THE MINOR PROPHETS AND THE DAY OF THE LORD
The Minor Prophets
There are twelve books in the Bible which are usually described as ‘The Minor Prophets.’ In some ways, it seems very inapplicable that they are referred to in this way, as each one of these prophets had (as, of course, each of their books still has) an extremely important and vital message.
Sadly, these twelve books seem to be a very neglected part of the Word of God. It would appear that the average ‘Christian’ would, if asked, have no idea what these books are about, apart, perhaps, from the story of Jonah. In fact, many do not even know where to find these books in their Bible!
Equally sadly, many preachers who would otherwise seek to be faithful to the teaching of Holy Scripture, either ignore these books or seek to explain them away as if the plain statements made therein, although inspired, do not mean what they say.
So there is, in these days, a great ignorance of what God had to reveal throughout these twelve holy men of old who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost to utter and record the very words of God.
The Day of the Lord Hosea - Haggai
By W H Reeves
(This message was giv,en at a meeting of the Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony held in London on May 23rd 1975).
I want to give a key word to each of these prophets which I shall not expound but which I shall just use as an introduction.
The key word in
Hosea is RETURN. You
will find it mentioned fifteen times.
Hosea prophesied to the ten tribes of
unfolds the fact that as Hosea was married to Gomer the unfaithful bride, so
Jehovah was married to unfaithful
Now “the Day of the Lord” is promised very early in the
book – “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall
be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall
come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not My
people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living
God. Then shall the children of
has not yet been fulfilled for
The key word I have for this book is REPENTANCE. For this remarkable prophecy has for its message the value and importance of repentance, and as you well know the key phrase is ‘THE DAY OF THE LORD’, which is named five times (1: 15; 2:1, 11, 3 1; 3: 14). Those who understand this fact have an insight into the message of the book, which describes a terrible locust invasion. It gives the first intimation of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all flesh, and yet it contains prophecies reaching from the time of Joel to that Day of the Lord right to the end of time.
The first utterance in chapter 1: 15, deals with the dire calamity “Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.” Severe drought, a terrible invasion of locusts; ruin on every hand, and it would seem that up to this point the people had not realised that God was chastising them; that God was acting in judgment. Therefore Joel is urging the need for a fast and for a calling unto the Lord. With spiritual insight, being taught by the Spirit of God, Joel sees this locust attack as an emblem of a more terrible attack by swarms of heathens; by the nations in that day; and not only in that day for it is typical of the invasions in the last days yet to come.
continues in chapter 2: 1, “Blow ye the trumpet in
Here we see the
power of the Lord’s sudden intervention to save
To quote Campbell Morgan again: “In this day Jehovah will restore Judah and Jerusalem by His people Israel, deal with the nations through the processes of war, make Zion the centre of His earthly kingdom and Israel as a complete nation, the instrument of His government.” Thus to Joel was given the plan of the ages. He saw the near, the imminence and the ultimate. He saw that the day of Jehovah was present. persistent, powerful, to the complete realisation of divine purpose. It was a great vision, and our secret of confidence is in walking in its light. We live in the unnumbered age of the Spirit, it has lasted 1900 years and we know not when it will end, but we do know that beyond it is the great and terrible day of Jehovah. Therefore we are sure of the ultimate realisation of all His purposes for men. I do wish we had a leading preacher today able to preach truth like that, a real dividing of the prophetic Word of the Lord.
Now we move on
to the book of Amos. to which I have given the title RESTORATION. Amos was a
working man, a herdman, a preserver of sycomore trees, who was of
In this book, Amos deals with a misconception in the minds of the people about the power of the Lord; in fact in chapter 5: 18-20, he said to them: “Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light. As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? Even very dark, and no brightness in it?”
There were three
classes of people whom Amos had to denounce with a “Woe,”
and we have them today. There were those who were at ease in
concerned about the evils of their day and were desirous that the day of the
Lord would come because they wanted better conditions. To this end, these people clung to an outward
form of religion, but their motives were
wrong and their interpretation even of the day of the Lord was false. That is sadly possible even today. You will
hardly credit this, but the late Dr. Basil Atkinson at the close of a meeting
We now come to
Obadiah, the shortest book in the Old Testament, and for this I have the word RETRIBUTION; for Obadiah shows in some
measure an example of Anti-Semitism, a hatred of God’s chosen people and how
the Lord, not man, brings retribution.
