One prolific writer has said that books are built on good beginnings and endings. The collection of books that comprise the Minor Prophets more than exceed this criteria for good endings!
The twelve prophets—some of priestly or royal lineage, some of common vocation, some with little biographical information available to us now—wrote over the course of centuries. Some predicted the judgment of God’s people during times of prosperity; others declared the devastation of exile; still others (like Malachi) ministered during the time of rebuilding. But despite their differences, the twelve prophets—minor only in length, not importance—have followed a common thread: sinners in the hands of a merciful God find His astonishing, relenting love.
At the beginning of the month, we began in Hosea with the picture of Israel as God’s unfaithful wife. At the end of our study, we’re left with the foreboding sense that not much has changed. The people still struggle to obey God fully. They’ve intermarried with the pagan nations surrounding them, some divorcing their own wives to do so. They’ve neglected proper observance of the sacrificial rites in the temple (2:11–12). They’ve robbed God by refusing to bring the appropriate tithes and contributions to the temple. Can Israel really turn over a new leaf of righteousness?
She can’t—which is what makes the prophecy regarding the coming of Elijah so critical. God must send a final prophet, a prophecy fulfilled in John the Baptist (see Matt. 3:1–12; 11:13–15). His mission was to point toward a final, faithful prophet, priest, and King—Jesus Christ. He alone can heal our incurable hearts of rebellion. He alone can—and will—save us.
The prophets longed to understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, which they understood only dimly (see 1 Peter 1:10–12). The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ has made it possible for God to relent from judgment and show mercy, and His Spirit within us cures our rebellion, pride, and idolatry. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!