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LESSON 1 – MINOR PROPHETS BIBLE STUDY
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LESSON 1: MINOR PROPHETS
Prophets were men who spoke for God. God spoke to them, and they told His words to the people. We can see how God spoke through prophets even in the times of the New Testament. Indeed, all the words of Scripture, the words inspired by God in the Bible, are words which were written by prophets. They are God's words which He caused men to write down. Now when God spoke through the prophets, He often spoke about things which were going to happen in the future. Therefore, many people, when they think about prophecy, only think of God's telling about things which are still going to happen. So they think that the books of the prophets are the books from Isaiah to Malachi. All those men spoke God's Words, warning people, telling them of things which were going to happen, and telling them about coming judgment and blessing. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel are called "The Major Prophets," that is, the greater prophets, partly because their books are larger than some of the others. The prophets from Hosea to Malachi are called "The Minor Prophets." That is partly because their books are smaller, and because they do not speak of so many things as some of the others do. But their words are God's words, and are very important. In this book, we want to read about the books of the Minor Prophets, and to think about their words. Do not read this book by itself. Read first the whole book of the prophet you want to study. If you can, read it many times. Then read these words, looking again at the words of the prophet you are reading about. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you as you read.
LESSON 1 - HOSEA
Hosea prophesied during the time when Isaiah and Amos and Micah spoke. See Hosea 1.1, Isaiah 1.1, Amos 1.1, and Micah 1.1. Read the stories of these kings mentioned in Hosea 1.1, in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. When Hosea spoke, the kingdom was divided into two parts. There was the kingdom of Israel and the kingdom of Judah. See 1 Kings Chapter 12. If you read the books of the Kings, you will see that many of the kings of Judah kept God's laws. But there were not any of the kings of Israel who knew God or obeyed Him. From the time of the first Jeroboam, the kings of Israel had been idolaters, and had worshipped calves made of gold (read 1 Kings 12.25-33). Hosea refers to these calves several times, 8.5, 8:6; 10.5; 13.2. Although four kings of Judah are spoken of, and only one of Israel in 1.1, Hosea's prophecy covered the time of several kings of Israel too. He went on until about the time that Israel was finally carried into captivity, 2 Kings 18.9-12. His prophecy was a warning to Israel that God was going to judge them for their sins. God always tried to warn His people, but they would not listen. That is what he meant in 4.4. See also Jeremiah 35.15. Although Hosea warned Israel, he also told Judah not to do as Israel had done, 4.15. But he warned Judah that they also will someday be punished for their sins, 5.5,10. Note that Hosea referred often to Israel, and also to Ephraim, 5.1-3. Both names refer to the northern kingdom, that of Israel. The first Jeroboam, who rebelled against King Rehoboam and became the first king of Israel, 1 Kings 12.12-20, was of the tribe of Ephraim, 1 Kings 11.26. Probably that is why the northern kingdom is so often called Ephraim as well as Israel. The prophecy of Hosea may be divided into three parts:
(1) The prophet as a sign, chapters 1 to 3.
(2) The prophet as a spokesman, chapters 4 to 13.
(3) The final appeal and promise, chapter 14.
If we outline the messages in the first part, we can describe Hosea's prophecy like this:
- THE PROPHET AS A SIGN, CHAPTERS 1 - 3
- THE ROPHET AS A SPOKESMAN, CHAPTERS 4 - 13
- FINAL APPEAL AND PROMISE, CHAPTER 14
1. THE PROPHET AS A SIGN, CHAPTERS 1 - 3
God told Hosea to do some things which would be like signs to Israel. He told him to marry a woman who was an adulteress, 1.2-3. This was to be a sign of how God loved Israel, who had gone astray from God. God often spoke of Israel as married to Him like a wife to her husband. So when Israel began to worship false gods, God often said that this was like a wife going to other men besides her husband. Israel should have worshipped God alone, just as a woman should be faithful to her true husband. So God often calls idolatry adultery, 4.12-14; 5.3. Other prophets were also told to do things which would be like signs. See Isaiah 20.2-4, for example. Then Hosea's children were called names which were like signs, 1.4 - 2.1. The first one was called Jezreel, 1.4-5. This name was a sign of several things. First, it referred to Jehu's great sin at Jezreel, for which God was going to judge Jehu's family. See 2 Kings 10.1-14. God allowed only four of Jehu's sons to reign, 2 Kings 10.30. The fourth was Zechariah, who was killed, as we read in 2 Kings 15.10, after Hosea had spoken about it here. Second, the punishment of Israel was to come on them in a valley called Jezreel, 1.5. Finally, the name was a sign of God's future blessing on His people, 1.11; 2.22. Then he had a daughter called "Lo-ruhamah," 1.6-7. That means "Not pitied" in Hebrew. God was not going to have pity on Israel any longer. He had warned the people of Israel, and they had not listened. Now He was going to punish them without mercy. Compare 5.9, 10, 14; 13.7-8. But He would have pity on the people of Judah and save them. We see in 2 Kings 18.13- 19.37 how that was fulfilled. Finally, Hosea had another son called "Lo-ammi," 1.8-9. That means "Not my people" in Hebrew. God had called Israel His people. But they had chosen