Now the Edomites were the Idumeans as you know, the descendants of Esau
and God had commanded His people in Deuteronomy 23:
7, to treat them kindly. But the
Edomites were proud, they were bitter; they were resentful; and they never failed
to help any enemy that attacked the Jews.
They had an apparently inaccessible and impregnable mountain fortress
hewed in the rocks from which they could emerge on raiding expeditions, and
those wonderful rock dwellings are still a marvel. At the fall of
Obadiah had a
word for them, and he said in verses 15-16 “The day of the LORD is near upon all the heathen: as thou
hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own
head. For as ye have drunk upon My holy
mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink,
and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been.” This will be, of course, on the nations in
the coming day of the Lord. And this is
a lovely text - “But upon mount
Now we come to
the book of Jonab, and I give this the title RECOMMISSIONING. Now the question we may well ask is, Can
anyone see the day of the Lord in this remarkable book? And if you ask concerning the actual letter,
I would have to say, No! But spiritually
the day of the Lord to a truly spiritual mind can be seen in the book, for Jonah is definitely a type. We know that Jonah was a type. There is one thing of which you can always be
sure. When the Lord makes a type of
anything in the Old Testament, you may be sure it was a type. Jonah
was a type of the Lord Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection ‑ that
is quite clear from Matthew 12:40. But Jonah is also a type of
We move on to
Micah with the theme RIGHTEOUSNESS. Micah
was contemporary with Isaiah and belonged to
Now Nahum, with
the title RUIN; a book which foretells the overthrow of
Is there any ray
of hope, any light for
We are getting through these little books, there is a lot in them and we are just touching on them.
Habakkuk speaks of REMEMBRANCE. This prophet was a chorister in the temple. He has been termed the grandfather of the Reformation and a prophet of faith, and although we shall not develop this theme, his writings are in the form of a conversation between himself and his Lord. He speaks as a puzzled man who wants the Lord to show him the answer, and, of course, He always does. In chapter 2: 3, the Lord said to him, “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie; though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” That is what we have to remember regarding prophecy, and so we have to learn both to hope and quietly wait for the coming of the Lord, living by faith and looking to the future. Here is the day of the Lord in verse 14: “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”
Now we come to a book of REJOICING, Zephaniah; and it is believed that Zephaniah was used of God very much to bring about the time of revival at the time of king Josiah. It is a book which begins with judgment and ends with a song of rejoicing, and again, as in Joel, the day of the Lord is the key to the study of this book.
Apart from references to that day, he uses the phrase seven times: (1) chapter 1: 7: “Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, He hath bid His guests.” (2) 1: 8: “And it shall come to pass in the day of the LORD’s sacrifice, that I will punish the princes, and the king’s children, and all such as are clothed with strange apparel.” (3) 1: 14: “The great day of the LORD is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly,” (4) 1: 14: “even the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.” (5) 1: 18: “Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD’s wrath.” (6) 2: 1-2: “Gather yourselves together, yea, gather together, O nation not desired: Before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD’s anger come upon you.” (7) 2: 3: “Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness; it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD’s anger.”
Finally, in chapter 3 we have what has been described as the sweetest love song in the Old Testament, “In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem, Fear thou not: and to Zion, Let not thine hands be slack. The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in his love, He will joy over thee with singing ... At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD” (3: 16-20).
Then we come to Haggai - REASSURED, and how much we need it. Haggai’s work is post-exilic. The people who had returned from captivity were disheartened and they had much to discourage them. Discouraged about rebuilding the temple, there was political intrigue that stopped the work and so the zeal and enthusiasm of God’s ancient people had mostly died away. So the people made time for excuses, as we see in chapter 1: 2, and the thought that we may bear in mind as we read this is, that before the day of the Lord the temple will be rebuilt.
In fact, on my
holiday last year I saw a film (I do not know how authentic the interpretation
of it is) which indicated that the Jews out there, in their unbelief, are
asking permission to excavate on the site of the temple and what they are
really doing is not just excavating but they are actually, according to the
film, getting the foundations ready under the plea of doing some archaeological
work; they are actually laying the foundations for the rebuilding of the
temple. I can only go on what the commentator
of the film said. But THAT
I was sitting in a train one day with a dear old Jew, and he was reading his Scriptures. I said to the old man, Excuse me but do you believe that the temple will be rebuilt? That dear old man looked at me and said, I pray for it every day.
