on Malachi

chapter 1 vv.1–5
Life may be hard, but see the waste
in Edom, realise
the love and grace of God you taste
so undeserved, though he applies
a chastening rod; – but Edom scorns
repentance – on their own
determine to rebuild – God warns
his anger will be known.

vv.6–14
Half–hearted worship,
blemished gifts,
contemptuous, contemptible:
God sees and he sifts.
His name will be honoured
throughout every land,
not tricked, always knowing
all that you intend.

chapter 2 vv.1–9
The covenant with Levi as priest,
was revere
the Lord God almighty,
and teach what is clear
and true, and
walk in uprightness and peace,
and many encourage
from sin’s ways to cease.

But now many stumble, –
not taught in God’s way.

So – the priests’ blessings crumble,
God rebukes them, he’ll humble,
and, unless they return,
his word no more spurn,
and follow his way,
impartial again,
– he’ll bring to them shame,
and his curses will stay.

chapter 2 vv.10–16
There should be unity, respect,
– for all claim God as Father:
his covenant some now reject,
break faith with one another,
in marrying foreign, heathen wives
who do not follow in God’s way,
nor honour him, his Word obey.

What good are tears, if no sincere
concern about known sin?
And marriage is a covenant dear –
to keep its vow begin
in guarding well your spirit’s thought,
and may your union give
a place where children can be taught
in godliness to live.

chapter 2:17–3:6
“Where is the God of justice?” – they say.
“God must be pleased with evil-doers, for
he’s not prevented
their ways perverted.”

Cynicism, sarcasm,
excuses, accusing,
and whining, complaining:
God weary.

Will they be ready for refining?
He does not change, and he is coming.
Waiting now, and giving warning
– a messenger will come preparing.

chapter 3:6–16
Deserving destruction,
half–hearted devotion,
with envy of evil that thrives.
Return with affection,
to end your affliction.
Return with the whole of your tithes;
the Lord does not change, his promise is sure,
his covenant mercy has proven secure.

vv.16–18
But those who truly feared the Lord,
talked of him, gave him honour:
the Lord was pleased with what he heard,
and counted them his treasure.
And on his scroll their names were stored.
It will be seen who truly serves.

chapter 4
A coming day of burning for
the wicked who can’t bear
the Lord almighty’s glorious presence, –
he will destroy their arrogance.

When Christ in righteousness appears
on that great day,
restored
each one who now his name reveres,
respects his Word:
in fullest joy, release, delight,
and healing in his glorious light.

‘Elijah’ comes before that day
to turn and to prepare
those who will hear and come God’s way,
else curse the land will bear.

On Zechariah

chapter 1 vv.1-17
The church of God may not appear
a strong, majestic sight:
a myrtle, when it’s bruised will bear
sweet scent by day or night.

“Return to me, and I,
I will return to you;
your sorrows I allowed,
to chasten, but the proud
who acted cruelly,
will taste my wrath.”

God sometimes waits a while to show
the church her deepest need
but Christ is there within to know
her troubles, intercede.

vv.18-21
Christ intercedes that God would grant
the church rich grace, for foes
surround her, hornlike, but they can’t
survive God’s timely blows.

chapter 2
Innumerable saved, in spacious home:
called from exile.
– He will come
to live among them, and surround,
protecting;
many nations will be found,
joining with him in that day.

chapter 3
The devil tempts men to despair,
and not believe God’s Word;
but Christ atoned, his church can wear
white garments, serve the LORD.

The temple and the offerings
were teaching things to come; –
a Branch from David’s line God brings –
his servant, saving One.

chapter 4
The Spirit of the LORD brings power abundant,
equips his servants in their work:
so mountain-tasks are levelled, and
tasks menial, small they must not shirk,
or yet despise: the all-seeing One has planned,
and will fulfill.

chapter 5
Scroll so wide, announcing, bringing
punishment to sin so flagrant:
theft and swearing falsely, sinning
against God and men earns judgment.

