“Making Sense of the Old Testament”: Hosea – Malachi

Jonah Swallowed by FishHosea – Malachi are the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament. God inspired these men to speak to the nations of Israel and Judah at various times throughout their history. They delivered both threats of punishment and promises of restoration.

These books have much in common with the Major Prophets. Some of these men were contemporaries of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. They often spoke to the same people in the same situations about the same issues.

These books are without a doubt the most neglected portion of the Old Testament. Have you ever heard a sermon series about them? Has anyone ever told you they read Zephaniah during their “quiet time”?

I’ll admit they can be difficult to read. Their prophecies can seem obscure and unclear. We can start to wonder if they have any relevance for us as Christians today.

Yet they teach us much about God. They explain who He is and what He expects from His people. They demonstrate how He interacts with the nations of the world. Most importantly, they predict how He saves us through the life and ministry of Jesus.

Hosea prophesied to Israel in the 8th century BC. His marriage was a parable of God’s relationship with Israel. As Gomer cheated on Hosea, so Israel had cheated on God.

Joel prophesied during a terrible locust plague. The destruction wrought by the locusts was a picture of the day of the LORD. He called the people to repentance.

Amos prophesied to Israel in the 8th century BC. This was Israel’s “Golden Age,” a time of wealth and success. He spoke against oppressing the poor and excessive luxury.

Obadiah prophesied about the destruction of Edom. They displeased God by gloating over the destruction of Jerusalem.

Jonah prophesied to Nineveh in the 8th century BC. The Ninevites repented because of his preaching. His central message is God’s concern for His enemies.

Micah prophesied to Samaria and Jerusalem in the 8th century BC. He spoke against oppressing the poor, dishonest business, and insincere worship.

Nahum prophesied in the 7th century BC. He predicted the destruction of Nineveh. His central message is God’s anger against His enemies.

Habakkuk prophesied in the 7th century BC. He questioned how God could tolerate wickedness among His people and use wicked people for His purposes.

Zephaniah prophesied in the 7th century BC. Judah’s wickedness had reached its peak. He warned that God would punish not only His enemies but also His people.

Haggai prophesied in the 6th century BC. The Jews had stopped rebuilding the Temple. He told them to get their priorities straight and finish the job.

Zechariah prophesied in the 6th century BC. He preached with Haggai to rebuild the Temple. He saw many visions concerning Judah’s future and the coming Messiah.

Malachi prophesied in the 5th century BC. The Jews were losing hope in God’s promises. He rebukes them for their lack of faithfulness.

Part of the reason these books are so valuable is how they condense the teachings of the Major Prophets. Taken together, they comprise only 67 chapters! That is just one chapter more than the book of Isaiah. So rather than reading one long book, why not read twelve short ones?

Why are the Minor Prophets so neglected? Leave your thoughts with a comment below!

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4 thoughts on ““Making Sense of the Old Testament”: Hosea – Malachi

  1. Thanks for this. It’s so handy to have a nutshell summary like this. I think the reason the minor prophets are such neglected reading is because most people love to read the warm fuzzy stuff and especially about Jesus. I think it is too easy to separate the God of the Old Testament with Jesus, the God of the New Testament even though they are One and the same. That’s my thought on it, anyways. 🙂

    • You’re welcome. And I think you’re right. But you know what’s surprising? There’s not much “warm fuzzy stuff” in the Bible, either Old or New Testament! People just perceive Jesus in that way. But the fact is He spoke more about repentance, judgment, and hell than heaven or the love of God.

      • Huh! You’re right. I guess I just “feel” warm and fuzzy when I read most of it. For example: I am in Jeremiah right now and loving it! Go figure! I think it’s because it amazes me at how God just keeps on showing the Israelites SO much mercy and love in spite of all the times He has had to discipline them. Anyways, I also get very convicted reading much of God’s Word too. ………….. Thanks so much for your input. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Why You Should Preach from the Old Testament – Zack Donaldson

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