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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium Freedom!

In Jesus. 

Return from Exile: Malachi 4 (7)

Pray Psalm 51.10-13.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

Sing Psalm 51.10-13.
(Passion Chorale: O Sacred Head, Now Wounded)
Create in me a clean heart, renew me from within!
Take not Your Spirit from me because of all my sin.
Salvation’s joy restore, LORD, and keep me in Your hand;
thus shall I tell Your strong Word to sinners in the land.

Review Haggai 2.6-9; Zechariah 6.12, 13; Malachi 3.1.

1. To what did these prophets point forward?

2. To Whom do these prophecies refer?


The Old Testament unfolds in a series of cycles. God makes a promise and calls His people. They come gladly at first, only to turn away from Him and seek other gods. He sends prophets to indict His people, call them to repentance, and point forward to a great day of covenant renewal. Through all these cycles and the entire Old Testament, a faithful remnant looks to the Lord, clings to His Word, and hopes to realize His promises.

Thus, a primary lesson of the post-exilic period, and of all the Old Testament, is of the persistence of God’s grace. God does not change. His Word will not fail. His chosen people may be stiff-necked and have short memories, but God will do for them all that He has covenanted to do.

The period of Israel’s release from captivity in Babylon recapitulates their prior history with God. As the Old Testament draws to a close, God used this brief period to remind His people of His faithfulness and love, show them their continuing sin and rebellion, and point them forward to a great day of salvation and wrath.

But this cannot happen apart from His coming among them to assume all their frailties, bear all their burdens, and free them from captivity to self and sin. Throughout the Old Testament, as throughout the post-exilic period, the energy of Scripture rolls forward and accumulates until it finally breaks into history in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Desire of All Nations, the Messenger of the Covenant, and The Branch Who rules as Priest and King. Those whose hearts God has prepared will cling to His Word, look to His promises, receive His Son, and live in His Spirit. Captive at last to Jesus, we are fully and truly free in Him!

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
The Israelites, as captives in Egypt, needed someone to deliver them.

God tapped Moses on the shoulder to do this work. Understandably, he was concerned about his ability to do the work that God had called him to; but God said to him, “I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain” (Ex. 3.12). God promised to be with him; and that needed to be enough. Faith would carry Moses on to obedience; then he would have the assurance that God had called him—after he had done the work.

When the one hundred-and-twenty year old Moses was giving the leadership of the Israelites to Joshua, after their forty years of captivity in the wilderness, he spoke these encouraging words to him: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31.6). Moses knew from personal experience, the truth of this promise. Moreover, Joshua had observed the truth of this through Moses’ well-lived and obedient life. And in God’s personal call to Joshua He said, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Josh. 1.5). 

The Israelites, as captives to the Midianites, needed someone to deliver them.

God tapped Gideon on the shoulder to do this work. Understandably, Gideon was hesitant to assume this role; but God said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man” (Judg. 6.16). And Gideon went on to do just that.

God was with Haggai, Zechariah, Ezra, Nehemiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Malachi, Joseph, Moses, Joshua and all the other prophets and leaders of the Old Testament. Our forebears in the faith.

Then God sent His promised, only begotten Son, Jesus: The Desire of All Nations, the Messenger of the Covenant, and The Branch, Who rules as Priest and King. And this One called His twelve disciples, and many apostles, and future followers and participants in His Kingdom work—and you and me.

Tapped on the shoulder, we are called to take up the work of leading His captive saints into the freedom and truth of the Kingdom, and to invite others into His forgiveness, mercy, goodness, and grace. Understandably, we might be feeling like Moses, Joshua, Gideon, the disciples, and all those preceding us in this work: concerned with our ability and overwhelmed with this role. But God promises to be with us in the very same way that He guided, led, and loved them.

“I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13.5).
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (Jn. 14.18).
“…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you” (Acts 1.8)
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (Jms. 1.17, 18).

“Blessed be the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised.
There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.
May the LORD our God be with us, as He was with our fathers.
May He not leave us nor forsake us,
that He may incline our hearts to Himself,
to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes
and His judgments, which He commanded our fathers…
that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other.
Let your heart therefore be loyal to the LORD our God, to walk in His statutes
and keep His commandments…” (1 Kgs. 8.56-58,60, 61).

Captive to Jesus. Ready to trust and work (Eph. 2.10) as His followers, “fully and truly free in Him”!

For reflection
1. What are the primary lessons from Israel’s post-exilic experience?

2. How has your understanding of God and His Word grown during this study?

3. This period, like the rest of the Old Testament, points us to Jesus. How will you point to Jesus today?

We cannot come to God by Christ as our Priest, if we refuse to have him rule over us as our King. We have no real ground to think our peace is made with God, unless we try to keep his commandments. Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on Zechariah 6.9-15

Pray Psalm 51.14-19.
Pray that God will bring revival and renewal to His Church and a great awakening to Jesus over all the earth.

Sing Psalm 51.14-19.
Aughton: He Leadeth Me)
Deliver us, from guilt, O LORD, You Who have saved us by Your Word;
and let our tongues Your mercy bless, and sing of Your great righteousness!
Refrain vv. 15, 18
LORD, open now our lips to raise to You sweet songs of joyous praise!
Thus let Your favor on us fall, and build and strengthen Zion’s wall!

No sacrifice, no offering would You have us, Your people, bring;
but broken spirits, cleansed of lies, and pure hearts You will not despise.

Now build Your Church, raise high the wall of those who on Your mercy call.
And take our lives and let them be sweet sacrifices, LORD, to Thee!

T. M. and Susie Moore 

Two books can help us understand our own captivity and lead us to seek revival and renewal in the Lord. The Church Captive asks us to consider the ways the Church today has become captive to the world. And Revived! can help us find the way to renewal. Learn more and order your free copies by clicking here and here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable free by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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