Anticipating Jesus in the Minor Prophets
In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old… I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, and they shall make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them.
Amos 9:11, 14-15
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9
And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;… And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.
Joel 2:28a, 32
The Minor Prophets are full of anticipation of the coming Messiah. Both the major and minor prophets are closest in time to the Messiah. When Moses wrote the Torah, the Messiah was still a long way off. There wasn’t even a kingdom yet. But in the prophets, not only had there been a kingdom, but there had been a kingdom for a few hundred years, and the one Israelite kingdom had fractured into two kingdoms. It was a mess. Neither the leaders nor the people were faithful in following their God. Instead, each did what was right in his or her own eyes.
The minor prophets proclaim the whole cycle of the prophetic message: they remind Israel and Judah of their first love, Yahweh; they show Israel and Judah their own trespass of the law and sin against Yahweh; they proclaim God’s justice, and finally they proclaim a future restoration. So we see pretty clearly the hope of Jesus. Anytime I read through the Minor Prophets, I am filled both with sadness (because of the display of sin and God’s judgment) but also I am filled with hope (because judgment isn’t the end). We see the hope of restoration through the Davidic Son. Amos, the prophet most associated with God’s judgement, closes his book with a few verses of hope, ‘In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches…I will restore the fortunes of my people.’ In other words, even though Israel and Judah are utterly sinful while Amos is preaching, God will restore this people through a descendant of David.
We have already seen this earlier on in the Old Testament. God promised David himself that he would build a house for David. Now Amos sees more clearly what this would look like. The house has to be destroyed first (Amos 1-9) before it is built up. Just like Israel began as a nation living in tents, in booths, now in the future God would restore the booth of David. And Amos says this will restore a people through this booth. Now we know that this isn’t just a physical tent. This is the house God will build through the coming one Jesus. And we also know that this coming one, this booth of David, is the Messiah; he is the coming king. We see this Davidic savior anticipated in Micah as well. ‘But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, ...from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel.’ Bethlehem is a no name town except for this one guy who grew up there: David who became king. Now a new David would be born in Bethlehem and be a ruler in Israel.
This new David will be king, and he will be humble and mounted on a donkey. He will not simply come as a conquering king, but as someone who would bring salvation. What is this salvation? In Matthew, we are told that this Jesus, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, would save people from their sins. This is radical because we would expect Israel to have been saved from external forces: the wicked kings, Baals, and the like. But the angel knows a thing or two, and certainly he knows that salvation is ultimately from sins. This could have been an allusion to Psalm 130.8 where Yahweh will redeem Israel from their iniquities.
In the Minor Prophets, this redemption is seen in places like Joel 2: Because of the work of this future redeemer, God will pour out his Spirit on all flesh. His people will be saved from sin and empowered to live in God’s teaching. And everyone who calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved.
There is much more to consider in the Minor Prophets, but we see that the anticipation is ramping up. They want to see the redemption that God has promised. And on this side of the work of Christ, we have partaken of God’s spirit and now live in this redemption. What the prophets were searching eagerly for, we see more clearly, but we still are awaiting Christ and his return. We are still looking forward to the day when we see him face to face, when salvation is fully realized, and the curse of sin death no longer reigns.