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19 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 1 — Malachi 1:1-2:9

Study 1  From the Book of Malachi is: Malachi 1:1-2:9


1.     1:1-5. The people of Judah, lolling upon their condition and circumstances, were depressed and murmuring against God. What proof did the prophet adduce to show that God did love them as a nation? Cf. Pss. 34:15, 16; 73:26-28.
2.     Of what particular sins were the priest guilty? With what will God punish them if the remain impenitent? What was the root of their failure?
3.     What, by contrast, do we learn should be the quality and objectives of our service as messengers of the Lord of host? Cf. 2:5-7, and cf. 2 Cor.6:3; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Pet. 4:10, 11.
Notes
1.     1:2-4. The Edomites were the descendants of Esau.
2.     1:5. ‘ Great is the Lord beyond the border of Israel’: the people had too small a conception of their God and this the prophet seeks to correct. Cf. verses 11, 14b
3.     1:8. Perfect, unblemished sacrifices were demanded (Lv. 1:3), and not the ‘rejects’ from the flock.


18 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 0 — The Introduction of the book of Malachi


Study 0 From the Book of Malachi is: The Introduction of the Book


Introduction

Malachi (the name means ‘my messenger’---see 3:1) was doubtless a contemporary of Ezra and Nehemiah. He attacked the evils which arose at Jerusalem after the Temple was rebuilt and its services re-established, evil of which we have historical record in the book of Nehemiah.  ‘The religious spirit of Malachi is that of the prayers of is that of the prayers of Ezra and Nehemiah’. There is an ancient tradition which regarded ‘Malachi’ as a pen name, and assigned the authorship to Ezra himself.

This book is the more significant because it closes the Old Testament revelation. As a link between the law and the gospel, it combines severe insistence on the necessity of purity and sincerity of heart with the sure promise of the coming of a Deliverer to those who fear the Lord. Finally (4:4-6), it appeals back to the law and the prophets (of whom Elijah is the chosen representative). The fuller revelation will not contradict, its preparatory stages. The people are to find in the spiritual authorities they already know (i.e., in the Old Testament) their assurance for accepting Him who should come. So, on the Mount of Transfiguration, when the Father called men to hear the So, Moses and Elijah stood by to give their assent and to provide evidence that He was the fulfilment of all their anticipation. See Mt. 17:3-5; Jn. 5:46.

17 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 9 — Zechariah 14

Study 9 From the Book of Zechariah is: Zechariah 14


Tomorrow we will start the book of Malachi

Verses 1-5 appear to be a prediction of the fall of Jerusalem in Ad 70, together with a prediction of the Lord’s return. In the Gospel (e.g., Lk. 21:20-28) these two events are also described as if they were one. Then follows an account of the blessings that will ensue.
1.     Verses 1-5 describe the breaking in of the day of the Lord. Who will at that time be gathered against Jerusalem. What will happen to the city and its inhabitants? When and in what manner will the Lord appear.
2.     In the day of the Lord what further results will come to pass as regards (A) Jerusalem (verses 6-11; cf. Rev. 22:1-5; Jn. 4:13, 14); (b) those who attacked Jerusalem (verses 12-15); and (c) the remnant of the nations that have escaped (verses 16-19)?
3.     Picture the city as described in verses 20, 21. Are you aiming to see that your life is holy in every part? Cf. 2 Cor. 7:1; 1 Thes. 3:13; 1 Pet. 1:15, 16.

Note. Verses 20, 21. Every aspect of the city’s life will bear the mark of holiness—business life, religious life and domestic life. Verse 20b. The pots which were used for mundane purposes shall be as holy as the bowls which held the blood of sacrifice.


