This week we will be taking a very brief look at some of the writings of the ‘minor’ prophets – so called because these books are much shorter than those of the prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. These minor prophets fit in to the times of the kings of Israel and Judah – if you have a Bible Reading Planner you will find a handy pull-out at the back which suggests the dating of these prophecies.
If you have been following the Bible Reading Challenge, you are now coming close to the end. Well done! This would be a good time to write to us to let us know how you have got on. You can also request a “Bible Companion Reading Planner” – by following the Bible Companion you will be able to read the entire Bible (Old Testament once and New Testament twice) over the course of a year – a new challenge for you Contact us using the email address at the bottom of the page.
Sunday - Hosea 13
Many of God’s prophets not only spoke God’s words to the people, but also acted it out in their lives. Hosea was such a prophet. He was ordered by God to marry a woman who was a prostitute. Hosea’s constant love for her, despite her unfaithfulness, was a parable of God’s love for Israel who had departed from God to worship idols instead. In this chapter God affirms that he is still their God (v4), despite their idolatry (v2). He will punish them to try to turn them from their evil ways (v7, 8), but ultimately he will be their King (v10) and Saviour (v4), who can save them even from death (v14). Verse 14 is quoted in 1 Corinthians 15:55-56. This speaks of the ultimate purpose of God, for both Jews and Gentiles. At the time of the resurrection of the dead, those who do turn away from their sins and turn to God (Hosea 14:2) will have their corruptible, sinful, mortal natures taken away, and be given immortality.
Monday - Joel 3
The prophet Joel calls people to repent from their sins, in the face of coming judgements from God. At the end of chapter 2 we have some verses that are quoted in Acts 2 (Joel 2:28-32, Acts 2:16-21) about the pouring out, on the day of Pentecost, of the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the apostles. The apostles used the power of the Holy Spirit to preach the same message as that of Joel, the need to repent and call on the Lord in order to be saved.
In this final chapter, Joel prophesies of the judgements that God is to bring upon the land of Judah and Israel and upon all nations. At the time of the end, all nations will be gathered together against the nation of Israel (see Zechariah 14:2, Revelation 16:14, Ezekiel 38 and 39), who were once scattered amongst the nations but have been brought back to the land (v 1, 2). God himself will intervene, however, delivering Jerusalem and establishing peace (verses 16-21).
Tuesday - Micah 5
The prophecy of Micah is also a call to repentance, in order to escape coming judgement. In chapter 4, Micah has prophesied of the time of peace that will come to pass when God establishes his kingdom on the Earth, when all nations come to Jerusalem to learn God’s ways (Micah 4:1-8). Chapter 5 now goes on to give further information about the King, the one who is to be Ruler in Israel (v2). He is to be born in Bethlehem, and we know from the New Testament quotation of this prophecy that it is referring to none other than the Lord Jesus Christ (see Matthew 2:6). Jesus will be the great shepherd who will feed and rule his flock, who will be great and will bring peace to the ends of the Earth (v4).
Wednesday - Zechariah 8
In this chapter Zechariah prophesies of the future peace of Jerusalem. Israel is to be gathered out of all nations where they have been scattered (verses 7-8) and brought back to possess Jerusalem in peace (verses 3-5). Not only is Israel to be blessed, but also people from other nations who come to Jerusalem to learn about God (verses 20-22). This ultimate purpose of God is spoken about by many of the prophets, in both Old and New Testaments, see for example Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 65:17-25, Amos 9:11-15 (quoted Acts 15:15-17), Romans 11:26-29.
Thursday - Zechariah 12
The future peace of Israel (chapter 14:11, 9) will only come after a time of trouble. Verse 3 describes a time when all nations of the earth will be gathered against Israel, a message echoed in chapter 14:2. But God himself will intervene to cause the defeat of the nations (verses 4-9 see also chapter 14:3). This will be followed by a time of national mourning, when Israel will repent of their sins, and realise that God has brought about their deliverance through none other than the one they had previously pierced (v10, see Revelation 1:7).
Friday – Malachi 3
In chapters 1 and 2, Malachi has rebuked the Jews for their hypocrisy, in going through the motions of worshipping God in the newly restored temple, but only actually giving him second best. Chapter 3 gives God’s response to this, prophesying the coming of John the Baptist, the messenger who was to prepare the nation for the coming of Christ. Verse 1 is quoted many times in the New Testament; see for example Matthew 11:10, Mark 1:2, Luke 1:76, 7:27.
Christ is here presented as a refiner, the one who will purify and cleanse the people, just as impure metals need to be refined. This work of refining involves judgment against those who behave contrary to God’s ways – adulterers, liars, those who exploit the poor and discriminate against foreigners. Verse 6 tells us that God doesn’t change. The instruction Malachi gave to the people of his day is relevant to us too (see for example James 1:27, and compare verse 10 with Luke 6:38). If we repent of our sins and fear God, then we can be amongst those written in God’s book of remembrance (v 16, see Revelation 21:27).
Saturday - Malachi 4
The last chapter in the English Old Testament concerns the day of judgement. The future coming of the Lord will be “great and dreadful” (v5). For the proud and the wicked the return of Christ will bring destruction (verses 1, 3, compare Hebrews 12:29, 10:26-31). But to those who fear God’s name (v2), Jesus will be the Sun of righteousness, bringing healing and nourishment. When the Lord Jesus returns to the earth it will be as the great Judge (2 Timothy 4:1, 2 Corinthians 5:10); we need to make sure we are prepared.