Wickedness must be enclosed
as a system, packed away
from God’s meeting place removed,
exiled far in jail to stay.

chapter 6 vv.1–8
God is at work both far and wide, –
his judgements, power and will applied;
though Israel feels the work is slow,
God’s kingdom will extend and grow.

vv.9–15
With gifts returned from far,
the priest is crowned as King:
the Branch will reign, a priest enthroned,
he’ll build the temple of the LORD, –
and labourers will come
from far away. Obey his Word.

chapter 7
For what do you feast, and for whom do you fast?
for God, or yourselves? for consider times past
when earlier prophets were sent with God’s Word
their hearers were hardened, ignored what they heard.
The  Lord, like a whirlwind, then scattered them far –
their land became desolate, pleasant no more.

Now, therefore give thought
to the life-guiding laws that he’s clearly taught.

chapter 8
God’s dwelling place of truth and holiness –
young and old in peace and happiness:
promises give motivation,
as do warnings from the past.

People come from every nation
to find God and truth at last.

chapter 9 vv.1–8
God warns those living round about,
but promises he’s watching out,
protecting his people,
and guarding his temple.

vv.9–13
Rejoice, a righteous King! and on a colt
he comes with his salvation.
He’ll rule, bring peace throughout the earth
and meanwhile guard this nation,
and all his covenant people.

vv.14–17
The  LORD will save with mighty hand,
and shield his flock, and people.
They’ll thrive, and sparkle in his land,
attractive as a jewel.

chapter 10 vv.1–3
Pray to the true LORD, and on him depend.
He is the Shepherd to teach and defend.
The comforts and visions of liars deceived,
and weakened the people, – their Shepherd was grieved.

vv.3–12
He strengthens, matures them
equips and restores.
The Ruler from Judah
arises and draws
both Judah and Joseph
– they’re gathered and glad.

His people from slavery returning,
from exile, the true God remembering,
unhindered, opposers brought low,
the strength of the LORD they will know.

chapter 11
Disaster and wailing,
calamatous failing.

The faithful Shepherd will be rejected,
– he’s undervalued, his price returned,
– thrown into the temple, to the potter.
‘Favour’ and ‘Union’  broken, – God’s Word
noted by some who acknowledge the LORD.

The land will wail again in time ahead,
exploiting evil leader rules instead,
the flock deserted.
‘May he be restrained,
confused and enfeebled, curtailed!’

chapter 12
The nations against God’s people.
God intervenes, makes strong,
confuses the foes, stirs panic, fear,
blindness of horses, ‘things’ go wrong,
but his leaders get wisdom and purpose clear.

Jerusalem: immovable rock of safety,
injuring rock of stumbling.

Mourning for the pierced Messiah.
Outpouring of God’s Spirit:
his people all repenting, praying, trusting.

chapter 13  vv.1–6
A fountain to cleanse from sin.
Idolatry scorned,
impurity mourned,
its influence broken,
the lies that have shaken
belief in God’s Word,
by many a false claim
are seen as absurd,
– discarded in shame,
with anger and blame.

vv.7–9
The LORD strikes his Shepherd, so dear,
the sheep then are scattered in fear,
and many know judgement unfold,
but some are refined by the fire like gold,
they call on his name, they’re the people of God.

chapter 14
Disaster for Jerusalem.
Then judgement on God’s enemies:
great cataclysmic day of the Lord:
attack, separation,
safety, consumation;
then constant light and living water.
Survivors join in joy and praise.
No other name, one Lord who stays
King of all the earth now fully,
and in his worship all is holy.

on Haggai

chapter 1
Great ambitions, expectations –
disappointments, and frustrations:
how we use our time and money
shows what matters to us, plainly;
tears and words don’t mean repentance
unless welded to obedience.

Luxuries and games and leisure
can become our life and treasure,
clogging up our days and stifling
worship, and God’s will neglecting;
weigh our souls down, cloud our vision,
God’s Words heard without perception.

Spending much but with no gain
of real value, to sustain,
and enrich, invigorate:
true discipleship can’t wait –
‘not yet’ whispers good intention –
truth demands our prompt attention;
blessing flows from faithful action.

chapter 2 vv.1–9
Strong in the work commanded,
almighty God is with them,
just as he’d covenanted,
His Spirit’s power will aid them.
And this is what’s important
– though less this temple’s state,
he here will be triumphant,
his glory will be great.

