Malachi’s final message from God:
The end of the world is fast approaching, when I will burn all bad people and save all the righteous people who followed the laws that I told Moses several thousand years ago. So get ready! But don’t panic! You’ll know the day is nigh because I will send Elijah back to get you all ready!
And so ends (most Protestant versions of ) the Old Testaments. Some commentary and observations gleaned from this most careful read through. The most common denunciations that showed up again and again in most of the books (aside from cheating on god with other gods) were 1) Don’t oppress poor people, especially widows and fatherless children; 2) Don’t oppress “sojourners” (i.e. immigrants); and don’t lie, cheat, or bamboozle for your own gain. Sure there was lots of genocide, war, rape, rampant misogyny, insane family dramas, two long-ass books of obscure and often contradictory laws, and wacky prophets who we would totally medicate when/if they weren’t free-range homeless men, but Israel/Judah’s most common sin (aside from cheating) was allowing the powerful to unjustly oppress the powerless and poor.
I’m travelling next week, but when I get back, I guess I will start the New Testament (still using the ESV translation). I might as well see this thing through!
God says that one of these days, all the nations of the world will unite in battle against Jerusalem. The city will fall on the first attack. It will be plundered and all the women raped and half the people will be sent into exile. But then on the second attack, God will enter the battle and defeat the enemies by causing them to rot. Like their eyes and their tongues will rot like the Nazis who looked in the Ark of the Covenant in Indiana Jones! It will stand on the Mount of Olives and that mountain will split into and everyone will flee in terror! And then, it will always be spring and summer and always twilight! And two rivers will begin flowing from Jerusalem in different directions, like it’s the continental divide! And the only mountain will be the one Jerusalem is on! Everything else will be flat! And all the riches of the world will flow into Jerusalem! It will be the richest place on earth! And God will live there and be king of the world! And anyone who doesn’t worship It will suffer drought and starvation! And bells will all chime hymns! Everything will be great!
(So ends Zechariah. There is only one more Old Testament book left!)
When Judah becomes the center of the world, the untouchable bastion of God–after the 2/3 of people who God doesn’t like are finally smited by It–well, in that day, there will be no more idol worship. Everyone will worship God. And there will be no more prophets. Anyone who claims to be a prophet will be lying! And will deserve immediate and painful death. Stone them! In fact, at that time, if someone does have visions, they will lie about them and keep them secret. Because in that day, God will punish any religious leader that tries to lead people from the one true path, as dictated by It.
Zechariah told everyone that God told him that next time some other country tried to fuck with Judah or tried to besiege Jerusalem, things would go down different, yo. Next time, God would make all the enemy horses blind. Next time, God would make sure all the Jews received salvation first. All the other nations would be second. Or third. Or destroyed. And then, all the Jews will be really sad that their ancestors ever cheated on God or did It dirt, and everyone will go into mourning– the king and all his wives, the priests and all their wives, and every tribal leader and all their wives, etc. will seclude themselves with their families and mourn.
When God decided it loved Judah and Israel again, It decided that it was also time to curse every neighboring country and kingdom, including Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, and Philistia. Then the peace will reign in Mesopotamia and the Jews will prosper and be happy.
Zechariah had a vision of the High Priest Joshua. In it, Joshua, his defense angel, and D.A. Satan stood before God. But before Satan could accuse Joshua, God said, Shut up, Satan! I love Joshua and he represents all the Jews, whom I’ve forgiven. Case dismissed! Then the angel gave Joshua shiny new threads and was all, Look, Josh, God really likes you, and if you always obey It and follow Its rules, you will be Its seven-faceted diamond, and God will bring peace on earth!
Zephaniah declared, Woe to Jerusalem, that hotbed of corrupt politicians and religious leaders! God’s punishments are always just, so when It destroys a place, like it will Jerusalem, that place and its people deserve it! But one day, when everyone in the world speaks the same language, they will also turn to the one true God–the Hebrew God–and then the world will be perfect. There will be no more lies or corruption or greed or injustice! Then Jerusalem will be restored and will be the center of the world! So everyone rejoice that God will eventually raise you up, even if it first destroys you!
Woe is me! I feel as used up and barren the field after harvest. I feel so alone. Because it seems like only sinners and evildoers are left in the world. I mean, you can’t trust anyone! You can’t trust your neighbor – he’ll screw you over! You can’t trust your wife –she’ll broadcast your secrets all over town! You can trust your kids – they totally defy you and are complete dicks! Don’t gloat yet, haters! Because whenI look like I’m down, that’s when God’s gonna lift me up!
But God will eventually forgive Its chosen children to give us back the promised land. One day, God, all the people will come worship you like they’re supposed to. From Egypt to Assyria, from sea to shining sea, your righteous worshipers will rule! All the rest of the world will be a barren wasteland, and every other nation will be sad and ashamed.
(The end. The next few books are really short!)
In that future time, Micah bellowed, the once and future King will be born in the wee city of Bethlehem! That King will bring glory back to Judah! And when the Assyrians come again to conquer us and they will be conquered! People in exile will be returned! And in that time God will destroy the armies and strongholds! It will destroy fortunetellers and psychics! It will destroy idols and Asherim! In anger and wrath, It will destroy all nations that do not obey!
But it’s not all bad, guys, continued Micah. God will raise a mountain! The highest mountain! That mountain will be the center of the world. From far and near people will come to learn God’s rules. There will be peace! There’ll be prosperity! Swords will be beaten to plowshares! Spears to pruning hooks! Exiles will come home! The disabled will be honored! Jerusalem will be the best city in the world! So don’t cry, people! Even if everything sucks right now. It’s your own fault that everyone is wailing like women in labor. I know it seems like the whole world is against you. Right now they are. Judah will lose, her people will be taken to exile in Babylon. But it’s all okay! Because of that mountain. Because God will redeem and forgive you. Eventually.