When it comes to true joy, Jesus was deadly serious. He tells his disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). His words are the key to experiencing fullness of joy in our lives. But the words of Jesus are not merely what the Gospels record him saying. Jesus makes it clear that in some way everything in the Bible relates to him — his life, death, and resurrection, and his message of repentance and forgiveness (Luke 24:44–49).
If we’re honest, though, we can find parts of the Bible confusing, and even boring. We encounter strange customs, different kinds of literature, lists of unfamiliar names, and complicated systems of laws. As a result, we often gravitate toward certain parts of the Bible and avoid the uncomfortable terrain.
But if we believe what Jesus says about our joy in him hinging on the words of God, then we need the whole Bible. To maximize our joy in him we need maximal Scripture. So let’s look at how one often-neglected section of the Bible helps us enjoy Jesus: the Minor Prophets.
Six Fresh Glories
Despite their name, the “Minor” Prophets pack a major punch. These final twelve books of the Old Testament have strange names and often use poetic language to introduce people and stories that are literally thousands of years old. But when we read the Minor Prophets to know Jesus better, and enjoy him more deeply, we see his glory afresh in at least six ways.
1. Discover the character of Christ.
We see the manifold character of God that Jesus displays in his incarnation. God reveals himself as a jealous husband whose people have committed adultery with other gods (Hosea 1–3). Jesus is the Bridegroom of his redeemed people, the church (Mark 2:19–20; Ephesians 5:22–33).
God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding steadfast love, but will not clear the guilty (Jonah 4:2; Nahum 1:2–3). Jesus was the fullest embodiment of grace and truth (John 1:16–18), while at the same time being the righteous Judge who will execute God’s wrath (Revelation 19:11–21).
2. Uncover the horror of the sin for which Jesus died.
We see the horrible depths of the sin that Jesus dies for on the cross. Often in graphic detail, the Minor Prophets describe the many different ways sin manifests itself, such as spiritual adultery (Hosea 2:1–13), idolatry (Hosea 4:10–19), mistreating others (Amos 1:2–2:16; Micah 2:1–3:12), racism (Jonah 1:1–6; 4:1–11), and impurity (Malachi 1:6–14).
We see the same sins in the world today and in our own hearts (Romans 1:18–3:19; Ephesians 2:1–3), exposing our need for Jesus.
3. Anticipate a real day when Jesus will judge the world.
We see the awful judgment that Jesus bears on the cross for his people. The Minor Prophets repeatedly refer to the coming Day of the Lord, when God will execute judgment on his enemies (Joel 1:2–2:11; Obadiah 1–16; Zephaniah 1:2–18). The judgment threatened for Israel and the surrounding nations anticipates the final judgment on all humanity on the last day (Acts 17:30–31).
It is this judgment for the sin of his people that Jesus took upon himself at the cross (Matthew 27:32–56).
4. Recognize the King of kings.
We see descriptions of the righteous king that Jesus fulfills. Unlike the unfaithful kings who ruled over Israel and Judah, God promises a king from David’s line who will establish peace and rule over God’s people as a shepherd (Micah 5:2–5). His reign will extend to all nations and transform creation itself (Amos 9:11–15; Zechariah 9:9; 14:9).
As the true son of David (Matthew 1:1), Jesus has become our peace (Ephesians 2:14) and rules over his people as the Good Shepherd (John 10:11–18). He sits at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:1–13), awaiting the day when he will transform creation (Revelation 21–22).
5. Appreciate the beauty and cost of our salvation.
We see stunning promises of the salvation that Jesus accomplishes. Because God is compassionate, he promises he will tread our iniquities underfoot and cast all our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:18–20).
As “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 35–36), Jesus “bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).
6. Remember we have Jesus’s Spirit living in us.
We see glorious promises of the Spirit that Jesus pours out on his people. As part of redeeming his people, God promises to pour out his Spirit on all his people, regardless of their sex or social status (Joel 2:28–32).
As the risen and exalted Lord, Jesus pours out the Spirit on his people to empower us to live holy lives and bear witness to him (Acts 2:1–41).
Minor Prophets for Maximum Joy
So, as we see the character of God in the Minor Prophets, our hearts are stirred with fresh wonder that he took on flesh and dwelled among us.
As we see the depths of our own sin, our hearts are prompted to confess and turn away from them.
As we see the awful judgment that our sin deserves and that Jesus experienced in our place, our hearts are moved with gratitude.
As we meet the all-powerful, perfectly righteous King of kings, we tremble at his holiness and authority, and submit ourselves totally to his lordship.
As we see the promises of salvation that we now experience through the work of Jesus, our hearts are filled with greater joy and assurance.
As we see the promises of the Spirit, that same Spirit witnesses to our hearts that we are children of God and heirs of an eternal inheritance.
The Minor Prophets will help you enjoy Jesus more deeply, if you let them. Why not begin your journey to greater joy in Jesus through reading the Minor Prophets? Pray that through these twelve short books God would open your eyes wider to see wonderful things in his word (Psalm 119:18) and shine into your heart brighter “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 3:18–4:6).