Minor and Major Confusion: 5 Tips For Reading Prophetic Literature

Margaret —  March 8, 2013 — 6 Comments

 

PROPHETIC LITERATURE

 

Up next in our 40-Day Bible Reading Challenge for Lent are the prophets.

Pause for a moment and place yourself in ancient Israelite sandals.

Imagine what would run through your mind as you hear prophets spout off messages of doom and gloom or the promise of a boatload of blessings?

I imagine that those listening to Biblical prophets probably struggled to wrap their heads and hearts around the imagery-filled messages. On the occasions when the prophet’s message was clear and concise, the words weren’t always what the people wanted to hear.

Yet God selected these particular prophets to remind Israel of the covenant they made with Him as His people. The prophets delivered news of abundant blessings, consequences, or great things yet to come—like the promise of Christ.

As you read this upcoming week’s selection, you may want to mark up passages that you want to come back to later. When you have more time, you’ll want to pick up a Bible dictionary or commentary from time to time to decipher confusing imagery and hard-to-pronounce words.

Here are five things to remember as you dive into the Major and Minor Prophets:

  1. The Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel) and the Minor Prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) are separated not because of their importance, but by their length.
  2. Both the Major and Minor Prophets remind us of God’s promises, pursuit, and unending love for His people. [Tweet this]
  3. According to Deuteronomy 18:9-21, a prophet is someone who has precedence (qualifications—verses 9-14), purpose (verses 16-17), procedure (God’s mouthpiece—verses 18-19), and proof (verses 20-22).
  4. Prophets usually spoke bad news. Jeremiah 28:9 offers rule of thumb when determining a true prophet: prophets who prophesize peace will be of the Lord if the prediction comes true.
  5. Biblical scholars often use the phrase sensus pleniowhen studying Prophetic Literaturethe idea that passages may have a deeper meaning intended by God, but not intended by the human author.

My hope and prayer as you read the prophets is that you will find yourself anchored in your commitment to God and be called back to holiness. [Tweet this]

Who is your favorite Biblical prophet? What other tips and tricks do you have to share with others wrestling over prophetic literature?

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6 responses to Minor and Major Confusion: 5 Tips For Reading Prophetic Literature

  1. I love the prophets! My small group is reading through the minor prophets this and then plan to have a Prophet Party in May — we’ll wear costumes and eat food that was referenced in the minor prophets. I love how God’s word can come alive (not only in these “lighter ways” but in much more meaningful ways!)

  2. These are awesome tips! I can get so bogged down/confused even after years of reading through the prophets. Thanks for the practical wisdom.

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