Thursday, November 15, 2018


Why are the Minor Prophets Important?

          When was the last time you experienced a sermon or message from your pastor on the Minor Prophets? When was the last time you sat down and said, “Yes, the book of Obadiah. I have been waiting all year to get to this book in my daily Bible reading.” How many of us once we get to the Minor Prophets zoom through them without a second thought racing to get to Matthew 2. (Be honest, all those “begats” can be as dull as the Minor Prophets.)
           We have been studying the book of Zechariah for 3 months now in our home Bible study. I have ready Zechariah many times. I even quote from Zechariah at least once a year, as I am sure we all do:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 (NIV)

            This is one of our staples during the Easter (Resurrection Day, please) season. But why do we limit ourselves to just a verse here and a verse there? Why are we not teaching the whole counsel of God and delivering the complete Word to those who sit under our teaching?
           Before we begin with why we should let’s take a look at why we don’t.

  1. They are minor, we need to concentrate on the Major Prophets. They contain the meat that we need in our daily walk and life.
  2. Fringe books. They are the end of the Old Testament (think about the opinions of a majority of Bible teachers and professors on the Book of Revelation) therefore not that important. If they were important they would be among the Major Prophets were the important books are.
  3. They are strange and too hard to understand. They are subject to different interpretations. No one can agree on what they mean.
  4. What happened to the interesting stories? Daniel in the den of lions, Isaiah speaking about the Messiah, Jeremiah and all that happened to him. This is gone, we don’t even know anything about the writers. (Okay, maybe Jonah is good, as long as you leave out the last chapter, which is so depressing).
  5.  Look at those names. Nahum, Amos (racial stereotypes on this one, be careful in the modern church and make sure your congregation knows there is no connection to the old Amos and Andy show), Habakkkkkukkk (that might be to many k’s, once again be careful in the modern church they might think you are supporting the KKK with this one).

This may sound silly but this is what is heard in the church today. Don’t make us think, we want the stories that make us feel good and allow us to go home with a smile on our face. Don’t give us anything that might bring us down or make me sad on the way to the cafeteria after the church service.
We have been pampered to long. We need to look at the Minor Prophets and learn from what they communicated to the nation of Israel. What lessons are imparted to the people and the nation from the prophets are as important today as they were 2500 years ago. 2500 years ago God hated sin, God still hates sin. 2500 years ago God wanted a people that followed Him with their heart, not with their pocketbook, God still wants us to follow Him with our hearts. 2500 years ago God told us to be kind to strangers, widows, and orphans. 2500 years later, God still wants us to be kind to strangers, widows, and orphans.
Now here we sit 2500 years later and the question is asked, “Why? Why should I read the Minor Prophets? Shouldn’t I be concentrating on the New Testament? Shouldn’t I be using my limited time and resources and fathom the gems and jewels that Christ and the apostles left behind?” Valid point, but not accurate.
Why we should read, study, and understand the Minor Prophets?

