Read the Bible in a Year
This week, read: Amos 1-9; Hosea 1-14; Micah 1-7
At Least Know This
The Minor Prophets (called “minor” because they are shorter) spoke boldly to a people who were behaving badly. In Amos and Micah, the people were hypocritical—they were pretending to do the right religious things, but still not caring for the widows, the orphans, the homeless, or the foreigners. In Hosea, the people were hypocritical and were also worshipping false gods.
Author and Date
Amos spoke in 762 BC (Amos 1:1).
Hosea spoke during the years 783-746 BC (Hosea 1:1).
Micah spoke during the years 750-686 BC (Micah 1:1)
Probably, their students collected the best of their prophecies, and this is what appears in the scriptures.
Amos spoke to the northern kingdom (the only literary prophet who did so). It was a time of great prosperity in the north—trade was good, the economy was great, and they were not threatened by enemies. So, naturally, they thought God was blessing them because they were so righteous! Amos had other ideas. He pointed out their shortcomings—how they treat the poor and the vulnerable.
Hosea spoke to Judah. Hosea, like a few of the prophets, acted out his message. He married a prostitute, in order to show how God feels (the people of Judah are like the prostitute—trusting in armies, alliances, idols—everything but God. Hosea has some of the harshest words of judgement (“You are no longer my people” 1:9), but also some of the deepest words of love from God. Chapter 11 shows God’s back-and-forth dialog.
Micah has words of judgement against a hypocritical people, for the first three chapters. Micah says, you are going to be destroyed. Then, he spends the rest of the book talking about the Messiah and the faithful remnant. The remnant were the people who truly lived for God—a small group, to be sure—but God would protect them and bring them back from destruction and build a great people from them.
In chapter 1 and the beginning of 2, Amos tries to get the people’s attention by prophesying against their enemies. Then, 2:6, he gets to what he really had been aiming for: prophesying against Israel. He rails against their wretched excess, and how the rich use their power to oppress the vulnerable.
In chapter 5:21-27, he attacks their religious practices. They were doing the correct practices, but they did the practices without transformed hearts. Verse 24 could be a summary of all the prophets.
In chapter 1, Hosea marries a prostitute, and they have children, which he gives names of the messages God is sending. Chapter 2 describes all the things that the people love and trust in—and God does not crack the list. But God still loves them!
In the prophets—and Hosea does it frequently—they will talk about the “Day of the Lord.” When the prophets use the term “On that day” (depending on your translation), it means that the prophet is now talking about the messianic time—the day when the messiah comes.
Hosea 6:6 is a good summary of the prophets. The prophets were not too excited about sacrifices and burnt offerings. They extolled people toward mercy to others and a knowledge of God.
Chapter 11 is the epitome of Hosea. God loves his people, but they wander away from him.
Micah takes aim at the false prophets—often hired by the king to tell him what he wants to hear. In the first three chapters, Micah rails at the people who trust in everything but God. They despise justice, take bribes, and oppress the vulnerable, and simultaneously saying “Ah, isn’t it great that God is with us?”
In Micah 4, he begins to talk about the time when the Messiah comes. The remnant will return, and God will be their shepherds. In chapter 5:10-13, Micah says the Messiah will destroy all the things the people trust in.
Micah 6:8 is another good summary of what the prophets said. God doesn’t ask for burnt offerings—he asks for justice, mercy, and humility before God.
The prophets were a powerful voice to bring the people’s attention back to God. People became focused on sacrifices and burnt offerings, on strong militaries, and alliances with other nations. And they forgot to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and care for the vulnerable.
Do we ever get so caught up in the myriad duties of life that we forget to acknowledge the presence of God in our lives? The prophets are a strong voice to remind us what is important in life: Mercy, justice, and walking humbly with God.
Perhaps the prophets are some of the most important reading for the church today.
If you run across a passage that you have questions about, feel free to post questions (or insights that you have received from the Bible reading), then please click here, and then click on the most recent reading guide. You can also feel free to email the question to me.
There will be NO MEETING on Thursday, April 11, due to the impending winter storm.