In Parts One and Two of this series, we examined the basic importance of the biblical prophets. We identified the ‘major’ and ‘minor’ prophets, and focused in on the three ‘major’ prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
In this, Part Three, of the series, we will begin to examine the ‘minor’ prophets and the role they played in the Word…
‘Minor’ Prophets of the Old Testament:
As we discovered in Parts One and Two of this series, there are two classifications of Old Testament prophets.
One classification being ‘major’ prophets: commonly consisting of three prophets—some sources include a fourth, Daniel—who have the largest prophetic texts and written oracles pertaining to future events, such as the destruction and recreation of Israel, and the coming of Messiah. These ‘major’ prophets include: Isaiah, whom we examined in Part One, and Jeremiah and Ezekiel in Part Two.
The second classification is ‘minor’ prophets: those who did not write extensive texts and oracles, but who were still chosen and valued by God. These prophets include: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, ahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.
Finally, while the majority of Old Testament prophets fall into these two categories, there are some such as Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, Nathan, and occasionally, Daniel, who are not categorized as either ‘major’ or ‘minor’ prophets despite their biblical and prophetic importance. These prophets we will simply categorize here as ‘Old Testament Prophets.’
Years after Israel and Judah split, Hosea—a ‘minor’ prophet—served as a prophet to six kings of Israel. After the end of Hosea’s known prophetic career, a final king reigned until the people were taken into captivity by the Assyrians—the first of Hosea’s prophecies having come to pass.
Along with Hosea, two other ‘minor’ prophets, Amos and Jonah, also served Israel during the reigns of six unfaithful kings whose disobedience rendered their prophetic service difficult—particularly since the king’s very disobedience led to prophecies of destruction for failing to return to God.
|Prophets During the Time of Hosea|
|Hosea, Amos, & Jonah||Jeroboam II||782-753
(reigned 41 years according to 2 Kings 14:23… the years of reign found in many timelines appear biblically inaccurate in regard to this king.)
|Hosea, Amos, & Jonah||Zechariah||753-752
(reigned 6 months)
|Hosea, Amos, & Jonah||Shallum||752
(reigned one month)
|Hosea, Amos, & Jonah||Menahem||752-742
(assassinated Shallum; reigned 10 years)
|Hosea, Amos, & Jonah||Pekahiah||742-740
(reigned approx. 2 years)
|Hosea, Amos, & Jonah||Pekah||752-740 (rival king)
733-722 (sole king)
During the course of Hosea’s prophetic career, he was largely concerned with disentangling the rampant perverted association of God with Baal and the sexual rites of the Canaanite religion. Moreover, God, early in the book of Hosea, is found to ask Hosea to do something that to us may seem shocking. God tells Hosea to take a wife who is promiscuous, perhaps even engaged in prostitution, as a sign of Israel’s unfaithfulness—their prostitution to various gods and sin, where they left their Husband for other gods.
“I will not show my love to her children,
Their mother has been unfaithful
and has conceived them in disgrace.
She said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
who give me my food and my water,
my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’
Therefore I will block her path…
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’
She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used for Baal.”—Hosea 2:4-8 (NIV)
In fact, the naming of Hosea’s children with his promiscuous wife, Gomer, was a prophetic symbol of the relationship between God and His people at that time. Yet, as always, God swore not to destroy His people entirely or leave them forever, for God’s judgment on Israel always came with the promise to restore her in time.
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make… a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth…
In that day… you will call me ‘my husband’;
you will no longer call me ‘my master.’
I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
no longer will their names be invoked.”—Hosea 2:14-17 (NIV)
God, to symbolize this promise of restoration, told Hosea to once again love his wife, though she was promiscuous. To love her as He loved Israel… showing the promise of God to once again love Israel and bring her to Himself.
Amos, also one of the ‘minor’ prophets of the Word, prophesied during the time of Hosea and Jonah. He was a shepherd of Tekoa and a keeper of sycamore-fig trees in Judah when the Lord first gave him a prophetic vision for Israel. When Amos traveled there, he began to see the troubles that were to befall Israel for their sin—for not obeying the Lord, serving false gods, mistreating His people and profaning His laws. They even thought that by being zealous in the ritual observance of His sanctuaries, they would not be subject to moral or ethical obligations.
“They trample on the heads of the poor…
and deny justice to the oppressed.
Father and son use the same girl
and so profane my holy name.
They lie down beside every altar…
In the house of their god
they drink wine taken as fines…
and commanded the prophets not to prophesy.
‘Now then, I will crush you
as a cart crushes when loaded with grain.
The swift will not escape,
the strong will not muster their strength,
and the warrior will not save his life…
Even the bravest warriors
will flee naked on that day,’
declares the Lord.”
—Amos 2:7-8, 12-14, & 16 (NIV)
Interestingly, Amos never considered himself a prophet. In his confrontation with Amaziah, a priest of Bethel, Amos said that he was not a prophet, but that the Lord had taken him from his work to prophesy to Israel of what her unrepentance would bring (see Amos 7:14-15). Yet, like with Hosea, God reminded Amos that at the end of Israel’s captivity He would restore her, bringing Israel back into covenant.
“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord,
‘when the reaper will be overtaken by the plowman
and the planter by the one treading grapes.
New wine will drip from the mountains
and flow from all the hills…
I will bring my people Israel back from exile.
They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them.
They will plant vineyards and drink their wine;
they will make gardens and eat their fruit.
I will plant Israel in their own land,
never again to be uprooted
from the land I have given them…’”
—Amos 9:13-15 (NIV)
Despite Israel’s turning away, treating one another and God with contempt, they were—as we are today—still loved by the Lord enough to restore what by all rights should have been broken. God remembers His beloved.
During the course of this series we will continue to examine the lives of the prophets of the Word. We will see how those of the Old Testament prophesied not only of what was about to occur—or would occur without action—but, how they laid out prophecies which were to be fulfilled in Jesus’ day as well as those that are still coming to pass in this day!
Finally, we will examine New Testament prophets and how, from the book of Matthew to Revelation, what was and is to come, was revealed to us in part…