INTRODUCTION TO STUDY - EIGHT MINOR PROPHETS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT
Our study will comprise eight of the 12 Minor Prophets. They are classified as "minor," not because they are less important than the Major Prophets, but because they're shorter in length; and they appear roughly in chronological order. Taken together, their accusation of Israel's falling away from God set the stage for the New Covenant that would be ushered in with the person of Jesus Christ.
OBADIAH (Pre-Exilic, circa 840 B.C): Obadiah consists of just one chapter. Obadiah's message is quite specific to his time, describing the judgment that awaited the nation of Edom, which had done nothing to help Judah in her hour of need. Edom's actions would be revisited upon them: their land and wealth would be lost just as Judah's had been.
MICAH (Pre-Exilic, circa 735-700 B.C.): Micah's was a familiar message: Israel and Judah had turned away from God to follow false prophets and hypocritical religion, and disaster was coming if they did not repent. Micah tried to remind his audience that what God truly desired from men and women was not religious ritual, but faithful living. Micah explains that what God wanted of them was really not hard to understand.
NAHUM (Pre-Exilic, circa 663-612 B.C.): One of the more obscure prophets, Nahum foretold the ruin of the mighty Assyrian empire, which had hauled Judah into slavery and exile. His words communi-cated a warning that no city or nation was so powerful as to be beyond the reach of God's judgment.
ZEPHANIAH (Pre-Exilic, circa 622 B.C.): Prophecying during the reign of king Josiah, Zephaniah warned Judah that if they did not turn away from false religion and pagan practices, God's judgment would fall on them. But God's day of judgment is portrayed not just as a day of suffering, but as a time of rejoicing, when God would return to rescue the oppressed and restore the broken. The wicked had cause to fear judgment, but the faithful could look ahead to it with hope.
HABAKKUK (Pre-Exilic, circa 607-605 B.C.): Habakkuk strikes a markedly different tone than many of the other prophets. Instead of preaching judgment, he asked questions-tough questions, like "Why does God allow evil to exist?" and "If God is sovereign, why do wicked people prosper?" He brought these questions to God in prayer and found consolation in God's strength and power. Habbakuk shows us that ancient believers wrestled with the same difficult questions about sin, evil, and suffering that Christians ask today.
HAGGAI (Post-Exilic, circa 520 B.C.): Haggai served as a prophet while a small remnant of Jews, returning from exile, were struggling to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. His message was one of encouragement and hope-God was still with His people-even though they had fallen far from the glorious days of David and Solomon.
ZECHARIAH (Post-Exilic, circa 520 B.C.): Zechariah was a post-exile prophet like Haggai, and also directed his message to the surviving remnant returned from exile in Babylon. Zechariah stands out as an Old Testament messenger who spoke clearly about the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ.
MALACHI (Post-Exilic, circa 430 B.C.): Also preaching to the returned exiles, Malachi offered a less happy message: after all they'd been through, God's people still fell into disobedience. Israel's priests and leaders were leading the people astray, while only a remnant remained who lived in accordance with God's law. Malachi concludes the OT with the reminder of humanity's need for a Saviour and a promise: "for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays."