Last Days Prophecy
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Gospel Briefs on Micah, Nahum, Habbakkuk, Zephaniah
MICAH Date written – 700 BC Author – Micah
Like the rest of GOD’S prophets, Micah is concerned with GOD’S judgment against Israel’s sin. Micah also speaks out against false hope that things will go well because they (Israel) are “GOD’S people” even if they are not acting like it. We often think of sin as something between us and GOD but it can be more than that. Micah emphasizes how Israel acted wickedly against even their own people and how GOD will bring judgment on them for it.
Micah was a native of Moresheth in Judah. He was a contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah. Micah is a shortened form of Micaiah, meaning who is like Jehovah?
He belonged to the territory of Judah but spoke to both Judah and Israel. Written sometime between 739 BC and 686 BC (the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah). His purpose in writing was to warn GOD’S people of coming judgment for sin and to offer hope, based upon the mercy of God.
His Book starts with the last words of another prophet, “Micaiah the son of Imlah” (1 Kings 22:28): “Hearken, O people, every one of you.”
The Book of Micah consists of three sections, each starting with a rebuke, “Hear ye,” and closing with a promise.
- #1 Micah chapters 1-2; Micah Warns Samaria and Jerusalem.
- #2 Micah chapters 3-5, particularly speaks to the princes and heads of the people; Evil Rulers Are Contrasted with the Promised One.
- #3 Micah chapters 6-7, in which the LORD is represented as holding a controversy with His people. GOD’S anger will flare, then subside.
The Book ends with a song of triumph at the great deliverance which the LORD will achieve for His people. The closing verse is quoted in the song of Zacharias (Luke 1:72-73). The prediction regarding the place “where Christ should be born,” is one of the most remarkable of Messianic prophecies (Micah 5:2), is quoted in Mat.2:6.
The following references to this Book in the New Testament are: Micah 5:2, Mat.2:6; John 7:42. . . . Micah 7:6, Mat.10:21, 35-36. . . . Micah 7:20, Luke 1:72-73.
Micah wrote to both kingdoms: North (Israel) and South (Judah). He was striving to expose sin, stating that GOD’S justice is required, but mercy is offered to those of humble and repentant hearts. Key words throughout the Book are judgment and mercy.
Key verses: #1 The definition of TRUE religion, Micah 6:8. #2 The birthplace of Christ announced, Micah 5:2. #3 How GOD disposes of the sins of believers, Micah 7:18-19.
I. General Divisions.
- #1 Mainly threatens of coming judgments, Micah 1-3.
- #2 Prophetic promises of deliverance, Micah 4-5.
- #3 Mainly exhortations and confessions of national sins coupled with promises of restoration, Micah 6-7.
II. Particular Sins Condemned.
- #1 Idolatry, Micah 1:7; 5:13.
- #2 Evil plans and devices, Micah 2:1.
- #3 Covetousness, Micah 2:2.
- #4 Greed of princes, prophets, and priests, Micah 3:2-11.
- #5 Witchcraft, Micah 5:12.
- #6 Dishonesty, Micah 6:10-12.
- #7 Universal corruption, Micah 7:2-4.
- #8 Treachery, Micah 7:5-6.
III. Future Hopes.
- #1 The establishment of a Righteous Kingdom, Micah 4:1-8.
- #2 The Coming of a Messianic King, Micah 5:2.
- #3 The reformation and restoration of the nation, Micah 7:7-17.
- #4 The complete triumph of divine grace, Micah 7:18-20.
MICAH’S CHARGES OF INJUSTICE
Micah boldly charged the people with many kinds of injustice, so much like that of today!
Plotting evil . . . Micah 2:1.
Fraud, coveting, violence . . . Micah 2:2.
Stealing, dishonesty . . . Micah 2:8.
Driving widows from their homes . . . Micah 2:9.
Hating good, loving evil . . . Micah 3:1-2.
