What I Learned from Daniel through Malachi, November-December 2022

After the lengthy books written by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, the Old Testament closes with thirteen shorter prophetic books. Here are some things I learned as I studied those books in 2022. I’ve organized these insights in roughly chronological order:

Amos: Listen carefully.

From the earliest of these prophets, I learned that it’s important to hear the word of the Lord. Our spiritual health depends on immersing ourselves in God’s truths, taking seriously the warnings He provides through His prophets, and responding with humility to adverse circumstances and to constructive criticsm.

Amos also reminded me not to be “at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1), a warning echoed in the Book of Mormon by Nephi. (See 2 Nephi 28:24-26.)

Jonah: Embrace your callings, and manage your emotions.

Jonah had to adjust his attitude toward the calling he was given, and when he did, he was successful. I have been inspired to reenergize my efforts in my calling as a result of Jonah’s example.

God also taught Jonah the importance of managing his emotions. Temptations may encompass us as the sea encompassed Jonah, but like Jonah, we can be grateful for promised blessings even in the midst of adversity.

Hosea and Micah: God loves mercy.

Through the prophet Hosea, God expressed his frustration with the children of Israel. They were going through the motions of religious observance but missing the heart of the gospel, something called ḥesed in Hebrew. “I desired mercy,” He said, “and not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6).

Micah, a contemporary of Hosea, echoed this sentiment: “He delighteth in mercy” (Micah 7:18-20). God is merciful to us, and He wants us to be merciful to each other.

Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah: God is our stronghold.

We do our best to establish safe environments, and we need to be vigilant in looking out for one another, but ultimately, as Nahum reminds us, God is our only perfect stronghold.

We can pray for miracles, following Habakkuk’s example: “Revive thy work in the midst of the years,” he prayed, appealing to God’s ancient miracles as a precedent for the intervention we need today. Like Moroni, Habakkuk believed in a God of miracles.

And Zephaniah reminded us that God is not only willing but eager to save us. Our part is to seek meekness, so that we can be receptive to His gifts.

Joel and Daniel: God reveals Himself through dreams.

Joel prophesied that, in the last days, God would “pour out [His] spirit upon all flesh,” and that people would experience dreams and visions. Why dreams? Maybe it’s because our minds are often more still, and therefore more receptive to revelation, during the night or in the early morning.

It’s one thing to receive revelation, and it’s another to understand it. Joseph, Daniel, and Nephi all interpreted dreams experienced by other people. We can ask God to help us understand the revelations we receive from Him.

And Joel reminded us that we are all in the “valley of decision,” because the Final Judgment is ultimately a function of the choices we make every day.

Haggai and Zechariah: Captivity need not cause hopelessness.

The Jews had returned to Jerusalem after decades in captivity, and they faced significant adversity as they tried to rebuild their city. “Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope,” counseled Zechariah. And Haggai promised them that after all nations had been shaken, “the desire of all nations shall come.”

But even as we trust in God, we must be diligent. “Consider your ways,” said Haggai, and prioritize the temple. Fast unto God, not unto yourselves, said Zechariah. And be clean.

Obadiah and Malachi: Connecting with our roots can improve our relationships.

Obadiah admonished the Edomites to love the children of Israel. Why? Because their ancestors were brothers. An awareness of our family history can connect us with other people and strengthen our relationships with even distant relatives.

Malachi repeatedly referenced Jacob and Levi as he called on his people to live up to their potential. Remembering your ancestors also strengthens your relationship with God.

Ultimately, as Malachi reminds us, our relationship with other people should be based on our knowledge that we are all children of one Father, one God.

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