The Minor Prophets (Part 1)

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.

If and Then

There is a principle called cause and effect. Two events or occurrences are linked together. The first is the process or the cause, and is responsible for the second, the results or the effect. The effect is dependent upon the cause.  It is often expressed in terms of “if” and “then”.  

It states the cause or condition to achieve the results or effect. Many of God’s promises are unconditional…based on His love for us and purposes for us…Jeremiah 29:11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

But others are conditional, and require something on our part. Revival is one. If we want to see revival, then there are some things we must do.

1 Kings 18:38  Then the fire of the LORD fell, … We want to reverse the process and begin with the effect. We see in our text that the effect here is that the fire of God fell. There was an awareness of and awakening to the Presence of God. That is an apt description of revival. 

We need the fire of God to fall upon us. What produced or caused the effect? Let’s look at the context of our text to find out the cause, or conditions that produced the effect.

During the reign of king Ahab, whom R.G.Lee called "a vile human toad who squatted upon the throne of his nation and his wife Jezebel, the nation of Israel had fallen into idolatry, immorality, deception and despondency."  He was surrounded by 850 false prophets that assured him of God’s approval. But Elijah the prophet appears and announces there will be no rain in the land. 

1 Kings 17:1  And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. 3 ½ years drought follow. Ahab sends Obadiah to seek grass for the livestock. It was then that Obadiah meets the prophet, Elijah.

1 Kings 18:1  And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. As Elijah goes to meet Ahab, he is met by Obadiah.

1 Kings 18:7-8 7  And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him, and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah? 8  And he answered him, I am: go, tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.  

Obadiah takes Elijah to Ahab… and here are the three things we see:

1. Elijah Shows Up 1 Kings 18:17-18 17  And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that stir up; disturb troubleth Israel? 18  And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.

  • Elijah confronted the government of his day with the truth.
  • He didn’t sugar-coat his words, but called sin, sin. We need some Elijah’s to stand up to ungodly leaders. Today, good is called evil, and evil called good…truth is fallen in the streets.
  •  If we want the fire to fall today we must recognize sin for what it is. 

 2. Elijah’s Show Down Prophets of Baal challenged to call on their gods to show up. Although outnumbered, vs.25 He fearlessly confronted the false prophets. We may feel we are outnumbered, but  if God be for us, who can be against us? Since Baal was the “fire god”, let him answer by fire.  1 Kings 18:26  And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.

  • No answer because no Baal. 
  • v. 30…repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down. Before the fire would fall, there had to be some repairing and rebuilding.
  • The altar had fallen down over time through neglect.

3. God Shows Up…Prayer…v.36,37…obedience at thy word…repentence..Thou hast turned their heart back again.

  • v.38..Then the fire of the Lord fell…all was consumed to prevent shrines.
  • v.39 God receives the glory
  • v.40 The people respond…
  • 2 Chronicles 7:13-14 13  If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people; 14  If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

Contributed By Pastor Travis Bridgeman