Mining Through the Minors
Week 10 of our 90-Day Journey, and mining through the Minor Prophets!
Breadcrumbs For The Journey
There are twelve Minor Prophets at the end of the Old Testament. They’re described as “minor” not because they’re less important than the books of the Major Prophets, but because they’re shorter in length (most of them can easily be read in a single sitting). Together, their indictments of Israel’s drift away from God set the stage for the New Covenant that will be ushered in with the person of Jesus Christ.
I hope the book summaries below are helpful as you progress through these readings this week. I am also attaching a video of my own way of remembering the order of these books (and no I did not cheat when I recited the books through a songJ). Enjoy!
Tip Of The Week
A summary of the books of the Minor Prophets (cf. Biblegateway.com):
The prophets were sometimes asked to make their lives become an object lesson for God’s people. Hosea was instructed by God to marry an unfaithful wife. He spoke earnestly about God’s sorrow at Israel’s “adulterous affairs” with false gods and His willingness to forgive.
Joel’s recorded prophecies are short but direct. He described God’s coming judgment as an “invasion of locusts”—a clear and terrifying image for the Israelite society, and he is best known for predicting the “pouring out of the Holy Spirit” which would occur hundreds of years later at Pentecost, as described in Acts 2.
Amos was a simple shepherd called to deliver a message nobody wanted to hear. Israel had grown complacent, spiritually lazy, and hypocritical. Injustice, in the form of slavery, greed, and mistreatment of the poor, was commonplace.
Obadiah consists of just one chapter. Obadiah’s message describes the judgment that awaited the nation of Edom, which had done nothing to help Judah in her hour of need. Edom’s actions would be revisited upon them. Their land and wealth would be lost just as Judah’s had been.
The most famous of the Minor Prophets, Jonah was famously swallowed by a large fish while attempting to flee God’s call. Jonah’s prophetic message is directed not at Israel, but at the sin-filled foreign city of Nineveh—a reminder that God’s love and forgiveness was not limited to one nation or ethnic group. God’s endless compassion could reach even the Assyrians, whose cruelty and military power had made them the terror of the ancient world.
Micah gave a familiar message. Israel and Judah had turned away from God to follow false prophets and hypocritical religion, and disaster was coming if they did not repent. Micah tried to remind his audience that what God truly desired from men and women was not religious ritual, but faithful living.
One of the more obscure prophets, Nahum foretold the ruin of the mighty Assyrian empire, which had hauled Judah into slavery and exile. His words were a warning that no city or nation was so powerful as to be beyond the reach of God’s judgment.
Habakkuk has a different tone than many of the other prophets. Instead of preaching judgment, he asked questions—tough questions, like “Why does God allow evil to exist?” and “If God is sovereign, why do wicked people prosper?” He brought these questions to God in prayer and found consolation in God. Habakkuk shows us that ancient believers wrestled with the same difficult questions about sin, evil, and suffering that Christians ask today.
Prophesying during the reign of king Josiah, Zephaniah warned Judah that if they did not turn away from false religion and pagan practices, God’s judgment would fall on them. But God’s day of judgment is portrayed not just as a day of suffering for the wicked, but as a time of rejoicing, when God would return to rescue the oppressed and restore the broken.
Haggai served as a prophet while a small remnant of Jews, returning from exile, were struggling to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. His message was one of encouragement and hope—that God was still with His people, even though they had fallen far from the glorious days of David and Solomon.
Zechariah was a post-exile prophet like Haggai, and also directed his message to the surviving remnant returned from exile in Babylon. Zechariah stands out as an Old Testament messenger who spoke about the coming Messiah as He entered Jerusalem on a donkey. Christians believe that this unusual prophecy was fulfilled on Palm Sunday.
Also preaching to the returned exiles, Malachi offered a sobering message. After all they’d been through, God’s people still fell into disobedience. Israel’s priests and leaders were leading their flock astray, and only a few remained faithful who lived in accordance with God’s law. This book concludes the Old Testament with a reminder of humanity’s need for a Savior--and a promise that “for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.”
Good To Know
When we study the major and minor prophets we find they all pretty much have the same basic ingredients: (1) warning of impending judgment because of the nations’ sinfulness; (2) a description of the sin; (3) a description of the coming judgment; (4) a call for repentance; and (5) a promise of future deliverance. [Adapted from Bible.org]
Activity For The Week
Last week I asked you to come up with a way to memorize the Minor Prophets in biblical order. Below is a link to a video of me going through the Minor Prophets by singing the ABCs song. I have had difficulty remembering these books, so my song is pretty raw. But I hope it encourages you to give it a try or come up with another way to remember these books. If you come up with a good song or mnemonic device, please share it with the rest of us!
Pressing on with you!