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The Minor Prophets. Introduction. Probably the least studied section of the Bible. “Minor” designation is not given based on the importance of the material contained, but rather the shortness of each respective writing. This study will basically be an “overview” of each of the 12 books.
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Introduction • Probably the least studied section of the Bible. • “Minor” designation is not given based on the importance of the material contained, but rather the shortness of each respective writing. • This study will basically be an “overview” of each of the 12 books. • The need to study such material is evident in fact that many have misapplied the prophecies and warnings found therein and our lack of study has not given us the ability to “give an answer” to the challenges that we face. • We can argue against misapplication, but we need to know what lessons these passages were meant to convey. • Our goal in this study: To equip the student with the proper understanding of the messages of the Minor Prophets, thereby enabling him/her to “give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you…” (1 Peter 3:9).
Historical Background • These prophecies will only make sense when we place them in their proper place in history. Let us trace the geographic and historic settings of the Old Testament: • Ante-diluvian world (time before the Flood) – Genesis 1-6 • Post-diluvian world (time after the Flood) – Genesis 7-11:26 • Abraham in Ur/Moves to Haran – Genesis 11:27-30, 31-32 • Abraham is called to Canaan – Genesis 12:1-9 • Famine forces Abraham to Egypt – Genesis 12:10-20 • Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob dwell in Canaan – Genesis 13-45:28 • Lot begat Moab (Genesis 19:37) = Moabites • begat Benammi (Genesis 19:38) = Ammonites • Abraham/Hagar begat Ishmael (Genesis 21:12-14) = Ishmaelites • Ishmael begat Twelve Princes (Genesis 25:12-18) = ??? • Abraham/Keturah begat Midian (Genesis 25:1-4) = Midianites • Isaac begat Esau (Genesis 36:6-9) = Edomites • begat Jacob (Genesis 35:22-26) = Israel
Historical Background • Egyptian Bondage (400 years) – Exodus 1-12 1890-1490 BC • The Wilderness Wanderings (40 years) 1490-1451 BC • The Conquest (26 years) 1451-1425 BC • The Judges (300 years) 1406-1095 BC • The United Kingdom (120 years) 1095-975 BC • The Divided Kingdom (Fall of Northern Israel/Samaria) 975-722 BC • Southern Kingdom of Judah (Fall of Jerusalem) 722-586 BC • The Captivity (Fall of Babylon) 586-538 BC • The Restoration 538-432 BC • Three major movements when the Jews returned to Jerusalem: • 536 BC – Zerubbabel returned with 42,360 Jews • 457 BC – Ezra returned with 1754 Jewish men • 444 BC – Jeremiah returned and worked at government expense • Two distinct periods of restoration: • 536 - 516 BC – Zerubbabel rebuilds temple (Ezra 3-6) • 457 - 432 BC – Nehemiah & Ezra rebuilt walls of Jerusalem
The Minor Prophets • Obadiah – “Servant of Jehovah” (845 BC) • Joel – “Jehovah is God” (830 BC) • Jonah – “Dove” (780 BC) • Amos – “Burden-bearer” (755 BC) • Hosea – “Salvation” (750-725 BC) • Micah – “Who is like the Lord?” (740-700 BC) • Zephaniah – “Jehovah Hides” (625 BC) • Nahum – “Consolation” (630-612 BC) • Habakkuk – “Embrace” (612-606 BC) • Haggai – “Festive or Festival” (520 BC) • Zachariah – “Whom Jehovah Remembers” (520-518 BC) • Malachi – “My Messenger” (445-432 BC)
Important Dates to Remember • 975 BC – The Kingdom of Israel was divided into two parts: • The Northern Kingdom of Israel with Samaria as its capital. • The Southern Kingdom of Judah with Jerusalem as its capital. • 722 BC – The Northern Kingdom of Israel (Samaria) was destroyed by the Assyrians under King Tiglathpileser III (2 Kings 15:29). As was the Assyrian custom, the Israelites were deported to Assyria. • 586 BC – The Southern Kingdom of Judah is taken captive and Jerusalem is destroyed by the Babylonians under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar.
