them powerful. 4 I asked the angel who was speaking to me, "What are these, my lord?"

5 The angel answered me, "These are the four spirits of heaven, going out from standing in the presence of the Lord of the whole world. 6 The one with the black horses is going toward the north country, the one with the white horses toward the west, and the one with the dappled horses toward the south."

7 When the powerful horses went out, they were straining to go throughout the earth. And he said, "Go throughout the earth!" So they went throughout the earth.

8 Then he called to me, "Look, those going toward the north country have given my Spirit rest in the land of the north."

9 The word of the LORD came to me: 10 "Take silver and gold from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon. Go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. 11 Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. 12 Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. 13 It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two.' 14 The crown will be given to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen son of Zephaniah as a memorial in the temple of the LORD. 15 Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the LORD, and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the LORD your God."

1 In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev. 2 The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-Melech, together with their men, to entreat the LORD 3 by asking the priests of the house of the LORD Almighty and the prophets, "Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?"

4 Then the word of the LORD Almighty came to me: 5 "Ask all the people of the land and the priests, 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted? 6 And when you were eating and drinking, were you not just feasting for yourselves? 7 Are these not the words the LORD proclaimed through the earlier prophets when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were at rest and prosperous, and the Negev and the western foothills were settled?' "

8 And the word of the LORD came again to Zechariah: 9 "This is what the LORD Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other.'

11 "But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and stopped up their ears. 12 They made their hearts as hard as flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the LORD Almighty had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the LORD Almighty was very angry.

13 " 'When I called, they did not listen; so when they called, I would not listen,' says the LORD Almighty. 14 'I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations, where they were strangers. The land was left so desolate behind them that no one could come or go. This is how they made the pleasant land desolate.' "

1 Again the word of the LORD Almighty came to me. 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "I am very jealous for Zion; I am burning with jealousy for her."

3 This is what the LORD says: "I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain."

4 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Once again men and women of ripe old age will sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with cane in hand because of his age. 5 The city streets will be filled with boys and girls playing there."

6 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "It may seem marvelous to the remnant of this people at that time, but will it seem marvelous to me?" declares the LORD Almighty.

7 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. 8 I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God."

9 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "You who now hear these words spoken by the prophets who were there when the foundation was laid for the house of the LORD Almighty, let your hands be strong so that the temple may be built. 10 Before that time there were no wages for man or beast. No one could go about his business safely because of his enemy, for I had turned every man against his neighbor. 11 But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as I did in the past," declares the LORD Almighty.

12 "The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people. 13 As you have been an object of cursing among the nations, O Judah and Israel, so will I save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong."

14 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Just as I had determined to bring disaster upon you and showed no pity when your fathers angered me," says the LORD Almighty, 15 "so now I have determined to do good again to Jerusalem and Judah. Do not be afraid. 16 These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; 17 do not plot evil against your neighbor, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this," declares the LORD.

18 Again the word of the LORD Almighty came to me. 19 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "The fasts of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months will become joyful and glad occasions and happy festivals for Judah. Therefore love truth and peace."

20 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, 21 and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, 'Let us go at once to entreat the LORD and seek the LORD Almighty. I myself am going.' 22 And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the LORD Almighty and to entreat him."

23 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, 'Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.' "

1 The word of the LORD is against the land of Hadrach
and will rest upon Damascus—
for the eyes of men and all the tribes of Israel
are on the LORD—

2 and upon Hamath too, which borders on it,
and upon Tyre and Sidon, though they are very skillful.

3 Tyre has built herself a stronghold;
she has heaped up silver like dust,
and gold like the dirt of the streets.

4 But the Lord will take away her possessions
and destroy her power on the sea,
and she will be consumed by fire.

5 Ashkelon will see it and fear;
Gaza will writhe in agony,
and Ekron too, for her hope will wither.
Gaza will lose her king
and Ashkelon will be deserted.

6 Foreigners will occupy Ashdod,
and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.

7 I will take the blood from their mouths,
the forbidden food from between their teeth.
Those who are left will belong to our God
and become leaders in Judah,
and Ekron will be like the Jebusites.

8 But I will defend my house
against marauding forces.
Never again will an oppressor overrun my people,
for now I am keeping watch.

9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
and the war-horses from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow will be broken.
He will proclaim peace to the nations.
His rule will extend from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,
I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.

12 Return to your fortress, O prisoners of hope;
even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

13 I will bend Judah as I bend my bow
and fill it with Ephraim.
I will rouse your sons, O Zion,
against your sons, O Greece,
and make you like a warrior's sword.