Despising justice, distorting what is right . . . Micah 3:9.
Murder . . . Micah 3:10.
Taking bribes . . . Micah 3:11.
King Ahaz had participated in gross idolatrous abominations; setting up pagan idols in the Holy Temple, sacrificing his own son to idols, he sacrificed and burnt incense in the high places, on the hills, and under every green tree, took the vessels of the Temple, and cut them in pieces, he made altars in every corner of Jerusalem, and finally nailed the Temple door shut (2 Kings 16:3-4; 2 Chron. 28:2-4, 22-25).
When Hezekiah became king, the nation began a slow road to recovery and economic strength. Hezekiah probably heeded much of Micah’s advice.
Micah’s main message was predicting the fall of both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. This was GOD’S discipline upon the people. He actually was showing how much He cared for them. King Hezekiah’s good reign helped postpone Judah’s punishment.
The importance of Micah’s message was: choosing to live a life apart from the LORD God is simply making a pledge to sin, and sin always leads to GOD’S wrath, GOD’S judgment and eternal death in Hell. Only when we make a personal commitment to GOD, will He show us the way to eternal PEACE. His chastisement often keeps us on the right path.
NAHUM Date written – 650 BC Author – Nahum
Like Jonah, Nahum also prophesies against Ninevah. This time GOD is fed up with their sin and will bring destruction. Ninevah was the capital of Assyria and was viewed as a great and powerful nation. But no one can stand up to the wrath and judgment of GOD. GOD made good on His Word and destroyed them.
NAHUM means "consolation" and "vengeance". It symbolizes the "consolation" in the Book for GOD’S people, and the "vengeance" that would come upon their enemies. In the first Chapter, both consolation and vengeance are presented in turn. But as Nahum continues, vengeance on the capital of the Assyria takes over. Nahum is called "the Elkoshite" (Na. 1:1), from Elkosh, or Elkesi, a village in Galilee.
Capernaum, "village of Nahum," seems to have taken its name from Nahum having lived there, although he was born in Elkosh.
The time of his appearing in public is the key to the whole prophecy. It is certain that Nahum was a prophet in office while the Kingdom of Assyria was not only standing, but while it was in its glory and power, while it was a great danger and terror to those around it.
Nahum prophesied before the destruction of Sennacherib's army, because he foretold the death of Sennacherib (Na. 1:14). He appeared after Hoshea and the ten tribes were carried captives by Shalmaneser. This was probably in the sixth year of Hezekiah (2Ki. 18:10), a few years before the death of Shalmaneser, whose son Sennacherib succeeded, and invaded Egypt and Judah in the fourteenth year of Hezekiah, eight years after Samaria was taken and the ten tribes were taken captive.
Nahum is sent, a prophet by GOD, to quiet, support and encourage Hezekiah and his subjects against all the threats and power of Assyria, who threatened to destroy Judah and Jerusalem. The prophet declared the final and utter ruin of the great Assyrian empire and its capital city Nineveh, as a just revenge for all their arrogant oppressions of their neighbors, but especially in revenge of their repeated violence against Israel and Judah.
Nahum's prophecy was fulfilled in the destruction of Nineveh and the rebellion of the Assyrian monarchy, and the Jews were no more plagued by the Assyrian though they were by the Babylonian kingdom.
Nahum's graphic description of Sennacherib and his army (Na. 1:9-12) seems to indicate that he was in or near Jerusalem at the time. Check out the number of Scriptures corresponding to those of Isaiah (compare Na. 1:8-9 with Isa. 8:8; 10:23; Na. 2:10 with Isa. 24:1; 21:3; Na. 1:15 with Isa. 52:7). The prophecy in Nahum 1:14 probably refers to the murder of Sennacherib twenty years after his return from Palestine (Isa. 37:38). The date of Nahum's prophecies seems to be in the former years of Hezekiah. He plainly writes while the Assyrian power was yet strong (Na. 1:12; 2:11-13; 3:15-17).
