For our summer series, we will do an overview from an often-neglected part of God’s Word – the Minor Prophets of the Old Testament. Mark Dever and others have noted that these prophets already have at least two strikes against them in the modern church. First, they are in the ‘Old’ Testament. The Old’s not as good as the New, right? And second, these guys are not even in the same league as the ‘major’ prophets. If you are going to go to the trouble of reading the Bible, why give time to the ‘minor’ prophets? Isn’t that like watching a minor league baseball game when you could be watching a major league game? However, Dever quickly reminds us,
‘First of all, the Old Testament is God’s Word. In fact, it is most of God’s Word. Just open your Bible to the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, the first book of the New Testament, and place your finger there. You will see that most of the Bible, more than three-fourths of it, in fact, is to the left of your finger, in the Old Testament.’
The New Testament was never meant to eliminate the Old. In the Old Testament Law, Histories, Prophets, and Writings are accounts of centuries of God’s dealings with his people. The Old Testament lays out the human situation that the New Testament – covering only thirty to forty years of history – addresses so decisively. The Old Testament presents the riddle to which Jesus Christ is the answer, and you won’t understand the answer nearly as well without understanding the riddle.
So, what about this name ‘Minor Prophets’? Clearly, names are important. ‘Minor’ does not mean unimportant; it means ‘short.’ The Major Prophets are simply the longer books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel (Daniel is shorter than a couple of the Minor Prophets but is rooted in the same event that Jeremiah and Ezekiel are centered on – the destruction of Jerusalem). Overall, the Minor Prophets are simply shorter, ranging from fourteen chapters to just one. The prophets themselves may have been every bit as influential in their own times as the so-called major prophets. Again, drawing from Dever:
‘So, they are not two-bit players of the Old Testament. And in their day they were not the Johnny-come-latelies, the add-ins, the Oh-just-one-more-things. They were written by the inspiration of God’s Spirit for serious purposes and serious uses.’
The prophets and their writings represent the last four centuries of Old Testament history, from the eighth (8th) to the fifth (5th) century B.C. And we are pretty sure that these twelve prophets were placed together in one scroll as early as the third (3rd) century B.C. In other words, they have been recognized as Holy Scripture for a long time.
In this series of studies through the Old Testament’s Minor Prophets, our approach will be an overview or introduction to each of the twelve Minor Prophets. Yet, following Dever, we note that each prophet raises issues in the form of an ‘Eternal Question.’ Indeed, these are the questions that people of all ages and times raise. Attached you will find a listing of the twelve Minor Prophets and the ‘Eternal Questions’ that we will consider throughout this summer series. Because you are often traveling or vacationing during the summer months, we wanted to provide for you a time schedule if you miss a particular question in which you have a special interest (Please note, though, while we will try to maintain this schedule, if for some reason we need to alter, we will keep you posted.). I urge you to keep us in prayer as we prepare these timely messages.
In this series I am indebted to Mark Dever’s ‘The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made’. In this wonderful resource, he suggests the eternal questions in this study through the Minor Prophets. Moreover, thanks to Chad for recommending this study as an approach across this summer. He will join me in presenting these studies for our benefit.
CLICK Preaching-Calendar-Minor-Prophets.pdf to download the PDF.