Read His Words Before Ours!
It seemed straightforward enough.
Easy choice, right?
Yet, inevitably, Israel pivoted to sin.
Like any Good Father, God sought to remind His children of the consequences of their choices before they earned total catastrophe.
Today, as we continue to look forward to Jesus’ coming, we travel back to the days of the minor (read, shorter-winded) prophets, ordinary men called by God to warn sin-entangled Israel of impending disaster unless the people repented and returned to God.
The prophet Hosea’s steadfast love for his wife despite her habitual betrayal reflected God’s heart toward unfaithful Israel; he revealed Jesus as the Son of God (Matthew 3:16-17). Jesus is the Bridegroom Who loves with compassion (Hosea 11:4, 8-9), healing those who return to Him. (Hosea 6:1-2)
Joel watched a swarm of locusts darken the sun, devouring the few leaves not strangled by drought, then leveraged this devastation to mirror Israel’s sin of abandoning God. He foretold the coming Day of Yahweh, when Jesus would judge the nations (Joel 3:2,12), send His Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28, John 16:7-15), and stand as Israel’s refuge. (Joel 3:16)
Amos, a farmer and rancher who delighted in a life spent tending God’s creation, convicted Israel of breaking covenant with God in their pursuit of materialistic prosperity. Though he warned of impending judgement, Amos also spoke great prophecies of restoration, foretelling Jesus as the fulfillment of David’s line, the rebuilder, and the restorer of God’s people. (Amos 9:11-15)
Author of the shortest book in the Bible, Obadiah emphasizes Christ’s “ordinary humanity” as he descended neither from kings nor priests. Obadiah was simply an ordinary man chosen by God to condemn the pride of Israel’s enemies and reveal Christ as the judge of the nations (Obadiah 1:15-16), Israel’s Savior (Obadiah 1:17), and the Possessor of the Kingdom (Obadiah 1:21).
Jonah’s three-day detour in the belly of a big fish foreshadowed Christ’s three days in the grave before His resurrection (Matthew 12:38-42). Once released, Jonah’s call to repentance from the dreaded Assyrians was an early reflection of Christ’s desire for all people to repent and receive salvation. (Jonah 3:4-10, 2 Peter 3:9)
Micah, a prophet residing in a busy trading town, proclaimed God’s displeasure at the empty rituals of worship offered by Israel, even as they abandoned any pretense of righteousness in their daily dealings. (Micah 6:6-8) Micah’s words portray Jesus as the King to be born in Bethlehem and, following Jesus’ birth, were quoted to the current king, Herod. (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1-6)
In condemning the Assyrians for unabated savagery and wickedness, Nahum comforted God’s people and revealed Christ as the jealous God who avenges adversaries. (Nahum 1:2-3)
As Habakkuk wrestled with the mystery of God’s goodness and power when faced with the reality of evil, he portrayed Jesus as Savior (Matthew 1:21), the Holy One (Habakkuk 1:12, 1 John 1:9), the Justifier through faith (Habakkuk 2:4), and He who will fill the earth with knowledge of God’s glory (Habakkuk 2:14).
Descended from the righteous king Hezekiah, Zephaniah delivered God’s judgement against the people’s sin under the reign of evil kings, called for repentance, and extended the hope of redemption. In Zephaniah’s words, Jesus is foretold as the Righteous One (Zephaniah 3:5) and the people’s true King (Zephaniah 3:15).
Yet the Lord’s words went unheeded. Israel was conquered and exiled by the Babylonians. After 70 years, a remnant was allowed to return; more than a decade after their homecoming, they continued to struggle against enemies and to obtain basic necessities.
Into the disarray stepped Haggai, who encouraged the people to rebuild the temple as a sign of their commitment to God’s centrality in their lives; in doing so, Haggai revealed Christ as the ultimate Restorer of the temple’s glory (Haggai 2:7-9, John 2:17-22) and Overthrower of all worldly kingdoms (Haggai 2:22).
As Zechariah encouraged the people to complete temple reconstruction, he foretold Israel’s restoration through the coming Christ, portraying Jesus as Servant King (Zechariah 9:9), crucified Savior (Zechariah 12:10), smitten Shepherd who would be abandoned (Zechariah 13:7), and coming Judge and righteous King (Zechariah 14).
As the concluding prophet of the Old Testament, Malachi convicted Israel of their sin yet again and delivered the final words of the Lord until John the Baptist would declare the arrival of Jesus (Malachi 3:1, John 1:29).
And then, silence.
For 400 years.
Until a wild-haired, animal skin-clad man waist-deep in the waters of the Jordan River froze, mid-baptism, as he locked eyes with a nondescript Hebrew making His way to the shore.
“Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
[Did one of these prophets spark your curiosity? Learn more at Bible.org, our main resource for this study!]
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!