Worship: The act of telling an entirely self-sufficient God how great he is like he’s been a bit depressed lately and needs a rousing pick me up.
“I love you guys,” said the Lord.
“Uh… we’re not seeing that down here,” said the Jews.
“I have loved you. I hate your brother Esau. I’m totally screwing over his kids, but you guys are back in your own land. So get to the magnifying Me part.”
“Okay,” God said, “I do have a few things to talk about. First, stop offering me flawed animals. Only Grade-A or above beef and lamb, please. You guys keep bringing me lame, flawed, or stolen critters to kill before Me, and I don’t like it. Only bring the best to Me. I am your priests-, I mean… you great King.”
“Speaking of priests, you guys better shape up and honor Me too or I’m going to curse you and smear shit on your faces. You guys are showing favor to the wealthy.”
“We all have one father and God has created us all. But seriously, don’t marry foreign women. That makes God mad. Although God says He hates divorce, so maybe don’t kick your wives and children out into the streets because Ezra says so.”
“Also, God’s getting really tired of you guys saying that evil people prosper and wondering where the justice in the world is. Yes, evil people prosper and there seems to be no justice in the world, but God’s getting tired of you complaining about it.”
So God said, “I’m going to send a messenger. A Purifier who will purify the priests, so they can present pleasing offerings to the Lord again. And I will come and judge the sorcerers, even Gandalf, Harry Potter, and Merlin! And I’ll judge the adulterers, the liars, the oppressors, and the racist xenophobes.”
“I don’t change, so I haven’t destroyed you. But come back to me.”
“We’re right here,” said the Jews.
“You’re not giving me all of the stuff I told you to give to me! If you just give me your stuff, I’ll give you more. But seriously, guys, stop talking shit about Me.”
“We’re not,” said the Jews.
“Really? I hear a lot of whining about how evil people prosper, while you suffer for being good.”
“Yeah, it’s not just us. There’s a lot of that in the New Testament too…”
Then the pious got together and spoke well of the Lord and the Lord noticed and had a book written with all of their names and the nice things they said about Him, so He would spare them in the day of wrath and not kill them horrible the way He planned to kill everyone else.
“The day is coming when I’m going to burn the wicked, but you guys will go forth leaping with joy and happiness as you crush the wicked too.”
“Don’t forget the Law of Moses. Seriously, girls on their period are way unclean, bros…”
“And I’m going to send Elijah back to you guys before the final judgment happens. He’ll make sure you guys are ready, so I don’t curse you too.”
And that’s it. The last of the prophets.
In the time following this, the Judean monarchy would not be restored. The Greeks would come and introduce Hellenistic ideas and philosophies. There would be a period of strife between the Seleucids and the Judeans known as the Maccabean revolt that would restore the cult of Yahweh. And then the Romans would come and conquer Judea. Eventually, the Romans would support the appointment of an Edomite king known as Herod to govern the region, and there would be a period of apocalyptic fervor with many men coming forward claiming to be a Messiah there to reestablish the Jewish kingdom and monarchy under Yahweh.
And then the stories of the New Testament begin…
Okay, the trip is over apparently. Two years later, some guys come from Bethel and ask if God wants them to keep fasting during the fifth month of the year.
And God says, “Hey, you do that for yourselves, not for me. Act with justice, fight for justice, be kind and compassionate, help the poor and the widows and the orphans and the foreigners, but your fathers wouldn’t listen, so they got judged.”
God: I’m going to come back to Zion and Jerusalem and dwell there. Old men and the young children will dwell securely in Jerusalem. I can do anything. I’m going to save my people and bring them back to Jerusalem.
So everyone be strong. I Know times have been tough, but soon, there will be food for all. I’m not angry with you anymore, now I will bless you.
You guys do what is right and your fastings will become feasts of joy.
And in those days, all of the foreigners will grab on to your cloaks and beg you to take them to the Lord so they can find favor with me.
Much like Nixon, God has an enemies list and promises to really screw them over.
But God loves Judah and Israel and there will be grain and wine and young men and virgins.
God hates idolaters and false prophets. God also apparently owns a pretty sweet warhorse. God promises Judah and Israel that he’ll make them like before the exile, though they never really achieve that status of being independent and having their own king.
We’re back to something that makes no sense.
God is angry with Lebanon.
God tells Zach to shepherd a flock doomed to slaughter. It seems like a metaphor, but Zach apparently gets a job as a shepherd and he takes the sickly ones and he grabs two sticks that he calls Favor and Union.
If I’m reading this right, he gets pissed off at some other shepherds and kills three of them in a month…
Then he stops shepherding the flock and says, “Whatever” and breaks his stick he called Favor. And the sickly sheep realize they’re in an object lesson from God.
“Thaaaaanks,” said the sheep.
Then Zach the crazy murderous crappy shepherd yells at people, “GIVE ME MY WAGES OR NOT.”
So they give him 30 pieces of silver probably to make him go away. And God tells him to throw it to the local potter, which he does.
