Recorded in the minor prophets are some awful things about what the nations did to each other; and, Israel was victim to this abuse as well. The prophets portrait her as a young woman various times.
- The virgin Israel lies neglected in the land, with none to raise her up (Amos 5:2)
- Lamentations says,
“How deserted lies the city,
once so full of people!
How like a widow is she,
who once was great among the nations!
She who was queen among the provinces
has now become a slave.
Bitterly she weeps at night,
tears are on her cheeks.
Among all her lovers
there is no one to comfort her.
All her friends have betrayed her;
they have become her enemies.”
But, Israel and Judah, as well as the other nations, did some awful things. Countries today would be keen to take note, and at the very least, we today remember these things because they compare so closely with what we see today.
- Damascus threshed Gilead with sharp iron (Amos 1:3), which means they were oppressing them severely.
- Gaza deported an entire population (Amos 1:6).
- Tyre did the same, and didn’t remember the covenant of brotherhood (Amos 1:9).
- Ammon hurt and killed women in pregnancy, as well as their unborn children in order to expand their borders (Amos 1:13).
- Moab desecrated the bones of a King, the king of Edom (Amos 2:1) Moab will be like Sodom because of their pride (Zeph 2:9).
- Edom never helped those they could have (Obadiah 1:11)
- Judah rejected the law of the Lord (Amos 2:4)
- Israel sold the righteous for money (Amos 2:6), in a time where a man and his father would resort to the same girl (2:7)
- Samaria collected her idols from harlots earnings (Micah 1:7)
- Princes and judges alike ask for bribes, where both hands of a man do evil well (Micah 7:3).
- Ninevah sold entire nations in her harlotry (Nahum 3:4)
It’s not just nations, but even the prophets and priests, those who should know the word of the Lord best who neglected to help others.
- Jonah ran away, as far as he could when he could have told others what the Lord said. (Jonah 1:3)
- Then, he got angry when God showed mercy to them, without any good reason. (4:9)
- This is what the priests were like (Malachi 2:7-8)
- This is how people treated their wives, the wife of their youth (Micah 2:14-15)
- People are robbing God by not giving freely of their possessions to him. (Malachi 3:8-10)
- People have said it is vain to serve God (Malachi 3:13).
- A man’s enemies were his own household (Micah 7:6)
- They made their hearts like flint so they couldn’t hear (Zechariah 7:11)
So in light of all this, consider this, the Christian community, and world around. Maybe these are sins we need to repent of too, by confessing them and trying to act instead in faith.
- “Do horses run on rocks? Or do you plow tocks with oxen? But you’ve turned justice into poison. (6:12)”
- Consider your ways, you have sown much and reaped little, you eat and drink but not enough to be satisfied; you put on clothes, but not enough to be warm; and you put your coins into a pocket full of holes (Haggai 1:5-6)
Amos 5 says that the judgment of God is like when a man runs away from a lion, only for a bear to meet him. Or if he makes it past the bear, he gets home, leans against a wall, and then a snake bites him. His judgment for these things is inevitable.
- When judgment is like a basket of summer fruit (Amos 8:2), death seems better than life (Jonah 4:8). God’s judgment will truly come on those who don’t turn to him and his mercy.
- Zechariah 5:1-5 talks about God’s judgment coming like a flying scroll that enters everyone’s house, everytime someone lies or steals, it will consume them. When it comes its like a basket of summer fruit (Amos 8:2).
As for the fate of the unevangelized, what will happen to those who have never heard the good news, I think based on the character of God you can trust that he has a plan that fairly accommodates for their situation.
- Habakkuk wondered how long violence will last? (Habakkuk 1:2)
- He says that the law and justice is paralyzed, never upheld (Habakkuk 1:4).
- The question is, “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”
- But, God is raising up another nation to judge the previous nation (Habakkuk 1:6)
- Habakkuk is an example of the appropriate response to the hardest questions of life. He puts himself in position to get God’s answer.
“I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.”
Then the Lord replied:
“Write down the revelation
and make it plain on tablets
so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come
and will not delay.
“See, the enemy is puffed up;
his desires are not upright—
but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness—”
- He persevered in his faith, even in the worst of times Habakkuk 3:17-18.
“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
So, like Habakkuk. here are some of the appropriate responses to such attrocities. The right reaction can be demonstrated by how Jonah responded.
- But I will sacrifice to you with a voice of thanksgiving, that which I vowed I will pay. Salvation is from the Lord (Jonah 2:9).
- Rend your heart, not your garments. (Joel 2:13)
- Dispense true justice (Zechariah 7:9-10)
- Hate evil, love good, and establish justice at the gates; and perhaps the Lord of hosts will be gracious to the remnant (5:14)
- Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land…Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.
There will be a day when God gives his people purified lips (Zeph. 3:9) that all may call on the name of the Lord to serve him shoulder to shoulder. And there is the sign of Jonah that Jesus gave to his generation (1:17), three days and three nights swallowed up. The promise of Messiah echoes throughout the minor prophets.
- The promise of Jesus in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
- Behold your king is coming to you on a colt (Zechariah 9:9-10)
- 30 shekels good shepherd (Zechariah 11:12-16)
I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.
And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.
Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the family bond between Judah and Israel.
Then the Lord said to me, “Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hooves.
- Look on me who they pierced (Zechariah 12:10).
- “Elijah” is coming (Malachi 4:5) – the last verse of the Old Testament.