The Problem of Assyria
Assyria was a country to the north and east of Israel. For many years, it ruled most of the world. Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah lived at that time. In 722 B.C. the Assyrians destroyed Israel. Judah was a country to the south of Israel. It had two or three tribes in it: Judah, Benjamin and possibly Simeon. Jerusalem was the capital of Judah.
The Assyrians destroyed Israel. The Assyrians took captive the people who lived in Israel away to Assyria. They did not take people away from Judah, but soon the Assyrians started to tell people in Judah what they must do. Sargon the Second and Sennacherib were kings of Assyria. They made people in Judah pay devastating taxes to Assyria. Judah's people were simply servants of Assyria.
The Assyrians were extremely cruel people. They threw away the dead bodies of soldiers. They burned the sons and daughters of their enemies. They burned their enemies’ cities. They murdered multitudes. The ground was red with blood. They put men onto sticks that had sharp points. They threw dead bodies on the mountains and into the rivers. The water in the rivers could not move because of all the dead bodies! They cut off the hands of kings, and nailed them to walls. They left their bodies for animals to eat. They did many other horrible things.
About 750 B.C. Nineveh became the capital of Assyria. It was on the east side of the River Tigris. There was a wall round it. The wall was nearly 100 kilometers long and nearly 40 meters high. It was very wide. Three horses and their chariots could drive together on it. 600,000 people lived in Nineveh. They grew food inside the walls of the city. It fed all the people. Nineveh had beautiful gardens. The gardens had rare plants and animals. Foreign slaves built it all. They built temples, palaces, libraries, etc.
1 kilometer = 0.621371192 miles . . . 1 meter = 3.2808399 feet
People thought that because Assyria was so strong, that no one could destroy it. They thought that no one would ever destroy Nineveh! In 626 B.C. one of their strongest kings died. After that, there were only weak kings. Two other countries became strong; the Scythians and the Babylonians. We do not know much about the Scythians, but the Babylonians destroyed Nineveh in 612 B.C.
The prophet Nahum predicted the destruction of Nineveh in the Book that bears his name. The following was what Nahum said would happen, how that great city would be destroyed:
An "overrunning flood" would "make an utter end of its place" (Na.1:8).
Nineveh would be destroyed while her inhabitants were "drunken like drunkards" (Na.1:10).
Nineveh would be unprotected because "fire shall devour the bars of your gates" (Na.3:13).
Nineveh would never recover, for their "injury has no healing" (Na.3:19).
The downfall of Nineveh would come with remarkable ease, like ripe figs falling when the tree is shaken (Na.3:12).
Nahum was GOD’S prophet! He spoke for GOD. Nineveh was destroyed, exactly as the LORD God, through Nahum, said it would be!
HABAKKUK Date written – 600 BC Author – Habakkuk
Habakkuk starts out with Habakkuk questioning the integrity of his own people, Israel. He calls for GOD’S judgment to come upon them for their wickedness. When GOD declares He will answer Habakkuk’s plea by bringing the Assyrian’s to destroy them Habakkuk is left with the question of why GOD would let someone even more wicked have victory over GOD’S people. GOD does not answer his question directly. Habakkuk is left with his question but with a new realization that even though he does not “Get it” that GOD does and that he just has to live by faith (Hab. 2:4)
Habakkuk is the eighth of the twelve Minor Prophets. #1. Hosea; #2. Joel; #3. Amos; #4. Obadiah; #5. Jonah; #6. Micah; #7. Nahum; #8. Habakkuk; #9. Zephaniah; #10. Haggai; #11. Zechariah; #12. Malachi.
"Minor" does NOT mean that these men of GOD have less important, less significant, less vital or less valuable things to say. That is not true. They were chosen by the LORD God, and what they have to say IS important! And much of what they have to say can be applied to us today . . . IF we are wise enough to admit it!
