Minor Prophets: Who Were They?
The Bible’s Minor Prophets were, for the most part, simple ordinary people like you and I. However, each one was called by God to deliver His messages. Their individual works were meaningful not only to specific peoples of the Northern or Southern Kingdoms of Israel at that time, but are also significant throughout the centuries including today. These servants are called Minor Prophets not because of the importance of their prophecies, but due to of the length of their messages compared to the Major Prophets.
To list them in the order their Old Testament books appear, they are:
Minor Prophets: What Were Their Messages?
Summarizing the messages of each Minor Prophet is difficult since they contain many profound and important lessons. They were written at various time periods in ancient history, during the reign of various kings or leaders, and during political turmoil with their nations’ moral decline. Remarkably, all are books that we can still learn from and relate to in today’s tumultuous world.
For instance, the book of Hosea gives us a real life demonstration of God’s willingness for forgiveness and His divine love for those who follow Him. God told Hosea to marry and foretold that the woman, Gomer, would be an adulteress woman. Hosea obeyed, married her, and they had 3 children. Yet later, after Gomer became a concubine to another man, God told Hosea to buy her back and to love and forgive her. Hosea’s story mirrored God’s willingness to forgive Israel who had fallen into idol worship and in essence, committed adultery with Baal worship. We can learn through this book that with love and forgiveness, restoration is possible.
Joel’s book is a clear warning regarding God’s judgment. His book tells of natural disasters and a devastating plague of locusts. The purpose of his prophecy is to call the nation to repentance and to comfort the godly with promise of a comforter; that promise was that the Holy Spirit would come. It was fulfilled years later as told in the book of Acts.1 We can be assured the comfort of the Holy Spirit is still available to us today.
Two lessons seen in Joel are to warn of God’s judgment to ungodly nations and that He will bless those who remain faithful. One key verse is in Joel 2:32, “And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved…”
Hosea and Joel are just two examples of the 12 books written by the Minor Prophets. Each book has a specially designed and applicable message—a reminder of our need for Christ the Savior. The Minor Prophets’ books take us through the trials, journeys, and hopes of the Hebrew people. Furthermore, much of them incredibly reflect and transition us onto the New Testament thru to the current trials of present day nations, making the messages particularly relevant to all who listen.
Minor Prophets: How Are They Relevant Today?
Each Minor Prophet offers a valuable illustration for the application of God’s Word, but one that particularly stands out to me is the book of Habakkuk. This book is somewhat different than its companion prophecies. It seems to be written at the time the Assyrians were invading Jerusalem, but just before the Hebrews were exiled to Babylon for slavery. The Assyrians were brutal, destructive, and evil. To begin, Habakkuk asks some serious questions many of us are currently asking. “How long O LORD, must I call for help but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, ‘Violence!’ but you do not save? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds” (Habakkuk 1:1-3).
Habakkuk’s second chapter takes a turn though as he recognizes his pride and knows he must wait for the Lord’s appointed time. As he prays in the third chapter, the Lord reminds the prophet of His sovereignty, power, and strength. We too can stand on the prayer that Habakkuk spoke when we question why evil exists and why the wicked seem to be winning. “…I rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to tread on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:18-19).
The Minor Prophets show us a lot about having peace in our uncertain modern times. The nations question what the world is coming to. Like Habakkuk we ask “How this can happen?” or “How much worse can things possibly get?” “Why does evil go unpunished?” We daily see the threats, wars, famines, disasters, and financial collapse with extreme unemployment and rising debt. Yet when we come to the Lord, our Savior, He reassures us that He is in control, sovereign, and will keep His promises of eternal peace if we draw close to Him and remain faithful.