Monday, June 07, 2010

Minor Prophets

While I was away on study-break last week, I read through the Minor Prophets (the 12 smaller prophetic books at the end of the Old Testament).  This was a great exercise for me and reminded me of God's greatness, holiness, and compassion.  As I read, I summarized the message of each book.  Here were some of my thoughts...

Hosea – 14 chapters – Hosea is asked by God to marry a prostitute (Gomer) so that he will know what God’s experience with Israel is like.  God addresses Israel’s repeated adultery (idolatry with other gods) and their presumption of God’s continuous blessing.  The book ends on a positive note with God promising to renew and restore a repentant Israel.
Joel – 3 chapters – Joel announces the locust plagues against the people of Judah (a terrible judgment from God), then in 2:12 begins to call God’s people to repentance and healing.  God promises to restore His people, pour out His Spirit on them, and to defeat their enemies.  He does all of this so that His people and the nations will know that He is the true and reigning God.
Amos – 9 chapters – Amos speaks of God’s judgment on kings/nations that oppress other peoples with violence and cruelty (see 2:6-6-16 on Israel).  The Lord has brought warnings from prophets and plagues on His people, but they failed to return to Him.  Amos if the reluctant shepherd prophet who confronts the leaders of Israel with the visions that God has given.  Amos’ vision of God is intense and awesome in His judgment and wrath against sin.  Only the last 5 verses speak of God’s future restoration of Israel.
Obadiah – 1 chapter – God promises to bring judgment on the people of Edom because they stood by and watched as the nation of Israel was invaded and conquered by foreign fighters.  They turned on Israel when the going got tough, and now God has promised to destroy Edom and restore Israel.
Jonah – 4 chapters – God calls Jonah to announce judgment on Nineveh.  Jonah refuses and runs away from God’s calling.  God stops Jonah and gets his attention through a storm and a fish.  Jonah repents and delivers the message to Nineveh.  The people of Nineveh repented and God relented.  Jonah became angry at God’s mercy toward Nineveh and God confronted Jonah about his anger.
Micah – 7 chapters – Micah prophesies the Lord’s judgment against those who abuse their wealth and power (especially the leaders of Israel) to take advantage of the weak and poor.  He condemns the false prophets who are saying everything is okay when it is clearly not okay, and he looks forward to the coming reign of God on the earth (the coming Messiah – Jesus).  In the day of the Coming King, peace will finally reign and all nations will worship the true God.  More than sacrifice, God wants his people to do right, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him.  God is faithful to His promises.
Nahum – 3 chapters – God announces coming judgment against the Assyrians in Nineveh, proclaiming His great and awesome power to wipe out a people with one word.  This book is full of powerful imagery of what Nineveh will experience as God brings judgment – it is terrifying language.  The Assyrians were the most powerful and wealthy nation of that day, and yet God brings them to their knees.
Habakkuk – 3 chapters – Habakkuk questions God’s plan to use the Babylonians to bring judgment on Judah.  God pledges to destroy all those who worship idols, who put their trust in their wealth.  This book is a call to faith – Habakkuk ends with a prayer declaring his trust and joy in God his Savior.
Zephaniah – 3 chapters – Zepheniah prophesies against Judah for their indifference toward God’s ways and the nations for their pride in scoffing at God’s people and God Himself.  The prophet recognizes that God’s continued threats of judgment are not changing the people and looks forward to that day when their hearts will be changed because the Lord, the King of Israel, will live among them in person.
Haggai – 2 chapters – Haggai confronted the governor and high priest with the message that the Lord’s house was in ruins while the people were building their own houses.  The people and the leaders repented and God spurred their hearts to rebuild the Temple.  In response to their obedience and faith, God promised to bless them richly.
Zechariah – 14 chapters – Zechariah is full of apocalyptic imagery – flying horses, lampstands, baskets, chariots, scenes of heaven and earth – all pointing to the restoration of God’s people, God’s judgment against all of the nations (images pointing to the four corners of the earth), and the coming of the royal Branch (who will reign in Jerusalem as God’s representative).  The main message is that God has not forgotten His people in exile and that He will restore them through their coming King (9:9-17).  When the King comes, He will bring dancing and rejoicing for His people.  This book is more hopeful than the others and more focused on the coming Messiah, his betrayal and death for the cleansing of the people.
Malachi – 4 chapters – The Lord is angry with His people because they show less respect to His name than the other nations who have no covenant.  Malachi’s role is to call the people of Israel to respect and honor the name of the Lord, to not give Him empty, left-over sacrifices, but their best.  The Lord is angry at His people for breaking their vows, stealing their tithes, and ignoring His warnings.  The book ends with a group of God-fearers renewing their vow to God, and God promising to send the Son.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Perseverance is connected to Eschatology. We have to believe that our faithfulness now is connected to benefit in the future. Filling our minds with the truth of God's gracious promises about his coming kingdom gives us joy in present suffering. Knowing the stark reality of coming judgment gives us sobriety and wisdom to persevere in the midst of worldly distractions.