14 Then the LORD will appear over them;
his arrow will flash like lightning.
The Sovereign LORD will sound the trumpet;
he will march in the storms of the south,

15 and the LORD Almighty will shield them.
They will destroy
and overcome with slingstones.
They will drink and roar as with wine;
they will be full like a bowl
used for sprinkling the corners of the altar.

16 The LORD their God will save them on that day
as the flock of his people.
They will sparkle in his land
like jewels in a crown.

17 How attractive and beautiful they will be!
Grain will make the young men thrive,
and new wine the young women.

1 Ask the LORD for rain in the springtime;
it is the LORD who makes the storm clouds.
He gives showers of rain to men,
and plants of the field to everyone.

2 The idols speak deceit,
diviners see visions that lie;
they tell dreams that are false,
they give comfort in vain.
Therefore the people wander like sheep
oppressed for lack of a shepherd.

3 "My anger burns against the shepherds,
and I will punish the leaders;
for the LORD Almighty will care
for his flock, the house of Judah,
and make them like a proud horse in battle.

4 From Judah will come the cornerstone,
from him the tent peg,
from him the battle bow,
from him every ruler.

5 Together they will be like mighty men
trampling the muddy streets in battle.
Because the LORD is with them,
they will fight and overthrow the horsemen.

6 "I will strengthen the house of Judah
and save the house of Joseph.
I will restore them
because I have compassion on them.
They will be as though
I had not rejected them,
for I am the LORD their God
and I will answer them.

7 The Ephraimites will become like mighty men,
and their hearts will be glad as with wine.
Their children will see it and be joyful;
their hearts will rejoice in the LORD.

8 I will signal for them
and gather them in.
Surely I will redeem them;
they will be as numerous as before.

9 Though I scatter them among the peoples,
yet in distant lands they will remember me.
They and their children will survive,
and they will return.

10 I will bring them back from Egypt
and gather them from Assyria.
I will bring them to Gilead and Lebanon,
and there will not be room enough for them.

11 They will pass through the sea of trouble;
the surging sea will be subdued
and all the depths of the Nile will dry up.
Assyria's pride will be brought down
and Egypt's scepter will pass away.

12 I will strengthen them in the LORD
and in his name they will walk,"
declares the LORD.

1 Open your doors, O Lebanon,
so that fire may devour your cedars!

2 Wail, O pine tree, for the cedar has fallen;
the stately trees are ruined!
Wail, oaks of Bashan;
the dense forest has been cut down!

3 Listen to the wail of the shepherds;
their rich pastures are destroyed!
Listen to the roar of the lions;
the lush thicket of the Jordan is ruined!

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In the last few years I have come to learn to love the Old Testament as much as the New, and it has done as much to change my life as anything I have discovered in the New. The secret is that the two complement each other. This is one of the marks which prove that this book comes from the hand of God. Forty authors, writing over the course of sixteen hundred years, without collusion have produced a book which fits together in absolutely perfect harmony, dovetailing in every detail. This harmony, of course, is far beyond the ability of man to produce. It marks God' hand upon this book.

The Old Testament is the part of the Bible which prepares us for the truth we get in the New Testament. And, as we have seen in the course of this survey of the Bible, the whole purpose of revelation is to mature us, to perfect us, to make us grow up. It is to make us become what God intended us to be in Jesus Christ -- to enable us to discover all the potential of our manhood or womanhood in Jesus Christ. Therefore, we desperately need the whole book.

The prophets in the Old Testament are the expounders of the mighty promises of God. What would we be without the promises of God? Someone has counted more than three thousand promises in the Bible which are intended to be fulfilled in this life. They have nothing to do with the life to come; those promises are another category. Three thousand promises are made for us today. How many have you claimed? They are intended to be fulfilled now.

A promise, as we saw in our last study, is an offer of self. When we promise someone something, we are expressing a willingness to give them a part of ourselves -- our time, our interests, our sympathy -- whatever it may be. So when God makes a promise he is promising himself, committing himself. All these promises, then, come out of the character of God. Therefore, each of the prophets was given the task of expounding some vast and wonderful side of God's character, so that we might rest upon it and claim it and know that God will act this way. A study of the promises reveals how God acts and what he is like. This is why the book of Hebrewsbegins with this great statement:

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets... (Hebrews 1:1 RSV)

Of course it goes on to say,

...but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son... (Hebrews 1:2a RSV)

But all of this is so that we might know God.

Now, what do you do with a promise? Well, you either believe it or reject it. There are no alternatives. You might say, "Well, I'll just ignore it." But then you are rejecting it, because a promise is a demand for commitment. The easiest form of reaction is to simply walk away from it -- but that is a rejection, isn't it? So promises must either be believed or they must be rejected. That is why we have called this pair of studies: Things Surely to be Believed.

