The book of Jonah is the clearest revelation in all the Old Testament of the missionary heart of our God. Jonah is not the story of a whale but of a nation in desperate need of deliverance…and a messenger who was reluctant to go and announce the truth.
Struggling through reading the lesser-known Old Testament passages and long prophetic oracles may seem to have little relevance to everyday 21st-century life. But there are important things we can learn from the Old Testament. First, the New Testament is based on the Old Testament. Second, the Old Testament reveals the character of God. Third, the Old Testament has transformational power. Its message transcends time, geography, and culture. It speaks to everyone, everywhere, in every situation.
Obadiah’s message is related to two historical periods: Obadiah’s own times and the imminent threat of the nations’ captivity by Assyria and Babylon as well as its eventual restoration. Except in his case, Obadiah’s message was not to Israel or Judah but to Edom, and there was no hope of restoration for them.
Born of humble means, raised to work with his hands, rugged and unflappable, Amos became one of the most colourful personalities among the prophets. God’s severe predictions of judgment had to be delivered by a man who modelled that message.
Recently in Judah (the southern kingdom), a plague of locusts had devoured every green thing, leaving only desolation in their trail. Joel announced his conviction that God had sent the plague because of the sin of His people Judah. But Joel also announced hope beyond their present circumstance. His message is certainly needed today.
Hosea was a prophet to the 10 northern tribes called Israel. His contemporaries were Amos, Isaiah, Jonah, and Micah. Hosea’s was a pathetic, tragic life. In fact, few men in Scripture inspire such pity as Hosea.
It is doubtful that any Old Testament prophet played a more significant role in the history of Israel than Daniel. Taken from his homeland while still a teenager (he was no more than 15) and pushed through a highly competitive crash course in a foreign culture, Daniel emerged as the premier prophet during the reigns of several monarchs of the captivity era.
Stuart Briscoe chose an apt title for his little book on Ezekiel: All Things Weird and Wonderful. You can’t read the prophet Ezekiel’s writings three minutes without encountering the strange, the phenomenal, or the wonderful.
The ravages of war and the consequences of disaster are usually beyond belief or description. Few are those who can capture the tragic scene in words. Jeremiah was one of the few. His brief, biting journal of what he saw and felt following the fall of his beloved nation is contained in this short book.
Jeremiah wasn't the brightest among the prophets; Isaiah held that distinction. And the book of Jeremiah isn't the most difficult to understand—that award probably goes out to Ezekiel. Neither is Jeremiah the most influential (that’s Daniel) nor the most notorious—Jonah, without a doubt—or even the most to be pitied (hello, Hosea). But of all the prophets, for sure, Jeremiah was the most heroic.
The final decades of the eighth century BC produced several great men, but perhaps the most significant of these was a blue-blooded prophet called Isaiah. That’s quite a statement when you consider his contemporaries were Amos, Hosea, and Micah.