He’ll shake the nations, –
their need, their aspirations
he here will meet,
the hope desired will come,

and peace will be accomplished
for those who had been banished.

vv.10–19
Chemical contamination
angers many in our nation,
but concern for heart pollution
gets much less consideration.

Ceremonial defilement
is contagious, and containment
difficult, but it is harder
to pass goodness to each other.

Remember the years that were lost,
how great in the end was the cost,
and the danger to them and to others,
God’s Word not displayed to their neighbours.

vv.20–23
As at the exodus he will
shake powers, the obstinate will fall.

A signet ring sets seal to show
the will of him who owns it, – so
it guarantees what he will do.

This task no man can all fulfil,
only the Christ, Messiah will:

now Zerubbabel’s line will bring
King David’s greater Son and King.

on Zephaniah

chapter 1 vv.2,3
The Lord here declares
he must bring great destruction
over the face of this earth.

vv.4–13
Now, through Zephanaiah, gives warning to Judah:
soon they will suffer his day.
It won’t be a day of great blessing and pleasure, but
punishment, wailing, dismay:
idolatrous worship removed, –
complacency, compromise, shame,
swept away, and hypocrisy vain.
How many refused to believe it would come?

vv.14–18
The great day of the Lord is so near,
of bitterness, darkness, distress,
of trouble, and ruin, and fear,
for sin will bring fire through the earth,
and wealth cannot satisfy wrath .

chapter 2 vv.1–3
So what will you do, if you know he is coming?
Gather, consider, exhort, mercy praying.
The humble, obedient can ask for his care.
His anger must act, but they may still share
his shelter, protection and hope.

vv.4–15
His judgements will come to nations around,
(– their pride, and unkindness, and insults abound):
to the west, to the east, to the south, and the north
(no Assyrian attackers any more would break forth).
He’ll settle his people, the remnant of faith
where godlessness flourished and sneered,
and in all of the nations throughout all the earth,
he’ll be worshipped, he will be revered.

chapter 3 vv1–7
But now, Jerusalem –
with the righteous Lord within.
Officials, and prophets, and priests profane
the temple, and twist God’s law.
Her people see him punish
those lands, but won’t relinquish
their sins, they love corruption,
won’t fear, accept correction.

vv.8–20
God’s anger comes, consumes throughout the world,
and it is sure;
the Lord will form a holy people, pure.
Among the nations many will call out
to him, and serve.
God’s scattered people will be glad to come to worship.
The city purged of all the proud and vain,  –
the humble, trusting will remain.

And Zion will rejoice, have no more fear,
their punishment removed, no enemy now near;
their God, their Saviour will delight, rejoice,
and comfort,
gathering his people home:
the nations praise, amazed at what he’s done.

on Habakkuk

chapter 1:1–4
Habakkuk complaining,
praying, but no answering
intervention.
Why is God allowing
increase in wrongdoing, –
no prevention?

vv5–11
God almighty telling
what he will be doing:
wicked nation –
Babylonians – conquering,
guilty Judah losing
God’s protection.

vv.12–17
Greater perplexity:
God of eternity,
Holy Protector
of Israel, Redeemer:
how can he tolerate
those who eliminate
men less unrighteous
than they?
– with pride in their prowess,
and deaf to distress,
they worship their weapons, and strength,
exult.

chapter 2 v.1
A watchman –
waiting, watching, trusting, listening,
looking – expectant, no prejudging,
and willing for rebuke.

vv.2–4
God’s Word record,
and spread abroad.
Wait faithfully,
it’s certain;
– see,
his judgement’s near,
and is severe
on pride, and wickedness.

By faith we’re righteous,
have life full, precious,
so persevere, in faith.

vv.5–20
The day will come
when they’re undone
who boast and steal,
and make appeal
to idols;
– shame, disaster will
return for ill
they did. For no
escape from woe:
God’s justice day.

