CONSIDER YOUR WAYS
Twelve Prophets Speak


10 X 11 X 1  3 Ring Binder
167 Pages -- 14 CD's

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MINOR PROPHETS BIBLE STUDY COURSE

 HOSEA, JOEL, AMOS, OBADIAH, JONAH, MICAH, NAHUM,
HABAKKUK, ZEPHANIAH HAGGAI, ZECHARIAH, MALACHI 


What Did The Prophets Really Say?

How Did the Followers of Jesus
Interpret the Prophets?


Do the Twelve Prophets
Speak to Our Day?

What Is the Fulfillment
of All Prophecy?


A CALL TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD

It seems to be the best of times. With television stations flooded with Christian programming, radio airways saturated with religious broadcasting, and printing presses turning out a multi-million dollar business of church literature, the modern day church has no equal in any age in the promotion of itself to the world. Magnificence church cathedrals are being built in city after city. Most congregations are actively pursuing more and better trained ministry personal than in any other time in the history of the church. Supporting multi-million dollars budgets, the church of modernity has become big business.

In-depth training materials from personal money management to the operation of the spiritual gifts are readily available for everyone. The modern church with its emphasis on reaching every age group now offers a wide range of ministries to meet the needs of everyone. For the first time ever in the history of the church, a new term, the mega-church, has been created to describe its success. With all of its multi-facet programs and activities, the modern day church should be judged as reaching an all time high of spiritual excellency.

But, all is not well with the church. The simple preaching of Jesus that immediately changed lives has been replaced by a multi-task obligation to be accomplished in this life to lay up treasures for the life to come. With the emphasis of the church’s message shifting from Jesus living in and through the believer to the believer becoming all they can be by their own positive thinking and their own assertive actions, Christianity has lost its Christ-centeredness and has become participant-centered. The fruit of the church’s labors does reveal the nature of its roots.

People for the sake of people are no longer the concern of the church. People become important only to the degree that they are perceived to be a blessing to the church. Help built the church and you are accepted; perceived to be of little use for the church and you are forgotten. The church itself has become the focal point of much of modern Christianity.

A quick comparison of the belief system of the early followers of Jesus and the belief system of many in the modern church will reveal how much the fundamental issues of Christianity has changed over the recent years. Understanding that there are exceptions to the general rule, the conclusions of this comparison are, nevertheless, alarming. They suggest that the general church once again is in need of a reformation. The distant mirror of the 15th Century reflects that all the ingredients of such a need for reformation are presence in the modern day church.

In what we know as 1 John, the author writing towards the end of the first century, penned these words:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full. (1 John 1:1-4)

The words highlighted will be used to try to illustrate how far we have moved away from the living Jesus to emphasize an understanding that keeps drawing our attention to the visible church. In the first example, if the term, the Word, is used in the modern church it is most of the time, if not always, a reference to the written word, the Bible. The term, the Word, to the early followers of Jesus, however, meant not a written document but the living Word, Jesus Christ. When Paul said, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17), he is emphasizing that faith comes by hearing the living Word, Jesus.

Although the Word is accepted today, generally, to mean the written Bible, the early followers of Jesus knew that the Word was the living Jesus: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). There is a tremendous difference when the emphasis is kept on the living Word as opposed to the written Word, even though the written Word is inspired and completely trustworthy.

The writer of 1 John wrote, "And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life" (1 John 2:25). It should be quite obvious to all that if the term eternal life is used in the modern church that it is a reference to the next life--the believer will live eternally. To the early followers of Jesus, however, the term eternal life was not a reference to the eternal life to come but a reference to the eternal life of God manifested in Jesus. For example, John wrote, "For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us" (1 John 1:2),

Eternal life for most in the modern church brings to mind their belief that they are going to live forever in the next life but to the early followers of Jesus eternal life was a reference to the One who has, is, and will always live--the eternal life of God. Although the next life for the believer cannot be questioned and should not be doubted, the phrase eternal life for the early followers of Jesus did not bring attention to the believer and to the next life but to the reality of experiencing the eternal One in their present life. Although they were mortal, corruptible, weak, and processed a physical body, they knew that they had the opportunity to experience the immortal, incorruptible, powerful, and spiritual body of the eternal life of Jesus. It was what profoundly changed their lives.

Fellowship, the experiencing of Jesus together, was the life blood of the early followers of Jesus. Unfortunately, fellowship, the experiencing of Jesus together in a face to face relationship, rarely occurs in the modern church. When those who go to a church meeting are asked to be participants in what is being performed by those in charge, just how much fellowship is experienced? If fellowship does occur in the modern church, it is largely a by-product rather than an integral part of the church. As someone has suggested, "The real church is what goes on before the opening prayer of a meeting and what goes on after the closing prayer." Although that may be an oversimplification, it does point out that the real church does occur in, by, and through what happens between people.

From the writings of 1 John, it can be seen that how they measured success, although they probably did not think in those terms, was by how they treated one another (1 John 2:9,10). Joint-participation in Jesus was evidently the essence of all things for the early followers of Jesus. Jesus Himself stated, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" (John 13:35). Contrast that fellowship with how the modern day church measures success (how many people attend church, how big is the building, and how large is the budget) and it should be obvious that what was important to the early followers of Jesus in large measures cannot be found today.

A simple question needs to be raised in illustrating the next major difference between the church of the first century and the church of modernity: What is the emphasis of most sermons delivered by the leaders in churches today? On any given Sunday, is it not a motivational homily encouraging the believer to do something, to increase their efforts, their time, or their giving in order to be blessed of God. Although there are exceptions, it is usually an instructional message teaching the believer how to prepare for the next life or what they should be doing in this life.

