Joel – The Day of the Lord
God sent the prophet Joel to the southern kingdom of Judah around 830 BC. He probably ministered in Jerusalem. Joel’s prophecy concerned the contemporary audience in Judah, but also his prophecies leaped across all future history to the end times. His favorite expression occurring five times was “the day of the Lord” which would be a time of great judgment.
Study Material Lesson 1:
Hosea – The Living Illustration
The prophet Hosea’s life gave a direct analogy between the marriage of Hosea and Gomer, and the covenant relationship between God and Israel. Before Israel went into the Promised Land, God warned them about the consequences of unfaithfulness and idolatry. Now Hosea’s marriage around 710 BC, becomes a “living illustration” to Israel. There were three stages to Hosea’s marriage: 1. In chapter one, the sinful unfaithfulness of Gomer destroys the relationship. 2. In chapter two, the confrontations and admonishment, and 3. The restoration of the covenant relationship through love. God used the prophet’s family as a symbolic representation of His dealings with Israel.
Study Material Lesson 2:
Jonah – The Reluctant Evangelist
Jonah was a prophet in Israel during a time when Assyria was Israel’s bitter enemy and had taken much of Israel’s territory. This of course was a judgment from God against Israel for its apostasy. Nevertheless,Israel hated Assyrians. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. Jonah feared he would be used to help the enemy that would later destroy his own nation.
Study Material Lesson 3:
Amos – Shepherd of Tekoa
Amos lived during times of prosperity in Israel and Judah around 762 BC. The rich were exploiting the poor, while they enjoyed an indulgent lifestyle. Morality had sunk to a new low, yet hypocrisy in religion flourished. God sent Amos to prophecy to Israel that judgment was coming because of the immorality and the religious hypocrisy.
Study Material Lesson 4:
Nahum – A Major City Disappears
Nahum wrote his prophecies in the time frame around 640 B.C. The dominant Kingdom and power in the world at that time was Assyria. The capital of Assyria was Nineveh. This was the same city that God sent the prophet Jonah to preach a message of repentance to around 760 B.C. At that time, the people there had repented, but the next generation returned to their wicked ways. In 722 B.C., Assyria conquered Samaria and the northern parts of Israel. Around 701 B.C., Assyria had taken every city in Israel and Judah except Jerusalem, which God had protected (see Isaiah 37:33-38). For many years the very violent and ruthless armies of Nineveh had threatened and exacted tribute money from Jerusalem, but now about 640 God revealed through His servant Nahum that Nineveh would soon fall and receive justice for its evil. This would have been a timely message since Jerusalem was beginning a great revival and return to the Lord in the time of Nahum.
Study Material Lesson 5:
Zephaniah – The Day of the Lord
Zephaniah was a great-great grandson of King Hezekiah (700 BC), and thus a relative of King Josiah in Jerusalem in 622 BC. At that time, the world power of Assyria was waning and the prophets Jeremiah and Zephaniah were both encouraging good King Josiah to remove all the idolatry and Assyrian religious practices from Judah. Before Josiah was king, the wicked King Manasseh and his son Amon had polluted Jerusalem for 60 years with idolatry and evil of every kind including infant sacrifice (see Kings 21:1-9). About 628 BC, King Josiah started a reform movement to remove the idolatry, and in 622, he found a copy of the first five books of the Bible (the Torah) which had been neglected for 60-70 years. This began a short lived revival under Josiah in which the prophecies of Zephaniah played a major part.
Study Material Lesson 6:
Habakkuk – “How Long Oh Lord?”
Habakkuk was a prophet in Judah working just before the invasion of Babylonin 605 B.C. He preached for repentance during the reign of evil King Jehoiakim (609-597 BC), but received a negative response. Habakkuk observed the injustice, wickedness and violence in Judah and cried out to God with some perplexing questions: Why do the wicked prosper? Why do the righteous suffer? Why doesn’t God do something?
Study Material Lesson 7:
Haggai – Priorities
The Book of Haggai is a report of four messages from God to the past exilic Jews who came back to a destroyed Jerusalem after about 70 years in exile in Babylon. Haggai was chosen by God to encourage the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. Over 25 times in this short book Haggai confirmed the divine authority of his message. Cyrus the Great, King of Persia had allowed about 50,000 Jews to return to Jerusalem in 536 BC. Spiritual apathy had set in by 520 BC, and only the foundation had been laid. The people became more interested in building their own houses and businesses than in building God’s house. God sent the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to convict them and encourage them in their higher priority.
Study Material Lesson 8:
Babylon conquered Judah and destroyed Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The surviving Jews were taken away into captivity in Babylon. During this exile, Zechariah was born in Babylon (Nehemiah 12:1). He was both a prophet and a priest, and when King Cyrus allowed about 50,000 Jews to return to rebuild Jerusalem about 536 B.C., Zechariah returned to Jerusalem. According to Ezra 3:8-13, the foundation of the Temple was laid two years later, but then the rebuilding was halted. In 520 B.C., God raised up the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to encourage the people to rebuild the Temple. Zechariah encouraged the people to spiritual renewal, and motivated them to rebuild the Temple by revealing God’s plan for Israel’s future.
Christ’s Ministry Predicted
Although the Minor Prophets were primarily interested in their audience in Israel and Judah that lived hundreds of years before Christ, they also had a future prophetic message about the promised Messiah. In Luke 24:27, after the resurrection, Jesus taught His disciples that the Old Testament prophets all spoke of Him, and predicted His ministry. In 1 Peter 1:10-12, the Apostle Peter wrote that the prophets spoke of the salvation Jesus would bring, and spoke of the sufferings of Christ and the resurrection. On his missionary journeys in the Book of Acts, Paul would go in the local synagogues first and show his fellow Jews how Jesus fulfilled all the O. T. prophecies. The prophets took a message of judgment to their people, but also a message of hope for their future Messiah.