The Last Word: Zechariah 11 – 14, Malachi

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.
“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’”
Malachi 1:2a (NIV)

We’ve made it folks. The end of the Old Testament. No more prophets and history. Gone are the days of floods and fire raining onto gay cities. Exiles are done; the poets are dead. No more plagues and global annihilation (sans Revelation, but whatever). Kick off the sandals, readers; we’re headed for Christianity.

And it wouldn’t be the Old Testament without a final round of warnings from our last Minor Prophet Malachi. Just so that all the returned exiles are on the same page, Malachi writes a list of all the ways they have broken their covenant with God, including:

…offering inappropriate sacrifices
…men divorcing their young wives
…allowing evil to thrive
…withholding tithes
…leading others away from God

Luckily for the remaining remnant, this does not exactly apply to them, since they were faithful enough to return to the Promised Land (and by proxy, return to God).

To round things out, Malachi pitches up one more warning for all the people of Earth:

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” (4:5-6)

Yes, the final word of the Old Testament is “destruction.” How fitting.

My commentary is sparse on this – call it biblical fatigue. For those of you who may have noticed (read: no one noticed this, but), I hit the halfway point in my little project a few days ago, and today, I am finishing the first “half” of the Bible. However, some of your diehard fans (read: no one) may know offhand that the Old Testament is nearly four times as long as the New. So I have been reading 10ish chapters a day for the past six months while I plan on reading on only two with the latter part.

Why? Because I wanted to spend more time studying the New Testament.
Why? Because it is more interesting to me.
Why? Because I grew up Christian.

Why don’t Christians actively engage in the Old Testament? Why is it so difficult to focus and study these books?

Well… I –

I will leave that discussion for tomorrow. And then onward we will ride to Jesus.

Life Lessons: Zechariah 1 – 10

“Return to me,” declares the Lord Almighty, “and I will return to you.”
Zechariah 1:3b (NIV)

My mother had several all-encompassing mantras that applied to any given situation. Mothers are good for that, especially Italian, short, raised Catholic now Protestant, tough mothers.

Tornados always scared me growing up – it turned into an obsessive fear after some time. From May to August every year, my eyes were glued to the extended forecast on the Weather Channel. If storms lurked in distance, I spent the next week prepping for the occurrence, checking updates, watching radar, waiting, apprehending. A particular bad set of storms hit one evening. No one else took it seriously. I hid under the kitchen table. My mother crawled under with me, shivering and sweating, and told me that it was time to start wearing deodorant. I looked at her through my worry and asked why. She said:

Because cleanliness is next to godliness.

I thought she had made that up.

Another one: I rarely lied, out of fear of the wrath of the gods (my parents). My mother had a borderline psychic intuition that made any secret a time bomb. My first kiss was my sophomore year, to a young Asian girl from my art elective class. I walked her home. We kissed awkwardly. Then, I skipped on home with a giant smile on my face. I pranced straight into my living room – my mother looked at me dead in the eyes and said, you kissed a girl, didn’t you? I freaked out, shouting accusations and defenses. She laughed and playfully said:

Let your yes be yes and your no be no.

Don’t lie, even if it’s out of embarrassment. Yep.
My parents never cursed. We were not supposed to curse – a stark and never-broken rule in our household. But that confused me one day when my mother told me:

When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.
What does that mean? I asked.
I think that’s clear, she replied.
I thought we weren’t supposed to curse.
Another mantra: A well-placed curse gets the point across.

Life lessons from the 1950s apparently.

Zechariah goes about establishing a new norm for the Jewish people, post-exile. The days of Nebuchadnezzar are over; the Israelites have returned to their homeland. And now, we have a new prophet who is tasked with informing these fallen men and women of where they have been and where they are going now.

He gives us this to munch on:

“These are the things you are to do: Speak the truth to each other, and render true and sound judgment in your courts; do not plot evil against each other, and do not love to swear falsely. I hate all this,” declares the Lord.
Zechariah 8:16-17 (NIV)

I do not mean to imply that the “Law” is gone as we have come to know it, but this is certainly a shift in the paradigm. These are guidelines to living a sound and healthy life – an encapsulated way to end the Old Testament. A loving God, happy with His followers. Maybe it means…

But before I can say it, I can hear my mother saying:

Do not mistake a loving God with a relativist God.

The end comes tomorrow.