Matthew – Fulfillment of The Law
Luke – Lostness
Mark – The Simple Facts
John – Love of God
Before we dive into a new study of the Gospels, The Good News, let us first consider what the prophets said generations before the birth of the Good News, Jesus. God saw the condition of the world. God knew the hearts of His people. God spoke through prophets with understandable words of Truth promising a Messiah that would save the world, but most did not listen. Why?
Eugene Peterson explains the conditions of the hearts of people well, “Most of life is not lived in crisis—which is a good thing. Not many of us would be able to sustain a life of perpetual pain or loss or ecstasy or challenge. But crisis has this to say for it: In time of crisis everything, absolutely everything, is important and significant. Life itself is on the line. No word is casual, no action marginal. And almost always, God and our relationship with God is on the front page.”
“But during the humdrum times, when things are, as we tend to say, ‘normal’, our interest in God is crowded to the margins of our lives and we become preoccupied with ourselves. ‘Religion’ during such times is trivialized into asking ‘God-questions’—calling God into question or complaining about him, treating the worship of God as a mere hobby or diversion, managing our personal affairs (such as marriage) for our own convenience and disregarding what God has to say about them, going about our usual activities as if God were not involved in such dailiness.”
“The prophet Malachi is made to order for just such conditions. Malachi creates a crisis at a time when we are unaware of crisis. He wakes us up to the crisis of God during the times when the only thing we are concerned with is us. He keeps us on our toes, listening for God, waiting in anticipation for God, ready to respond to God, who is always coming to us.”
Immanuel, “God with us”, came, just as God said, after many long years of silence brought on by the disobedience of mankind. In Malachi 1:1, God told His people, “I love you” and they responded, “how have you loved us?” God-questions. Mankind is always questioning when humble faith is at the heart of the issue. Faith, we will learn from Jesus, is the real deciding factor for life abundant and free.
Yes, it had been 400 years since God had spoken to His people through the prophets. Micah’s word from God specifically spelled out the human condition apart from God. Through Micah, God told His people what was required of them to live well, to live in His will, to accomplish His purpose. The Lord God laid out his concerns using Micah as His “attorney” to lay His case before a whining, inattentive, unloving, disobedient people. Let’s listen in to the closing statements of God’s case.
The Lord’s Case against Israel
Listen to what the Lord is saying:
“Stand up and state your case against me.
Let the mountains and hills be called to witness your complaints.
2 And now, O mountains,
listen to the Lord’s complaint!
He has a case against his people.
He will bring charges against Israel.
3 “O my people, what have I done to you?
What have I done to make you tired of me?
4 For I brought you out of Egypt
and redeemed you from slavery.
I sent Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to help you.
5 Don’t you remember, my people,
how King Balak of Moab tried to have you cursed
and how Balaam son of Beor blessed you instead?
And remember your journey from Acacia Grove[a] to Gilgal,
when I, the Lord, did everything I could
to teach you about my faithfulness.”
6 What can we bring to the Lord?
Should we bring him burnt offerings?
Should we bow before God Most High
with offerings of yearling calves?
7 Should we offer him thousands of rams
and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children
to pay for our sins?
8 No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:1-8, New Living Translation
After the prophets spoke, people resumed their normal, much like we are doing after our COVID crisis in the world. In the middle of the “lockdown”, thousands turned their thoughts to God with questions of why are we going through us—”God-questions”—instead of daily laying their lives before Him as a living offering to begin or continue an intimate relationship with God. God doesn’t change in what He wants from us. “Do what is right, love mercy and walk humbly with God” in a holy, growing, intimate relationship with Him.
Many people around the world heard the Good News of Jesus’ saving grace because of God’s love for the first time. God doesn’t waste a single crisis moment in history for Truth telling! Because of the covid crisis, many have now found, accepted and believe Jesus and are now following Him. Are you one of them? I pray you are.
The Good News is just that—GOOD! Jesus died and rose again to save us from our selfishness and sin. We love God because He first loved us and sent His Son to save us! God does what He says He will do. Every. Time. I suggest a reading of Malachi and Micah to prepare for this study.
“I love you” –God
Tomorrow, it begins with Matthew. Join us as we dig for more treasures of Truth.
Abba, Father in Heaven,
Hallowed is Your Name. May Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in us and through us. Give us this day expectant hope of your return which guides our every thought and action. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptations to doubt or turn away but instead deliver us from evil and evil’s schemes to distract us from you and all that is good. For you have all power. Nothing is too hard for you. No one is like you, our Father God. No one. To You be all glory, honor and praise forevermore.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.