The Holy Scriptures

Hosea 1‑14; Joel 1‑3  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 10
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The Minor Prophets
The last twelve books of the Old Testament are commonly designated The Minor Prophets. Though shorter, they are nonetheless full of vital details not found elsewhere in Scripture. Their subject is clearly prophetic; however, they each contain much for practical meditation. In them we read of God’s ways with His earthly people, His tender love, holiness, patience, judgment, compassion, mercy and grace.
Hosea and Amos prophesied during the days of Uzziah, king of Judah, and Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel (Hos. 1; Amos 1). Hosea continued on during the reign of the next three kings of Judah—Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah—making him a contemporary of Micah, who also prophesied during this period (Mic. 1:11The word of the Lord that came to Micah the Morasthite in the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. (Micah 1:1)), as did Isaiah (Isa. 1:11The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. (Isaiah 1:1)).
The ever-threatening Assyrian in the North overshadowed the day in which they prophesied. This was just prior to the captivity of Israel (the ten tribes; 1 Kings 17), and 150 years or so before the captivity of Judah. No date can be given to Joel, though clearly it is pre-captivity.
Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi are post-captivity. Haggai and Zechariah prophesied in the days of Zerubbabel when the temple was being rebuilt (Ezra 5), while Malachi comes later and records the corrupt moral condition of the returned captives.
While a chronology helps our understanding of these books, we must remember that they all look forward to a future day. Calamities were used of God to reach the conscience of the people and as an opportunity to present future events as if already seen.
Though prophets such as Haggai and Zechariah or Habakkuk and Zephaniah prophesied at similar times, it would be a mistake to assume that their prophecies bore a similar character, the examples cited being particularly diverse.
Mercy was withheld from Israel, but the judgment of Judah would bring the whole nation under a worse sentence: “Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not My people, and I will not be your God” (vs. 9).
Today Israel is without king or prince, sacrifice or priest, but neither is she idolatrous (ch. 3:4). Although not owned of God (Rom. 11:11I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. (Romans 11:1)), she will be restored. She will learn to call Jehovah “My Husband” and no longer “My Master” (Hos. 2:1616And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali. (Hosea 2:16), marginal reading).
The children of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king (ch. 3:5). In chapter 2 a remnant—Ammi (My people) and Ruhamah (having obtained mercy)—is distinguished from their mother, a harlot from the beginning (ch. 1:2).
In chapters 4-12, the moral corruption of the nation is exposed as Hosea appeals to the conscience of the people. The book closes with words they were to take to Jehovah (ch. 14:2), who would respond in mercy (vss. 4-8; see also vs. 9).
Joel brings before us the day of the Lord (Joel 1:15; 2:1; 2:11,31; 3:1415Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come. (Joel 1:15)
1Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand; (Joel 2:1)
11And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it? (Joel 2:11)
31The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. (Joel 2:31)
14Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. (Joel 3:14)
). A terrible plague of insects used to stir the conscience of the people (ch. 1) is an alarm for a more terrible day—“a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness” (ch. 2:12). A great, strong people (vs. 2), the Northern army (vs. 20), will overrun the land (vss. 7-10)—executing His word (vs. 11), the rod of His anger (Isa. 10:55O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. (Isaiah 10:5)). Like David of 2 Samuel 24:1414And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the Lord; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man. (2 Samuel 24:14), faith seizes hold and takes hope.
A second trumpet sounds (Joel 2:1515Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: (Joel 2:15))—a call to a solemn assembly (Num. 10:77But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm. (Numbers 10:7))—a call to repentance in view of the chastisements hanging over them. The Lord will respond to the contrite spirit and broken heart of the remnant. He will drive away the Northern army on account of their pride (Joel 2:2020But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savor shall come up, because he hath done great things. (Joel 2:20)). He will restore that which the locust has eaten (vs. 25). In grace He would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (vs. 28), and “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call” (vs. 32). Peter in Acts 2—the day of Pentecost—makes an application of this in view of the coming destruction of Jerusalem (Titus, 70 A.D.).
Chapter 3 gives the judgment of the nations, gathered together in the valley of Jehoshaphat (vs. 2), where the harvest takes place—the separation of the good from the wicked (vs. 12; Matt. 25:3232And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: (Matthew 25:32)). There the Lord will execute His vengeance in the pressing of the vintage (Joel 3:1313Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great. (Joel 3:13)). Joel closes with a promise of coming blessing for Judah and Jerusalem (vss. 18-21).
N. Simon