We will just close with this thought of REASSURANCE. “For thus saith the LORD of hosts: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the Desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts” (2: 6-7). I do not know how the Lord can fill the house of the Lord with glory if the building is not there.
I know you can spiritualise all these passages, but when you have done spiritualising them there is still a great deal more. I do feel when I listen to an A-millennialist preaching on these passages, how empty the message really is. You can get something for the soul but you cannot get much for the future. No hope for God’s ancient people, how sad. But we do thank God for the wonderful truth in these minor prophets, and as our chairman has reminded us, they are not so minor after all. There is prophecy packed in small portions. We thank God it is there and for the encouragement and the hope that this message brings to everyone who is looking forward to the coming of the day of the Lord with a true godly motive.
The Prophecies of Zechariah and Malachi are a part of that more sure word of prophecy whereunto we do well to take heed as unto a light shining in a dark place - this evil world of sin, darkness, and woe.
[Part 2 – Zechariah and Malachi]
Now to begin
with, it is well to have in our minds a little outline concerning the prophets
prophesied before the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity; Ezekiel and
Daniel prophesied during that period; and Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi
prophesied after the return from captivity.
Ezra and Nehermah are the historical books relating to the resettlement
We learn from
these historical books how that after the return of
Because of this, the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah were sent to stir up the people to complete the Lord’s house, and although the Temple which they had started to build was insignificant as compared with Solomon’s Temple, Haggai and Zechariah assured the people that God would take pleasure in their labours, and they were given rich promises of restoration and of blessing if they continued faithful.
The Structure of the Prophecy of Zechariah
Regarding the structure of this book of
the Prophecy of Zechariah, there are eight visions which God gave to the
prophet to record, and these are found in chapters
1-6, while chapters 7-14 record more
direct statements of prophecy. We also find
in the visions and the promises connected with them, that they go beyond their
immediate application to
It is always important to remember that sometimes prophecies have a double fulfilment. We see this in connection with the prophecy in Joel 2. Peter referred to this on the day of Pentecost. Truly, Pentecost was an earnest of this, but how brief! And the final or complete fulfilment is to be in the “Day of the Lord,” when the Lord will be once again in the midst of His people Israel, and when they as God’s priests and ministers will dispense justice and truth and healing in the earth.
Its Opening Message
In the opening words of the Prophet Zechariah, before the visions are enlarged upon, we
find how God, through His servant, first called the people to repentance (verse 3).
And this is exactly how both John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus began
their message and ministry to the nation of
We also read in verse 1 of the actual time when the prophet received this Word of the Lord. It was in the eighth month, in the second year of Darius the king; and it was exactly two months earlier, in the sixth month of the second year of the same king that Haggai began to prophesy.
In Zechariah 1: 3, we have the term “The LORD of Hosts,” and in passing I would just state that this majestic Name is used no fewer than eighty times by these last three Prophets - Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. And note also that it is “Thus saith the LORD of hosts.” It is evidently to inspire the people with confidence that God was mightier than all their outward circumstances - however great and powerful their enemies were.
Then in verses 5 and 6 we have the questions, “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live for ever?” Their lives were of short duration, but God’s words and God’s statutes, in contrast, remain. Did they (these are God’s words) not overtake your fathers? Yes truly, and in judgment, and they turned, but not in repentance; only to acknowledge that their afflictions were from the hand of God. The literality of the judgment was too apparent to deny; they recognised that they had reaped what they had sown, and said, “according to our doings so hath He dealt with us.”
Now since my subject is “the Day of the Lord” which is yet to dawn, I must pass over the visions which are described from verse 7 of chapter 1 to the end of chapter 6, and concentrate our thoughts more upon chapters 7-14 and also briefly refer to the prophet Malachi. This, of course, is a vast subject and therefore one can only summarise some of the most important details of these latter chapters.
In chapter 7 we find that nearly two years had elapsed since that memorable night on which the series of the eight visions were shown to the Prophet ‑ in which were unfolded in a wonderful panorama the thoughts and purposes of God concerning Israel and the nations from the beginning to the very end of this age. Then the word of Jehovah came again to Zechariah.
Again the day, the month and the year of the Divine Oracle are clearly given as being the fourth year of King Darius. Thus it would be about two years after Haggai had stirred up the people to recommence the building of the Lord’s house, and about two years before the house was finished* (Ezra 6: 15; Haggai 1: 1 - 15).
