Faith and the Minor Prophets: Stories That Have Heart
By Dr. David Reagan
The Minor Prophets lived so long ago! How then can I connect with their messages?
Nathan Jones, my ministry colleague who serves as Associate Evangelist and Web Minister here at Lamb & Lion Ministries, has published a book titled 12 Faith Journeys of the Minor Prophets. It has already gone into additional printings and is being used by numerous Bible study groups. It is, without a doubt, the finest book I have ever read about the Minor Prophets. It is down-to earth, easy-to-understand, and it makes the messages of these prophets relevant to our lives here and now.
On a recent episode of Christ in Prophecy, I interviewed Nathan about why he felt led to write a book on such an obscure section of the Bible. I think by his answers you’ll be surprised just how relevant the Minor Prophets are to your faith today.
Stories That Have Heart
Dr. Reagan: I would say that the most unique aspect of you book, 12 Faith Journeys of the Minor Prophets, is the way you introduce each of these prophets. I have read probably every book ever written about the Minor Prophets, and this aspect was the thing that immediately grabbed my attention when I started reading it. I’ve never seen anything like it. Nathan, explain how you and your co-author introduced these prophets.
Nathan Jones: Certainly! I think the greatest thing that was ever said about the prophets can be found in Hebrews 11:36-38. The author of Hebrews wrote about the Old Testament prophets by saying:
“Still others had trials of mockings, and scourging, and yes, of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheep skins, and goat skins being destitute, afflicted, and tormented — of whom the world was not worthy.”
Now what that means is that the biblical prophets, both major and minor, had major stories happening in their lives. They suffered for their faith, and they grew in their faith through those sufferings. But, like I said in an earlier segment, the books of the Minor Prophets don’t always come with a story. Hosea came with a story. So, too, Jonah came with a story. But Habakkuk? Zephaniah? Not quite so much.
So, what Steve Howell and I did is dedicate two or three pages to introduce each chapter based on what we had learned from the Minor Prophet. There’s hints about their personalities and deeds they did in each book. So, we wrote historical fiction stories to introduce each of the Minor Prophets. We did this in order to give them some kind of grounding in what their life story was all about, what faith challenge they were about to embark on, who they were as people, and give a taste of their time period. We wrote these intro stories before getting into the facts about their ministry and messages.
Each chapter is organized in a certain way. We started with story, then we got into historical facts, and then we ended with application. We wanted to provide applications for Israel, which was clearly the main audience in these stories, for the Church, for the different nations, and for ourselves. We wanted the readers to ask themselves using a series of thought invoking questions, “What can I learn here to better my faith?”
Dr. Reagan: These stories that you put together, which as you said they are historical fiction, are really based on the era in which the Minor Prophets were living and events they experienced. Your stories really brought these guys to life! They also give the reader a really good feel for these men before getting down into what they actually wrote.
Nathan Jones: Praise the Lord! Actually, writing these stories was one of the funnest aspects of writing this book. There are so many different steps involved in writing a book. Dr. Reagan, I can see why you write so many books about the Bible because it’s also a lot of fun to study God’s Word. Being able to take these Old Testament characters and bring them to life so that they connect to the reader was vital in connecting them to the prophet. I get a lot people’s feedback saying, “Without those stories I wouldn’t know who these people are.”
Dr. Reagan: Well, the stories are very creative and very imaginative, but also not off the wall. As I read them I thought these stories really could have happened to those guys. And, this is probably what did happen to them.
Nathan Jones: The author of Hebrews, being the Holy Spirit, knew what happened to these prophets. Their messages weren’t well received. Other than Zechariah, the prophets were not well received by the people.
Dr. Reagan: Prophets never are well received, even today.
Nathan Jones: No, and the prophets were persecuted terribly for sharing God’s messages. There’s something to be learned from that.
Steve and I wanted people to really resonate with the Minor Prophets. Different people operate off of different learning styles. There are people who love stories. There are people who love historical facts. There are people who love application. And, so, we found as we started publishing our book that some people reported they resonated with the stories, but didn’t want to go through the history. Some readers only wanted the history lesson and they didn’t want the stories. Some readers were like, “Hey, give me only practical Christian living application for today.”
Dr. Reagan: Well, you certainly provided all of those in each of the chapters.
Nathan Jones: We tried to be a one-stop shop for all the different types of learning styles.
In the sixth segment of our look at why the Minor Prophets are relevant to us today, Nathan shows how many of the teachings of the Minor Prophets ended up in the New Testament.