Notice, the words of the writer of 1 John when he said, "And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." It is hard for the motivators and the movers to grasp that all John wanted of his first readers was that their joy might be full. Instead of telling them that circumstances would be good if they could get their belief right, their doctrine right, he simply told them that in the midst of the struggles of life they could be cheerful. They could remain calm and delight in the Lord. It is hard for the modern church to believe that all God wants of his believers is to enjoy life and know that He is producing that life.

When we fully understand what John is saying in the opening statements of his letter, it should cause us to consider seriously our ways. In this day of one program after another designed to call the believer to greater effort, to incite into action, or in some other way emphasize the believer, Jesus is calling us to return to Him. May the church once again move away from being participant-centered and become Christ-centered. For after all is said and done, every message that is recorded in the New Testament is a message about Jesus--especially, the resurrected Jesus. The living Jesus needs to be heard again.


BIBLE STUDY:  MINOR PROPHETS

The minor prophets are fascinating Bible studies into the working of God in the world.  There is nothing more intriguing in the history of the people of God from Genesis to Revelation than the prophetic utterances that often came forth through man in time of desperate need.  Isaiah walked through the land naked and barefoot. Ezekiel laid on his left side for 390 days and on his right side for 40 more.  Hosea married a harlot to illustrate the love of God.

Although the warnings of the prophets were often scorned or ignored, they nevertheless dynamically challenged the attitude and behavior of the people.  So, it was also with the minor prophets as we will see in our Bible studies of the twelve lesser prophets.  The utterances of God through the prophets will always arouse the curiosity of the people. 

The minor prophets had no specific qualifications other than being moved upon by God as a vessel, a medium, whereby a specific word could be given. They came forth to speak their, "Thus, saith the Lord . . .," from many walks of life. They were shepherds, farmers, priests, and princes.  As God so moved upon His chosen vessel, each of the minor prophets, the prophet so spoke.

The minor prophets, the last twelve books of the Old Testament, are referred to as minor prophets only because their writings are considerably shorter that the writings of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. By putting all the minor prophets together their writings roughly equals the length of a major prophet’s scroll. The contents of their prophecies were as powerful and moving as the major prophets. The minor prophets were moved upon by the Holy Spirit and spoke not their words but the words of God flowing through them.

The minor prophets, do not appear to be in strict chronological order. Although we will let each of the writing of the minor prophets give us the time of their prophecies, we can give a rough time-line of their writings. Two prophets, Obadiah and Joel may have preached in the ninth century B.C. (853-796). In the following century, five prophets can be connected to the time of 793-686 B.C.: Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Isaiah, and Micah. Nahum Zephaniah, Habakkuk, and Jeremiah prophecy in the next century: Nahum, around 663 B.C.; Zephaniah probably 640-609 B.C.; Habakkuk, around 612 B.C.; and Jeremiah began in 627 B.C. and continued past the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. Daniel and Ezekiel preached the words of the Lord during the Captivity in Babylon. Daniel was taken into Captivity during the first invasion of Judah, 605 B.C. Ezekiel was taken to Babylon in 597 B.C. and continued his prophecies until roughly 571 B.C. Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi lived and preached after the Captivity: Haggai, 520 B.C.; Zechariah, about the same time; and Malachi, around 432 B.C.  The minor prophets close out the writings of the Old Testament.

A Bible Study for Individuals and for Small Groups

Purpose of Course: "Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways" (Haggai 1:5-7). The purpose of the course is to help the people of God to evaluate honestly what is occurring in their lives by examining the writings of the twelve minor prophets.

Theme of the Course
: "Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days" (Hosea 3:5). As the twelve minor prophets called the people of God in their day to return to the Lord, their prophesies speak also to the people of God in the latter day to once again make the Lord the center of their lives.

Method of Course

1. Read the "Introduction" for the Appropriate Session.

2. Listen to the recording for that session (Be sure to write down any questions or points of interest for the discussion time.).

3. Attend the "Discussion" for that Session (Time will be set by the group.).

Further Questions

Any further questions or discussion can be made at www.wayofchrist.org

Simply click on "Ask James."

Type in your question or discussion point.

Click on "submit."

Individual Study

Follow the same procedure with the exception that your discussion will be conducted on-line at www.wayofchrist.org.



Minor Prophets Bible Studies Content of Course

Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 1:
Introduction to Prophecy


Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 2:
Introduction to the Prophets


Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 3: Hosea
The Prophet of Israel's Zero Hour


Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 4: Joel
The Prophet of the "Day of the Lord"



Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 5: Amos
The Prophet of Visions


Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 6: Obadiah
The Prophet of God's Revenge


Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 7: Jonah
The Prophet Who Would Not Prophesy



Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 8: Micah
The Prophet of Jesus' Birth & Kingdom


Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 9: Nahum
The Prophet of God's Severity Assured


Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 10: Habakkuk
The Prophet of "Justification by Faith"


Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 11: Zephaniah
The Prophet of Destruction to Salvation


Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 12: Haggai
The Prophet of "Building the House"


Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 13: Zechariah
The Prophet of the Coming Christ


Minor Prophets Bible Studies:
Session 14: Malachi
The Prophet of Finality



Time Line for Minor Prophets Bible Studies
(All dates are Before Christ)

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where you can find the minor prophets - Hosea, Joel,
Amos Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum Habakkuk
Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and
Malachi -  bible study course.