God is Certainly Great (and How Injustice Poisons Everything): Minor Prophets Review, contd.

Micah and Nahum Bible with Theo Coconut 70 percent Cacao Dark Chocolate
Nahum: the Poster Prophet for confidence in God’s righteousness.

Today’s ChocolateTheo Coconut 70% Cacao Dark Chocolate

Today’s Passage: Malachi 3:13-18; Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1; Zechariah 1:12-17

We said some things about the Minor Prophets as a whole, but we didn’t say enough things about them, so today we’re going to say more things. By the end of the post, will we have said enough things? There’s only one way to find out.

Let’s begin by seeing what Things to Say we can find in the Theodicy Can.

Most of the prophets have no questions to speak of concerning God’s justness. They don’t see a need to defend it, and I infer that their audiences would agree that God is just. I’ve noticed only one exception: Malachi observes, “You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God; and what profit is it that we have kept His charge, and that we have walked in mourning before the Lord of hosts? So now we call the arrogant blessed; not only are the doers of wickedness built up but they also test God and escape’” (Malachi 3:14-15). And even while Micah’s contemporaries believe that God has failed to reward obedience and let the wicked get away with murder, Malachi opts not to argue with them. Instead, in the next few verses, he directs their attention to the faithful in Israel who revere the Lord and are confident God will reverse the present inequities. Some, it seems, are willing to endure injustice if they can count on God in time to set things right.

It occurs to me that of course the prophets are all on the same page when it comes to theodicy. If God sent you a prophetic message and you felt you couldn’t trust him to be good–or to be strong enough to carry out the good things he said he’d do–why would you bother carrying the message to its intended recipients? You’d be like Jonah, and your book of the Bible would be a narrative about your failures, in the style of Jonah, or else no one would write a book about your thing at all. And perhaps, in the case of some individuals now lost to history, this is precisely what happened.

But there’s one prophet with questions, and one prophet who reports an angel with questions. We’ve considered Habakkuk and Zechariah’s treatments of the basic theological questions that thinking, moral beings face. I cannot stress enough that Zechariah contains some truly bananapants visions, but more importantly, I’m struck by the scene wherein the angel asks God, “Lord of hosts, how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah?” (Zechariah 1:12). God responds with “gracious words, comforting words” (Zechariah 1:13), and when the angel then gives Zechariah a message to proclaim, I’m inclined to believe the message comprises the gracious and comforting words that God spoke to the angel.

And his message is a simple one. God promises to undo the damage that foreign nations have wrought to the holy city, telling his people, “The Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem” (Zechariah 1:17). God vows to thwart the aims of evildoers, to demonstrate his power to unmake the destructive work of the wicked. And for all the complexities contained in considerations of theodicy, perhaps close to the core of the best answers is that simple notion: “All’s well that ends well.”

Which is all well and good, if it’s ended. But here we are, and it’s not over yet.

 

By which I mean that this post is literally not over yet. In my most recent chocolate review, I captioned the photograph of my bar of Theo coconut dark chocolate with a good-natured jab at my mom for pronouncing the name of the brand “Thay-oh.” Little did I know that it’s not the nickname “Theo,” short for “Theodore,” but a reference to the scientific name of the cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, meaning “food of the gods.” Rather than publicly shame me for my brash ignorance, my mom, gracious human being that she is, sent me this information in a personal email, which she concluded, “Go back to your Greek. IT’S GOD’S CHOCOLATE!” Truly, pride comes before a fall, for I have been dunked on by my own mom.

 

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