Four Suggestions for Reading the Minor Prophets

When you read the Minor Prophets, look for what they say about God’s character and glory

“If we read the Minor Prophets with our minds turned on and looking for them to teach us about God and the Christian life, then we can be confident that the Holy Spirit will give us insight so that his word will equip us to live fruitful lives for the glory of his name.”

 

This week, my Bible reading plan brought me to the Minor Prophets. I have been a Christian for twenty years and sometimes I still struggle to read the Minor Prophets profitably. I doubt that I am alone in this assessment, but I have also found that putting in the work to understand these twelve little-known books can also pay great dividends by helping us grow in our knowledge of God, increase our grasp of the whole Bible, and live the Christian life more faithfully.

The next time your Bible reading plan takes you to the Minor Prophets, apply these four suggestions.

Read the Minor Prophets in Light of their Historical Context

It would be difficult to grasp what is happening in the diary of Anne Frank without knowing something about Nazi Germany during World War 2. In the same way, knowing the historical setting for the Minor Prophets helps us to grasp their message. With some exceptions, the Minor Prophets give you a key to unlock the historical setting in which they speak.

Let’s take the book of Hosea as an example. The first verse of Hosea says, “The world of the Lord that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, king of Israel.” The list of kings in the first verse gives us the historical setting for the rest of the book. Look at the names of these kings then go read about them in the books of Kings and Chronicles. This will give you a window into the world Hosea is addressing.

In addition, flip through the introductions to the other prophets and you will find that several of them also spoke during the same time period Hosea did. Isaiah, Amos, and Micah were contemporaries of Hosea. So if you are reading straight through the Minor Prophets in your reading plan, pay attention to what Micah and Amos have in common with Hosea. This is a little bit of extra work, but it will increase your ability to read the Minor Prophets and benefit from them.

Read the Minor Prophets with the New Testament in Mind

Christians living in 2017 have a great advantage in reading the Old Testament. I’m not talking about the commentaries, archaeological studies, or hundreds of other resources we could be thankful for. Instead, I am talking about our possession of the New Testament. The Bible’s last twenty-seven books are a God-inspired commentary on the first thirty-nine.

Find a list of the Old Testament verses quoted by New Testament writers and keep nearby when you read the Minor Prophets. (The writers at Knowable Word have a great spreadsheet that you can sort by Old Testament order or New Testament order.) When you run across a verse the New Testament writers quote, flip over and see how they used it. What connection did they believe this verse made to the work of Christ? Then draw a line under the verse in its original context and write the New Testament reference out beside it. Then, go to where it is quoted in the New Testament and make a note of where the Old Testament quotation can be found. When you do this, you start making natural connections between the Old and New Testaments and gain a better grasp of how the whole Bible fits together.

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