“[…] That is how all the work of their hands is; whatever they present there is unclean.”
God doesn’t care so much about the sacrifice we are giving him as he does about what motivates us to give it. (Hag. 1:5)
We should not undermine our privilege of knowing and serving the true God by letting our worship become mechanical and superficial in nature.
Those who try to serve God hypocritically lose his blessing and his friendship.
On the other hand, if we ‘set our heart in our ways’ by trying to find joy in his service, we can experience more blessings than we could have imagined. (Hag. 2:7; Mal. 3:10)
“Jehovah has removed the judgments against you.
He has turned away your enemy.
The King of Israel, Jehovah, is in your midst.
You will fear calamity no more.”
Even if we have made mistakes in the past which offended God, we can trust that if we sincerely repent, God will not remain angry at us forever. (Ps. 86:5)
Jehovah disciplined his people in ancient times to the point that it was fair and just, and he will do the same to us today if we fall into sinful practices. (2 Tim. 3:16)
So we should never fear that we are inevitably separated from God.
If he has forgiven us, we in turn have to forgive ourselves.
“Are you not from everlasting, O Jehovah?
O my God, my Holy One, you do not die.”
To have an accurate knowledge of God, we need to understand who he is. (1 Tim. 2:3,4)
In the world, there is much confusion as to the role of Jesus.
But the Bible states clear differences between Jesus and his Father, Jehovah. (1 Tim. 2:5)
One of those differences is that Jehovah, God Almighty, cannot die. (Ps. 90:2; 1 Tim. 1:17)
As we all know, Jesus did die, and was resurrected on the third day by his father. (Acts 2:23,24)
So there is a clear difference in the person that is Jesus and the person who is Jehovah.
When we understand who Jehovah is, we can further appreciate other spiritual treasures, such as the value of prayer and the privilege of serving him. (Ja. 4:8)
“Look! On the mountains are the feet of one bringing good news,
The one proclaiming peace.”
Although the prophet Nahum wrote his book some time before Assyria’s destruction in 632 b.C.E., he confidently spoke of peace, trusting Jehovah God would fulfill his word.
Assyrian imperialism had long oppressed neighboring nations- among them, God’s own people.
Nahum knew Jehovah would not allow that cruel regime to continue forever. (Nah. 1:3)
We too can confidently proclaim good news of Christ’s kingdom if we have faith God will soon carry out his purpose of a peaceful earth. (Ro. 10:15; 2 Pet. 3:13)
“[…] Although I have fallen, I will rise up; Although I dwell in the darkness, Jehovah will be my light.”
When we sin against God, we can recover spiritually not by our own merits, but by God’s own undeserved mercy.
We should not take a spiritual fall in such a way that we believe it is impossible to recover.
Certainly, if our spiritual standing depended solely on ourselves, then in our imperfection, we might never be faithful. (Ro. 3:23)
But because God reaches out to those repentant in order to draw them back close to him, we can trust that full spiritual recovery is possible. (Mic. 7:18,19)
To benefit from his help, we must show humility and patience. (Mic. 7:9)
“And I said, ‘I have been driven away from your sight!
How will I gaze again upon your holy temple?’”
As Jonah sank to the depths of the ocean within the belly of the fish, his main concern was not the loss of his own life, his reputation nor material things.
He was not overcome by anxiety to the point of losing his mind or his priorities.
Jonah was deeply grieved because he would no longer be able to gaze upon Jehovah’s temple, the center for true worship.
When we are under great emotional stress, do we value our spiritual privileges above all else? (Ps. 84:10)
We may wonder if our presence before God makes any difference in the vast sea of humanity, but Jonah’s story demonstrates God cares about every one of us at the individual level. (Jon. 4:11)
No one can take any other person’s place before God to render another’s worship. (Matt. 22:37)
In that sense, we are each valuable and irreplaceable. (Jon. 2:9)
“You should not gloat over your brother’s day on the day of his misfortune,
You should not rejoice over the people of Judah on the day of their perishing,
And you should not speak so arrogantly on the day of their distress.”
Many Bible prophecies are directed toward the nation of Edom because they were distant relatives of the nations of Israel and Judah.
Edomites descended from Esau, the twin brother of Jacob (Israel). (Ge. 36:1; De. 2:4-6)
As such, God expected mutual respect between the Edomites and his people.
But this did not end up being the case; there was often war between both nations. (1 Sam. 14:47; 2 Sam. 8:13; 2 Ki. 14:7; Amos 1:11)
In this particular prophecy, Jehovah God warns the Edomites that when judgment came upon Jerusalem, they should not rejoice.
Nowadays, God’s servants do not war against others, but try to bring people a message of peace and hope. (Matt. 24:14)
Sometimes we are in situations where people who used to be friendly/receptive to God’s message are suddenly and inexplicably rude to us.
We should not rush to judge those people, saying they deserve whatever judgment may be coming their way, nor rejoice in the idea of their future calamity.