And the earth will be filled
with the knowledge of God,
the knowledge of God’s great glory,
as the waters cover the sea.
The Holy Lord
is on his throne.
Be quiet! for he alone
directs.

chapter 3
Reminders of God’s power,
reminders of his wrath,
reminders of his tender love
which never fails, keeps faith.
Reminders of his mercy,
and prayer for mercy, grace
in midst of wrath and judgement,
to shorten in that place
the trial of fierce chastisement.

With patience he will wait
the promised sure deliverance,
– in every straitened state,
rejoice in preservation,
in God, and his salvation;
with sure-footed confidence
to rise above each circumstance.

on Nahum

chapter 1:1–8
Who understands God’s holiness?
Who comprehends his wrath?
his feelings, faced with wickedness?
– its ‘wage’ he must pour forth
on sin and opposition,
dishonour to his name.
He’s jealous for full righteousness,
and all that is so precious;
His justice is perfection,
and cannot bear a stain.
Assyrian cruel aggressiveness,
when seeing those in helplessness,
will now be stopped, God will soon bring an end.

The time had been for turning,
when wrath had been held back; –
wrath powerful as the melting
volcanic rock, or whirlwind, ’quake,
or duststorm, flood or mountain-slide:

that power that can the mountains shake,
also protects,
– so trust, in him abide.

chapter 1:9–15
No plot against the Lord
will ultimately win –
entangled, drunk, consumed –
their downfall God will bring
despite their strength and allies –
God ends their cruel oppression,
and breaks poor Judah’s shackles,
and limits this affliction.

The messenger is coming
– good news – your vows fulfil
and worship with thanksgiving
for rescue from such ill.

chapters 2 & 3
Destruction, by destroyer:
they thought, ‘Impossible!’

No kingdom is for ever,
its power invincible,
except the kingdom of the Lord,
that only will remain;
and Jacob’s fame will be restored:
no Ninevah then seen.

Ruin, to those who with  ravaging raid,
pillaged and plundered, their folly displayed.
with clamour, confusion, and clattering noise,
brought terror and trembling, from lust that destroys,
so that casualties, corpses  piled up, people stumble.
Superpower dazzled – caused nations to tremble,
but see, in God’s time, it will wither, burn, crumble.
Wiped off the map and brushed off the earth
– gone all their wealth, and their name has no worth.

As Ninevah cruelly scourged once No–Amon (Thebes)
so Nahum now tells them their own end will come soon .

Relief, with rejoicing, their passing’s not mourned.
their cruelty’s crushed, as promised and warned.

Assyria – the tyrant’s end (Nahum and Isaiah 10:5-20)
He proudly plunders, plucking out
the eggs from undefended nests,
with haughty pride and boasting shout
– believes his strength brought these conquests.
He thinks he’s powerful and all-wise:
One greater far his strength supplies.

The mighty One who raised this rod,
afflicting those who scorned his Word,
will show who is the sovereign God,
– the plunderers have now incurred
his wrath for lies and cruelty:
they’ll lose their proud prosperity.

The wielded weapon wastes away, –
its strength struck, sapped; its splendour slain.
The Holy One will have his Day –
the weeds consumed, the farms aflame:
and no-one mourns this passing, all
rejoice to see the tyrant fall.

MICAH

chapter 1
Israel’s downfall soon is coming, –
Micah weeps and wails.
Judah needs to heed the warning –
false religion fails.

The Lord knows the state of each town, church and place,
whatever their names, or the claims they embrace.

chapter 2
Evil schemes may seem to be succeeding:
soon their judgement will be seen proceeding.

How easily you would accept
a prophet promising prosperity,
believing lies if they attract:
affluence with no accountability!

No denial of Word of God
will change truth; but
one day he, the Lord,
his scattered flock will gather,  bring,
led to safety by their King.

chapter 3
Leaders destroy like wild savage beasts,
and men-pleasing prophets who peddle for profits,
all soon come to darkness, and shame:
no help when they call on God’s name.

