They are the little books, the also-ran prophets. In other words, not Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel. Not even Daniel. They are the flyover prophets, twelve angry men.
We ignore them all too often. We ignore them at our peril, I think. Here are some reasons why I love them:
- They were passionate about justice above all things. Micah 6:8 is my favorite verse of Scripture, and it encapsulates the outward focus of religion for me: "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" And who can beat Amos's image, beloved of Martin Luther King, of justice rolling down like waters and righteousness like a never-ending stream? All twelve of the minor prophets focus on justice, even if some of them do so in ways we'd find imprecatory or below the belt today. (The entire book of Obadiah, for example, can be summed up in three words: "Damn those Edomites!")
- They were all too human. Hosea married a prostitute and tried hard to keep his family together as a single dad (the topic for next week's Twible post). Jonah was a complete loser and a whiner who, by the end of his time in the Bible's sun, still didn't understand what God was up to. I can relate.
- They focused again and again on forgiveness. What I find now when I read the minor prophets, in addition to God's judgment, is a deep emphasis on God's mercy. God doesn't just take the people back after they've sinned and repented. He chases them down in the street and constantly reminds them that he's around if they ever change their minds and ways. He's a very aggressive forgiver in the Minor Prophets.
- Getting to the Minor Prophets means . . . I am almost finished tweeting the Old Testament! After nearly two and a half years of the OT, it'll be good to move on to the new.
But first let's spend the next couple of months delving into these minor prophets, who turn out to be quite juicy and rich. Did I mention that I love them?
And it's a good thing that someone loves them, because these guys were none too popular in their day. Micah was commanded by the people to stop preaching. Amos got kicked out of the synagogue. People thought Hosea belonged in an institution, and they kind of had a point.
The image of Micah the Moreshite prophet is courtesy of Shutterstock.com.