16 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 8 — Zechariah 12 and 13

Study 8 From the Book of Zechariah is: Zechariah 12 and 13


These chapters contain a prophecy of a combined attack of many peoples upon Jerusalem and of the deliverance God will give (12:1-9), together with the repentance and cleansing which will be wrought within the nation by their vision and recognition of Him whom they pierced (12:10-13:9). The ultimate fulfilment of this prophecy will take place at the end of the present age (cf. Rom. 11:25-27), but it has a present application spirituality to all who belong to Him.
  1. What is the secret of Jerusalem’s survival when threatened by so many enemies gathered together against it (12:1-9; cf. 14:3)? Has the Christian similar hope of overcoming the world, the flesh and the devil? Cf. Ps. 27:1 Jn. 4:4; 5:4.
  2. What four experiences of God’s people are set forth in 12:10-13:9? Do you know them in your experience? (a) With 12:10-14, cf. Jn. 16:8, 9; Acts 2:37-40. (b) With 13:7-9. 1 Pet. 1:5-7.
Notes
  1. 12:11. Hadadrimmon is thought to be a city in the plain of Megiddo (or Jezreel), where King Josiah was killed, the darkest and saddest event in Jewish history (cf. 2 Ch. 35:22-25).
  2. 12:12-14.  Both the intensity and the universality of Israel's repentance are here emphasized.
  3. 13:2-6. The prophets, having been proved false, shall be ashamed, and will seek to disguise the fact that they prophesied. The wounds (verse 6) are either wounds self-inflicted in their prophetic frenzy (cf. 1 Ki. 18:28), are either wounds self-inflicted in their probably wounds received by them though the attacks of people upon them (cf. verse 3c).
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15 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 7 — Zechariah 11

Study 7 From the Book of Zechariah is: Zechariah 11


While plain in its main teaching, this chapter is obscure in many of its details. Its theme is grace and judgment. It opens with a vision of judgment sweeping over the land and making it desolate (verse 1-3). God shows to the prophet that the promises of the preceding chapter will not be realized without further uprisings of evil (cf. 10:2, 3a). In verses 4:17 the prophet is bidden to impersonate first a good shepherd, and when he was rejected and despised a worthless shepherd, under whom the flock will suffer many sorrow. The section is a vivid foreshadowing of the coming of Christ (verses 12, 13; cf. Mt. 26:14, 15; 27:9, 10).
  1. Verse 7. The good shepherd’s ‘two staffs’ (cf. ‘rod’ and ‘staff’ in Ps. 23:4) were named ‘Grace’ and ‘Union’, indicating that He came in grace to bind the flock into one. How far is this a picture of Christ? Cf. Jn. 1:14; 17:20-22.
  2. How is the lot of those who deliberately refuse the good described? Cf. Mt. 23:37, 38; 2 Thes. 2:8.
Notes
  1. Verses 7, 11. ‘Traffickers in the sheep’: ‘poor of the flock’ (AV) fits the context better.
  2. Verse 12. ‘Thirty shekels of silver’: the price of an injured slave (Ex. 21:32). Cf. Mt. 26:15; 27:9
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14 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 6 — Zechariah 9 and 10

Study 6  From the Book of Zechariah is: Zechariah 9 and 10

  1. The opening verses (9:1-8) are a prophecy of an invasion of Syria, Phoenicia and the country of the Philistines. The prophecy was historically fulfilled in the conquests of Alexander the Great. Bur, to whom is the prophet’s eye directed? How does this account, on the one hand, for the fall of Tyre, notwithstanding its wisdom, strong defences and wealth, and, on the other, for the preservation of Jerusalem? Cf. 9:15a and 2:5.
  2. In 9-12 a picture is presented of Zion’s King, in which, as often in the Old Testament, His first and second advents are merged into one. What is said (a) of His character; (b) of the manner of His coming; (c) of the final extent of His rule; and (d) of the benefits He brings? Cf. Ps. 40:2-3; Joel 3:16b; Is. 61:7.
  3. The remaining portion (9:13-10:12) has for its theme what God will yet do for His people Israel. Make a list of the things here promised, and reflect how they are symbols of spiritual blessings which are ours in Christ.
Notes
  1. 9:1-6. Hadrach and Aram are probably Syrian town; Hamath, Tyre and Sidon are Syrian neighbours; Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron and Ashdod (verse 5, 6) are Philistine towns
  2. 9:7. A prophecy of the abolition of idolatrous sacrifices, and the incorporation of the remnant of the Philistines among God’s people. The Jebusites were the original inhabitants of Jerusalem.
  3. 9:8. When Alexander invaded these parts and swept through the coastal nations, nothing could stop his armies, but he was restrained from attacking Jerusalem.
  4. 9:13-17. A prophecy of victory for Israel, when the enemy shall be trodden down like sling-stones and Israel lifted up like the Jewels of a crown. In verse 15b is another figure, representing the Israelites as drinking the blood of their enemies, with which they will be as full as the bowls used in sacrifice, or like the corners of the altar that were drenched in blood.
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13 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 5 — Zechariah 8