sin and idols instead of God, and so He was going to cast them off. But He would not cast them off forever. The time would come when He would again bless Israel and multiply them, 1.10 - 2.1. In that time those whom He had called "Not my people" "Lo-ammi," 1.9) He would again call "My people" ("Ammi," 2.1). Those whom He had called"Not pitied" ("Lo-ruhamah," 1.6) would be "Pitied" ("Ruhamah") again. In Romans 9.25-26, these words are applied to all people whom God is saving now through Christ. But it refers first to the time coming, when God shall again gather Israel and Judah together in their own land. Then they will not be two kingdoms again, but one, 1.11. This will be after the Lord Jesus comes back to be King. The name "Jezreel" means "Sowing of God." God will some day sow Israel like seed in their own land. Chapter 2 tells us about the unfaithful wife. It has both warning and promise. It would seem that Hosea's wife was not faithful to him, just as Israel was not faithful to God. And God speaks through Hosea to Israel. Some of the words have a double meaning, both to Hosea's wife and to Israel. "Your mother" in verse 2 refers both to Hosea's wife and to the city of Samaria, which was the capital of Israel. The "children" are both Hosea's wife's children and the people of Israel. The "adulteries" are both the adulteries of Hosea's wife and the idolatries of Samaria and Israel. Israel thought that .the false gods had made them prosperous, so they followed them, 2.5. They did not realize that it was God who gave them the things which they enjoyed, 2.8. Because of their unfaithfulness to Him, God was going to punish them if they did not repent 2.2-13. But in the last days, He would again bring them back to Himself and would bless them, 2.14-23. ("Ishi" in Verse 16 means "my husband"; "Baali" means "my master.") Then again, He would call Israel "My people," as at the first, 2.23. See also 6.1-3; 11.10, 11:11; 12.9; 13.14. In chapter 3, Hosea is told to go and to get his wife back. So he buys her back to himself. This is a picture of how God will bring Israel back to Himself in the last days.
2. THE PROPHET AS A SPOKESMAN, CHAPTERS 4 - 13
The prophet's messages to Israel and Judah are found in chapters 4 - 13 . It is not easy to give an outline of these messages. We may notice the sins for which God condemned Israel. He saw that there was no faithfulness, no goodness, and that there was no one who really knew God, 4.1. There was swearing of oaths, but no one kept their promises. There was much murder, stealing, and adultery, 4.2; 7.1. There was much drinking and drunkenness, 4.11; 7.5. Note how he says in 4.11 that drinking and adultery take away sound judgment from people. That is a good thing to remember. He condemns them especially for worshipping idols, 4.12-14, 15-17; 5.3; 8.4-6, 11-14; 9.1; 10.2, 10:5; 11.2; 12.11; 3.1-2. Evidently they had these idols in many places besides Beth-el and Dan, for God mentioned Gilgal, 4.15; 9.15; 12.11, Beth-haven, 4.15; 5.8; 10.5-8, and spoke of Israel's many altars, 8.11. For the reference to Gibeah in 9.9 and 10.9, see Judges 19. For the reference to Baal-peor in 9.10, see Numbers 25.1-3. Evidently, when Israel was in trouble, they sought for help from Assyria and from Egypt, not from God, 12.1. This is what is meant in 7.8, by "mixing himself among the peoples." See also 7.11. In the time of judgment some of them would flee into Egypt, but they would be punished even there, 9.6. Most of the people would be taken to Assyria, 11.5. This is what really happened, 2 Kings 18.9-12. Although God spoke of judgment, His love is seen in His pleading with His people, in His sorrow that He must punish them, 11.8-9, and in His promise that He will eventually have pity on them again.
3. FINAL APPEAL AND PROMISE, CHAPTER 14
MICROSOFT WORD FORMAT OF LESSON AND TEST FOR - LESSON 1 – (Click on the "Microsoft Word" word in blue to choose this option)
TEXT DOC OF TEST FOR - LESSON 1 - (Click on the "Text Doc" word in blue to choose this option)
STUDIES IN LESSON 1: THE MINOR PROPHETS
TEST 1: Hosea
Type the letter of the correct answer or statement on the line after each question. Only ONE answer is correct.
1. Hosea prophesied during the time of: ........................
a) Abraham and Isaac.
b) Isaiah and Amos.
c) Paul and Barnabas.
2. God told Hosea to marry a woman who had been an adulteress: this was a sign of: ........................
a) how God loved Israel.
b) how the law was being changed.
c) how God can overlook sin.
3. Hosea had three children whose names had special meanings. They were: ........................
a) Shem, Ham and Japheth.
b) Jezreel, Ln-ruhamah, and Lo-ami.
c) Baali, Ishi and Ammi.
4. God was displeased with Israel because of their: ........................
a) unfaithfulness and immorality.
b) dealings with the prophets.
c) influence on the pagan people.
5. During Hosea's time when Israel was in trouble they: ........................
a) fasted and prayed to God.
b) called for the prophets.
c) sought for help from Assyria and from Egypt.
Write TRUE (yes) or FALSE (no) on the line after each question.
6. During the time of Hosea's prophecy, the kingdom was still divided into two parts. TRUE ............ FALSE .............
7. Hosea's prophecy was a warning to Israel that God was going to judge them for their sin. TRUE ............ FALSE .............
8. Even though Hosea's wife was an adulterous, she was faithful to him TRUE ............ FALSE .............
9. Hosea's wife came back to him when he bought her for himself. TRUE ............ FALSE .............
10. Hosea's wife was a picture of Israel. They needed to return to God from serving idols TRUE ............ FALSE ............
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Updated May 2012 by Shelly Allen