We have already seen the promises set forth in the first eight books of the prophetic section. Now we will look at the last eight, beginning with perhaps the best known of the minor prophets. (Minorhere means smaller in size, not lesser in importance.)

Who is that? Jonah -- and the fish story! This is the book which is the butt of more ridicule, the object of more censure, than perhaps any other book in the Old Testament, because it contains the remarkable story of how Jonah was swallowed by the fish. But, as someone has pointed out, this is an encouraging book: if you are ever down-in-the-mouth, remember Jonah -- he came out all right! However, the message of Jonah is not a fish story. It is the promise of a second chance. God said to Jonah, as recorded in Chapter 3, Verse 1:

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time... (Jonah 3:1 RSV)

This is why the book of Jonah is such an encouragement to faith -- because it shows God's patience with man; God's willingness to give us another chance, and yet another chance, and still another chance. It is a book which reveals the stubbornness of men's hearts sometimes. Jonah, as we know, was called by God to go to the great city, Nineveh, and to declare its judgment. He refused to go; he ran in the other direction. But God gave him a second chance; and after he was coughed up on the beach by the fish, he decided to obey God and went to Nineveh. He declared God's message to the city: "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" (Jonah 3:4b) -- a vast city of over 112,000 inhabitants. But Nineveh repented, and God gave it a second chance. Nineveh was not destroyed at this time, simply because it repented. This is the great message of the patience of God -- the promise of a second chance.

The prophet Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah. They both ministered to the Southern Kingdom -- Judah. Someone has called the book of Micah "Isaiah in shorthand." Micah summarizes many of the predictions and prophecies and even uses some of the very wording of the book of Isaiah. These two men worked together, so this is not to be wondered at. The message of Isaiah, you remember, is the promise of a new beginning. Micah's is the promise of God's pardon. Micah, by the way, is the favorite Old Testament book of liberals because of Chapter 6, Verse 8 -- that famous verse quoted by Adlai Stevenson as his favorite in the Bible:

...and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8 RSV)

This seems to the liberals to sum up God's entire requirement of man; and it is true -- it does. This is what God does require of man -- that he do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with his God. But who can do this? That is the point.

The obvious message of Micah is that you can't do this until you have received the pardon of God -- until you have come in dependence and have received his life. Only the life of God can fulfill the requirements of Micah 6:8. So this is the book of pardon.

The brief book of the prophet Nahum is the prediction of the destruction of Nineveh. The books of Jonah and Nahum go together. At Jonah's preaching, the great city repented -- from the king down to the lowest street cleaner. Because of that repentance the city was spared, and God turned back the judgment which he had said would fall within forty days of Jonah's preaching. But a hundred years later Nahum issued his prophecy of the destruction of Nineveh, and it was fulfilled to the letter. Nahum predicted the city would be destroyed by the opening of the river gates which would allow an enemy to come in. This is exactly the way the judgment did fall upon Nineveh, some fifty years later. A hundred years after Jonah's prediction of promised ultimate judgment -- after the exercise of his patience. This is the promise: God does not change; he does exactly what he says he will do. He does not forget, nor does he grow weary in the passing of time, nor does he change his mind. He reserves his judgment whenever there is repentance, but if there is no repentance -- or if there is repentance from the repentance, as in the case of Nineveh -- God's judgment still falls. This is the unswerving character of God expressed in Nahum.

In some ways, the most interesting of the minor prophets is Habakkuk. I hope you will get acquainted with Habakkuk. This is a marvelous book, for here you have the answer to the eternal question "Why?" "Why does God let injustice prevail? Why does he allow the nations to run rampant over the poor and the downtrodden and the unoffending?" This is the book where the prophet is faced with the silence of God, and it looks as though God is doing nothing when the situation cries out for God to do something. In his agony the prophet calls out, "Why?" This book becomes the promise of ultimate answers. God finally answers the prophet, and his response is very remarkable. His first answer makes Habakkuk even more bewildered and more upset. But finally there comes the answer which satisfies his heart. If you are troubled with this great question "Why?" I suggest you study the prophet Habakkuk.

This book, by the way, was the basis of the Protestant Reformation. It is in this book that the phrase occurs which struck fire in the heart of Martin Luther and set in motion the wheels of the Reformation: "...the just shall live by his faith" (2:4b, KJV). This book is the basis of three New Testament books -- Romans, Galatians and Hebrews In each of these books this phrase is quoted: "The just shall live by faith." There is an emphasis peculiar to each. In Romans the emphasis is on "the just;" in Galatians it is on "shall live;" and in Hebrewsit is on "by faith." These books tie together beautifully in this way.

