The Bible: Autobiography of God By Joseph Parker In the beginning, God created the heavens…
Faith and the Minor Prophets: The Little Door of Inspiration
By Dr. David Reagan
Can you name a single one of the Minor Prophets? Have you ever read one of their 12 books in the Bible? Do you know why they are called Minor Prophets? Did you know that they contain many end time prophecies? Did you know that they are full of messages that are relevant to Christian living today?
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.
The Little Door of Inspiration
Dr. Reagan: First, tell me about your co-author, Steve Howell.
Nathan Jones: Well, first of all, thank you for all the kind of words you’ve said about the book. That someone who has written so many books as you have, Dr. Reagan, likes the book so much is just an honor.
My co-writer for the book is Steve Howell. Steve is the education pastor of a church just west of Kansas City. We’ve known each other since 2001 when we served at the same church together, Southeast Christian Church, in Louisville, Kentucky. He moved to Kansas at the same time I came here to join Lamb & Lion Ministries just over a decade ago. We’ve kept in touch all these years apart and we continue to do ministry together.
Dr. Reagan: How did you get the idea of writing this book?
Nathan Jones: I’d like to say that the idea came from some kind of epiphany from God. Maybe it was, but practically it from a little door. My office is located on the second floor here at Lamb & Lion Ministries. Just outside of my office upstairs is a tiny little door. It stands only about three feet high. I walk by it every day.
I guess before my time someone placed a little paper sign on the door post that reads “Minor Prophets.” And so, I walk by that little door every day and I’m reading the Minor Prophets sign and I’m curious as to just what is behind that door. Clearly it must be the attic. I finally looked in, and sure enough, it’s an attic. And, like most attics, it’s dusty and grimy and even has a little mold here and there.
The dusty condition of the attic got me thinking. I reflected that many people think of the Minor Prophets in the same way as an attic. The 12 books of the Bible that comprise the Minor Prophets are an often unused section, like the attic of the Bible. This section of the Bible remains untouched, unused and dusty. Many believe the Minor Prophets hold no purpose anymore in their lives.
Well, I thought, “That’s not true!” The Minor Prophets may only consist of 7% of the 39 books of the Old Testament, a very slim section of the Bible indeed, and yet they are filled with the wisdom and knowledge of God. Such wisdom is not only still relevant to us today, but God’s messages remain very important to us today as well.
Dr. Reagan: Good point! I have found over the years that most Christians consider the Minor Prophets to be totally unimportant, otherwise why would they be called the Minor Prophets?
Nathan Jones: True. Having the section named “Minor Prophets” hurts them right there. Sure, we have the Major Prophets such as Daniel, and Ezekiel, and Isaiah. They wrote chapter after chapter after chapter, but what the Minor Prophets wrote was very short. Some of these Minor Prophets, like Obadiah, barely cover a chapter. Most of these books were, in truth, mere letters. Jonah was longer, and Zechariah holds the longest of the twelve, but for the most part these books are quite brief. Just because they are shorter does not mean that they are lesser in spiritual impact.
The Ignored Books
Dr. Reagan: When I was growing up I was born into a Christian family. I went to church every time the door was open. I was there Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, Vacation Bible School, special meetings — you name it. And yet, I never heard even one time in 30 years any message from the Minor Prophets.
Nathan, why do you think the Minor Prophets are so ignored in today’s preaching and teaching?
Nathan Jones: First is their location. The books of the Minor Prophets are located at the very end of the Old Testament. Going through the Old Testament is quite a challenge. You and I have read through the Bible numerous times, but a lot of people get bogged down in Numbers or Deuteronomy and so skip to the New Testament.
Dr. Reagan: Leviticus usually stops them.
Nathan Jones: Yes, Leviticus can be a tough read, although there are some good sections of story. And story is another reason why the Minor Prophets are often neglected. Their story is somewhat lacking. When you read Daniel being taken into exile, and interpreting dreams, and being thrown into the lion’s den, we can all agree Daniel had a story to tell. Some of the Minor Prophets also contain stories, like Jonah. Every kid knows about Jonah. Hosea also tells a great story, but a lot of them do not. Zechariah has a story, but who knows anything about Obadiah? Story makes for a compelling read, and without a personal story, some lose interest fast.
Another reason why I think people neglect the Minor Prophets is because of their odd-sounding names. There are twelve of these prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. If you can say that, that’s quite pretty impressive. It took me a long time to learn to recite their names.
Dr. Reagan: You mean the book of Hezekiah is not in there?
Nathan Jones: Hezekiah? No, I’ve fallen for that trick. There’s no book of Hezekiah in the Bible.
Some of the Minor Prophets have really weird names, such as Habakkuk, that sometimes act as a deterrent towards people wanting to explore about them more.
The third reason why I think that people run away from the Minor Prophets is that they came at a time period in Israel’s history when Israel had betrayed God time and again. The dates of their ministries range between about 800-400 BC. That’s when Israel was constantly in rebellion against God, like a wayward wife, and God was constantly calling His people back to Him. So, when you read through these books, except for say Zechariah, God is mad. He’s hurt. He’s angry. He’s feeling betrayed. And, He expresses those emotions very deeply throughout these books. A lot of times people don’t want a God who seems angry, rather they want a “New Testament God” who appears always loving and self-sacrificing. They want just half a God.
In the second segment of our look at why the Minor Prophets are relevant to us today, we’ll get into the times, background, and writing styles of these often neglected prophets.