The 12 Minor Prophets Summary & Lessons
The so-called ‘Minor’ Prophets of the Old Testament also known as ‘The Twelve’ nevertheless had a Major impact in their day. This summary of the 12 prophets gives an overall view or a summary, of the Minor prophets one by one as they sought to change the lives of their people, and protect them from the wrath of an angry God (most of the time :).
Indeed many people make the mistake of thinking that the word ‘Minor, implies that their message is not as important as the other Biblical prophets such as Isaiah or Jeremiah for instance – nothing could be further from the truth.
“Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.” Proverbs 9:9
It must be registered from the outset that this is an outline study only of these Old Testament Prophets, written as an introduction to a small group of people who played a huge role in guiding/warning the nations of Israel and Judah of The Lords will regarding them.
This summary It is not intended to be an in-depth expose, but rather a ‘taster’ in the ministry of the Lord through the written works of his servants the prophets. It is written in such a way that discussion is encouraged, and questions asked as well as answered.
As such I am sure that the readers themselves, with just a little study would be able to expand considerably the material presented here – which is in fact the intention of this modest work.
In this summary, each Prophet will be considered individually, the intention being to create an overall work in the form of twelve individual books, covering the twelve prophets.
Are they relevant for Christian study today ? Well quite apart from such scriptures as “all scripture is God breathed….” 2 Tim 3:16 here are just a few examples that stand out…
• Habakkuk 2:4 “The just shall live by his faith” Sparked the Reformation under Martin Luther.
• Zechariah 11:12 Gave us the price of a slave – 30 pieces of silver, and many other details relating to the coming messiah.
• Joel 2,3 warns us of the ‘last days’ and the trials to come.
• Malachi 3:1 reveals the ministry of John the Baptist and the fact that he would come again to herald the return of the Messiah.
First of all it must be emphasised that the title of ‘Minor Prophets’ does not in any way place these individuals and the instructions that they gave, in an inferior category to the ‘Majors’ such as Isaiah or Jeremiah.
The ‘minor’ title really just applies to the brevity of the messages given by these Prophets in relation to their more wordy brothers, and is thought to originate in Augustine’s time (4th C.)
Up until then the whole Old Testament was referred to as ‘The law and the Prophets’ which included also the ‘Writings’.
In the Jewish canon what we call the ‘Minor’ Prophets are simply known as the ‘twelve’ and are listed amongst the other Prophets.
God is not impressed by our many words but rather our faithfulness to the calling into which he has called us – something to be borne in mind !
The purpose of this work, as alluded to earlier, is not to write yet another commentary or theological discourse on the Minor Prophets.
The purpose rather is to inspire debate and discussion, perhaps in a home bible study group, that will lead to a better understanding not only of the times and circumstances in which the prophets lived and ministered; but in fact a better understanding of where we are right now.
This work is in fact intended to be incomplete, and if doing the purpose for which it was conceived, should lead to many questions and discussions !
For this reason at the end, and throughout the books I have included some questions that should be brought to the group, to inspire and prayerfully consider the answers given by the rest of the group.
In many countries, apathy – not persecution – is the biggest enemy of the word of God in the times in which we find ourselves. Intelligent conversation, even heated argument is needed, if we are not to be sucked into an apathetic Christianity that is quite happy to see the unbelieving world slip away into a lost eternity.
In the following chart I have endeavoured to place a time around which the various prophets ministered. It should be understood that in a few of the cases i.e. Obadiah, there may be considerable debate as to the actual dating of the book, in these instances I have taken the ‘path of least resistance’ and chosen the most universally accepted date.
There may also be some debate as to when the books were actually written i.e. some suggest that they were written after the actual events.
Thankfully it is not within the remit of this introductory work to investigate these possibilities! I have chosen therefore to select the most appropriate time in relation to the prophet involved with the book.
However do feel free to disagree; remember this work is all about intelligent debate leading to understanding – eventually !
As for the order of the prophets, as they appear in this work. I have begun with the prophet Jonah – why ? Because he is my favourite !
Yes it’s terrible to have favourites I know, but that’s just the way I am. Jonah makes me laugh, and he makes me sad. The important thing is that he makes me something !
Remember apathy? I can relate to Jonah and his frustrations and fears. Maybe you can relate better to Joel, or Malachi perhaps ?
I would count it as a great success if after this study, you are able to relate a little better with any of the very real characters found within this group, we know as the Minor Prophets.
After Jonah, we will revert to studying in a more orderly fashion, as this does help to get a better ‘handle’ on what and who was where at any given time in history.
Here in the chart below is a timeline that will help with understanding just who was king at the time of the prophet’s ministry; as well as other relevant details.
Did good. Did Evil. Did good and Evil
• Manasseh deserves ‘special’ mention here as he is recorded as the most evil king that Judah ever had (2 Kings 21) and yet he repented and turned to the LORD in the last years of his reign.