Written as a type of road map for students of the Bible, Harold Shank, in his commentary on the early Minor Prophets, seeks to provide necessary information for the journey of Scripture reading. While extremely diverse in setting and literary devices, the works of the Minor Prophets can be summarized by three major themes. First, all can be categorized as prophecy. While prophecy is known to look to the future, which these books do, they are rooted in the past. The prophets books remind the nations of the God who has given them laws, who desires the laws to be kept, and who deserves his people's respect because he has revealed himself to them through the laws. We can also see that judgment and its associated images play a major part in the writing of the prophets. The people in Joel's day experienced some of God's wrath in the form of a locust plague. Jonah was to preach to a city that would be completely destroyed if it did not repent. All prefigure doom for the wayward, whether experienced in the physical life or the spiritual life. Finally, the problem of syncretism is confronted: Israel's tendancy to mix the worship of Yahweh with the worship of Baal and other gods. Over and over again the prophets denounce Israel's idolatrous ways as they call for God's people to return wholly to him.
Despite the somewhat bleak picture of the behavior of God's people, brighter images of God's love and mercy must also be included in the scenery. God is seen as a husband and father, tenderly caring for his people. We see God wooing his people back to himself, longing for relationship to be restored. These images remind us of the fundamentals of what God wants: justice, mercy, and humility. The Minor Prophets can direct us on the path to attaining these qualities.
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