  1. First and foremost, before any other reason is considered, because it is the Word of God. The book of Haggai was just as much inspired by the Holy Spirit as the book of Ephesians. All Bible readers and believers are familiar, and have probably memorized 2 Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." Not some of Scripture, not just the Old Testament or just the New Testament, but all of Scripture. This before anything else should be our reason for not ignoring the Minor Prophets.
  2. Calling them fringe books or hard to understand is for the weak-willed, worldly Christian who doesn’t want to spend the time to research and learn what is being taught. Though these books were given initially to the nation of Israel they contain much application and lessons for us today. They do require an amount of study that far exceeds the story of David and Goliath. For many ministers the time necessary for such study exceeds what time they have left after hospital visitations, counseling, committee meetings, etc.
  3. Yes, I will even admit, the gloom and doom of the Minor Prophets can be a bit overwhelming.  But God never leaves it at gloom and doom. Do you want to learn about joy, go to Zephaniah 3:14-15. How about hope, Micah 7:18-19. God’s sovereignty, yes that is covered also, Amos 5:6. And speaking about the book of Amos, this little book should be the churches handbook when speaking and acting on social injustices today. Most importantly the Minor Prophets teach us about Jesus. Yes, Messiah Jesus. He is everywhere. But you need to study and examine to find Him in some passages while in others He will jump out and grab you.
  4. While it is true that the Minor Prophets are not known for the personal narratives that make the other books exciting and come to life they do have their little touches that make them so relevant. Many readers overlook the most common way of getting to know the Minor Prophets which is by their names. In our culture today we do not hold an importance to naming our children as the ancients did. In the time of the Minor Prophets (and before) a person’s name gave a great insight into their personality. Study the names of the prophet and much can be exposed about the person. Habakkuk means to “embrace” or “wrestle” which in turn gives us a clue about the book he wrote as he wrestles with difficult questions. May I add, questions that are still being asked today?
  5. Lastly, at least for this article, the Minor Prophets give a summation, and ending to God’s plan for the ages. (This also is one of the reasons that a study of the book of Revelation is so vital). We are given full assurance that God is not blind to evil nor will He allow wickedness to go unchecked or unpunished. This aspect of God is clearly established in the Minor Prophets and fleshed out even more in the New Testament (see Revelation 20). The prophets also declare a Messiah who brings hope, joy, love, equality, but most importantly, fellowship with God (Zechariah 3:4).

My study of Zechariah has been very rewarding. So many things that I have read over the years but never truly understood have been brought to light.  The looks on my students’ faces as truths are revealed concerning Jesus Christ and His ministry have brought encouragement and joy into their lives. Don’t ignore the Minor Prophets delve deep and be blessed.  
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. If you have any questions, comments, complaints please do not hesitate to email me at bobbyhayes_3@juno.com. God bless you.

 

Friday, September 28, 2018

HOME BIBLE FELLOWSHIPS

A phenomenon has arisen in many churches across the country. What was once thought of as belonging to third world countries where Christianity was against the law is now seeing its rise in America. Home Bible Fellowships are springing up in many churches. Instead of Sunday night or Wednesday night services, churches are encouraging, sometimes forcing, their congregations to meet in the homes of fellow believers.

Is this a good idea? This was the typical mode of operations for the church during the first three centuries. Meeting together as we do today would probably have been the death knell to many Christian congregations. The Roman Empire and others who hunted Christians would have had a much easier job hunting us down and bringing us to “justice.” Instead they had to do house-to-house searches, interrogate prisoners (who often did not know other homes where Christians would meet), or employee spies who could take months to discover any facts (and on the odd occasion become believers because of what they exposed themselves to.)

Considering the world we are now living in and the way our country is moving I think this is an excellent idea. How many Christians would know what to do if they came to church on Sunday and found the doors chained and entrance forbidden? How many Christians would know what to do if they discovered their entire leadership, elders and deacons, had been taken to prison? I have attended Baptist churches now for about 20 years and I have observed when they do not have a pastor they are worse than a ship without a rudder. I am sure it is the same way in other denominations.

If we had installed a system of home fellowships we would know where to run if this occurred. Instead of having just a handful of spiritual leaders to guide us we would have a diversity of leadership that we could go to in times of trouble. Other advantages include a much tighter, closer, group of believers. No matter how good your pastor is, he is not able know everyone. No matter how good his board of elders or board of deacons, they can’t know everyone. With this model in place it is possible to get to know everyone and really act if they have any needs.

Many in the church today have the ability to help other believers but the mechanisms in place only help a few. Now, in a smaller setting, away from the church, in the comfort of a home, people may seem more open to share their needs. Those that have are with greater ease able to share with those that are in need. It would suddenly become much easier for believers to take care of one another as we are commanded: “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2), which His law of course is to “…love one another,…” (John 13:34). If we learn to take care of one another now how much easier will it be when persecution begins in earnest?

This is the beginning of what I hope to be a series of articles on Home Bible Fellowships. Any questions, comments, concerns, disagreements please do not hesitate to email me at bobbyhayes_3@juno.com.

Why are the Minor Prophets Important?           When was the last time you experienced a sermon or message from your pastor on the Mino...