The Church @ Clayton Crossings is going to kick off a summer teaching series on twelve books in the Bible that, while they’re often overlooked, are full of wisdom and encouragement. Originally called the Book of the Twelve, we now refer to these writings as the works of the Minor Prophets.
I know what you’re thinking… If they’re so minor, why study them? The message the Holy Spirit gave these men is far from minor; they’re called minor because the writings are shorter in length.
Over the next twelve weeks, we’re going to dig in to each of the twelve books of the Minor Prophets in our “Lessons Learned in the Minors” series (clever, eh?). Though they were written during a span of a few hundred years (from the eighth to the fifth century BC), they collectively point to a theme of the problem of sin, the consequence for disobedience, and God’s plan for restoration.
Here’s a brief description of each book to help you prepare for our discussion (thanks to Andy Rau at Bible Gateway for much of this content):
Hosea (July 25)
Hosea had the dubious honor of having his life used as a living moral object lesson for Israel—instructed by God to marry an unfaithful wife, he spoke movingly and earnestly about God’s sorrow at Israel’s “adulterous affairs” with false gods and His willingness to forgive.
Key passage: Hosea 14:1-2
Joel (July 9)
Joel’s recorded prophecies are short but direct. He described God’s coming judgment as an “invasion of locusts”—a clear and terrifying image for Iron Age Israelite society. However, Joel is best known for predicting the “pouring out” of the Holy Spirit which would occur hundreds of years later at Pentecost, as described in Acts 2.
Key passage: Joel 2:28-32
Amos (July 16)
Amos was a simple shepherd called to deliver a message nobody wanted to hear: Israel had grown complacent, spiritually lazy, and hypocritical. Injustice, in the form of slavery, greed, and mistreatment of the poor, was commonplace. Amos’ criticisms still hit home two thousand years later.
Key passage: Amos 5:14
Obadiah (July 23)
Obadiah consists of just one chapter. Obadiah’s message is quite specific to his time, describing the judgment that awaited the nation of Edom, which had done nothing to help Judah in her hour of need. Edom’s actions would be revisited upon them: their land and wealth would be lost just as Judah’s had been.
Key passage: Obadiah 21
Jonah (June 18)
The most famous of the Minor Prophets, Jonah was famously swallowed by a whale while attempting to flee God’s call. Jonah’s prophetic message is directed not at Israel, but at the sin-choked foreign city of Nineveh—a reminder that God’s love and forgiveness was not limited to one nation or ethnic group. God’s endless compassion could reach even the Assyrians, whose cruelty and military power had made them the terror of the ancient world.
Key passage: Jonah 4:2
Micah (July 30)
Micah’s was a familiar message: Israel and Judah had turned away from God to follow false prophets and hypocritical religion, and disaster was coming if they did not repent. Micah tried to remind his audience that what God truly desired from men and women was not religious ritual, but faithful living.
Key passage: Micah 6:8
Nahum (August 6)
One of the more obscure prophets, Nahum foretold the ruin of the mighty Assyrian empire, which had hauled Judah into slavery and exile. His words were a warning that no city or nation was so powerful as to be beyond the reach of God’s judgment.
Key passage: Nahum 1:7
Habakkuk (August 13)
Habakkuk strikes a markedly different tone than many of the other prophets. Instead of preaching judgment, he asked questions—tough questions, like “Why does God allow evil to exist?” and “If God is sovereign, why do wicked people prosper?” He brought these questions to God in prayer and found consolation in God’s strength and power. Habakkuk shows us that ancient believers wrestled with the same difficult questions about sin, evil, and suffering that Christians ask today.
Key passage: Habakkuk 3:18-19
Zephaniah (August 6)
Prophesying during the reign of king Josiah, Zephaniah warned Judah that if they did not turn away from false religion and pagan practices, God’s judgment would fall on them. But God’s day of judgment is portrayed not just as a day of suffering, but as a time of rejoicing, when God would return to rescue the oppressed and restore the broken. The wicked had cause to fear judgment, but the faithful could look ahead to it with hope.
Key passage: Zephaniah 2:3
Haggai (August 20)
Haggai served as a prophet while a small remnant of Jews, returning from exile, were struggling to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. His message was one of encouragement and hope—God was still with His people, even though they had fallen far from the glorious days of David and Solomon.
Key passage: Haggai 2:5
Zechariah (August 27)
Zechariah was a post-exile prophet like Haggai, and also directed his message to the surviving remnant returned from exile in Babylon. Zechariah stands out as an Old Testament messenger who spoke clearly about the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Key passage: Zechariah 13:1-2
Malachi (September 3)
Also preaching to the returned exiles, Malachi offered a less happy message: after all they’d been through, God’s people still fell into disobedience. Israel’s priests and leaders were leading their flock astray, and only a faithful few remained who lived in accordance with God’s law. The book of Malachi concludes the Old Testament with a reminder of humanity’s need for a Savior—and a promise that “for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.”
Key passage: Malachi 3:1
What you need to know:
- SERVING ON THE SECURITY TEAM: The helpful and friendly men and women on the security team at The Church @ Clayton Crossings create safe environments where people can find and follow Jesus, and they’re looking for new recruits! If you’d like to learn more, please visit com/teams.
- GIVING WHILE YOU’RE GONE: Summer vacation has finally arrived and many of you will be traveling this summer. As a partner at The Church @ Clayton Crossings, we depend on your faithful giving to allow us to share the message of Jesus with the world (literally!). It’s never been easier to give while you’re away this summer – thank you for your faithfulness.
What I’m reading:
On the Verge: A Journey Into the Apostolic Future of the Church by Alan Hirsch and Dave Ferguson
John Sanders is the non-stuffy pastor at The Church at Clayton Crossings. His primary mission is to help people find and follow Jesus. Additionally, he longs to write like the child of Aaron Sorkin and Dave Barry, preach like W.A. Criswell, look like Bradley Cooper, and eat like he’s seventeen years old. A more complete (and less snarky) bio can be found here.