[* The number 2 features significantly
also in Hosea’s prophecy also. When we
interpret, It reveals the time which will lapse between the two advents of
Messiah: “At this time, a deputation came from
Their enquiry was, need the people
continue to keep these fasts and afflict their souls in memory of their former
calamities, namely the invasion of their land and destruction of their
The Cause of Israel’s Calamity and Promise of Future Blessing
The Prophet Zechariah however, who spoke
to them in the Name of the Lord did not answer them directly, and the first
part of the prophetic discourse as contained in chapter
7 was intended to bring home to them and the nation the cause of their
former, and present sad and reduced circumstances. The cause of their low estate was moral, the
perverting of justice, oppression of the poor, and their hardness of
heart. It was because of these things
that they had been scattered with a whirlwind, and their land made
desolate. The causes were divinely
reiterated. It was of their own
making. So with God’s condemnation of
the nation the chapter ends, but as it is seen so often in these prophetical
passages, after the condemnation of His people
And this prophetical discourse continues in chapter 8 with gracious promises that He will yet save His people and be their God in Truth and Righteousness, resulting in world-wide blessings.
This same climax of blessing is found in earlier chapters 1. – 6., and in later chapters 9. - 10., and 12. - 14.; in other words, throughout the whole Book. In wrath, God ever remembers mercy.
Restoration and Blessing
And so we have the closing words in chapter 8 declaring “It
shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people(s), and the inhabitants of many cities ... saying, Let
us go speedily to pray ... and seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem ... In those days ... ten men out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is
a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you”
Such words imply eagerness and assurance for the Lord will take away the
reproach of His people
The nations will then realise that their
fathers have inherited lies and vanities, and that God’s favour rests upon
Such will be the power of the age to come.
We pass on to chapter 9 and here it is reiterated, like each of the passages already noted, that much is beyond the then present circumstances or contemporary history, and culminates in the time when Israel shall be brought to true repentance and will return unto the Lord never more to be forsaken, neither their land again made desolate.
Although some of the expressions in this
chapter, as indeed in other chapters in this book, may seem somewhat obscure,
yet the general trend of events is clear, and especially as they accord with
the prophetical passages in the New Testament concerning the end of this
age. Take such words as we have in verse 10, “And I will cut
off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from
True Peace and Rest
“And He shall
speak peace unto the nations” (9: 10). How parallel are such words with Isaiah 2: 1-4, “They shall
beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks ...
neither shall they learn war any more.”
And Psalm 86: 9, “All nations whom Thou hast made shall come and worship (brought low)
before Thee, 0 Lord; and shall glorify Thy Name.” “He shall have
dominion also from sea to sea and from the river (
And as to spiritual life, it will still
be peace through the Blood of His Cross, and through
Verse 14. “And the LORD shall be seen over them, and His arrow shall go forth as lightning.” And in the Isaiah 63 context with Zechariah 14: 3 we read of how the Lord will fight for them, when He comes from heaven glorious in apparel, the day of vengeance in His heart for the year of His redeemed is come.
“And the LORD God shall blow the trumpet” (9: 14). How fitting are such words with the New Testament passages, “The trump of God” (1 Thessalonians 4: 15-18) and “the last trump” (1 Corinthians 15: 52), linked with Revelation 11: 15-18 when resurrection and reward to saints takes place and God’s wrath follows on the ungodly and “the kingdoms of this world ... become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ.”
“And shall go with whirlwinds of the south” (9: 14). The elements of nature shall be used to effect God’s judgments. The sun darkened, the moon as blood, the heavens departing as a scroll, mountains and islands removed out of their places are accompaniments of the Lord’s second advent as confirmed by Revelation 6 and 7 and Hebrews 12.