And God tells him to dress and act like a crazy shepherd whose bad at his job again to make a point that someone is coming that will oppress and devour the people.
God: A siege is coming to Jerusalem.
Jews: I thought you said we were going to dwell in peace forever.
God: All the nations of the Earth will come up against Judah. But I’ll defend you. And then I’ll pour out my spirit on the monarchy and the people of Jerusalem and you’ll look on me or to me and cry. There will be great mourning in Jerusalem.
Then a fountain will open and I’ll utterly destroy all the idols and the false prophets and if anyone prophesies, then his own mom and dad will kill him for being a big fat liar… not like me… I am totally a true prophet.
God says, “Kill the shepherd and scatter my people and I’m going to kill some children… and kill like two-thirds of the land, but one third will live and they’ll be so grateful to Me for not killing them that they’ll be my people forever…”
Everyone’s going to come against Judah, but God will kill them all, and you can take all their stuff and be super rich again. And I’ll be the king of the Earth (so… why would they need riches?)
And here’s how I’m going to kill them, God says. It’ll be like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark when the Nazis melt.
But all of the survivors will go and worship the Lord in Jerusalem or I won’t let it rain on their lands.
Also, fuck the Canaanites.
Zechariah: God got angry with our ancestors because they didn’t listen to the other prophets I sent them and repent. So you better repent and listen to me.
People: Okay, we repent and we’ll listen to you.
Then Zach sees a vision of a guy on a red horse who stands in the middle of myrtle trees with a bunch of horses behind him.
“I have got to remember which plant I smoked,” Zach said.
Angel on red horse: “These are the ones God sends out to patrol the Earth.”
“Everything’s cool,” the patrolmen… patrol-horses… patrol-angel-horses replied.
Then the angel said, “Hey, God, how long are you gonna be pissed off at Judah, eh? Why don’t you cut the kids a break?”
“Yeah… okay,” God said. “I’m going to reestablish Jerusalem and make you guys rich.”
Then Zach sees four horns.
“Oh, those are the horns… that scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. And those guys are coming to chase them away and overthrow the nations that scattered you guys.”
Then Zach sees a guy with a measuring tape.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to measure Jerusalem,” he said.
And another angel appears. “Hey, other angel, go speak to that guy and tell him Jerusalem will be a city without walls because God will be a wall of fire around it.”
“Everyone come back to Judah and leave Babylon,” says the Lord, “I’m totally going to plunder the nations that plundered you. And everyone shut up before the Lord. He has a headache.”
Then Zach sees Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and an accuser is standing at his right hand accusing him.
“I accuse!” said the Accuser.
“Of what?” God said.
“Shut up. Bailiff? Take those filthy clothes off the defendant and get him some party clothes. See?” said the Lord, “I’ve taken away your iniquity. Now, put a clean turban on his head.”
“Are you sure, Lord? That headwear is mighty ‘foreign’.”
“Yes, I’m sure. Now everyone, if you guys do what I say, we’ll get along fine and we can hang out. And Josh? He’s cool. I’m going to bring in my servant, the Sprout. And look at the cool stone I’ve put in front of Josh. It has seven eyes. And I’m going to have it engraved with “I’m going to take away your sin in one day and give you peace.”
“I really have to remember which plant I smoked,” Zach said as he drifts off to sleep.
“Hey,” an angel said. “Get up. Look around.”
Zach sees a lampstand with seven oil lamps on it and seven spouts belonging to seven lamps above it and two olive trees on either side.
“What the heck is this?”
“This is God’s message to Zerubbabel, “I’m going to make you great, so that you can conquer and destroy mountains and make them plains. He has built the foundation of this house and his hands will finish it.”
“What about the trees and lamps and stuff?”
“Those are the anointed ones that stand by the Lord.”
“Sure… why not?”
Then Zach sees a flying scroll.
“That’s the curse that God is sending so that all the thieves and hypocrites will be killed by having their houses burn down.”
And there were no more thieves or hypocrites ever again.
Then Zach sees an ephah… which Wikipedia tells me is about 23 liters of grain… and the angel lifts the lid off of the pot and sees a woman sitting in the middle of the grain and he says, “This is evil!”
So he throws her back in the pot, sets a lead weight on top of it and two more women with stork wings come and take the pot away.
“Dude… whoa… so where are they taking her, man?”
“Out to Shinar, where they’ll build a Temple for her and she can sit on a pedestal.”
You know… Ezekiel seems sane and reasonable next to Zechariah.
Then Zach sees four chariots with different colored horses.
“What are these things?”
“Those are the four spirits of heaven. Two are going north, one is going south, and one is really jonesing to get out there and patrol the Earth.”
“Go patrol the Earth!”
So they patrolled the Earth.
“Those guys heading North have appeased my wrath,” said God. “Now, go take an offering from the exiles.”
Seriously… what the hell?
“Take silver and gold and make a crown and put it on the high priest’s head and say, “God is going to send a man named Sprout and he will build the Temple of the Lord and He will be a priest and a king. This crown will be a reminder to you guys so when it happens, you’ll know that I am the Lord, but you’ve got to obey me completely.”
