Since I got home in mid-July I've been reading the minor prophets. I finished yesterday. I think they're collective name is a horrible one. It makes us think that their message is one that isn't as important as that of the major prophets. But let me tell you, their message is anything but minor. It's pretty big and pretty important. You hear a lot of God's heart in this long collection of short messages.
They have so much to say about justice, mercy, being real, how to live like God created us to. Really, really major life issues are discussed here, and everything is a message straight from the heart of God. We, in the church as a whole, need to stop overlooking them. We, as the church in the west, need to stop ignoring God's heart cry for us to care for the poor and live lives marked by compassion and mercy and start putting this stuff into practice. Before it's too late.
Here are a few highlights:
*Listen to this, priests! Attention, people of Israel! Royal family - all ears! You're in charge of justice around here.
*From now on I'm the one who answers and satisfies him. I am like a luxuriant fruit tree. Everything you need is to be found in me.
*Because of the three great sins of Israel - make that four - I'm not putting up with them any longer. They buy and sell upstanding people. People for them are only things - ways of making money.
*Because you run roughshod over the poor and take the bread right out of their mouths, you're never going to move into the luxury homes you have built.
*Go out into the streets and lament loudly! Fill the malls and shops with cries of doom! Weep loudly, "Not me! Not us, not now!" Empty offices, stores, factories, workplaces. Enlist everyone in the general lament.
*I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me?
*Do you know what I want? I want justice - oceans of it. I want fairness - rivers of it. That's what I want. That's all I want.
*He will teach us how to live. We'll know how to live God's way. True teaching will issue from Zion, GOD's revelation from Jerusalem. He'll establish justice in the rabble of nations and settle disputes in faraway places. They'll trade in their swords for shovels, their spears for rakes and hoes. Nations will quit fighting each other, quit learning how to kill one another. Each man will sit under his own shade tree, each woman in safety will tend her own garden. GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies says so, and he means what he says.
*GOD will be seen as truly terrible - a Holy Terror. All earth-made gods will shrivel up and blow away; and everyone, wherever they are, far or near, will fall to the ground and worship him.
*On that Big Day there will be no buying or selling in the Temple of GOD-of-the-Angel-Armies.
*Bring your full tithe to the Temple treasury so there will be ample provisions in my Temple. Test me in this and see if I don't open up heaven itself to you and pour out blessing beyond your wildest dreams. For my part, I will defend you against marauders, protect your wheat fields and vegetable gardens against plunderers. ...You'll be voted Happiest Nation. You'll experience what it's like to be a country of grace.
I've come across some media in the last few days that build on this message. First is a short film by John Piper:
Second, as I've been writing this I've been listening to Jon Foreman's Summer EP quite a few songs touch on these issues but one in particular stands out, Instead of a Show. You can hear it on his myspace.