1:1-2:7 – ‘The great Day of the Lord is near – near and coming quickly… That Day will be a Day of wrath… I will bring distress upon the people… because they have sinned against the Lord’ (1:14-17). This is God’s Word of warning. He is calling us back to Himself: ‘Seek the Lord – before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the Day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you’. We are to seek the Lord in ‘righteousness’ and ‘humility’. This is the way of being ‘sheltered on the Day of the Lord’s anger’ (2:2-3). God is calling us to ‘worship Him in Spirit and in truth’: ‘Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to His service and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer’ (John 4:24; Romans 12:1).
2:8-3:20 – Here, we have a story of sin – Woe to the city of oppressors, rebellious and defiled! She has not obeyed His voice. She has not accepted correction. She has not trusted in the Lord. She has not drawn near to her God’ – and a story of salvation – ‘Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment. He has turned back your enemy… The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will renew you in His love. He will rejoice over you with singing’ (3:1-2,14-17). The story of our sin is full of sadness. The story of God’s salvation fills us with gladness – ‘Rejoice and be glad! The Redeemer has come’ (Mission Praise, 573).
1:1-15 – ‘“Why is everyone saying it is not the right time for rebuilding My Temple?” asks the Lord’. His reply to them is this: ‘Is it then the right time for you to live in luxurious homes, when the Temple lies in ruins?’ (2-4). God’s people had forgotten about God. They were pleasing themselves – but they were not pleasing God! God is challenging us to think about our way of living – ‘Consider your way of life’ (5,7). We are to ‘obey the voice of the Lord our God’. We are to change our way of thinking – ‘the people feared the Lord’ – and living – ‘They came and began work on the House of the Lord Almighty, their God’. Let us obey God’s voice. Let us trust in His promise – ‘I am with you’(12-14).
2:1-23 – ‘“Be strong, all you people of the land”, declares the Lord, “and work. For I am with you”, declares the Lord Almighty’ (4). We are to work for God. When we commit ourselves to serving Him, the Lord promises His blessing: ‘From this day on I will bless you’ (19). To His faithful servants, God promises great blessing: ‘I will fill this House with glory’ (7). ‘Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that, in the Lord, your labour is not in vain’ (1 Corinthians 15:58). ‘Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King?… We are on the Lord’s side, Saviour, we are Thine… Always on the Lord’s side, Saviour, always Thine’ (Church Hymnary, 479).