God: I’m going to kill everything again. Literally everything. No more animals. No more people. No more birds pooping on your car after you just got it washed. Everything’s going to die. Especially the Jews in Judah.
And I’m really going to kill all of the idolaters.
The day of the Lord comes. I’m going to punish the Jewish nobles. There will be crying and wailing. I’m going to kill the bankers.
The Day of the Lord is near (plus or minus 3,000+ years or so.) And that day will really suck. I’m going to kill everything.
Seriously. Everything. Maybe if you’re righteous and humble you can hide. Moabites? Dead. Ethiopians? Dead. Assyrians? Dead. Just literally gonna kill everyone, says the Lord.
God is mad at Judah. He’s going to kill some of them, mostly the proud. Then the humble will come back to him and he will purify them and bless them again and everyone sings and has a good time and forgets about the time they were fighting and having a drunken screaming match in front of their trailer with God on Cops and He had to pop them a good one to teach them a lesson.
In the second year of Darius, Haggai goes up to Zerubbabel and Joshua and says, “Yeah, dudes, God’s pretty pissed off that you’re living in nice houses and his Temple is still a broken down mess. That’s why you’re having a famine. Go chop down some trees and fix the Temple so God will calm the hell down.”
So everyone goes, “Fine.” And they start to rebuild the Temple.
Haggai: “Hey, guys. Any old people around remember how great the old Temple looked compared to the one we’re building now? Yeah? This Temple seems pretty crappy, doesn’t it? Well, it’s cool. God is with us. In a little bit, God is going to shake the heavens and the Earth and all nations will come and bring gold and silver to this Temple and it will be glorious and greater than the old Temple.”
Haggai: Priests, got a question? If a man touches something holy, does he become holy? No? Right. But if an unclean man touches something does it become unclean? It does. That’s what we’re like to God. We’re all unclean, which is why God punished us with famine and a bad economy, but now we’re going to be blessed.
And you, Zerubbabel? You’re going to see the thrones and kingdoms of the world overthrown and God will place you in a special position because he’s chosen you.”
Two books ago, God was concerned about the people of Nineveh, now He pronounces their doom and promises to destroy them as a nation. Go figure. Mysterious ways and all that, I guess.
“I’m against you. I’m going to burn your chariots, destroy your soldiers and let folks loot all of your stuff.”
God: “I’m going to strip you naked and rub crap on you.”
Good night, everybody!
Anyway, more doom, doom, doom. People scattered like locusts… misery… doom. The usual stuff. Moving right along…
Habakkuk: “Hey, Lord… it would be nice if you picked up the phone when I called you asking for help. I know the Babylonians are only here to judge us, but seriously, Lord, they’re worse than we are. Why are you letting them get away with oppressing us and sacrificing critters to their gods?”
Habakkuk: I’m going to stand here and wait for God to answer this time.
God: Hey, bro… had a thing… anyway, go ahead and write this down. I’m going to judge the proud, the drunkards, the king of Babylon. Babylon is like a man who is rich because he’s over-leveraged in debt. One day soon, his creditors will come and collect and then he’s going to be miserable and destitute.
Babylon was built on evil gain and bloodshed and will be judged.
Woe to those who ply the clothes off of someone with booze. You’re going to drink too much and run around naked too one day.
Idolaters are doomed too.
Here’s a little ditty I wrote about God crushing nations and afflicting the Earth, but saving Israel. God is pretty big and huge and frightening. Amen.
Everyone be sad because God is coming to destroy Israel and Judah.
God is angry at the man who takes people’s homes and exploits the poor and will judge.
God is angry at the corrupt leaders of the people who fleece them and see them as grist for the mill.
He’s also angry at the false prophets who are only in it for the money.
But Micah claims, he is a real prophet and he is predicting the destruction of Jerusalem.
God will establish a peaceful kingdom with no war where the outcasts and disabled are healed. Israel will return from Babylon and destroy many nations.
A king will be born in Bethlehem who will rise up and shepherd the people. Israel will conquer many nations, and God will destroy everything in Israel that used to bother him, like idols, horses, fake psychics, and chariots. I think God is still a little bitter about not being able to beat the Canaanites because of their iron chariots (Judges 1:19).
Well… at least that last part was something new.
God would like to know what he did wrong to justify the Israelites acting like jerks. He calls them to do justice, to love mercy, and to be humble. He’s angry at the corrupt and deceptive business practices, so he promises to strike the people with a plague, famine, and war.
Micah: My life sucks. There’s no one good in this place. Everyone is corrupt. Don’t trust your neighbors or friends. They lie. Don’t trust your family. They will turn against you. But I’m waiting for God to act. I will rise when God lifts me up.
Israel will rise and the Assyrians and Egyptians will come to her. The Earth will be destroyed because of the actions of its inhabitants.
Micah calls upon God to be their shepherd and lead them and judge the nations.