Prayer

A Christian is not without contact with God.  Prayer in its various forms is the normal contact with the transcendent reality, whatever name we place on it.  The ceremony of all religions is the point of contact with the divine.  Prayer can and should be both personal and public.  Thus, the Christian never forgets the admonition to pray always.  He or she remembers the great prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.”  The importance of prayer is like good communication.  Take time to pray.  Develop a personal prayer life.  Faith without prayer is impossible.  Request, give honor, praise, thank, listen, and share verbal and non-verbal prayer.  Prayer is the breath of the Christian spiritual life.  If we stop praying, it is like as if we stop breathing.  Your spiritual life will die without prayer.

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The curse (Mal 2:2-2:3)

“Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘If you will not listen,

If you will not lay it to heart

To give glory

To my name,

Then I will send

The curse

On you.

I will curse your blessings.

Indeed,

I have already cursed them.

Because you do not lay it to heart.

I will rebuke your offspring.

I will spread dung

On your faces,

The dung of your offerings.

I will put you

Out of my presence.’”

Yahweh, via Malachi, said that if they did not listen and take to heart his words by giving glory to Yahweh’s name, he was going to send a curse on them.  In fact, he had already cursed their blessings.  They had not taken their worship of Yahweh to heart.  Thus, they would have the dung of their offerings spread out over their faces.  He was going to put them and their offspring out of his presence.

The punishment (Zech 7:12-7:14)

“Therefore,

Great wrath

Came from Yahweh of hosts.

‘Just as when I called,

They would not hear,

So,

When they called,

I would not hear.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘I scattered them

With a whirlwind

Among all the nations

That they had not known.

Thus,

The land they left

Was desolate.

Thus,

No one went to and fro.

A pleasant land

Was made desolate.’”

Thus, Yahweh sent punishments to these stubborn Israelites.  Great wrath and anger came from Yahweh of hosts.  Since they would not listen to Yahweh, he was not going to listen to them.  He decided to scatter them to the winds among the various other countries.  Many of these countries, they knew nothing about them.  Thus, the great land of Israel was left desolate.  No one was moving about in this pleasant land that became a desolation.

The role of the branch (Zech 3:8-3:8)

“‘Now listen!

Joshua!

High priest!

You!

With your colleagues

Who sit before you!

They are an omen

Of things to come.

I am going to bring

My servant,

The Branch.”

Yahweh. via Zechariah, wanted the high priest Joshua and his colleagues to listen to him.  Yahweh was going to bring his servant, the branch or a sprout of some kind, sort of a Davidic figure, perhaps Zerubbabel, the grandson of the last king of Judah.  Or is this a messianic notice about a future King of Israel?

The cry for justice (Hab 1:2-1:4)

“O Yahweh!

How long

Shall I cry for help?

You will not listen.

I cry to you.

‘Violence!’

You will not save me.

Why do you make me

See wrongdoing?

Why do you make me

Look at trouble?

Destruction is before me.

Violence is before me.

Strife arises

Contention arises.

So,

The law becomes slack.

Justice never prevails.

The wicked surround

The righteous.

Therefore,

Judgment

Comes forth perverted!”

Habakkuk complained to Yahweh that there was no justice in the land.  He wanted to know how long he would have to cry to be heard by Yahweh, since Yahweh did not seem to listen to him.  Habakkuk has cried out about this violence, but there was no one to save him.  Why did he have to see so much wrongdoing and trouble?  There were all kinds of destruction and violence all around him, since his life was full of strife and contention.  The law had become slack, so that justice did not prevail.  The wicked were in fact surrounding the righteous, so that there were only perverted judgments, not true justice from Yahweh.

The wickedness of the city (Mic 6:9-6:12)

“The voice of Yahweh

Cries to the city.

It is sound wisdom

To fear your name.

‘Hear!

O tribe!

Hear!

Assembly of the city!

Can I forget

The treasures of wickedness

In the house of the wicked?

Can I forget

The scant measure

That is accursed?

Can I tolerate

Wicked scales?

Can I tolerate

A bag of dishonest weights?

Your wealthy

Are full of violence!

Your inhabitants

Speak lies!

They have tongues of deceit

In their mouths!”

The voice of Yahweh would cry out to the city.  The wisdom of the city assembly should be to fear his name.  These city folks should listen to Yahweh.  How could Yahweh forget the treasures of wickedness of these wicked people?  How could he forget the accursed ones?  How could Yahweh tolerate wicked scales with dishonest weights?  The rich wealthy people were full of violence, while the common folk inhabitants of the city spoke nothing but lies, since they had deceitful tongues.

The bad rulers (Mic 3:1-3:3)

“I said.

‘Listen!

You officials

Of Jacob!

You rulers

Of the house of Israel!

Should you not know justice?

You hate the good!

You love the evil!

You tear the skin

Off my people!

You tear the flesh

Off their bones!

You eat the flesh

Of my people!

You flay their skin

Off them!

You break their bones

In pieces!

You chop them up

Like meat in a kettle,

Like flesh in a caldron!’”

Micah has a bitter rebuke concerning the savage behavior of the leaders in Israel and Jacob.  Yahweh, via Micah, used descriptive language to explain what these leaders were doing to their people, treating them like cattle.  Micah wanted them to listen to what he had to say.  They hated the good things, but loved the evil things.  They were skinning the people, tearing off their flesh, and eating them like cannibals.  They were breaking their bones and chopping them up to boil them like meat in a kettle.  This was despicable behavior.