Those who should build, bring to ruin.
Micah is filled with the Spirit of the Lord,
with justice and might, to declare righteous Word.

chapter 4 vv.1–5 (c.f.Isaiah ch.2)
But soon there’ll be a day we’ll see
the nations coming, full
of worship, praise, unitedly,
God’s laws beloved by all –
in every land they’ll live in peace,
draw near before his throne,
delight to follow, strife will cease.

While others now still trust amiss,
the Lord we will confess, –
Oh may his day come soon!

vv.6,7
It is often the weak who look to the Lord
and acknowledge his Kingship once more.
The Lord will be ruling, his kingdom restored.

vv.8–13
Exile before rescue, and much afraid;
hardship, rebukes they could not evade,
but their Lord will redeem them from all of their woes,
and his people will serve him, and crush his foes,
[The conquerors know not the thoughts of the Lord
– their ill-gotten wealth in his lap will be poured];

chapter 5
Though the ruler of Israel will from them be taken,
a King will arise so much greater – from Bethlehem –
eternal, to be perfect King, as none other
could be, or had been – He is Shepherd, and Trainer,
Protector and Strengthener, his flock he will mould,
and they will arise in the nations, be bold
in face of the enemies, and witness his Word.

To them in that day, the Spirit’s truth-sword
exposes false trust, and they live as they should.
But judgement for all those who scorn the true Lord,

chapter 6
Forgetful of redemption,
forgetful of past grace,
forgetful of his judgement:
God wants true righteousness
in all their daily living,
for sacrifice is vain
unless by faith they’re giving
the justice, love, they claim.

chapter 7 vv.1–7
No fruit any more,
just brier and thorn;
perverting the law,
and skilled to do harm
by bribe and bad scheme –
friends aren’t what they seem,
and family affection
no more,
just confusion,
but the day of their watchmen has come
the day that God visits their home.
My Saviour will hear,
and he will appear:
I wait and I watch, in hope that is certain.

vv.7–13
God’s people true, chastised, are not deserted.
The enemy will not devour and reign, – soon they’re examined.
God’s people they had taunted.

True Israel in contrition bears the rod,
and waits in hope the tender care of God.
He’ll build his city,  drawing in:
extended kingdom, honouring its King.

Rebellious action
brings desolation.

vv.14–20
“O shepherd your people, and let many see
your wonders, and fear you, and come tremblingly;
– your enemies no longer ignoring, resisting,
or hiding,
but powerless and silenced,
ashamed.

Who could ever compare with you?
forgiving the sins of your people true?
delighting in dealing in mercy anew,
as long ago promised, our sins you subdue
and pardon.”

His grace is abundant and true.

on Jonah

on chapter 1 & 2
If I’m not honest when I fail,
let down my God, I may
cause some to suffer as I hide:
I should seek God and pray.

For salvation can only come from
the Lord and Saviour, and he commanded
the fish that he provided,
to bring Jonah to dry land.

God takes his chosen time to teach,
through darkness he may lead
in love, that I may hear his voice
and feel my guilt and need.

In quietness, distractions gone,
He shows I’m small and weak,
and what a privilege if he
wants me for him to speak.

If God delivers and forgives,
commissions you once more,
don’t take it easy, or presume,
– his Word do not ignore.
Tune: I know whom I have believed by J McGranahan

on chapters 3 & 4
The Ninevites heard, and God’s message believed.
They humbled themselves, and repented, and grieved.
They called on the Lord God, acknowledged their sin; –
their hope of remission was slender and thin.
Mercy and grace, mercy and grace:
seek God while he still offers mercy and grace.

Those men had discovered their lives soon would end.
They realised their sin,  – that they could not defend
themselves, when before God the Judge they would stand,
receiving their punishment by his command.

And God had compassion: he saw how they turned,
and did not bring on them the judgement they’d earned;
but Jonah was angry, and seemed to forget
he also to mercy and grace was in debt.
Mercy and grace, mercy and grace:
seek God while he still offers mercy and grace.

Tune: 11 11 11 11+ eg Shelter (Hiding in Thee) by Ira D Sankey

Obadiah

Brother Israel was successful,
blessed and strong was Jacob’s race;
but frustrated Edom’s malice
festered: they did not seek grace.
But the Kingdom is Jehovah’s
– he who sees and will repay.
Holy is the church and people
he redeems for that great day
.

