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A Study of The Minor Prophets: "afterword"

Produced by TheMediaDesk, ©2023
Posted on CCPC's website 2023

The Minor Prophets Study Index page.

The Minor Prophets, afterthoughts, conclusions and... whatever else.

From the "Introduction and Index" posted in July of 2022

      "This time out was at the request of a close associate of The Media Desk who in the discussion said that they had never been in a Bible Study that dug deep into these books. They always just looked up a verse or two in them, then moved on.
      As it turns out, there's a reason 'nobody studies them'. That is because they are difficult to study. Most of the language is Hebrew poetry. Not only that, it is Ancient Hebrew Poetry. With a pinch of Apocalyptic Imagery stirred in just to keep it interesting. There are references to some obscure kings of both of the Jewish nations from the time, as well as outside powers like Assyria, and then we trip over pagan deities like Ba'al and Asherah (by various spellings), as well as certain Jewish peculiarities.
      So, let's see.... a dozen books that nobody else goes through in any depth, packed with arcane references, written in a language that's hard to wade through and sort out the meaning. Is the Desk in? .... what do you think?"
            (six months later) ... sheesh...

      The Desk had NO "tap-dancing Ba'al of Ugarit" idea what it was getting into.
      .... .... BUT...
      Yeah. OK. Now. Looking back. Doing 'this'. Yeah. We're glad we did it.
      Half a year later, we're finally through it, and beyond it. ... At this writing we just canned and polished the overview of the "440 years 'of silence'" between Malachi and Matthew, and finished the review of the geopolitical situation at the beginning of the Gospels.
      Which means the Book of the Twelve is in the past. (all puns intended.) and right now, we're trying to grasp something of lasting meaning from all of that.
      So, where do we stand?

      During the discussions in the actual Bible Study Small Groups, both on Tuesday Morning and Wednesday Evening, THREE main themes, or tropes, or ideas, kept floating to the surface through most of the books. With the possible exception of Jonah, who, in and of himself is a 'trope' (a literary plot device) worthy his own miniseries on some cable channel.

      Let's take those three ideas and run with them for a minute, then we'll come back to Jonah. And remember, in the study, we said that Jonah is the One Person after whom a book of the Bible is named, who you're NOT supposed to like.

      These books are called minor PROPHETS for a reason, they're loaded with prophecy. Which is of two primary types. We'll look at the Big One first, then later, after we cover some other stuff, we'll come back to the other one.
      First and most important of the two types of prophecy is the endless Messianic Prophecies. While those are not on every page of every book of the Twelve, it happens often enough, both on the obvious level of Zechariah 9's:

(1611 KJV)
“...... shout O daughter of Ierusalem: beholde, thy King commeth vnto thee: hee is iust, and hauing saluation, lowly, and riding vpon an asse, and vpon a colt, the foale of an asse”
          ... which is cited in all four Gospels as a fulfillment of the prophecy. And then a murky stream of .... “well, it appears to be a prophecy of the End Times.” Of which an example is in the few verses following that passage above describing a peace that could only come from GOD somewhere in the future.

      The second category of central ideas is the drum of Social Justice that very nearly every Minor Prophet beats repeatedly in their book.... except for Jonah, whom we'll come back to in a minute.
      We repeatedly see the Prophets telling everybody else to not rip off the poor, to be nice to widows and orphans, to not feast while others are starving, and so on. Such as in Amos 4 : 1 and 2 (NIV):

"Hear this word, you cows of Bashan on Mount Samaria, you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy and say to your husbands, 'Bring us some drinks!'
The Sovereign Lord has sworn by his holiness: "The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks, the last of you with fishhooks."
      This one came true when the survivors of an invasion were led off to slavery in a foreign land with hooks in their noses.
      It becomes obvious that GOD, through His Prophets, doesn't appreciate those in power, or at least those with money, taking advantage of those who have neither. This theme continues during the ministry of Christ, when He spends a lot of time talking to the lower reaches of society, see Matthew 11 : 5.

      The third aspect is something that sometimes involves one or the other of the last two, but at times, is its own message. That is, biting sarcasm aimed at those in power or with money, both inside and outside the of two Jewish nations. And that is besides Amos calling the women of the ruling class 'cows'.
      The rulers are likened to worthless sheep-tenders and other not so favorable images. While the priests of the pagan idols that were evidently still throughout the region are held out for special attention. And again, GOD, through the prophets, calls all of them all out and points directly at them and lets them have it. You see this in Hosea 11, and in Joel 1 and elsewhere in the Minor Prophets.
      And then there's another hot breeze that blows in the direction of the priests of the Temple that were supposed to be doing their jobs and were doing everything else. This comes to a head in the next study as we skim over the Maccabees and what was going on in the period between the Testaments, and is highlighted when Christ clears the Temple.