These wonderful men back up the "Major Prophets" many times. Major Prophets include: #1. Isaiah. #2. Jeremiah. #3. Lamentations. #4. Ezekiel. #5. Daniel.
Both the Major and Minor Prophets are often the least popular books of the Bible, possibly because of the difficult language and the seemingly constant warnings and condemnations recorded there. But there is SO much there for us to consider. Christ’s birth is in Isaiah and Micah. Christ’s atoning sacrifice in Isaiah. Christ’s Return is in Ezekiel, Daniel and Zechariah.
And we see GOD’S concern, grace, love, holiness, mercy, purity and wrath in ALL of the Prophets. For that reason alone, they are MOST worthy of our consideration and study, IF we have any concern for our eternal soul, and the souls of others.
There really is no reliable information on Habakkuk. He was possibly a member of the Levitical choir, because of the way he ends chapter 3. He was contemporary of Jeremiah and Zephaniah. Some say he came from the tribe of Levi; others say the tribe of Simeon. He was a native of Beth-zacar. It seems that he lived after the destruction of Nineveh, because he speaks of the Chaldeans, but makes no mention of the Assyrians. And he appears to have prophesied before the Jewish captivity (Hab.1:5; 2:1; 3:2,16-19). Some think that he may be placed in the reign of Jehoiakim, between the years 606 B.C. and 598 B.C. "Habakkuk" comes from a Hebrew word meaning to "embrace," meaning a "favorite" (namely, of GOD) and a "struggler" (for his country's good).
The time seems to have been about 610 B.C. because the Chaldeans attacked Jerusalem in the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim, 605 B.C. (Jer. 36:9). Habakkuk (Hab. 1:5-6) speaks of the Chaldeans as about to invade Judah, but not as having actually done so. In the second Chapter he proceeds to comfort his people by foretelling the humiliation of their conquerors, and that the vision will soon have its fulfillment. In the third Chapter a deep foreboding of the destruction of his country, competes with his hope that the enemy would be chastised. The third Chapter is an inspiring song dedicated "to the chief musician," surely intended to be used in the worship of GOD. It is "unequalled in majesty and splendor of language and imagery."
In the third chapter, Habakkuk celebrates the deliverances brought by GOD for His people in times past, as ground for assurance, and despite all their existing calamities, He will deliver them again. Hab. 3:16 shows that the invader is still coming, though as yet not arrived. Some say that Habakkuk lived to see the Babylonian exile (588 B.C), which would agree with his prophesying early in Jehoiakim's reign, about 610 B.C.
The Book of Habakkuk following Nahum is correct, for Nahum spoke of the judgments of the LORD on Assyria, for its violence against Israel, and Habakkuk, spoke on those inflicted by and on, the Chaldeans for the same reason.
Habakkuk's style is poetical and inspiring. There are some parallels: (Hab.3:19 with Ps.18:33; Hab.2:6 with Isa.14:4; Hab.2:14 with Isa.11:9).
The passage in Hab. 2:4, "The just shall live by his faith," is quoted by the apostle Paul in Romans 1:17. (Also see: Gal. 3:11; Heb.10:38). Acts 13:40-41 quotes Hab.1:5).
The prophecy of Habakkuk SEEMS to touch the seeming unequalness of the proceedings of GOD in the government of the world: where the good suffer evil and the evil rejoice in prosperity; the righteous are afflicted and the unrighteous prosper, and the worst people dominate the best. This greatly troubled David (Ps.73:1-14) and Jeremiah (Jer.12:1-6), and has always been matter of wonder to multitudes, as it was to Habakkuk, who lived in the times of great sin against GOD, and great injustice amongst men.