Violence, gloating at disaster,
and withholding helping hand,
robbing, looting vanquished Judah,
vile to those who fled their land.

‘Who can bring me down?’ – the LORD can.
Pride deceives – he’ll make you small;
friends will trap, and wise men fail you,
warriors won’t prevent your fall.

God can stop the strongest armies; –
he releases, and restrains.
They who drink ungodly pleasures,
drink the judgement he ordains.

Day of God draws near, consuming
fire his foes will have to face
if they’re not transformed, made faithful,
while it’s still the Day of grace.

Spacious, peaceful is God’s kingdom
for the faithful of the LORD:
stable leaders fed with Scripture
to the world will take his Word.
But the Kingdom is Jehovah’s
– he who sees and will repay.
Holy is the church and people
he redeems for that great day

Amos

chapter 1:1-2:3
Not immediate, God’s judgement,
patient waiting for a turn,
but an end comes to postponement,
and the Lion’s breath must burn.
He is watching all the nations,
all their cruel deeds he sees,
and there’ll be a day of reckoning
by the standards he decrees.

chapter 2:4–6
Judah also had great guilt
– knowing, owing, so much more.
God would weaken forts they’d built,
for they had not kept his law.

chapter 2:7–16
Israel also heard described
how their sins compared – they’d known
more than neighbours they’d despised:
blessings scorned, –  but soon they’ll groan
pride and strength will all be gone.

chapter 3
Saved from Egypt: Why? For what?
hand in hand with God? or not?
[Egypt sees their sinful ways]
Warnings clear to heed – who prays?:
Pampered lifestyles swept away,
empty worship stopped that day.

chapter 4
Women’s influence, and neglect
of the good that they could do, –
seen, – and soon they will be hooked.

All should be preparing to
meet their God, but in the past
they had not returned, though sent
many a wake-up warning judgement.

“Go to worship”, – God, aghast
knows their insincere intent.

chapter 5 and chapter 3:12
How sad to see
what is to be
when God acts on his Word
of judgment, though
he longs to show
his mercy: seek the Lord.

‘You don’t fulfil
my Word, my will:
to be a witness, light.
You think I’ll bless,
but bitterness
comes from your courts, not right.

‘The poor you hurt,
and treat as dirt,
your worship insincere.
You truth despise,
accepting lies:
your wealth will disappear.’

You think his day
will be display
of glory, not distress.
His grace you’ll know
if you will show
repentance, kindliness.

Seek God and live,
he will forgive,
pour mighty mercy on you.
Seek only good,
live as you should,
put evil far off from you.

He forms the light,
and brings the night,
created great Orion;
and who can hide? –
he’ll open wide
defences strong, to ruin.

And they will wail
to no avail,
who had refused his offer.
The nation gone, –
only a ‘bone’ (cf.3:12)
learnt trust through all they suffer.

chapter 6
Complacent leaders, men of ease,
living proudly as they please –
(prime positions, prosperous land) –
feel secure, but God’s command
puts them first in guilt, and ends
their lounging pride, by war he sends.

chapter 7
Pleas for mercy, mercy given;
but a plumb-line to the nation.
Amaziah would not listen,
Amos had to speak as bidden:
judgement comes and exile’s certain.

chapter 8
Not ripe for fruitfulness, ripe for judgement,
with wailing, silence at massacre turbulent.

Their mind on their commerce while saying their prayers,
and cheating – their deals were dishonest affairs,
hurting the poor and the needy.

God’s Words long rejected,
despised or neglected,
would soon not be found
(disaster profound);
– you could not imagine
a worse kind of famine.

chapter 9
Dreadful final vision: gone the
special love, protection, care.
God is Sovereign everywhere.
No escape to hide, though confident.

Yet he still has some, true, – measured
by the plumb-line and the sieve,
and will build his people glorious –
ever in his land to live.
vv.11,12,15, Acts15:16
King Christ, Son of David, who sin’s wages bore,
the blessings with permanence can fully restore.
and gentiles come into the church evermore.