The Old Testament is divided into three sections:
- The Law
- The Prophets
- The Writings (which contain the books of wisdom)
The twelve minor prophets fall into the second division. They are sometimes referred to as “the book of the twelve”. They were bound together as one book to prevent them from being lost as individual scrolls. They were only minor in terms of their length, not the strength of their message.
- In the Old Testament, God usually communicated through the priest and the kings, but when they failed he would raise up prophets to call the nation to repentance.
- These men were drawn from the all ranks and regions of the country. They spoke with divine authority and addressed the moral depravities, social injustices and spiritual apostasies.
- They were both forth tellers and foretellers. To understand the role of the prophet, we must understand the calling of the nation of Israel.
- It was the only nation that God ever made a covenant with.
- They were to be his ambassadors to the world. All other nations would be blessed through contact with them.
- To highlight this, they were placed at the geographic center of the earth, and were to occupy all of the Middle East. The modern nation of Israel is about the size of New Jersey.
The era of prophecy began with Elijah and ended with John the Baptist.
Matthew 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
The two major divisions are the pre-exilic and postexilic prophets. The prophets warned the nations of Israel and Judah of the coming captivities for their disobedience, recorded the prophecies in written form so they could carry them with them through their captivities and encourage them to rebuild the city and the Temple upon their return from captivity. There were prophets like Elijah and Elisha who performed miracles to back up their words and warnings. No miracles are associated with the twelve minor prophets, other than fulfilled prophecies. The Twelve are not in chronological order. The first was Joel, the last, Malachi. But Biblically we begin with Hosea.