Bible Study for Pr-Servants The Minor Prophetic Books Feb 11, 2012
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 to understand the messages of the Minor Prophets.
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.
Hosea • Hosea means “salvation”. • Around 730 BC. • Messenger: Hosea was 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. • Married the prostitute Gomer • “Out of Egypt I called my son.” – 11:1 • 14 Chapters
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.
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)
Joel • Joel means “Jehovah is God.” • 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). • “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” – 2:32 • 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).
Amos • Amos means “burden-bearer”. • 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. • “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath.” – 2:6 • 9 Chapters
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
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 day of the Lord is near for all nations. As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.” – v.15 • 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)
Jonah • Jonah means “Dove”. • 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. • “But the Lord replied, ‘Have you any right to be angry?” – 4:4 • 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
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. • “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you ? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” – 2:32 • 7 Chapters
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).
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. • “The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and maintains his wrath against his enemies.” - 1:2. • 3 Chapters
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 • “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.” - 3:19. • 3 Chapters
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)
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. • “The great day of the Lord is near— near and coming quickly… That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin.” 1:14,15 • 3 Chapters
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).
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. • “ ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” - 2:9 • 2 Chapters
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.
Haggai • Outline: • Rebuke of indifference. (1:1-4) • Call to serious reflection. (1:5-6) • Israel’s chastenings from God. (1:7-11) • Obedience of the nation. (1:12-15) • Encouragement for the building. (2:1-5) • Promise of future glory. (2:6-9) • Clean and unclean Levitical matters. (2:10-14) • The application of these truths. (2:15-19) • God’s future blessing for Zerubbabel. (2:20-23)
Zechariah • Zachariah means “whom Jehovah remembers”. • Date: Zechariah began prophesying two months after Haggai in 520 to 518 BC., and his last recorded words date some two years after the completion of Haggai. • Messenger: Zechariah was of the priestly tribe (Nehemiah 12:12-16), and he returned to Jerusalem in the migration led by Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 12:1,4,16) around 536 BC. After his work, we are told nothing about him. • “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.” – 9:9 • 14 Chapters
Zechariah • Message: Zechariah is the longest of the minor prophetic books and is also regarded as the most difficult to interpret. In addition to motivating the people to complete the temple, Zechariah opens a window of enlightenment regarding the spiritual temple of God which would one day be established upon the earth with the coming of the Messiah. There are many messianic prophecies found in Zechariah and much of the teaching done by the prophet is done by the relating of visions sent to him by God.
Zechariah • Outline: • Introduction (1:1-6) • The 8 visions of Zechariah (1:7 – 6:8) • Vision of the man on the red horse standing among the myrtle trees (1:7-17) • Vision of the Horns and Carpenters (1:18-21) • Vision of the man with the plumb line (2:1-13) • Vision of Joshua the High Priest accused by Satan but vindicated (3:1-10)
Zechariah • Outline (continued) • Vision of the Candlestick and the Olive Trees (4:1-14) • Vision of the Flying Roll (5:1-4) • Vision of Four Chariots (6:1-8) • Joshua, the symbol of the priest-king (6:9-15) • Fasts become feasts (7:1 – 8:23) • The shepherd-king (9:1 – 11:17) • Deliverance and the Messiah (12:1 – 14:21)
Zechariah • Messianic allusions • “the branch of David” (3:8; 6:12) • humble king riding on a donkey (9:9) • His dominion is universal (6:13; 9:10) • Sold for the 30 shekels of silver (11:12-13) • One pierced for His sheep (12:10) • The scattering of the sheep (13:7) • A remnant to be His (13:9) • Victory of demonic possession (13:1-2)
Malachi • Malachi means “My messenger”. • Date: 445 – 432 BC. • Messenger: Uses a different writing style called “didactic-dialectic”. This style became common in later teaching in Jewish schools and synagogues. Malachi follows this form: • A charge or assertion is made • The hearer raises an objection or asks a question regarding the charge or assertion • A rebuttal is made with further amplification of the original charge or assertion • “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight.” 3:1 • 4 Chapters
Malachi • Message: The Jews had started the return to Jerusalem almost 100 years before the date of Malachi’s writing. They returned with great zeal and enthusiasm and renewed faith. God had conditionally promised to bless them but instead of prospering materially they had suffered distress and famine resulting in a weakened faith. They murmured against God’s justice and manifested skepticism. Malachi assures them that God loves them and that sincere service would bring increased blessing. God had not been unfaithful.
Malachi • Message (continued): Their problem was to be found in the lack of sincerity, devotion and obedience on the part of the Jews. The divorce rate showed that their morals were not good. Offering defective animals for sacrifice betrayed a lack of devotion. The withholding of tithes and offerings revealed their selfishness. The Jews were ritualistically serving God but not in righteousness, holiness, and true devotion. In effect, God informs them that Malachi is to be the last prophet until “Elijah” comes to herald the coming Messiah. It is now up to Judah.
Malachi • Outline: • The Jews disrespect for God (1:1-14) • The priests and people are rebuked (2:1-16) • God’s requirements (2:17-3:15) • The final lot of the righteous and the wicked (3:16-4:6) 400 YEARS OF SILENCE
Messianic Prophecies • Isaiah 9:6-7 – Someone GREAT is to come! • Zechariah 9:9-10 – The Messiah would be a King over a huge kingdom. He would make a triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding upon a donkey and leading a colt, the foal of a donkey. • Amos 9:11 – He would once again exalt the Throne of David. • Micah 5:2 – He would be born in Bethlehem. • Isaiah 7:14 – He would be born of a virgin.
Messianic Prophecies • Zechariah 11:12; 13:7 – He would see violence & His price would be 30 pieces of silver. • Jeremiah 31:15 – The murder of the innocent children of Bethlehem would occur in an attempt to kill the Christ. • Jeremiah 31:31 – The Law of Moses would be replaced with a New Covenant. • Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6; Isaiah 40:3-5 – The Messiah would be announced by a forerunner who would possess the spirit of Elijah. • Isaiah 53 – Details of His death.
Messianic Prophecies • Isaiah 11:1-2 – To be of the House of David. • Daniel 9:25 – The time of His birth. According to Henry Liddon, there are 332 prophecies fulfilled in Christ. The mathematical probability of all these prophecies being fulfilled in one man is 1 out of 84 followed by 97 zeros. (Joseph P. Free, Archeology and Bible History, pg. 234)