Old Testament: Part 4
Minor Prophets: Hosea - Malachi
The Northern Kingdom of Israel enjoyed moderate success from conquering neighboring kingdoms, but they were spiritually bankrupt on the inside. In the Book of Hosea, God sends Hosea to Israel during King Jeroboam II's reign to admonish them of their wrongs in perpetual idol worship and dependence on outside nations.
If you have ever attended church, Sunday school, or bedtime story sessions as a child, you have likely heard about the story in the Book of Jonah at some point. But, the prophet Jonah's account of remarkable experiences with storms at sea, being eaten by a fish, and plants that miraculously grow and die in a day have lessons that go much deeper than what is on the surface.
The book of Habakkuk is a compilation of the prophet's laments, not an accusation against Israel and its sin or a message to the people on God's behalf like some of the other prophetic books. Instead, Habakkuk questions God's goodness because he sees so much injustice, evil and tragedy in the world. He's also concerned because God plans to send Babylon, an intensely evil nation, to judge Israel.
The book of Zephaniah contains some of the most intense images of God's justice and love found in the prophetic books. Zephaniah warns Israel and the surrounding nations that the day of the Lord is near. God will judge the nations with a burning fire as He purifies them from sin, evil and violence.
The people of Israel were conquered by Babylon because they broke their covenant with God through idolatry and injustice. The book of Haggai was written 70 years after this prophesied exile and recounts the experience of a small group of Israelites, led by Joshua and Zerubbabel, who had returned to rebuild Jerusalem.
One hundred years after exile, the Israelites who had returned to Jerusalem were as evil and corrupt as their ancestors. The book of Malachi addresses their corruption regarding issues like sacrifices, marriage and tithing. It also affirms that God does love His people and will fulfill prophecy.