Obadiah • Obadiah means “servant of Jehovah” • Date: Most likely 845 BC (2 Chronicles 21:8-10,16-17) • Message: Edom was to be destroyed for its cruelty and pride (vs. 3-4) • History: Edomites were descendants of Esau (Genesis 36:6-9). Struggle began in the womb (Genesis 25:21-28). Always had a “rocky” relationship with Israel.
“The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; you who say in your heart, ‘Who will bring me down to the ground?’ Though you ascend as high as the eagle, and though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” says the Lord. – (Obadiah 3-4)
Entrance to the Valley Of Petra
Edom was located in the mountainous region of the Dead Sea. Sela (now Petra) was it’s capital. From mount strongholds like this the Edomites launched their raids on Israel.
Obadiah • Obadiah means “servant of Jehovah.” • Date: Most likely 845 BC (2 Chronicles 21:8-10,16-17). • Message: Edom was to be destroyed for its cruelty and pride (vs. 3-4). • History: Edomites were descendants of Esau (Genesis 36:6-9). Struggle began in the womb (Genesis 25:21-28). Always had a “rocky” relationship with Israel. • Outline: • National Security will be taken away (vs. 1-9) • Watched and participated in Judah’s destruction (vs. 10-14) • Edom’s destruction foretold (vs. 15-16) • Israel would recover but Edom would never (vs. 17-21)
Joel • Joel means “Jehovah is God.” • Probably around 830 BC. • Message: Warning to Judah that “the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come” (1:15). A plague of locusts covers the land and strips every living green thing bare (vs 7). This message is brought during the reign of Joash (835 – 796 BC).
A Cornfield Destroyed by Locusts
Joel • Joel means “Jehovah is God.” • Probably around 830 BC. • Message: Warning to Judah that “the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come” (1:15). A plague of locusts covers the land and strips every living green thing bare (vs 7). This message is brought during the reign of Joash (835 – 796 BC). • The book is divided into two parts: • The prophet’s call to repentance (1:1 – 2:17). • God’s direct message (2:18 – 3:21).
Jonah • Jonah means “Dove”. • Probably around 780 BC. • Message: God cared for all nations of the earth, and He was willing to save even the heathen nation of Assyria if they would repent. God wanted all men to recognize Him as the One True God.
Dunkleosteus This skull was about three and a half feet tall. Its body length would be incredible. This huge fish would be a fright to anyone who saw it. It's mouth would have the ability easily swallow an average size human being
Jonah • Jonah means “Dove”. • Probably around 780 BC. • Message: God cared for all nations of the earth, and He was willing to save even the heathen nation of Assyria if they would repent. God wanted all men to recognize Him as the One True God. • Chapter 1 – God calls Jonah to go to Ninevah • Chapter 2 – Jonah’s prayer and deliverance • Chapter 3 – God repeats His call to Jonah • Chapter 4 – Jonah reacts to Ninevah’s repentance
Amos • Amos means “burden-bearer”. • Probably around 755 BC. • Messenger: Amos was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore trees, a strong rural character (7:14-15). • Message: A message of doom for both Israel and Judah. Each were given some rest from the threats of Assyrian invasion. In this state of comfort, moral and political corruption began to flourish. They began to adopt the worship of the gods of the Assyrians, and thus of apostasy from the One True Jehovah. In short, luxury and wealth had bred moral decay and spiritual disinterest.
