This week we finish up the Old Testament with Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi and head into the first four chapters of the New Testament with the Gospel of Matthew.
Haggai was one of the prophets who ministered after the return of the people from exile to Jerusalem. Both chapters of this book urge the people to proceed with the rebuilding of the temple.
Like Haggai, Zechariah ministered to the exiles after they returned to Jerusalem. His name means "Yahweh has remembered" and he was of the priestly line. The first six chapters deal mainly with the nation's past history told through a series of eight visions. Two years elapse between that and chapters 7-8 which deal with the question of whether the days of mourning for the destruction of the city should be kept any longer.
The last of the books of the Old Testament, Malachi is named for a prophet. And the name means "My messenger or God's messenger." There is virtually no biographical information concerning the author in this book and very little historical information for placing it as well. We can infer that Malachi was a prophet in Jerusalem at some point after the return of the exiles and probably before Nehemiah. He speaks out against lax religious and social behavior of the Israelites, in particular the priests.
Matthew is the first of the Gospels recorded in the New Testament and is also one of the three "synoptic Gospels" (meaning similar or together because they include some of the same stories in the same sequences and the same words - John is the exception). This Gospel is attributed to one of Jesus' disciples, Matthew the tax collector. And from the information and perspective he includes we can tell that he was writing to a primarily Jewish audience: he stresses Jewish law, he doesn't explain Jewish customs, and in the beginning of the Gospel he includes a genealogy which takes Jesus' ancestry all the way back to Father Abraham. There are seven main sections in this Gospel, with a prologue about Jesus' early life, five sections covering his ministry and the last section about his death and resurrection.
I hope you reading this week is full of new revelations. Here is the schedule:
20, Sunday: Zephaniah 3; Haggai 1-2; Zechariah 1
21, Monday: Zechariah 2-5
22, Tuesday: Zechariah 6-9
23, Wednesday: Zechariah 10-13
24, Thursday: Zechariah 14
25, Friday: Malachi 1-4
26, Saturday: Matthew 1-4
May God add His richest blessings to the reading, the hearing, the understanding and most importantly the living out of His Holy Word. Amen.