Getting to know the not-so-minor “minor prophets”

elijahWhat springs to mind when you think of Old Testament prophets? Famous names like Samuel, Jeremiah, Elijah, and Isaiah probably stand out—they certainly play a key role in the history of Israel, and in their prophecies, judgments, and calls for repentance can be found many pointers to the eventual birth and saving work of Jesus Christ.

But these oft-quoted heavy-hitters weren’t the only prophets in the Bible. In fact, there’s a large group of ancient preachers whose stories have always lived in the shadow of the so-called “major prophets” like Isaiah and Jeremiah. Some of these “minor prophets” spoke of love and forgiveness; others of justice and repentance; all burned with a desire to see God’s people brought back into a relationship with their Creator.

There are twelve minor prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habkkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malach. How many of those names do you recognize? If you can’t remember what these prophets did, don’t feel bad! This week we’ll be looking at some of these fascinating characters. To start with, here are some overviews of these prophets, and why their ministries were anything but “minor”:

  • Which prophet’s name meant “wrestler”? Which prophet was married to a prostitute? Which was famously swallowed by a whale? Uplook Ministries has a helpful two-part introduction to the minor prophets. It includes a map to show you where each of the minor prophets lived, and a short paragraph with some interesting facts about each.
  • Here’s another overview of the minor prophets from a Jewish perspective. This summary talks a bit more about the historical context in which these prophets delivered their messages.
  • The Bible books about the minor prophets tend to be short—some just a few chapters long—so why not try reading a few of them this week? Joel, Nahum, and Habakkuk are brief and representative. As you can see, many of their prophecies are poetic calls for justice and repentance, usually (but not always) directed at Israel.

[Painting of Elijah by Antonio Cifrondi.]

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