In recent weeks we have been looking at the Prophets in our Wednesday Bible Study. Generally these prophetic books contain warnings and messages of doom and gloom, but they also contain visions of hope. As we looked at their message, we could feel the frustration at human sin, stubbornness, and apathy. The prophets knew that there was a close link between human disregard for God, idolatry, and social injustice. And so they called the people of Israel and Judah towards a relationship with God, towards lives responsive to God, and to social justice.
The Prophets also were quite clear that God is acting in history, that God will bring about his purposes in the world. In the end it is not the big empires that determine everything. The people of God certainly should not give their allegiance to these empires or think that salvation would come through association with some political power or the other. Rather, the people of God need to do what is right before God, need to seek to do God’s will. As such they are called to discern that will for their time and their situation. Our context may change, but God’s principles of justice, mercy and faithfulness do not. Indeed, Jesus also tells us not to neglect these important matters—justice, mercy and faithfulness (Matthew 23:23).
Our guide to the prophet Haggai gave the following summary of the book that remains a challenge to every generation of God’s people:
- Our choices really matter;
- The faithfulness and obedience of God’s people is part of how God has chosen to work out his purposes in the world;
- This should motivate humility and action in God’s people as they look forward to God’s coming kingdom.
While God clearly has other hands than these our hands, we can participate in God’s mission to the world. How exciting is that!