A Minor Introduction

The minor prophets in the Bible are pretty cool! But we have to be careful with man-made titles. For example, the “old” in Old Testament doesn’t mean outdated; nor does the “new” in New Testament mean something updated to modern times. 

In the same way, the minor prophets are only called “minor” because of the volume of their writing, not the quality of their message. In fact, their messages are actually quite major! 

The minor prophets cover a span of about 300 years, from 760 BC (Amos) to 450 BC (Malachi). You can check out this side-by-side chart to see where these prophets fit in the history of Judah and Israel. 

Here are some interesting tidbits about the minor prophets:

  • In the Hebrew Bible, these books are referred to simply as “The Twelve.” 
  • All of these prophets identify themselves in the first verse of their writing except Jonah, but he is identified in 2 Kings 14:23-25. 
  • The only others of the Twelve that are mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament are Micah, Zephaniah, Haggai, and Zechariah (see Jeremiah 26:16-19; 2 Kings 25:18-21; Ezra 5:1). 
  • The prophets consistently give us some historical context in their writings to help us place when, where, and to whom their ministry took place. 

The Twelve also show up quite liberally in the New Testament. Every one of them has either direct quotations or has their writings implicitly referred to throughout the New Testament. Here’s just a small sampling… 

  • Micah 5:2 tells us where Jesus would be born (Matthew 2:6)
  • Hosea 11:1 says Jesus would spend time in Egypt (Matthew 2:15)
  • Malachi 4:5 says an “Elijah” would precede Jesus (Matthew 17:10-11)
  • Zechariah 9:9 foretells Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-10)
  • Jonah 1:17 was used by Jesus to predict His own resurrection (Matthew 12:39-42)
  • Joel 2:28-32 was quoted by Peter on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:16-21)
  • Amos 9:11-12 foretold all peoples coming to Jesus (Acts 15:16-17)
  • Hosea 13:14 was quoted by Paul to show how death was defeated (1 Corinthians 15:53-57)
  • Habakkuk 2:4 was also quoted by Paul to tell how righteous people live (Galatians 3:11)
  • Haggai 2:6 foretells the end times (Hebrews 12:26-29)

I look forward to diving deep into the major lessons in the minor prophets over the next several weeks, but in preparation for that let me give you 3 overarching lessons for all Bible studies:

  1. Christianity is rooted in history. The Bible is a historical record of real people, saying and doing real things in real places in the world. It’s not a collection of fables, myths, or legends. 
  2. We need to study the whole counsel of God’s Word. All of Scripture is interdependent on all the other parts of Scripture, and every part reinforces and amplifies every other part. Don’t limit your Bible reading to just one or two parts.
  3. Looking back in wonder and gratitude builds faith for today and hope for tomorrow. When we see what God has done in the past, and we realize that He is still the same God today, it builds our faith for today. And when our faith today is strengthened, it gives us a bright hope for tomorrow. 

I look forward to having you join me on this journey of discovery through the minor prophets! 

3 Lessons From Obadiah

Obadiah

Photo (c) Laura Kranz at The Overview Bible Project (click on the photo for more info)

The prophet Obadiah wrote just 21 verses around 840 B.C. I know that the last 12 books of the Old Testament are referred to as “minor prophets” (not because of quality or validity, but because of length), but this prophet packs a major punch. Here are three lessons I learned from Obadiah―

[1] Pride is a killer.

The pride of your heart has deceived you (v. 3). Pride makes me believe the best about myself and the worst about everyone else; it’s unbalanced scales. Pride allows me to excuse my sins, even calling them “virtues,” while at the same time hypocritically judging the “sins” of others.

[2] It is God’s place to judge, not mine.

You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune (v. 12). My place is to love God and love others—to help and not condemn—to extend mercy, not judgment. Even if my enemy stumbles I shouldn’t rejoice or gloat (Proverbs 24:17-18), how much less when it’s my brother who has stumbled!

[3] Live as if Judgment Day were tomorrow.

The day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head (v. 15). Boom! The measure I use will be the measure I receive. The One Who neither sleeps nor slumbers sees all I do, and He will judge perfectly.

Don’t miss the major messages in the “minor” prophets!

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