Books Faith

The Minor Prophets

The Minor Prophets are twelve short books that mark the end of the Hebrew Bible. They were written over centuries, and bridge the gap between the Angelic War in Ezekiel and what comes next. In The Minor Prophets, the post-modern bomb left by Ezekiel goes off. Narrative is destroyed, and we see the pieces at the heart of everything.

But first, a joke.

But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.
Jonah 3:8

Animals don’t wear sackcloth! It’s written for you!

And this is terror. It’s something that does happen. And it’s written for you!

I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs;
I will tear open their rib cage,
And there I will devour them like a lion.
The wild beast shall tear them.
Hosea 13:8

The New Religion is coming, the Everlasting King of Israel, a babe in Bethlehem

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the Lord.  “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent Me to you.
Zechariah 2:10-11

And the old religion will not die. For the Calf worshipped in Samaria

The inhabitants of Samaria fear
Because of the calf of Beth Aven.
For its people mourn for it,
And its priests shriek for it—
Because its glory has departed from it.

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.
As they called them,

So they went from them;
They sacrificed to the Baals,
And burned incense to carved images
Hosea 11:1-2

is the son of a Bull, and the Heifer Israel

“Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion;
For I will make your horn iron,
And I will make your hooves bronze;
You shall beat in pieces many peoples;
I will consecrate their gain to the Lord,
And their substance to the Lord of the whole earth.”
Micah 4:13

This sounds like a joke. Livestock is not worth saving!

And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?”
Jonah 4:11

This also contains a joke. But with a metaphor that makes you reconsider others

Hear this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria,
Who oppress the poor,
Who crush the needy,
Who say to your husbands, “Bring wine, let us drink!”
Amos 4:1

And the same metaphor, except with no joke

The lion tore in pieces enough for his cubs,
Killed for his lionesses,
Filled his caves with prey,
And his dens with flesh.

“Behold, I am against you,” says the Lord of hosts, “I will burn your chariots in smoke, and the sword shall devour your young lions; I will cut off your prey from the earth, and the voice of your messengers shall be heard no more.”
Nahum 2:12-13

In any case, the romance of the LORD embraces all of these things, the animal and the human alike

“And it shall be, in that day,”
Says the Lord,
“That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’
And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’

For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals,
And they shall be remembered by their name no more.

In that day I will make a covenant for them
With the beasts of the field,
With the birds of the air,
And with the creeping things of the ground.
Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth,
To make them lie down safely.
Hosea 2:16-18

A romance where Israel is a beloved bride in one context, a cheap slut in another

My people ask counsel from their wooden idols,
And their staff informs them.
For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray,
And they have played the harlot against their God.
Hosea 4:12

And undoubtedly male in yet another

I will be like the dew to Israel;
He shall grow like the lily,
And lengthen his roots like Lebanon.
Hosea 14:5

A child can giggle when Jonah says Nope! and, in detail, does exactly the opposite of what he is commanded

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.”

But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish
from the presence of the Lord.

He  went down to Joppa, and
found a ship going to Tarshish; so
he paid the fare, and
went down into it,

to go with them to Tarshish
from the presence of the Lord.
Jonah 1:1-3

A church lady might blush at some of the humor shared by the Spirit

Israel empties his vine;
He brings forth fruit for himself.
According to the multitude of his fruit
He has increased the altars;
According to the bounty of his land
They have embellished his sacred pillars.
Hosea 10:1

And sometimes His joke doesn’t seem funny at all

Be silent in the presence of the Lord God;
For the day of the Lord is at hand,
For the Lord has prepared a Sacrifice;
He has invited His guests.
Zephaniah 1:7

The most curious thing about the modern world is we cannot see the hidden side of the coin, we cannot that one is the complement of the other.

For this

For how great is its goodness
And how great its beauty!
Grain shall make the young men thrive,
And new wine the young women.
Zechariah 9:17

Implies this

“Thus says the Lord of hosts:

‘Old men and old women shall again sit
In the streets of Jerusalem,
Each one with his staff in his hand
Because of great age.

The streets of the city
Shall be full of boys and girls
Playing in its streets.’
Zechariah 8:4-5

Fruitfulness and salvation are assured.

I will whistle for them and gather them,
For I will redeem them;
And they shall increase as they once increased.
Zechariah 10:8

For some, at least

“They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts,
“On the day that I make them My jewels.
And I will spare them
As a man spares his own son who serves him.”
Malachi 3:17

The Old Religion of whatever testament was before the Hebrews, and religion described in the covenant to come after, blend together

The sun and moon stood still in their habitation;
At the light of Your arrows they went,
At the shining of Your glittering spear.

You marched through the land in indignation;
You trampled the nations in anger.

You went forth for the salvation of Your people,
For salvation with Your Anointed.
You struck the head from the house of the wicked,
By laying bare from foundation to neck. Selah
Habakkuk 3:11-13

The Second Temple, build by the Persians is not quite as good as the old one built by the Jews

In the seventh month, on the twenty-first of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying:  “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people, saying: ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple[a] in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?
Haggai 2:1-3

But there will be another

“For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this ` with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts.

‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.”
Haggai 2:6-9

A New Temple, Mount Zion, Deliverance

“But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance,
And there shall be holiness;
The house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
Obadiah 1:17

The Minor Prophets give us brief references to their past

He who builds His layers in the sky,
And has founded His strata in the earth;
Who calls for the waters of the sea,
And pours them out on the face of the earth—
The Lord is His name.
Amos 9:2-3

He took his brother by the heel in the womb,
And in his strength he struggled with God.

Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed;
He wept, and sought favor from Him.
He found Him in Bethel,
And there He spoke to us—
Hosea 12:3-4

O My people, remember now
What Balak king of Moab counseled,
And what Balaam the son of Beor answered him,
From Acacia Grove to Gilgal,
That you may know the righteousness of the Lord.”
Micah 6:5

And even more, to their future

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.”
Micah 5:2

And the rest quickly, so quickly…

“Behold, I send My messenger,
And he will prepare the way before Me.
And the Lord, whom you seek,
Will suddenly come to His temple,
Even the Messenger of the covenant,
In whom you delight.
Behold, He is coming,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
Malachi 3:1


“Remember the Law of Moses, My servant,
Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel,
With the statutes and judgments.

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
Malachi 4:4-5


After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
Hosea 6:2


“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
Joel 2:28


The earth quakes before them,
The heavens tremble;
The sun and moon grow dark,
And the stars diminish their brightness.
Joel 2:10


The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
Joel 2:31

In all vineyards there shall be wailing,
For I will pass through you,”
Says the Lord.

Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord!
For what good is the day of the Lord to you?
It will be darkness, and not light.
Amos 5:17-18


And in that day it shall be
That living waters shall flow from Jerusalem,
Half of them toward the eastern sea
And half of them toward the western sea;
In both summer and winter it shall occur.
Zechariah 14:8

… as if the work of ages could be completed in a moment, or a weekend.

In the Hebrew religion, the minor books are treated as a unity, known as The Twelve. The Twelve ends the Hebrew Bible. And within these books that act like chapters, onle one has a traditional narrative with a clear beginning, middle, and end. That is the light comedy these impressions started with… Jonah. And yet that short narrative it interrupted, by what appears to be a psalm

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly.

And he said:

“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.
“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice.

For You cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the floods surrounded me;
All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
Jonah 2:1-3

Amid the explosion of signs and symbols through the twelve, we remember a single sinner, crying from the dead.

Perhaps what comes next might be news to him.

That work is The Gospel According to Matthew.

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