Study 5 From the Book of Zechariah is: Zechariah 8

  1. Enumerate the blessings which God here promises concerning Jerusalem, notice also the emphasis placed upon them by the number of times the phrase ‘says the Lord’ occurs. Is God less willing to fulfil to us the ‘precious and very great promises’ (2 Pet. 1:4)., which He has given us in Christ? Cf. Heb. 6:11-18
  2. What, however, are the conditions for obtaining the promises of God? In the light of the evidence we have of God’s willingness to give, where does the hindrance lie, if we are not enjoying in personal experience the things promised?
  3. What will ultimately happen to the fasts about which the deputation from Bethel had enquire in 7:2, 3?
Noted
  1. Verses 4, 5. ‘Old men…boys and girls playing…’ these indicate and illustrate the security and peace which is promised.
  2. Verse 10. Three evils are here spoken of from which the people suffered when God’s house was neglected, namely, scarcity, absence of security and disunion.
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12 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 4 — Zechariah 7


Study 4  From the Book of Zechariah is: Zechariah 7


See introduction. Zechariah’s answer to the delegation from Bethel consists of four parts, each beginning ‘And the word of the Lord came to me’. The first two  parts of his reply are contained in this chapter and the last two in chapter 8.
  1. With what did God find fault in these fast? See verses 5, 6 and contrast 1 Cor. 10:31. In the light of this part of the prophet’s reply, is there not much in men’s worship today that is not acceptable to God?
  2. With verses 9 and 10, cf. Is. 58:6, 7. Where does a man’s enmity towards his brother take its rise? Cf. Mk. 7:21, 22. What attitude of heart towards God had the Jews shown?
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11 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 3 — Zechariah 5 and 6

Study 3 From the Book of Zechariah is: Zechariah 5 and 6

  1. Chapter 5 contains a vivid vision concerning those who practice wickedness, and of wickedness itself. What is to be the eventual fate of such? Cf. 2 Tim. 2:19; 2 Thes. 1:7-10; Rev. 21:1-4, 8, 27.
  2. What is foreshadowed in 6:9-15 by the crowning, of the high priest, and by the prophetic declaration that ‘the man’ (verse 12) this signified shall be a priest upon his throne, and shall build the temple of the Lord? Cf. Jn. 2:19-22; Eph. 2:13, 19-22; Heb. 8:1; 10:11-13; 1 Pet. 2:5.
Notes
  1. 5:1-4. A vision of God’s judgement pursuing the transgressor.
  2. 5:6. ‘the ephah’: a barrel-shaped measure, having here a circular lid of lead.
  3. 5:11. ‘The land of Shinar’: Babylonia.
  4. 6:1-8. The vision in its details is difficult to interpret, but in general reveals the Lord ruling over the earth (verse 5), and exercising His judgment by unseen agents. Cf. 2 Ki. 6:15-17.
  5. 6:10, 11. A deputation from the Jews in Babylon had come to Jerusalem. Zechariah is commanded to make ‘a crown’ from some of the silver and gold which they had brought, and to set it on the head of the high priest.
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10 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 2 — Zechariah 3 and 4

Study 2  From the Book of Zechariah is: Zechariah 3 and 4

  1. Joshua, as high priest, acts as the representative of the people. How is the people’s guilt to be removed? By whose intervention is Satan rebuked and Joshua cleansed? Cf. Rom 8:31-34; Heb. 7:25; 9:26.
  2. What is the meaning of the vision of chapter 4? What is its relevance today? Cf. Ho. 1:7; 2 Cor. 10: 4, 5.
Note.  3:8, 9. ‘My servant’, ‘the Branch’, ‘the stone’ are all titles of the Messiah. Cf., e.g., Is. 28:16; 42:1; Je 23:5. The ‘seven facets’ may represent the omniscience of the Messiah. Cf. Rev. 5:6.

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09 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 1 — Zechariah 1 and 2

Study 1 From the Book of Zechariah is: Zechariah 1 and 2

  1. What do we learn from Zc. 1: 1-6 about the Word of the Lord and the different consequences of obeying and rejoicing it? What is and always will be true of it, whatever men do? With verse 6, cf. Mt. 5:18.
  2. In these chapters are three visions (1:7-17; 1:18-21; 2:1-13). How do these answer the following questions? (a) What is God’s real attitude towards Jerusalem? How can the nations which oppress them be subdued? (c) Can the city, now desolate, have any future?
  3. Consider how much that is said here of Jerusalem is true spiritually for us in Christ. See e.g., 2:5, 8b, 10-12. Is there not the same call, to us to believe, as there was to the people of Zechariah’s day? Cf. 2Cor. 1:20.
Notes
  1. 1:11. There was not sign of any stirring among the nation to fulfil God’s purposes toward Israel.
  2. 1:20, 21. ‘Four smiths’ : agents appointed by God to destroy the ‘horns’ (i.e. strength) of the nations.
  3. 2:4, 5 The proposed measurement of Jerusalem is cancelled for the reasons given here.
  4. 2:6 ‘The land of the North’: Babylon (or Persia), where they had been exiled. See verse 7
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08 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures — Study 0 — Zechariah Introduction

