A Summer with the Minor Prophets
The Christ Church NYC summer preaching series this year will be diving into the often-neglected prophets of the Old Testament who are commonly known as the Minor Prophets. The Minor Prophets consist of those final twelve books at the end of the Old Testament – Hosea through Malachi. They represent the last four centuries of Old Testament history, from the eight to the fifth century B.C.
Now if you’re wondering ‘why in the world would we make this our focus for two whole months out of the year?’ – let me explain. To begin with, don’t be fooled by the term ‘Minor Prophets’. I once heard someone explain the objection to these prophets this way: “If you are going to go to the trouble of reading the Bible, why give time to the ‘minor’ prophets? Isn’t that like watching a minor league baseball game when you could be watching a major league game?”
Well, again, don’t be fooled by the term. “Minor” doesn’t mean “unimportant”. The Minor Prophets are simply so called because they’re shorter than many of the other prophetic writings. The Major Prophets – like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel – are simply longer. Whereas the length of the Minor Prophets never reach more than fourteen chapters (Zechariah) and can be as short as even just one chapter (Obadiah). So the importance of the Minor Prophets is every bit as equal to that of the Major Prophets. Or, in the words of Mark Dever, “…they are not two-bit players of the Old Testament. And in their day they were not the Johnny-come-latelies, the add-ins, the Oh-just-one-more-things. They were written by God’s Spirit for serious purposes and serious uses.”
Two Serious Purposes
So what are some of those purposes? Let me just mention two that I think will be particularly useful to us at Christ Church this summer.
First, these prophets were powerful in the way that they spoke about the sins of their day and in the way that they called for action in response to those sins. And they are no less powerful in the way that they point to present sin and call for present action in our own day. They are insightful and convicting and can help to bring real change to our lives.
Second, as James Boice rightly puts it, “they dramatize the character of God as few other books do.” They teach and confront us with the realities of God’s sovereignty, God’s holiness, God’s love, God’s justice, and ultimately God’s faithfulness as he carries out his eternal plan of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. If we approach these writings with both humility and expectation, we will encounter the living God in his awe-filling (and sometimes rightly terrifying) splendor and majesty.
This series won’t cover each of the twelve Minor Prophets, but we do plan to be introduced to eight out of the twelve. You can find the schedule for the sermon series here. The aim will be to provide an overview of these eight different prophets instead of a detailed study of every verse. As a result, you will be helped if you’re able to bring your Bible with you to church as we’ll be flipping around in our Bibles and looking at some chapters and verses that won’t be printed in your bulletins. (Bibles will also be available in the pews if you need them.) As always, if you’re absent on a Sunday, you can follow along with our sermon videos or podcasts.
May the Lord give us a fruitful summer!