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Who said it first?
- “I will make your grave, for you are vile.”
2. “And the mountains will melt under him, and the valleys will split open, like wax before the fire, like waters poured down a steep place.”
3. “I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them.”
4. “What’s love got to do with it?”
5. “And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.”
6. “Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?”
If you could only answer #4 (Tina Turner), then congratulations(!), you’ve found yourself in the midst of the Minor Prophets. The Book of the Twelve is a wild ride, however, because we are so far removed from this culture and history, even the harshest critiques preached against Israel (see #1, Nahum 1.13) put many right to sleep. What hope is there for the modern day mother with kids to understand the hope found in Zechariah? What conviction is Joel supposed to bring to the busy husband who is tired from a long week of work? Richard Fuhr, Jr. and Gary Yates have written The Message of the Twelve: Hearing the Voice of the Minor Prophets with the purpose of unveiling some of the mystery that shrouds the Twelve from our eyes. Fuhr and Yates aim to present to the reader of the the individual voices that make up the Twelve.
There are two parts to the book.
- The World of the Twelve sets the reader within the history of the Minor Prophets. Which kings were in play? Why were they important? Who was the ruling superpower of the day (e.g., Assyria, Babylon, Persia, etc)? What was wrong with Israel at this time? The authors give a brief overview of Israel’s history in the promise land after the death of Solomon to the exile of Israel up through to the return to the land. Knowing Israel’s history is pivotal to understanding the Minor Prophets, and the authors do a good job of showing what was going on during the preaching of each prophet.
- The Role of the Twelve: The prophets were forth-tellers and foretellers. They taught the heart of God to his people, and, at times, they were given insight into what God would do in the future.
- The Words of the Twelve reminds us that the Minor Prophets are poetic texts (with prose included). The prophets’ words can be separated into three broad categories:
- Announcements of judgment
- Oracles of salvation
- Calls to repentance.
Each of these have their own categories. The prophets were skilled in getting the attention of their audience, and they did so with the use of metaphors, parallelism, repetition, irony, sarcasm, rhetorical questions, and wordplays.
- The Book of the Twelve doesn’t always seem to be much of a unity at all, but Fuhr and Yates show the reader that through chronology, catchwords, and themes there is a strong unity between the twelve books. Some of those themes are Israel’s failure to repent in response to the prophetic word, the Day of the Lord, and the broken and restored covenant.
The next twelve chapters are summaries of each of the Twelve’s books. After introducing the book and giving some of the historical background information, the authors present the structure of the book, showing that each book was purposefully written. None of them were just thrown together (although Hosea is difficult to outline). The authors then give a brief commentary on each section, ending with a Theological Message and Application of ___ section where the message of the book is condensed into a few paragraphs and its significance throughout the canon of Scripture (and primarily in the NT) is brought to light.
This book is a plea for the church to renew their interest in the Twelve. It remains part of God’s inerrant and inspired word. There are four ways the Twelve continues to speak to the church. (1) It gives a distinctive portrayal of God, (2) it gives an ethical call for God’s people to “act justly, love faithfulness, and walk humbly” with God (Mich 6.8), (3) it shows ways God deals with his people and the nations, and (4) it comforts the church with its message of comfort, restoration, and the kingdom of God that is coming in full.
For twelve books that many of us have a difficult time reading and understanding today, Fuhr and Yates have provided the church with an important work. They provide the literary structure of each book. They show wordplays that we miss in English translations, and connections within the literary structure from from the repetition of certain words. They clearly explain each section of each book, and finish it off with it’s application for believers today. This is a solid work for the student, pastor, and teacher. This is the perfect primer to use when studying the Minor Prophets. This should be read with a Bible on your desk and a pen in your hand.
- Authors: Fuhr / Yates
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: B&H Academic (September 1, 2016)
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Disclosure: I received this book free from B&H Academic. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html.