One of the shortest of the books is that by the prophet Zephaniah. Yet it is a book which is almost overwhelming in its darkness and gloom. The theme of this book is "the day of the Lord." It is a view of the back side of God's love -- in other words, his wrath. It is a book which sets forth the burning jealousy of God. The Bible frequently says that God is a jealous God. That doesn't mean jealousy as we usually think of it -- being suspicious all the time and looking for expected violations of love. It simply means that God loves so thoroughly, so completely, that he cannot brook a rival to his love. God will destroy anything which hurts his loved one. This is why he is sometimes so ruthless with us. When he sees us loving and clinging to things which are damaging and hurting us, God's jealousy comes in and says, "No, you can't have them." We plead with him and say, "Lord, let me keep them. Why, this friend I have -- I enjoy him so, or love her so! Let me keep her; let me have him." And God says, "No, you can't." So we have to give these things up. This book sets forth the jealousy of God. There could be no love on God's part if there were not the ultimate exercise of wrath. You say you can't accept a God of wrath? Then you can't believe in a God of love, because a God who can't get angry at what injures the person he loves is not capable of love. Zephaniah is the great prophet of God's jealousy.

The last three books of the Old Testament are those of the prophets who wrote after the Babylonian captivity. All the others prophesied before Israel and Judah went into captivity. The last three were the prophets after the exile -- Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. interestingly enough, these three prophets prophesied at the same time as Ezra and Nehemiah, so we have the historical section closing during the same time as the prophetic section.

The book of Haggai is the promise of material blessing. It reveals the link between the physical and the spiritual. Haggai was the prophet to the people who had forgotten God. They had abandoned the building of the Temple while they had been busy building their own houses and fixing up everything for themselves. Haggai was sent to remind them that men who do this are like the foolish people who killed the goose that laid the golden egg. All their material prosperity was directly related to their willingness to have God be central in their affairs. If they didn't begin to put God first, all their material prosperity would fade. This is the promise, then, of God's essentiality. We must have him in the center of our life, because our physical and material well-being can never be fully realized apart from God.

Zechariah is one of the most interesting books of the Old Testament. It is sometimes called the "apocalypse" of the Old Testament. "The Apocalypse" is another name for the book of The Revelation. Zechariah is "The Revelation" of the Old Testament, because it has very much the same features. It begins with a vision of horsemen riding out to patrol the earth, and it ends with a magnificent vision of the coming of the glory of God -- the second coming of Jesus Christ. We get the specific, literal prediction in this book that the Lord's feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, and that the mountain shall be split in half and a great valley formed. This is where the judgment of the nations will take place. So it is a book which is very closely related to the book of The Revelation. Its message is the promise of encouragement -- of the comfort of God. This is the book for dark days. If you are wondering how things are going to turn out, if it looks as though God is being defeated, read the book of Zechariah. There is mighty reassurance here.

The last book of the Old Testament is Malachi. These four brief chapters give the promise of God's responsibility. Again, this is an encouraging book, because it reveals God's answer to man's failure due to his blindness. It begins with God's asking Israel a number of questions. To each one Israel responds, "What? Why? Who -- us? What are you talking about?" They are utterly blind to what God is saying: He says, "You have robbed me." They say, "Wherein?" "You have failed to honor me." "Wherein?"

This is probably one of the most discouraging conditions of mankind. Have you ever gotten into this state? Has it ever struck you that it seems as if you are made responsible for your own spiritual welfare? And have you ever come to the place where you have felt tremendously depressed and have said, "Well, if it depends on me, I'll never make it. I am so blind that I don't even know when I am wrong. How can I possibly make it if I don't even see the things in my life which are wrong?"

Malachi is a great book for that condition, because it shows God's answer to the blindness of the heart. It shows that ultimately it is God's responsibility to break through that blindness and darkness and indifference, and to bring us again to the light.

The book closes with a magnificent view of the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, preceded by John the Baptist, and of what that coming would mean. Then it skips over to his second coming -- the dawning of the Sun of righteousness, who comes with healing in his wings finally to bring God's vision of glory to the earth.

In the New Testament, in First Thessalonians 5, the Apostle Paul prays (Verse 23b):

...may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23b RSV)

And you say, "How can it be?" The answer is in the next verse:

He who calls you is faithful, and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24 RSV)

This is the message of Malachi.

Prayer

Our Heavenly Father, we pray that our eyes may be opened to see great and mighty truths in this living Word. Teach our hearts to be hungry for it. Help us to know that it is very essential to life: that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. The reason some of us have not really been living, but merely existing, is that we haven't been willing to listen to your Word. Give us that willingness, Father. Break through our indifference and bring us to a vital, living, trusting faith which lays hold of you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Title: Things Surely to Be Believed; Part 2 Author: Ray C. Stedman
   Date:February 23 1964
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