Let’s address the elephant in the room: the Minor Prophets seem a bit harsh (spoiler alert). God seems a little bit mean and a lot angry. Some of the Prophets seem a bit overdramatic (looking at you, Jonah). There are definitely plenty of more uplifting books in the Bible to read, but context is everything. And if we censor ourselves from the tough books, then we miss the fullness of God’s message for us through His word.
It’s easy to read about Jesus feeding the multitudes with bread and fish, and Paul writing to say what a great job the Thessalonians are doing. It’s much harder to understand how a gracious God could bring total destruction on entire cities.
If we want to truly understand God’s unending love and pursuit for his people, if we want to grasp the miracle and cost of our salvation, then the Minor Prophets are a vital part of the story.
Here are some things to remember as you dive into the Minor Prophets:
- The Major and Minor Prophets are separated not because of their importance, but by their length.
- The Minor Prophets remind us of God’s promises, pursuit, and unending love for His people.
- Not sure what a prophet is? Check out Deuteronomy 18:9-21 for a nice definition.
- It’s helps in times when you might question God’s character to think of the passage as part of the larger story that God is writing. How do this actions help restore the relationship between God and his people? Think back to The Thread series: how are these stories pointing towards Christ? Also consider, not everything written is pointing to Jesus. In fact, most of the prophecies don’t. Which brings me to my next point:
- Historical distance is a factor here. Like a lot of instances in the Bible, the people these words were spoken for likely had a much better understanding of what they meant than we do. For obvious reasons: they knew the context and—even if they didn’t care—were the nonetheless aware of the situation. While difficult, it’s important that we attempt to understand the culture and times the best we can. One of the fundamental rules of good exegesis (the study of scripture) is that the passage cannot mean something to us that it didn’t mean for the people it was written to.
- Biblical scholars often use the phrase sensus plenior when studying the Prophetic books—the idea that passages may have a deeper meaning intended by God, but not intended by the human author.
There is a lot of imagery to wrap our heads around. On the occasions when the prophet’s messages are clear and concise, the words weren’t always what the people wanted to hear. Yet God selected these particular prophets to remind Israel of the covenant they made with Him as His people. The prophets delivered news of abundant blessings, consequences, or great things yet to come—like the promise of Christ.
And if you needed any more motivation to keep with the plan, most of these books are pretty short. So you can knock out these 12 books in no time. 28 days to be exact. And that’s a win in my book.