The Minor Prophets are one of five subsets of the Old Testament. The other four being the Pentateuch, History, Wisdom Literature and the Major Prophets. The grouping includes the books of Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. Far from being a collection of obscure prophecies from people with strange names the 12 books contain vital lessons on the great God of Heaven. Both His angry wrath against sin and His tender compassion toward His people are the focus of these books. It is sad that these books were ever termed “minor” although it seems the designation is more a reference to their brevity. Combined these books have fewer chapters than Isaiah alone.
There are many themes that run through these books. It would be a shame to simply view them as a collection of ancient writings to ancient nations who no longer exist. Instead the modern Christian should read and study these books to gain a better understanding of God and His will for mankind.
The Minor Prophets Say God Demands Righteousness
God is holy (Hosea 11:9; Joel 3:17; Habakkuk 1:12). He is not the same as mortal men but instead sets a standard. It is true that the standard is not attainable by unaided man but only through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, man is expected to present himself before his maker in purity and righteousness.
Hosea said that expected man to sow (or plant) righteousness (Hosea 10:12) while Amos called for righteousness to flow like “an ever flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). Zephaniah called upon man to seek righteousness (Zephaniah 2:3). Those who pursue after righteousness are pleasing to God and He is satisfied with nothing less.
In the absence of righteousness comes the wrath of God. In Hosea God promises to “pour out my wrath like water” upon the unrighteous of Judah (Hosea 5:10) and in Nahum it is poured out like fire (Nahum 1:6). In Micah 5:15 God promises wrath and vengeance upon those who have not obeyed. But Zechariah declares God’s words that his wrath was not capricious but came only when the people provoked him (Zechariah 8:14).
The Minor Prophets say that God Always Loves His People
Despite God’s constant anger at sin he still searches for and finds ways to bring his people back to him. We know the story of Jonah. It’s a true story of a man’s attempt to flee from God. But if you read it closer it becomes a story of God’s desire to save men from his wrath. (Jonah 1:2; 3:4-5). In chapter three the people are given a time in which to repent as men are today (Revelation 2:21). God gives us “space to repent” because he loves us and desires that all men be saved (Acts 17:30; 1 Timothy 2:4).
After promising judgment upon Israel and upon the surrounding nations, God declares that he will save Jerusalem from those judgments. “The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies.” (Zephaniah 3:15). Because they repented, God removed the punishments set for the people. Likewise, God awaits our obedience today and through Christ will remove every spot of sin.
The Minor Prophets carry a major message: God hates sin but will make away for people to seek and find forgiveness. God never deserts his people. But we should end with a word of caution. God’s perfect patience will one day give way to God’s perfect justice. Let’s us use the time now to wisely seek his face and his righteousness.