In the time that I have been away with my family this summer I have spent a lot of my time reading the Minor Prophets. Calling these twelve men, used by God in such a powerful way, “minor,” is a misnomer to say the least. Amos, Joel, Habakkuk, Zechariah, Malachi and the rest are “Big Daddy Prophets” to say the least. As we take a look at Hosea this morning you will begin to understand how these twelve men are giants of the faith.
As I read through the last twelve books of the Old Testament I found myself stopping with each one and saying, “This is the one. This is the next book that we are going to study in morning worship.” Well, needless to say, we aren’t going to study all twelve of the Minor Prophets in depth. Eventually we will take a longer look at the prophet Amos, but before we get to Amos, I want us to take each of the eleven remaining Minor Prophets and try to hit the highpoint of each prophet’s message so that we might see what we can learn. I hope you will join me for the next eleven weeks as we study the messages of these bold men of God.
Our very first study will surely challenge some of you who have been taught that the God of the Old Testament is a “God of wrath” while the God of the New Testament is a “God of love and forgiveness.” There is no more beautiful picture of the love, compassion, and mercy of God than what we will find in this book.
Others of you who believe that God is purely logical and rational will be challenged as well. Let me give you a few examples of what I am talking about. Throughout history God has called His people to do some strange things. He called Moses through a burning bush and then later told Moses to stand at the edge of the Red Sea and hold up his staff so that the waters would part. You think that is strange? I’m just getting started. Try these on for size…
• God told Ezekiel to lay on his left side for 390 days and on his right side for 40 more days to represent the number of years Israel and Judah would be punished. (Ezekiel 4:4-7)
• God called Jeremiah to make a yoke, the kind worn by oxen as they plowed a field together, and then put it on his own neck. Jeremiah wore the yoke to illustrate to the people of God that things were going to get even worse for them because of their disobedience. (Jeremiah 27:1-2)
• In Isaiah 20, God told Isaiah to walk around naked for three years. Isaiah’s nakedness was a sign of the terrible troubles that God was going to bring on Egypt and Ethiopia, or the Cushites. It also served as a warning to King Hezekiah of what could happen to the people of Judah as well. Continue reading ““How Can I Give You Up?”