Study 0 From the Book of Zechariah is: Zechariah Introduction


Zechariah began his prophetic ministry two months after Haggai (see Zc. 1:1; Hg. 1:1). His book falls into two parts (chapters 1-8 and 9-14), and these are so different in character that many have thought that the second part must have been written by someone other than Zechariah. Such a supposition, however, is by no means necessary. The differences may be explained by the change of theme, and by the fact that the second part was written many years later than the first. A close study also reveals remarkable resemblances between the tow parts.
The first part of the book has to do mainly with the rebuilding and warning to the people and their rulers. After an opening call to repentance (1:1-6) there follows a series of eight visions, which supply an answer to doubts and questionings in the peoples’ minds. The first part closes with the prophet’s reply to an enquiry from the people of Bethel (7: 1-) about  the continuance of the fasts which the Jews had been observing in mourning for the calamities that had overtaken them.


The second part of the book consists of two oracles (a9-11 and 12-14). Both sections as David Baron says in his valuable commentary, treat of war between the heathen world and Israel, but ‘in the first judgment through which Gentile world power over Israel is finally destroyed, and Israel is finally destroyed, and Israel is endowed with strength to overcome all these enemies’, is the main theme; and in the second, the judgement through which ‘Israel itself is sifted and purged in the final great conflict between the nations, and transformed into the holy nation of the Lord, forms the leading topic.’
Zechariah’s writings foreshadow the appearance of Zion’s King both in meekness and in majesty, and declare both His rejection and His dominion over the whole earth. They are therefore frequently quoted in the New Testament with reference either to Christ first or to His second coming to the earth.


07 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 2 — Haggai 2

Study 2  From the Book of  Haggai is: Haggai 2


Tomorrow we start the book of Zechariah
  1. Picture the desolate scene and the despondency of the people (verse 3). But how did the prospect appear to Haggai’s eye of faith (verses 4-9)? On what grounds did he reassure them, and to what vision did he direct their eyes?
  2. Verses 1-19. How does Haggai show that (a) in the sanctified life contact with unholy things must be avoided, and that (b) mere contact with holy things is not sufficient? Is it possible to deceive ourselves today, as the Jews of Haggai’s day did? Cf. 2 Tim. 2:19-22.
  3. What will be the fate of all human activity and organization carried on without God, and what is the work that will stand, whose does are blessed from the day they set their hand to it? Cf. 1 Jn. 2:17. Why would Zerubbabel be safe when the Lord would shake the heavens and the earth?
Note. Verse 23. ‘Like a signet’: a symbol of honour and authority. Cf. Je. 22:24.

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06 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 1 — Haggai 1

Study 1  From the Book of Haggai is: Haggai 1

  1. How did the Jews of Haggai’s day reckon their priorities? What was the consequence? And what was the Lore’s command? What lesson did God wish them to learn? Is there a present-day application? Cf. Mt. 6:33.
  2. How had the people failed to live up to the purpose for which they had been allowed to return? Cf. Ezr. 1:2-4. Contrast their first beginnings with the conditions described by Haggai. Is this at all your experience? Cf. Rev. 2:4. What happened once they obeyed God’s voice?
Note. Verse 1. ‘The sixth month’ : corresponding to our August-September.
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05 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 0 — Haggai

Study 0 From the Book of Haggai is: The Introduction of the Book Haggai


The prophets Haggai and Zechariah are mentioned together in Ezra 5:1 as prophesying at that time in Jerusalem. Ezra 5 and 6 should be read in order to fit the ministry and God-given messages of these prophets into their historical setting.
The exact date of Haggai’s prophesying is given in Hg. 1:1 as being the second year of Darius, king of Persia, i.e., 520 BC. (cf.Zc.1:1). In 538 BC, the first company of exiles, under Zerubbabel, had returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, and had set about the work of rebuilding the Temple. But Samaritan opposition and intrigue proved too strong, and the work ceased (see Ezr. 4: 1-5, 24). The people became occupied with their own concerns, and said with regard to the Temple, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord’ (Hg. 1:2).

