The minor prophets are the final books that appear in the Old Testament. They are minor in the sense of being small books in comparison to the longer works of a few of the other prophets; the longer books are referred to as major prophets.
Collectively, these books cover a long period of time. The earliest of these prophets preached during the reigns of the latter kings of Israel and Judah. Some of them preached during the period of captivity and occupation that followed the fall of the Jewish kingdoms. Finally, a few of these prophets were active after the Jewish people were released form captivity and allowed to return to Israel.
Several themes run through all of these books. Sadly, a major them that occurs both before and after the period of captivity is the people’s indifference toward God. In the period before the captivity, idolatry was rampant and the people sought alliances with foreign powers rather than protection from God. Foreign alliances were an issue after the captivity, too, and religious practice for many was perfunctory, devoid of devotion to God, righteousness or justice.
Many of these prophets also foresaw the coming of Jesus Christ. Some foresaw his first coming in the incarnation with a mission of salvation. Others saw further into the time of His eternal reign. The problem of sin, the call for redemption and our hope for salvation (in Christ) are still with us today.
Though the Jewish people of the time were the immediate audience for most of the prophets, some bore messages to foreign neighbors. These books have value to Christians even today.
The minor prophets are