The Heart of God: Exile and Return (7)
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Luke 24.27
Read and meditate on Nehemiah 8-10, 13, and the book of Malachi.
We still have one large section of the Old Testament to consider, that of the sacred writings. But the story of God’s covenant comes to an end with an actual restoration, and the promise of a greater restoration yet to come.
1. How would you describe the heart of God’s people toward Him in the chapters assigned from Nehemiah? In what ways is this similar to other periods of revival and renewal we’ve seen previously?
2. How would you describe the covenant consciousness of the Levites and other leaders revealed in their prayer in chapter 9? Can you identify all three of the unifying threads of revelation there?
3. From Nehemiah 9, it seems that keeping covenant with God is a matter of remembering both His faithfulness in times past and His promises for the days to come – looking back, looking ahead. How should we apply this principle to our own walk with and work for the Lord?
4. In Malachi it is clear God’s people have once again begun to drift from Him. In what ways? How does this happen? Whom does Malachi single out for blame?
5. Like many of the prophets before him, Malachi points forward to a day of restoration, a day which comes in two stages. Explain.
God is faithful to His Word and covenant, even though His people tend to be fickle and feeble in faith. Throughout the Old Testament, periods of revival and renewal are interspersed with periods of drift and decline. But always the Word of God remains, and the prophets of the Lord point the people to Him and His promises, encouraging them to turn from their sins and wait on the Lord. What can we learn about the power of grace from the story of Israel in the Old Testament?
When the LORD brought back the captivity of Zion,
We were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
And our tongue with singing.
Then they said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us,
And we are glad.
Bring back our captivity, O LORD,
As the streams in the South.
Those who sow in tears
Shall reap in joy.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.
T. M. Moore
Two books can help you gain a fuller understanding of the terrain we will be covering in this series. Kingdom Documentsprovides a concise overview of the primary teaching of the Old and New Testaments, and shows, through early Church creeds, how our forebears understood the primary teachings of God’s Word. (click here to order). I Will Be Your Goddevelops more fully the idea of God’s covenant and leads us to consider the practical implications of our covenant relationship with God (click here).
Visit The Ailbe Seminary, where our course, Introduction to Biblical Theology, offers a parallel study of our theme in this series, using brief video presentations and the workbook God’s Covenant: An Introduction. All courses at The Ailbe Seminary are available without charge.
We are happy to be able to offer each week’s Scriptorium studies in a free weekly PDF, suitable for personal or group use. You can download all the studies in this series by clicking here. Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.