Series Introduction – Throughout the span of the Old Testament, God used different ways of relating to His people to enable them to hold and live by His word. Judges were appointed to hold in place and administer the details of God’s covenant with His people. Kings were to protect the relationship God has with His people. Priests were appointed to give the right example of holy living and to act as intermediaries between God and His people. And prophets were tasked with speaking out the word of God in ways that ensured everyone understood it properly, responded to it appropriately, and allowed it to shape their lives. These 4 roles are not to be seen as one being more superior to the others, but they are 4 different kinds of leadership that would help God’s people maintain the fullness of their relationship with Him.
I’ve always thought it a bit harsh to describe the 12 books at the end of the Old Testament as the “minor” prophets! That word could be understood as being of less importance than the writing of other prophets, but far from it. Just because these 12 books are shorter in length than the writings of other prophets like Isaiah, Ezekiel or Jeremiah, doesn’t mean that they are any less significant in content or impact.
In the book “Prophets & Poets” (edited by Grace Emmerson), Michael Tunicliffe writes: “For the early Christians the coming of Jesus was a new and stupendous event, but not unheralded. The words of the prophets enabled them to make sense of the story – they ‘read’ the prophets in the light of Jesus’ life, and they interpreted that life through the sayings of the prophets” (p.19).
That will be our aim with this teaching series. As we spend time noticing how the 12 prophets at the end of the Old Testament experienced God, spoke out for Him, and encouraged those around them to respond to the word of the Lord, we will be reading these books in light of what we already know about Jesus. Be ready to go further than that, though, because it’s as we share an experience of God with the prophets that we’ll be challenged to consider how we need to respond to the word of the Lord in our own time.
Hosea 1 to 10.
It’s easy to notice as soon as we start reading Hosea that the message of the prophets was not often all that comfortable to hear, and neither was all that the Lord asked of them easy to embrace. In asking Hosea to remain faithful to an unfaithful wife, this is a message about God’s love, grace and faithfulness to His people. The word of the Lord is focused on compassion and restoration, yet the people of the Lord were being false. The word of the Lord through Hosea challenges our honesty in worship, and the genuineness of our hearts of love for the Lord.