Amos • Outline: • Introduction of the Prophet (1:1-2) • Coming of divine judgment upon sinful nations • Damascus – for cruelty in war and greed (1:3-5) • Gaza (Philistia) – for their slave trade (1:6-8) • Tyre (Phoenicia) – remembered not the covenant (1:9-10) • Edom – for their hatred and mistreatment of Israel (1:11-12) • Ammon – intense and uncalled-for cruelty (1:13-15) • Moab – vengeance even on a king’s carcass (2:1-3) • Judah – for her apostasy (2:4-5) • Israel – for all their sins (2:6-16)
Amos • Outline (continued) • Israel’s crimes (3-4) • Upon wealthy ruling classes for social sins and injustices (3:1- 4:5) • Chastisement upon the nation had gone unheeded (4:4-13) • Israel's inevitable condemnation (5-6) • Five Visions explained (7:1–9:10) • The vision of the locust (grasshoppers) in which the mercy of God averts catastrophe (7:1-3) • The vision of devouring fire – an even more severe judgment again averted by God’s mercy (7:4-6)
Amos • Outline (continued) • Five Visions Explained (continued) • The vision of the plumb-line – the destruction of the nation of Israel for its idolatry (7:7-9) • Interlude – Amaziah’s complaint against Amos (7:10-17) • Five Visions Explained (continued) • The vision of the basket of summer fruit – the ripeness of Israel for judgment (8) • The vision of the smitten sanctuary – destruction for the sinful kingdom (9:1-10) • The promise of a bright future in the hope of the Messiah (9:11-15) – Acts 15:14-18
Hosea • Hosea means “salvation”. • Probably around 730 BC. • Messenger: Hosea was probably a citizen of the northern kingdom of Israel. He appears to be a sympathetic man who mourns the digression of Israel and laments their pending fall. At the same time he is filled with a righteous indignation over their departure from the one true God. His work reflects these moments of sympathy and indignation.
Hosea • Message: The excesses of Israel had now become even more pronounced than in the time of Amos. Hosea sums up his indictment against Israel by emphasizing the theme of “whoredom”. A theme that he would know first hand. Israel was committing spiritual adultery. They had embarked upon a path of idolatry, and they were giving praise to these pagan gods for the prosperity they were enjoying (Hosea 2:12-13). Hosea’s work emphasizes the judgment of God against the wicked while yet reminding his hearers of God’s love and forgiveness.
Baal Worship Baal is mentioned widely in the Old Testament as the primary pagan idol of the Phoenicians, often associated with the heathen goddess Ashtaroth. This photo shows Baal's fictitious image from an ancient stone carving. He was the supposed son of the non-existent god Dagon. Unfortunately, to their eventual bitter regret, the Israelites became deeply involved in the cult of the Baals. The evil "worship" included perverted sexual behavior, and even sacrificing their infants in fire.
Hosea • Outline: • Israel’s adultery against God (1-3) • Hosea’s personal marriage to adulterous Gomer parallels that of God’s relationship with Israel (1:2–2:1) • Chastisement, repentance & final restoration of idolatrous Israel (2:2-23) • Jehovah’s controversy with Israel (4-6) • Israel’s corrupt political situation (7-8) • Israel’s religious & moral apostasy resulting in punishment, exile & destruction (9-11) • Israel’s apostasy versus God’s fidelity (12-13) • Israel’s conversion and pardon (14)
Micah • Micah means “Who is like the Lord?”. • Dated from anywhere between 740 – 700 BC. • Messenger: Micah was from a very rustic, productive, fertile and agricultural area called Moresheth-gath (1:1,14) which was a small village on the border between Judah and Philistia. The village was about 25 miles southwest of Jerusalem. With the viewpoint of the humble peasant from an obscure village he harshly condemns the idolatry, the impiety, and the social corruption of both Judah and Samaria. Using vivid terms, Micah serves as the voice of God to all.
Micah • Message: In common with all the eighth century prophets, Micah preached the supreme righteousness of God in contrast to the ungodly character of the luxury-loving age in which they lived. In contrast with the destruction which shall be visited upon the wicked nations of that age, God will bless and keep those who continue to be his servants. Micah declares the nature of true service which God has always sought (6:6-8). There is also a considerable amount of Messianic prediction, comparable to that of Isaiah.
Micah • Outline: • Authorship & time of the prophet’s work (1:1). • Judgment upon Israel & Judah with a remnant to be saved (1-3). • Coming of Christ and His church (4-5). • Condemnation for sins (6:1 – 7:6). • Ultimate blessing (7:7-20). • Messianic prophesy: • Forecast of the establishment of the church (4). • Birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem (5:2).
