The Minor Prophets or The Book of the Twelve

At some point in history Christians decided to classify prophetic material by the pound which is why these are called the Minor Prophets. They are minor in that they are short not because they are unimportant. In the Hebrew Bible these books fit on one scroll and, as a group, are called The Book of the Twelve. They are part of the Division the Jews call the Latter Prophets. What the Jews call the Former Prophets are in the History division of the Christian Bible. The Minor prophets speak generally to the time of the Exile, when the children of Israel were removed from the promised land.

The order of the Minor Prophets is roughly chronological although many think that Joel is older than Hosea as in this table. The messages from these prophets bring tell an interesting story. Unfaithfulness, repentance and reconciliation are the recurring themes. The messages are delivered to Israel—the Northern Kingdom, Judah—the southern Kingdom and even the Gentile nations of Edam and Assyria. The notion of the Remnant emerges here if the story is considered as a whole. Not all of the chosen people are faithful and those that are faithful are called the Remnant. God's judgment on the nations does not come without warning and it is always tempered with mercy. Even the Gentile nation of Assyria repents after the message taken to them by Jonah. They get another 1000 years until their judgment is pronounced by Nehum.



1) Assyrian Power
  Book Time Directed to Summary
  Hosea 755 – 710 B.C. Northern Kingdom Relationship with God

The patient long-suffering of God towards the rebellious and unfaithful northern kingdom of Israel is described in terms of the living parable of Hosea's life. God orders Hosea to marry an adulterous wife, Gomer. During the course of the book Hosea even has to purchase his wife back at a slave auction. This was a symbolic representation of God's relation to Israel. Israel was chosen, delivered and blessed but could not remain faithful.

  Joel 830 B.C. ? Southern Kingdom The Day of the Lord

The whole notion of the Day of the Lord presents something of a mixed message.  It is a great day of rejoicing for those who are right with God but bad news for those who are not.  The book of Joel begins by describing a devastating swarm of locusts which destroys the agriculture of Israel. Joel calls the nation of Judah to a day of repentance due to this divine judgment. The last portion of the book is concerned with events associated with the "Day of the Lord". The message is that, if Judah repents, God will richly bless them and forgive them.

  Amos 765 – 750 B.C. Northern Kingdom Social Justice

Amos writes during a period of prosperity in Israel. King Jeroboam II was ruler, and the kingdom had reached new political and military heights. It was also a time of great idolatry, extravagant indulgence in luxury, immorality, corruption and oppression of the poor. Amos was called by God to pronounce judgment on Israel by denouncing idolatry and moral depravity.  He also foretells of the dispersion of the Israelites, but points to a day when God would regather them in the land of their forefathers.

  Obadiah 585– 565 B.C. Edomites Edom and the pending judgment

Obadiah was a prophet who pronounced judgment upon the nation of Edom for its antagonism toward Israel. Edom is the nation that is descended from Esau, the twin brother of Jacob (Israel).  These brothers fought even in the womb, they continued to be at odds with each other.  In Numbers 20, when Israel was preparing to enter Canaan that asked if thy could pass through Edom (since Edom was their brother) on their way.  Their request was denied and the Edomites mustered an army so Israel turned away.

  Jonah 775 – 760 B.C. Gentiles/Assyria

God will save all who repent

Jonah knows that Niniva will rise and be the instrument of judgment against his people.

Niniva is the capital city or the Assyrian empire. In 625 BC, Babylon won independence, destroyed Nineveh and in 612 BC brought the Assyrian empire to an end.

  Micah 735 – 700 B.C. Judah - The Southern Kingdom

Micah was contemporary with Isaiah and was to the southern kingdom what Amos was to the Northern kingdom

Judgment and Deliverance

Micah’s leading ideas are the regeneration of Israel’s remnant through judgment, the establishment of the kingdom of God in the line of David, and the conversion of the nations through that kingdom. The conclusion of his prophecy is a triumphant expression of faith, seen in its true quality against the background of the materialism and the corruption of the reign of Ahaz.

2) Assyrian Decline
  Book Time Directed to Summary
  Nahum 620 B.C. Gentiles (Ninivah one century after Jonah) The Judgment of Ninivah

The book of Nahum was written approximately 140 years after the recorded events in the book of Jonah.  Nineveh has turned from its repentance and has taken Israel captive. Jonah’s mission resulted in repentance. Nahum is sent to proclaim a message of doom upon Nineveh, the capital of Assyria. They who were once used as God’s tool against the people of Israel and Jerusalem. Now they will be destroyed because of their great wickedness.

  Habakkuk 620 – 605 B.C. Southern Kingdom
(Between Jeremiah and Obediah)
A dialogue with God

The book begins with Habakkuk complaining of injustice in Judah and his inability to understand God’s failure to judge the wicked and morally depraved nation of Babylon. Habakkuk is shown that God’s people must continue to trust in his mercy regardless of the circumstances about them. The wicked appear to prosper while the righteous are chastened. However this prosperity of the wicked is only temporary. God will not abandon those who obey and follow his commandments: "the just shall live by faith".

  Zaphaniah 635 – 615 B.C. Southern Kingdom

During the days of Menassa

God's approaching judgement on Israel

Zephaniah prophesied during King Josiah’s reign. He was responsible for a great religious reform. This reform followed the wicked reigns of Manasseh and Amon, who led the nation into various forms of idolatry. Zephaniah pronounces inescapable judgments against Jerusalem for their sins and exhorts national repentance. He further speaks of the "day of the Lord" when God will intervene to judge sin.

3) Postexilic
  Book Time Directed to Summary
  Haggai 520 B.C. The Remnant Consequences of disobedience

Haggai's four messages were given during a four-month period in 520 B.C.. He was contemporary with Zechariah. Both Haggai and Zechariah encouraged the Jews who had returned to Judah from their captivity in Babylon to rebuild the Temple (Ezra 5:1–2; 6:14). Haggai exhorts them to "consider their ways" and to complete the Temple whose foundation had been laid 18 years before. (The people responded and the Temple was completed in 516 B.C.) Haggai further pronounces that pagan empires will be overthrown by God and Judah will be elevated during the time of the Messiah.

  Zechariah 520 – 490 B.C. The Remnant Rebuilding of the Temple

Zechariah was a younger contemporary of Haggai. He also encouraged the people to rebuild the Temple. Like Daniel and Revelation, this book contains Apocalyptic visions. It contains detailed references to the coming Messiah. The book concludes with descriptions of the enemies of Jerusalem being judged and of the future glory of God’s kingdom.

  Malachi 430 B.C. The Remnant Life after the Exile

Malachi’s message comes to the people in a time of great spiritual decline. It is approximately 80 years after the rebuilding of the temple and the promises of the coming Messiah have not yet been realized. As a result, the people had become lax and had an increasingly casual attitude toward God and worship. Malachi states that their sacrifices were unacceptable to God, husbands were unfaithful, and the priests had neglected God’s covenants.