The Gospel according to the Minor Prophets
Matt Harmon’s helpful concluding thoughts to his series on the Minor Prophets:
Two Key Concepts
- The Covenantal Context. After discussing things like author, date and historical context we quickly moved to what we called the covenantal context. We did this because the respective covenants were the governing structure of how God interacts with his people throughout the Old Testament. So in looking at each Minor Prophet, we paid careful attention to how they drew upon the Abrahamic (Gen 12:1-3), Mosaic (Exod 19-24), and Davidic (2 Sam 7) covenants.
- Initial & Final Fulfillment. Although we tend to think of the relationship between promise and fulfillment as a simple one-to-one correspondence, we have seen that in the Minor Prophets that is often not the case. The various promises made in the Minor Prophets often have an initial fulfillment in an event in the near future of the prophet while at the same time having a final fulfillment in the distant future. Nowhere was this clearer than in our discussion of the Day of the LORD. Each of the various “Days of the LORD” are only an initial fulfillment of the final Day of the LORD at the end of human history.
Four Key Themes
Although there were a number of themes that we could have highlighted, the following four were particularly important in light of their prominence in the New Testament:
- Temple. As we have seen the rebuilt temple was puny compared to Solomon’s original temple, as well as the temple prophesied in Ezekiel 40–48. But God reassured his people that this rebuilt temple was a sort of “down payment’ on the fulfillment of his promises (Zech 4:8-11). In perhaps the last OT book written, God warns his people of his impending visit to his temple (Malachi 3:1-4). That promise finds its fulfillment in the NT. John the Baptist is identified as the messenger sent to prepare the way of the LORD (Mark 1:2-4). He prepares the people for the incarnate Christ to visit his temple (Mark 11:15-18). Of course, we have also talked in here about the fact that the NT identifies Jesus as the true temple of God (John 2:13-22), and we as the church are God’s eschatological temple (Eph 2:11-22; 1 Pet 2:4-10).
- Torah. Although the promise of the Law being written on his people’s hearts is found in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, we do see a related promise in Micah 4:1-8. The Law of the LORD will go out from Zion and rule over a restored people of God. To properly understand this promise we have to combine it with the promise of the gift of the Spirit in Joel 2:28-32. It is the giving of the Spirit that enables God’s people to obey God’s Law. The promise of the gift of the Spirit is fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. He enables God’s people to live in step with God’s Law.
- Turf. As we noted above, God promises to restore his people to the land in several places (Hosea 2:21–3:5). This promise is rooted in the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants. Building upon hints in the Minor Prophets this promise of restoration to the land is expanded into the hope of a new creation. In the NT this hope is most clearly articulated in Romans 4:13, where Paul claims that God promised that Abraham would inherit the world, and Revelation 21–22, where the new heavens and earth are described.
- Throne. In the aftermath of the devastation of exile, God kept alive the hope of a Davidic king. But when that royal dynasty never materialized after their return to the land, the hunger for a Son of David (Micah 5:2-5; Amos 9:11-15). Of course, in the NT it is obvious that Jesus is the promised Son of David who will rule over God’s people (Mark 10:46-52; Rom 1:2-4).
|Summary List of the Theological Big Idea for Each Minor Prophet|
|Hosea||God’s people must turn from their idolatrous pursuit of lovers who will not satisfy and return to the Lord, their true husband and redeemer.|
|Joel||In the coming day of God’s universal judgment, those who call on the name of Jesus Christ will be filled with His Spirit to enjoy the new creation with Him forever.|
|Amos||When the Day of the Lord comes, God will judge the sins of His people and reconstitute His people under a Davidic king to inhabit a new creation.|
|Obadiah||God will soon defeat the enemies of His people and establish His rule over His people forever.|
|Jonah||God’s extravagant compassion towards us should prompt us to be conduits of compassion to others.|
|Micah||Because our sin has been judged at the cross and we live in the last days, we must walk humbly with our truly unique God in heartfelt obedience.|
|Nahum||God will judge the wicked and restore His people to freedom through His ultimate Warrior-King, Jesus Christ.|
|Habakkuk||Even when we cannot trace God’s hand of justice or providence, we can patiently trust and rejoice in His character.|
|Zephaniah||Yahweh is a mighty warrior who brings judgment but saves the remnant who flee to him as their King.|
|Haggai||Yahweh will renew His presence among His people and re-establish His reign over His people by sending Jesus Christ as His Messianic King.|
|Zechariah||God’s people already participate in the restored Jerusalem through repentance and faith in Jesus as they await the consummation of God’s kingdom.|
|Malachi||God calls his people to repent of our apathy towards his proper worship and fear his name in anticipation of the great and fearful Day of the LORD.|