The prophecies of Haggai consist of four utterances, which contain repeated promises of God’s presence and blessing, if only the people will give themselves to the work of building the Lord’s house. Haggai’s words express for our instruction the abiding truth that God gives Himself and His best to those who fully honour Him and seek first His kingdom. There is no other hope of survival in the day of trouble and judgment, when God Himself will shake all things and reveal the worthlessness of every other boasted confidence (see Hg. 2:21-23; and cf. Heb. 12:25-27). Thus did Haggai, by the light of the Spirit of God, discern the truth about life’s immediate circumstances, and foresee the similar, if greater, certainties of the final consummation in the day of the Lord.


04 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 84 — Psalm 106:34-48

Study 84 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalm 106:34-48


Tomorrow we will study the book of Haggai

The ending of this psalm, particularly verses 45-47, suggests that, whereas the function of Ps. 105 was to stimulate obedience, the purpose of the historical retrospect here, which dismal though it is, is crowned by a reassertion of God’s steadfast love, is to strengthen faith among an exiled people, tempted to despair.
  1. A new generation entered Canaan (see Nu. 14:29-32; 26: 64, 65), but the sinning continued. What was their first failure, and to what sins of ever deeper degradation did it lead (verses 34-39)? How are Christians to avoid similar entanglement? Cf. 2 Cor.6:14-7:1; 1 Jn. 2:15-17.
  2. What wonderful comfort can we take from the fact which this psalm demonstrates, that man’s rebellion did not exhaust the compassion of God? See verses 1-5, 45-47. What challenge do these verses bring?
Note. Verse 48. Probably a doxology to mark the end of Book IV of the Psalms.

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03 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 83 — Psalm 106:1-33

Study 83 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalm 106: 1-33

This section consists of a summons to praise the Lord, a prayer, and then (verses 7-33) a confession of seven instances of Israel’s sin from the exodus to the entrance into Canaan.              
  1. What feature of Israel’s failure is mentioned three times in these verses, and what were some of its consequences? Dt. 8:11-20.
  2. Why did God, after delivering the Israelites, later overthrow them in the wilderness? Note the four things mentioned in verses 24, 25 which caused Him to change His attitude. With what awe and seriousness should the Christian take warning from this incident? Cf. Heb.3:12, 17-19; 4:1.
  3. The reference in verses 14, 15 is to Nu. 11 (see verses 4, 34). What inspired the Israelites’ request, and what serious consequence followed? The New Testament indicates that we are involved in a war with fleshly lusts. How are we to fight them? Cf. 1 Cor. 10:6; 1 Pet. 2:11; Gal. 5:16.
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02 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 82 — Psalm 105

Study 82  From the Book of Psalms is: Psalm 105


This psalm opens with a call to remember and recite the mighty deeds of the Lord. It is itself a historical retrospect, made we may surmise from verse 45; with a view to encouraging obedience to the redeeming Lord. ‘Remembering’ was never a merely intellectual process in Israel’s worship; it had a moral purpose.
  1. Verses 1-5. List the imperatives used here. Think of appropriate times when you should obey them. Cf. Ps. 119: 164. Might it be particularly helpful to turn to these verses and this psalm when depressed?
  2. What reason is given in verses 7-10 and 42 for God’s intervention on behalf of the Israelites? Cf. Lk. 1-72-74. For what similar reason do we know that He will not fail or forsake us? Cf. Heb. 13:5b, 6, 20, 21.
  3. What may we learn from this psalm about the ways in which God protected, delivered, trained and provided for His chosen people? Will He do less for us? Cf. 1 Sa.12:22.
Notes
  1. Verse 2. ‘Tell of’: the meaning is ‘meditate on’; but the Israelites seldom meditated silently.
  2. Verse 28b. A difficult clause. The Lxx omits ‘not’; and this may be the original reading. Or the Hebrew (see mg.) may be a rhetorical question, ‘Did they not rebel?’5
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01 September, 2017

Search The Scriptures —Study 81 — Psalm104

Study 81 From the Book of Psalms is: Psalm 104

This psalm has been described as a poetical version of Gn.1. The two chapters may be compared with profit. Note the measure of agreement.
  1. How is the dependence of the creature on the Creator brought out in verses 27-30? Cf. Ps. 145:15, 16; Gn. 1:29, 30. Ponder the beautiful picture of God which this affords. What ought it to make us do? Cf. Mt.6:25-33.
  2. Do we share the desires and resolves of the psalmist’s heart, as expressed in verses 31-35?
Note. Verse 26. ‘Leviathan’ here refers to the sea monster. Cf. Gn. 1:21; Am. 9:3 for similar references.
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