Minor Prophets IXX: Conclusion
The whole Bible is about God; it’s about who God is. But this revelation comes to its climax in the person of Jesus who is God in the flesh. After His resurrection, when two of His disciples did not recognize Him, He said: “O fools and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not the Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Lk. 24:25-26) As we conclude our study of the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, we do not want to leave without considering how all of this points to Jesus our God.
The Text: Isaiah 25 works as a nice summary of what God has been up to in the history of Israel. He has been intimately involved in the political upheaval and turmoil in the world, seeking to draw all the nations to Himself while protecting the poor and needy (Is. 25:2-5). But this is ultimately aimed at a feast of fat things and fine wine (Is. 25:6), and there amid the feast, God will destroy the covering over all people, the veil spread over the nations, and He will swallow up death forever (Is. 25:7-8). And then it will be said in that day: This is our God. We waited for Him, and He is our Savior. This is Yahweh, and we will be glad and rejoice in Him (Is. 25:9). This is a hymn of recognition, of recognizing God in the story. As we close our series on the Minor Prophets, we want to look at three themes, three clues that have been recurring in the Minor Prophets and that train us to recognize God in the story and that ultimately point us to Jesus. The three clues are God’s love, God’s justice, and God’s joy.
The Steadfast Love of God
Hosea opened with the wounded, jealous love of God (Hos. 1-3, 11:1-4), and as we saw last week, Malachi closes with this declaration of love (Mal. 1:2, 3:17). Israel went after other lovers (Hos. 9:1) and became like the abominations they loved (Hos. 9:10). God called Israel to walk in the love of mercy and justice (Mic. 3:8), but they hated good and loved evil (Mic. 3:2). But God promised to come again and woo them with His love (Hos. 14:4), to quiet their raging with the song of His love (Zeph. 3:17). The steadfast love of God is His compassion and pity for those trapped in their sins (Jon. 4:11).
The Determined Justice of God
But God’s love is not merely an overwhelming emotion. God is not an emotional hurricane that careens unpredictably throughout history. His plan to be reconciled with His faithless bride is to betroth Israel to Himself “in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy” (Hos. 2:19). God’s fierce anger is not Him flying off the handle, it is His eternal hatred of evil (cf. Amos 5:15, Nah. 3:5) and what it does to His creation and those made in His image (Amos. 5:12, Obad. 10). God will do no unrighteousness; He never fails to do justice (Zeph. 3:5). And this principally means telling the truth about sin (e.g. Zech. 8:16).
The Unconquerable Joy of God
While the Minor Prophets begin with a number of condemnations of Israel’s rebellious joy: Do not rejoice, O Israel, with joy like other peoples, for you have played the harlot against your God… (Hos. 9:1, cf. Joel 1:12, 16). Slowly, almost imperceptibly, another melody is rising, growing louder, defiant against the sin and judgment. In the face of injustice, Habakkuk cries: Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation (Hab. 3:18). Despite the weakness of Israel, Zechariah and Zephaniah promise that God will turn the Jewish fasts into cheerful feasts full of joy and gladness (Zech. 8:19). Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem (Zeph. 3:14). The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing (Zeph. 3:17). Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey (Zech. 9:9).
Conclusions & Applications
There are many specific prophesies of Jesus in the Minor Prophets which we have noted along the way, but don’t miss the fact that Jesus is also prophesied in the overarching picture that emerges of God’s love and justice and joy. In other words, as you read the prophets (and all of Scripture), a question should always be nagging in the background: If this is true, what must God be like? If God is love and justice and joy, how will He save His people? What we find in Jesus and in His death and resurrection is not a sentimental God full of dramatic mood swings, but rather the justice of God perfectly united to His love and joy. In Jesus, God tells the truth about all sin, about our sin, and then in His love makes a way of escape, and not merely an escape but an invitation to a feast of joy and gladness that will swallow up death forever.
People often think that God is like us and has a hard time holding love and justice and joy together at once. People think that God must turn one thing on and the other off, or they think He balances them perfectly. And people imitate what they think God is like. People who think God tries to balance love and justice try to do that, but it usually turns into swerving into ditches of legalism and formalism on the one hand or emotionalism and romanticism on the other. But God is all love all the time and all justice all the time and all joy all the time. And all of these things are held together and displayed perfectly in the cross of Jesus Christ.
In order to recognize God on the cross, you need to begin to have an accurate composite picture of God coalescing in your heart and mind. And further, to recognize God here in His Word, in the prophets and in the gospel is to practice recognizing God there in your life. Do you see His perfect love, justice, and joy in your story?
And if this is your God, how can you not imitate Him in His love and justice and joy? We need to work and pray for God to give us the courage and wisdom to hold these things together, to speak the truth in love and for the joy set before us. We began this entire series claiming that prophets are first and foremost the friends of God, and we are the friends of God because God has befriended us in Jesus (Jn. 15:13). And we are His friends if we follow Him (Jn. 15:14).