As a baseball fan growing up being able to go to seminary in the Triangle of North Carolina was a really awesome experience, because of their minor league baseball. There was nothing like taking in a Durham Bulls game on a Saturday afternoon or even heading over to a company picnic to watch the Carolina Mudcats. It was amazing to see some of these guys who would one day be in the majors playing.
However, I think what stands out the most and probably why I loved the experience so much is that with the game of baseball whether you are watching the Tampa Bay Rays or the Durham Bulls the sport doesn’t change, the rules are for the most part the same, maybe they don’t make the same money, or have a TV network dedicated to them, but the goal and objectives are the same. So when we come to the Minor Prophets in the Bible this is what we need to remember they are not any less important than the ones we call the majors. And today I’d just like to give you three short reasons why not to skip the Minor Prophets.
It’s God’s Word
Okay so of course as any good pastor I have to start with the basics. It’s the Word of God and as such you should read it and be encouraged by it. All Scripture is God breathed and profitable even the parts that seem weird or hard to follow are meant to instruct us in the nature and character of God and especially in the Minor Prophets. These men were carried along by the same spirit that inspired the writings of Moses and the apostles. You would be amazed at how much God can teach you about himself in the parts of Scripture people rarely tend to visit. As pastors we usually make jokes about how no one reads Leviticus because of all the Laws and how legal it all sounds, yet in those pages we see a Holy God who has Holy standards, that can only be fully accomplished through faith, repentance and a savior.
I would assume that there are many people who if you asked who the minor prophets were couldn’t even name most of them. This isn’t a judgment issue, partially it’s a psatoral one, we like to talk about the whole word of God, but we even tend to not lead the people to these books except for maybe Christmas to make a passing comment on Malachi or on Pentecost to reference Joel. For the most part the passages go unnoticed and under appreciated, but as God’s Word we should be more diligent in it’s study and application
They reveal to us the nature of God and His Servants
Secondly, in the Minor Prophets we get a picture of God’s fierce love for His people, such as in the book of Hosea where the Lord reveals his love for them, that though they sin and are wayward He will bring them back and restore them to himself. He will love them as a husband loves his wife even in the midst of sin and adultery. In Jonah we see the picture of God’s love and forgiveness extended out to even Gentile nations like Nineveh being given to opportunity to repent of sin and worship the only God who brings true greatness. And all of them will give us a picture of the Christ and the coming Kingdom known as the great and mighty day of the Lord.
Also connected to the prophetic words describing God’s character we see the response of the prophets in joy humility, submission, and even praise. Habakkuk will end after a series of oracles pronouncing Judgment with a song of Praise to God knowing that even when the vine produces not fruit and the fig tree no longer blossoms, it is the Lord of our salvation who reigns. Each of the prophets gives us another look at what it means to follow God’s commands, even Jonah shows a picture of what it looks like to do so begrudgingly. God will use his servants to bring the news of salvation to the lost.
They are Short but Powerful
Finally, with books ranging from one chapter to fourteen chapters they pack quite a punch in a small package. It is important to see though that while they are small books they are far from unimportant. Each of these prophets were real men who were used by the Lord to remind the people of God of their need for Him and his love for them. Each of them has a word from the Lord that we need to hear and believe. For the most part these men may have been as equally as important in their own day and age as any of the Major Prophets like Isaiah or Ezekiel.
Some of the most powerfully works that changed the world were not large tomes, but rather pamphlets that hit home in a short and concise way. They dive to the heart of the issues and leave the reader marveling at the purpose and power of God. They drive us to our knees as we see that the Lord is in control of all that happens and that His judgments are true against those who reject him, and that his mercy and grace are what brings the wayward believer home. These short books begin to paint for us a big picture of the work of God leading up to the coming of Christ and how we know respond to that revelation.
As a closing remark, I would encourage you to not skip the minor prophets for the bigger, fancier Major prophets. There is much to learn from these twelve men. In studying the Word the Lord gave to them, you can better understand the Word he gave to the Major prophets. The Lord has much to say to us in His Word, especially in this collection of Twelve.