“For how great
is His goodness, and how great is His beauty” (9:
17). Such will be the words used
True Contrition and Confidence in the Messiah
But in that Day, Israel, when they look
on Him Whom their nation once pierced and despised, shall be brought to mourn
and lament for Him, with deep contrition of heart as the words of chapter 12: 10-14 state. But their mourning shall be turned to
rejoicing, for the Lord shall preserve them during the brief time following His
glorious coming, while the vials of wrath are poured out on the wicked. Then He will make Himself known to His
brethren in everlasting embrace, nevermore to be pulled out of their land. “And I will bring
again the captivity of My people of
Now may I just draw your attention to
chapter 10: 4-7. In verse 4 we read “Out
of (literally, from) him (that is,
From him (Judah the royal tribe from which our Lord sprang), the One Whom God laid “in Zion for a foundation stone, a tried stone, a precious Corner Stone, a sure foundation.” These are expressions giving varied aspects of the dignity and glory that belong to the Lord Jesus Christ (Isaiah. 28: 16). We may also call to mind the somewhat similar figure given in Daniel 2: 44-45 ‑ the Stone cut out without hands which shall destroy and consume all the kingdoms of this world, so that His Kingdom of peace and righteousness shall stand for ever.
From him (Judah) the Nail fastened in a sure place and upon Whom shall hang all the glory of His Father’s house (Isaiah 22: 20-25).
From him (Judah) the Battle-Bow. The Lord is a man of war. He will not let the wicked go unpunished. He will come in all His strength to save all the meek of the earth (Psalm 76: 7-9). His wrath will be poured out (Isaiah 63: 1) upon the ungodly, upon Antichrist and all his evil hosts.
From him (Judah) every Exactor or Ruler together. All ruling power and authority united in Himself - both Kingship and royal Priesthood, as Psalm 110 makes clear, and all who do not submit themselves shall perish.
And they (
“They of Ephraim, shall be like a mighty man ... yea their children shall see it, and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the LORD” (10: 7) on account of His mercies and deliverance.
Verse 12, “I will strengthen them in the LORD.” On this bright note the chapter ends, “And they shall walk up and down in His Name saith the LORD,” subdued and conscious of God’s mercy, and “none shall make them afraid” (Micah 4: 14).
Divine Events in that Future Day
We thus arrive at the last three chapters of this prophecy. These chapters (12-14), link together events connected with “That Day,” the expression so often used in the prophetic Scriptures in reference to “The Day of the LORD,” which embraces the 1,000 years of sabbattic rest in contrast to “Man's day” of misrule and oppression which has now continued nearly 6,000 years. It is the “last day” spoken of in John 6 (mentioned four times); the day of resurrection unto life when the Lord takes control, and saints enter into their rest,* and judgment follows upon the ungodly (2 Thessalonians 1). We can only give a very brief outline of these three last chapters.
[* Heb. 4: 1, 11]
Chapter 12 sets forth
God’s Sovereignty over all creation, and reminds us of the immutability of His
Chapter 13 reveals that in this Day of the Lord there will be a fountain opened for sin and uncleanness to
the house of David and to the inhabitants of
And this brings us to the last chapter
wherein is brought before us how all nations will be gathered against
[* See Luke 14: 14; 20: 35; Phil. 3: 11; Heb. 11: 35b; Rev- 20: 4b, 6.]
The True King
“And the LORD shall be King over all the earth: in that Day shall there be One Lord, and His Name One” (verse 9). No longer, “gods many and lords many” (1 Corinthians 8: 5).
The nations shall realise that their idols are vanity and less than vanity and that they have inherited lies. The satanic veil of superstition and idolatry shall be taken away (Isaiah 25: 7).
The Session of the Ancient of Days will
have taken place, and the Son of Man given dominion and glory and a kingdom
that will not pass away, that all peoples and nations and languages shall serve
Him (Daniel 7: 13-14). Truly, then, will a King be reigning in
perfect righteousness as Isaiah 32: 1 states
and it shall be [literally] fulfilled, “The Lord God
shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the
house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32-33).
Verse 21: “And
in that Day there shall be no more the Canaanite (or merchant) in the house of the LORD, for then will be designated
everything as ‘Holiness unto the LORD,’” when
Now, I refer to the Prophet Malachi. The name Malachi means ‘My Messenger.’ This is the last of the Old Testament prophecies and Malachi was to Nehemiah what Haggai and Zechariah were to Zerrubbabel.
Following a period of revival after the
return from captivity in
And chapter 4 continues, “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burm as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be as stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. But unto you that fear My Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise with healing in His wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.”
As already mentioned,
All these consolatory announcements given to Israel show clearly that “Jehovah is jealous for Zion with great jealousy” and will return to Jerusalem with mercies; and that not only will the people be restored and the land rebuilt, but that He Himself will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem which shall be known as “the City of Truth” and “The Holy Mountain” - the centre to which the Gentile nations shall come to seek Jehovah and be taught His way.