Zephaniah • Zephaniah means “Jehovah hides”. • Probably around 625 BC . • Messenger: Zephaniah wrote during the reign of Josiah who was a young king trying to reform the sinful nation after his father, Amon, and his grandfather, Manasseh, brought the religion and morality of Judah to an all-time low. Zephaniah was the great-grandson of Hezekiah, the last good king prior to Josiah. This indicates that he was a descendant of royal blood.
Zephaniah • Message: Zephaniah spells out the judgment of God against all who are guilty of idolatry (1:4-6), violence and fraud (1:9), and all who sit by in idle indifference (1:12). They will be set apart for destruction (1:7), and their cry will be heard in every quarter of Jerusalem (1:10-11). The only hope for God’s people is to seek Him, and begin living by His standards. If they do not, they will share the fate of the nations around them: Philisita to the west, Moab & Ammon to the east, Ethiopia to the south and Assyria to the north. Jerusalem will be punished for her sins (3:1-8), but a remnant shall be saved (3:9-20).
Nahum • Nahum means “consolation”. • Dated anywhere from 630 to 612 BC . • Messenger: We know nothing definite regarding Nahum other than this prophecy. There is no indication as to where and Elkoshite would come from. • Message: This prophecy deals directly with the impending destruction of Nineveh. The book declares the reasons for this destruction and shows that the fall is God’s vindication against this wicked place.
Nahum • Outline • God’s majesty in mercy and judgment (1:1-14) • The siege & destruction of Nineveh (1:15-2:13) • The reasons for Nineveh’s doom (3:1-19) • Summary • Nahum & Jonah were the 2 prophets primarily charged with foretelling the fortunes of Nineveh, the capital city of the Assyrian Empire. Jonah’s warnings were delivered around 780 BC. And repentance resulted (Jonah 3:5-10). Nahum speaks about 150 years later and reminds them of the consequences of forgetting their repentance – DOOM! (1:3)
Habakkuk • Habakkuk means “embrace”. • Date: Assyria fell to the Babylonians in 612 BC and Nebuchadnezzar pushed westward toward Judah. The first group of captives were carried away in 605 BC., so the date of this writing would fall somewhere between 612 to 606 BC. Habakkuk was waiting for the invasion (3:16) • Messenger: We know nothing about Habakkuk except that he was a prophet (1:1; 3:1). He is mentioned nowhere else in the scriptures. We do not know his home or occupation
Habakkuk • Message: This prophecy is a bit different in its style of writing. Where most of the literary prophets address the people speaking the words of God unto them, Habakkuk presents his writing as a representative of the people, addressing God to reason with him about His ways. His first problem is how to account for the fact that social injustice and immorality prevail in the land and the evil-doers seem to go unpunished. God tells him that chastisement will come from the Chaldeans who are being raised up for that very purpose. Habakkuk does not see the justice in this act and questions God again on his ways. God replies that the Chaldeans, too, will be judged for all their sins. The book ends in Habakkuk’s song of praise to God for his complete justice and mercy.
Habakkuk • Outline • Title and name of author (1:1) • Jehovah is to judge Judah by the Chaldeans (1:2-2:3) • Prophet laments sins of the land (1:2-4) • God sees this and will judge them (1:5-11) • Prophet questions God’s justice (1:12-17) • God answers that they will be judged, too (2:1-3) • God’s eventual judgment of the Chaldeans (2:4-20) • “The just shall live by faith” (2:5) • Woes upon the Chaldeans (2:6-19) • “The Lord is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silent before Him” • Song /Prayer of Habakkuk (3:1-19)
The Fall of Judah(3 Major Movements) • 605 BC. - Nebuchadnezzar sent his army to punish Judah. Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiakim (2 Chronicles 36:6) and others (possibly Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, & Abednego) as the first captives carried away to Babylon. • 597 BC. – Jehoiachin (Jehoiakim’s son) was the next king of Judah and was 18 when he began to reign. He also proved disloyal to the Babylonians and he, his family and a large number (10,000) of other captives were carried back to Babylon. These captives included the best workmen of the city, and the prophet Ezekiel was also in this group.
