Hosea is the first of the 12 Minor Prophets, called minor not because they are less important, but because the books are shorter. Hosea was a contemporary of Isaiah. His early years overlapped with Amos; and his later years with Micah. The theme of the prophecy is God’s mercy to a sinful Israel, who in the end will come to God in heartfelt and genuine repentance. More than any other prophet, Hosea linked his message closely with his personal life.
By marrying a woman he knew would eventually betray his trust and by giving his children names that sent messages of judgment on Israel, Hosea’s prophetic word flowed out of the life of his family. The cycle of repentance, redemption and restoration evident in Hosea’s prophecy and even his marriage remains intimately connected to our lives. The sequence plays itself out in the lives of real people, reminding us that the Scriptures are far from a mere collection of abstract statements with no relation to real life. They work their way into our day-to-day existence, commenting on issues that impact all our actions and relationships.
The prophet Amos lived among a group of shepherds in Tekoa, a small town approximately 10 miles south of Jerusalem. Amos made clear in his writings that he did not come from a family of prophets, nor did he consider himself one. Amos was fed up. While most of the prophets interspersed redemption and restoration in their prophecies against Israel and Judah, Amos devoted only the final five verses of his prophecy for such consolation.
Prior to that, God’s word through Amos was directed against the privileged people of Israel, a people who had no love for their neighbour, who took advantage of others, and who only lookout out for their own concerns. More than almost any other book of Scripture, the book of Amos holds God’s people accountable for their ill-treatment of others. It consistently points out the failure of the people to fully embrace God’s idea of justice.
Obadiah’s name, meaning “worshipper of Yahweh” offers an interesting counterpoint to the message of judgment he pronounced on Edom, Judah’s neighbour to the southeast. As a worshipper of Yahweh, Obadiah placed himself in a position of humility before the Lord; he embraced his lowly place before God. The majority of the book pronounces judgment on the foreign nation of Edom, making Obadiah one of the only three prophets who announced judgment primarily on other nations (Nahum and Habakkuk are the others).
While others of the prophetic books contain passages of judgment against Edom and other nations, Obadiah’s singular focus points to a significant, although difficult, truth about humanity’s relationship with God; when people remove themselves from or place themselves in opposition to God’s people, they can expect judgment, rather than restoration at the end of life.
By: Jallo Ali
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