      Now, remember we talked about two types of prophecy? The first kind was of the coming of The One, the Redeemer, the King riding the donkey out of the 'least of Judah'.
      The second kind was prophecies related to the more mundane doings of this world. We can look at Joel 3 or parts of Hosea or Zechariah to see prophecies that mention places as diverse as Edom which included the amazing city of Petra, or even Greece and Rome. And of course, the usual suspect of Nineveh, which we'll come back to when we visit our old friend Jonah.
      Some of the books are directed at one gentile target, although a couple insert a few words for Israel or Judah while they're at it.

"but why pick on Jonah?"

      History's most reluctant missionary is arguably the most famous individual prophet in the entire Old Testament. Or at least top five, which alone puts him in some very elite company with the likes of Elijah and Isaiah. People who couldn't tell you anything about Elisha (Elijah's apprentice), know about Jonah and his fishy friend, if they don't know anything else about him.
      As we discussed during the study of the book, the good prophet Jonah had some serious psychological issues, and should be the first to stand up when a preacher needs an example of how GOD can use anybody, and especially somebody who is totally unfit for a serious mission, and perhaps should instead be locked up in a rubber room for the good of society.
      No, really, go back and look at everything Jonah says, to his shipmates when he's outed as the cause of their problem by a dice game, in his prayer when he's been swallowed, when he's on the hillside outside the city arguing with God.... this old boy has totally lost touch with reality. If Jonah actually believed the things he said, he wouldn't have gotten on the boat to begin with.
      But that's enough about Jonah for now.

      Overall, working your way through All Twelve of the Minor Prophets is a tall order. Even just to read them, let alone to dive in headfirst down to the word by word level, including historical information, geographical references, chasing the Chaldeans around, and everything else we do during one of these studies.
      As we said earlier, we had no idea what we were getting into. It was interesting, and, really, fascinating. But it was also very nearly overwhelming at times as we worked through it. Besides the poetic language and archaic references, you had the endless parade of sometimes very disturbing images. And that's without even mentioning the cannibalism.

"We can tell that was a lot of work. How did you get through it?"

      Well. First off, we had just finished doing the in depth study of Revelation. Which was a good primer for the Minor Prophets. Oh yeah, John's epic Apocalyptic Vision, with all its wild imagery of the End of Mankind due to Divine Intervention causing dramatic Climate Change (that has nothing to do with the burning of coal we might add) was a good warmup for what turned out to be the preliminary for a lot of that, the Book of the Twelve.
      But there was a downside: All of the references in Hebrew, and Greek, and some Latin, and the 1560 and 1611 English (as seen in the quote above) KILLED the primary word processor used during the work. Yes indeed, it toasted itself. More times than we can count there would be the cheerful message on the screen that there were too many errors on the page to keep checking spelling and grammar. And in most of the Minor Prophet sections, they were only five or six pages long. Finally, it quit working all together, and we had to do a total uninstall, wait a couple of days, with total power downs and so on, then do a total new re-install to get it to work again.
      Well, that, and a lot of junk food such as spicy pork rinds (while reading ancient Jewish apocalyptic poetry, no less!), peppered beef jerky, hot cheese curls... for some reason, the Minor Prophets call for a lot of spice... a good deal of truck stop grade black coffee, and no small amount of high test bourbon.
      Compared to wading through what comes behind the Four Horsemen of Revelation, the Minor Prophets was WORK! At times it was unpleasant and you have to simply save the file and close it, then go out and walk around the yard for awhile.
      The Desk is not known for a lot of expressive emotions. But some of what you see between the lines of these books got to it.
      For instance, we'll look at the first handful of verses of Zechariah 13. He says that there will come a time when those of faith will wear a disguise and lie about what they're doing to avoid upsetting others.
      NO. That's what it says. Go read it again and pay attention to the MEANING in verses four and five. Then digest that against six.
      He could have been talking about the Jews hiding from the Romans, or later the Nazis during the 1930's and 40's. Or Christians under Stalin.... Or us, here, today. Right?
      You see something like that, against the backdrop of today's "cancel culture" and "wokeness" and all the rest of it. And then you go see how much Kentucky ale is in that bottle in the cabinet.
      And then you move on to verse 7, and then later where it is talking about the faithful being purified by fire. No, it doesn't get any easier. It hasn't been easy since Hosea named his kids after his cheating wife. The only break was the comedy relief provided by that idiot that took a boat trip only to end up feeding the fish.
      Which is why we pick on Jonah. Until you realize... we're ALL Jonah.

End Minor Prophets Study.

The Minor Prophets Index Page

NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.

With the assistance and cooperation of The Media Desk.