Summary: The Study Of The Minor Prophets (2)
The Study Of The Minor Prophets (2)
2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
There are seventeen books of prophecy in the Old Testament. Five books are known as “Major Prophets.” The other twelve books are called “Minor Prophets” because their books are shorter. A prophet was a man chosen by God to be His spokesman to His people.
The work of a prophet was two-fold:
1. To call God’s people to repentance;
2. To reveal God’s future judgments and the coming of the Christ and His kingdom.
The prophets were some of the greatest men who ever lived. Many were persecuted and some were killed. They were men of God who were raised up by God to deliver His message at crucial times in history.
Jonah: The Runaway Prophet
Jonah was a prophet of God, but he was proud, patriotic, and prejudiced. He loved his nation. He was proud to be one of God’s chosen people. However, he did not understand the responsibility which went with his privileges. Jonah prophesied during the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel (2 Kings 14:23-25). Israel was strong and prosperous. Her well-being was threatened by the growing power of Assyria. Ninevah, Assyria’s capital, was the greatest city in the world. Israel feared and hated Assyria. Jonah shared the prejudice of his fellow Israelites.
When God commanded Jonah to go to Ninevah to warn the city of His coming judgment upon it, Jonah did not want to go. He thought he could run away from God by leaving Israel behind. He soon learned that God is the God of all the earth (Psalm 139:1-12). Jonah booked passage on a ship sailing to Tarshish (Spain). God sent a fierce storm. Jonah was thrown overboard. He was swallowed by a great fish which God had prepared. For three days, Jonah was in the belly of this sea creature. He repented of his rebellion during this time. When God commanded the sea creature to vomit Jonah upon the land, the prophet went to Ninevah.
In Ninevah, Jonah preached, “Yet forty days and Ninevah shall be overthrown.” All the people repented from the king to the poorest person. Jonah sat outside the city waiting for God to destroy it. When God did not punish Ninevah because of the repentance of its people, Jonah was angry with God. The book ends at that point. Likely it was written by Jonah himself to set forth the lesson that God loves all people. God will turn from His judgments upon nations when they turn to Him in repentance.
Micah: The Prophet of the Poor
Micah lived at the same time as Isaiah in Judah and Hosea in Israel. He was from a small village called Moresheth-Gath. It was located twenty-two miles southwest of Jerusalem. Micah’s prophetic ministry was during the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. During his lifetime, Judah’s greatest enemy was Assyria. When King Ahaz refused to join an alliance with Israel and Syria against Assyria, these two nations invaded Judah (Isaiah 7; 2 Kings 16). God delivered His people from this crisis. Later when Hezekiah was king, Sennacherib of Assyria invaded the land and besieged Jerusalem. God sent His angel. The angel killed one hundred, eighty-five thousand Assyrians in one night and the Assyrians fled (Isaiah 36, 37; 2 Kings 19:29-36).
In Micah’s day, Judah was prosperous. Her people were worldly and materialistic. Outwardly, they were very religious. Sacrifices were offered, but they were just forms to be observed. True devotion to God was lacking. Neither did the people apply the principles of their religion to everyday life (Micah 6:6-8). There were many false prophets who spoke what the people wanted to hear (Micah 2:11; Micah 3:5-8). Witchcraft and idolatry were practiced along with the worship of God. Judges and other government officials were corrupt. They took bribes and perverted justice. The poor were oppressed. Micah spoke out against these evils.
Nahum: Prophet of Ninevah’s Doom
Ninevah, capital of Assyria, was a very old city (Genesis 10:8-11). Assyria became one of the strongest nations in the world in the eighth century before Christ. Ninevah then became the chief city of the world. Ninevah was very strong. Its center was surrounded by eight miles of walls. These walls were one hundred feet high and wide enough to drive three chariots side by side on top. The city itself covered an area of nearly sixty square miles. One hundred and fifty years before the time of Nahum, Jonah had prophesied against Ninevah. Because the people repented at the preaching of Jonah, the city was spared. However, they had eventually gone back to their old ways. Once again, God sent His prophet to warn them of His coming judgment.