Some say it is possible Habakkuk lived and prophesied in the days of Manasseh (2 Ki. 21:10-15; 2 Chron. 33:2-17), when the wicked devoured those more righteous than himself; as this is the subject of his complaint (Hab.1:1-4). The abominable sins which then abounded, Habakkuk declares would be punished by the Chaldeans. It was terrible grief to him to foresee the wicked nation of the Chaldeans prosper in the ruins of a more righteous nation (Hab.1:5-11), but of which GOD commanded him to foretell.
From verse 12 to the end of chapter 1, and the second chapter, the sins of Judah and the sins of the Chaldeans are enumerated, and both nations are threatened with punishment. When the Chaldeans had punished Judah's sins, the Medes and Persians would punish the same sins of the Chaldeans. In all of this, the pure righteousness and the remarkable wisdom our Almighty GOD is clearly seen: #1. He in the control of His church, which are chastised for her sins against GOD; #2. and He is in control of the unbelieving world, which sin so horribly against GOD.
The prophet, with steady and diligent faith and fervent prayer, speaks to GOD in a most elegant way, recounting GOD’S mercy and faithfulness to His people (Hab.3:1-19), leaving it as a foundation to OUR hope and a marvelous pattern for OUR life. Habakkuk determines, as we should, to wait for, rejoice in, and submit to the LORD (Jam.4:6-10), in our greatest trials and tribulations.
Habakkuk chapter 3 is an excellent subject for our meditations in this day and time, just as it was in the days of the prophet. We can see him wrestling with the difficulties of that time, and we can see him lovingly embracing Almighty GOD, giving us a clue to our safest course in dire circumstances . . . grabbing hold and sticking close to GOD. May we never let go of Him! Grab hold of God and hang on to Him, for He is our hope of help in this life and our only hope of eternal life (John 3:15-18,36; 5:24; 8:24; 14:6; Acts 4:10-12; 1 John 5:11-13).
The Book abounds in striking expressions and rare words. The description of the invasion of the Chaldeans (Hab.1:6); of GOD as having "eyes too pure to behold evil" (Hab.1:13); of "men as fishes of the sea" (Hab.1:14); of the worship of the fisherman's net (Hab.1:16); of "the stone that crieth out" (Hab.2:11); of the folly of idolatry (Hab.2:18-19). Chapter 3 is especially rich in striking symbols (Hab.3:14-15).
This Book is remarkably unique. Habakkuk departs from the usual method of the other Prophets. In their addresses, the nation is central, but in Habakkuk . . . it is GOD and His control of the world. He tries to figure out why GOD tolerates oppression and wrong. Habakkuk voices his doubts to GOD with questions, but NOT against GOD.
As a poet, Habakkuk holds a high rank among the Hebrew prophets. The beautiful connection between the parts of his prophecy, its language, spirit, symbolism and inspiration cannot be admired too much; and his worshipful hymn in chapter 3, is considered by the best judges to be a masterpiece.
Like many of the Books before Zephaniah, it is a Book about GOD’S judgment on Israel for their sin but the Promise and hope of restoration to follow.
Author: Zephaniah 1:1 identifies the author of the Book of Zephaniah as the Prophet Zephaniah. The name Zephaniah means "defended by GOD."
The Book of Zephaniah was written during the reign of King Josiah (one of the few good kings), possibly in the early part of his reign, between 635 and 625 BC.
Reason for Writing: Zephaniah’s message of judgment and encouragement contains three major doctrines: (1). GOD is sovereign over ALL nations. (2). The wicked shall be punished and the righteous shall be blameless on Judgment Day. (3). GOD blesses those who repent and trust in Him.
Brief Summary: Zephaniah pronounces the LORD’S judgment on the entire Earth, on Judah, on the surrounding nations, on Jerusalem, and on ALL nations. This is followed by the proclamation of the LORD’S blessing on ALL nations and specifically on the faithful remnant of His people (Israel) in Judah.