The Fall of Judah(3 Major Movements) • 586 BC. – The final king of Judah was Mattaniah who took the name Zedekiah. There was little left of value in Judah by this time, and there was a dire lack of leadership. Jeremiah, the prophet, tried diligently to initiate reforms, but it was to no avail. Zedekiah made an alliance with the new Pharaoh in Egypt, and Nebuchadnezzar returned a final time. Jerusalem was burned to the ground (2 Kings 25:9), and the final captives left for Babylon in 587-86 BC. The kingdom of Judah was no more.
The Babylonian Chronicles The Babylonian Chronicles make it possible to assign the fall of Jerusalem to the Second of Adar (March 16) in 597 B.C. with complete accuracy, confirming the Biblical accounts of Babylonian attacks on Jerusalem in 597 and 586 B.C. The Babylonian Chronicle records: "In the seventh month (of Nebuchadnezzar-599 BC.) in the month Chislev (Nov/Dec) the king of Babylon assembled his army, and after he had invaded the land of Hatti (Syria/Palestine) he laid seige to the city of Judah. On the second day of the month of Adara ( 16th of March) he conquered the city and took the king (Jehoiachin) prisoner. He installed in his place a king (Zedekiah) of his own choice, and after he had received rich tribute, he sent (them) forth to Babylon."
The Lachish Letters Important light has been revealed regarding the last days of Judah by the discovery in 1935 of eighteen ostraca (clay tablet with writing in ink) written in an ancient cursive script belonging to the seventh century B.C. They were discovered at Lachish (Tell ed-Duweir) among the ruins of a small guard room just outside the city gate. Then a few years later three inscribed potsherds were also found at the site, and like the others, they contained names and lists from the period just before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Most of the letters were dispatches from a Jewish commander named Hoshaiah who was stationed at an outpost north of Lachish, who apparently was responsible for interpreting the signals from Azekah and Lachish during the time when the: Jer. 34:7 "when the king of Babylon's army fought against Jerusalem and all the cities of Judah that were left, against Lachish and Azekah; for only these fortified cities remained of the cities of Judah." These final communications which mentioned the political and religious turmoil of the last days of Judah reveal the intensity of this time period and confirm that which was written in the Bible by the prophet Jeremiah.
Jehoiakin Inscription This is one of the clay tablets that reveal the presence of the Judean royal house as prisoners in Babylon. They were excavated from an arched building near the Ishtar Gate of ancient Babylon. The cuneiform texts, which are dated between 595 and 570 B.C., contain lists of rations of barley and oil issued to the captive princes and artisans, including "Yaukin, king of the land of Yahud." This is a direct reference to Jehoiachin, and some of the other tablets also mentioned his 5 sons who accompanied him to Babylon. (Staatliche Museum, Berlin).
Haggai • Haggai means “festive” or “Festival”. • Date: Precisely dated at 520 BC. During the reign of Darius, the Persian king (1:1) • Messenger: We know nothing of Haggai except that he was a prophet during the reconstruction of Jerusalem (Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14-16). Since he contrasts Solomon’s Temple with the Temple built by Zerubbabel, some commentators view him as an old man who had witnessed the existence of both buildings. This may or may not be true.
Haggai • Theme: Rebuild the Temple! • Timetable (for the Temple reconstruction): • 536 BC – 50,000 Jews return to Jerusalem under Zerubbabel; Altar is built and foundation is laid. Work stops by opposition and indifference. • 520 BC – Haggai’s call to build (6th month). Building begins; Haggai’s second appeal (7th month); Zechariah’s opening address (8th month). • 516 BC – Temple completed • 457 BC – Ezra begins reforms in Jerusalem • 444 BC – Nehemiah rebuilds the wall of Jerusalem.