Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel, against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt: “You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
Blow a trumpet in Zion; sound an alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming; it is near,
You are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
The Minor Prophets record the nearly 500 years of patience, encouragement, and empathy of God toward his hopelessly self-addicted people. At times he is “crazy angry” as he pursues them, but because of his “crazy love,” he refuses to let them off easy and perseveres until he gains a remnant whom he will forever call his people. The Minor Prophets call God’s people to do one thing—walk with the Lord. And the three reasons for doing so should be irresistible—because we are God’s gracious possession, he tenaciously pursues us, and he mercifully empowers us.
- Possession (Amos 3:1-8; Hosea 2:2-8)
As is true of the rest of Scripture, the Minor Prophets must be rooted in Genesis, which records God’s initiation of his covenant with Abraham (Ge. 12:1-3). The covenant is just this simple: “I will be your God, and you will be my people.” That motif is repeated throughout the rest of Scripture as God unfolds the personal sacrifice it will require of him to make an unholy people his possession and the tenacity it will require for him to keep us as his people, while the devil wars against us and we continually stray. Therefore, a recurrent theme in the prophets is that God’s people are his blood-bought possession, and our wavering is all the more heinous because of our costly redemption.
- Pursuit (Jonah 4:2; Joel 2:1-11)
Under King David’s leadership, Israel became a significant kingdom with far reaching borders, so when his son Solomon rose to power there was no where to go but up. And that is what occurred; Solomon’s wealth, wisdom, and power were world-renowned. But God warned that he would only sustain Israel’s unity and strength as long as Israel's heart belonged to the Lord. Specifically, he forbade Solomon to marry foreign women because they would rear his children as pagans, and true worship would disappear from the land over the generations. The threat was that if he did so, God would split the Kingdom and make her vulnerable to the surrounding nations. Solomon ignored God’s exhortation and married foreign women who raised idol worshiping sons, and the nation divided into two kingdoms in 931 B.C.
- Power (Zephaniah 3:15; Micah 6:8)
So how will recalcitrant, hard-hearted, self-consumed sinners ever be turned back? God must do it. But why would he? Why would he not just wash his hands of us and be done with the trouble? After all, he has been pursuing ungrateful sinners since the creation of the world! Isn't he tired of it? Why does he persevere? Because he has promised to make a people for himself. And because he has promised, he will ensure that there will be a numberless host who will praise his grace forever. So he will keep conquering hearts until his plan has been accomplished.
- Possession: What are some of the motivations for us to live faithfully in our covenant relationship with God? What are some of the negative consequences for not living this way?
- Pursuit: What does this point reveal about what our hearts are prone to do, especially when we experience material wealth, comfort, and security? Why do you think that is? Are you able to see any instances of this in your own life? What does God’s response reveal about his character? How have you seen God pursue you?
- Power: In view of the fact that we belong to God and he relentlessly pursues us to restore our relationship with him, how are we to respond? What guidance do Zephaniah 3:15 and Micah 6:8 offer? What might this look like practically in your own life?