Zephaniah had the boldness and courage to speak bluntly because he knew he was proclaiming the Word of the LORD. His Book begins with "The word of the LORD" and ends with "saith the LORD." He knew that none the many gods the people worshiped, nor even the power of the Assyrian army could save them. GOD is gracious and compassionate, but when people ignore His warnings, judgment can be expected. Judgment Day is often mentioned in the Scriptures. The prophets called it the "Day of the LORD." They referred to various events such as the fall of Jerusalem as indicators of GOD’S Day, each of which pointed toward the ultimate Day of the LORD.
Prophesy: The final blessings on Zion pronounced in 3:14-20 are mostly unfulfilled, leading us to conclude that these are Messianic prophecies that await the Second Coming of Christ Jesus to be completed. The LORD God has taken away our punishment only through Christ who came to die for the sins of His people (Zep.3:15; John 3:16). But . . . Israel has not yet recognized her true Saviour. This is yet to happen. Romans 11:25-27 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (KJV) . . . “The fulness of the Gentiles” began many years ago; when GOD called out the church. Acts 15:14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. (KJV) . . . It will conclude with the Rapture of the church (1 Thes.4:13-18).
“Mystery” needs to be explained. In Paul’s day there were ‘mystery’ religions. Today, a mystery is an unrevealed plot or person. In the Bible it is neither of these. In Scripture, mystery refers to something that was concealed in the Old Testament, but revealed in the New Testament. The mystery here is the identification of the fulness of the Gentiles which was NOT revealed in the Old Testament.
Many Jews have hard, unbelieving hearts; but this will last only until the complete number of Gentiles comes to Christ. After that, after the Rapture, GOD will start dealing with Israel in the Great Tribulation period. Millions of Jews will hear the Gospel brought to them by the 144,000 (Rev.7).
See our articles on the Rapture and Second Coming of Christ, and the Great Tribulation Period.
How can we apply the Book of Zephaniah to our life today? This prophet of 7th century B.C. could stand in our pulpits today and deliver the same message of judgment of the wicked and hope for the faithful. Zephaniah tells us that GOD is offended by the moral and religious sins of His people. GOD’S people will NOT escape punishment when they sin willfully. Punishment may be painful, but its purpose may be redemptive rather than corrective. GOD’S punishment of wickedness is certain! We do NOT have the Prophets . . . but we DO have the Word of GOD! We are free to disobey GOD but . . . we do NOT have the freedom to escape the penalties of our disobedience. Those who are faithful to GOD may be quite few, but He will NOT forget them, ever! (Mat.7:13-14). You do NOT ever want to hear the following words from Jesus: “I never knew you!” (Mat.7:23).
Is the Gospel in the Old Testament?
YES! It certainly is!
The GOSPEL is in the Old Testament
The Bible Helps us Better Understand GOD
Gospel Briefs in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers
Gospel Briefs in Deuteronomy and Joshua
Gospel Briefs in Judges and Ruth
Gospel Briefs in 1&2 Samuel and 1&2 Kings
Gospel Briefs in 1&2 Chronicles and Ezra
Gospel Briefs in Nehemiah and Esther
Gospel Briefs in Job and Psalms
Gospel Briefs in Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song
Gospel Briefs in Isaiah Chapters 1-33
Gospel Briefs in Isaiah Chapters 34-66
Gospel Briefs in Jeremiah and Lamantations
Gospel Briefs in Ezekiel and Daniel
Gospel Briefs in Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah and Jonah
Gospel Briefs in Micah, Nahum, Habbakkuk and Zephaniah
Gospel Briefs in Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi
The GOSPEL IS in the OLD Testament
The Gospel IS in Exodus Chapter 12
The Gospel IS in Isaiah Chapter 53
The Gospel IS in Psalm 90
The Gospel For the Jews IS in the Old Testament
The Gospel IS in Many Places in OT, Many rolls of JESUS!
The Gospel, Special Comments to OT Books
The Gospel, WHAT Does GOD want From YOU?
The Gospel, Which Is the Truth of the Gospel?