Richard Fuhr and Gary Yates’ The Message of the Twelve: Hearing the Voice of the Minor Prophets blends some of the best biblical exegesis with contemporary relevance of those twelve voices heard in their exegesis. It’s an accessible guide to understanding the context of the minor prophets, the message of each, and the timeless relevance they have for the Church.
The first four chapters explore some of those fundamental issues readers will need to grasp in order to understand the message of these prophetic voices. The first chapter provides one of the best surveys of the historical context in which each book takes place — starting with Jeroboam I and the book of Jonah and ending with Malachi who prophesied during the time just before or during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (18).
Chapter two is, in my estimation, the most important chapter of The Message of the Twelve. Fuhr and Yates make a compelling argument that these prophets are forth-tellers more than fore-tellers. That is, what we hear in these twelve voices is the Word of the Lord for the world, not a prediction of the future.
The third chapter provides a brief sketch of all of the literary genres and rhetorical devices these prophetic voices utilize in order to speak the Word of the Lord. This is one of those introductory chapters readers might turn to time and time again while reading through the prophets. The fourth chapter argues that the minor prophets are in fact a literary unit more than twelve individual books. This conclusion is borne out by several aspects including their chronology, unified view of the Day of the Lord, repeated call to repentance, covenant focus, and view to a new David.
The bulk of The Message of the Twelve, though, is a richly-textured analysis of what each of those voices say. These chapters begin with an introduction to that particular voice, a summary of the message, and an understanding of the prophet’s overall message. These chapters are accessible exegetical commentaries on the content of each book. And it’s here — in these exegetical comments — that readers will hear words that connect to the theological message God has for our world.
In that way, The Message of the Twelve is a rich theological gift to the Church. It’s a highly accessible book to which pastors and Sunday School teachers might turn again and again to hear the Word of the Lord in these prophets. While it is profitable for personal study, it also is written with a sensitivity to the deep theological and ethical and exegetical issues that would make this a fine textbook for college and seminary courses.
The teaching and preaching of these prophets have a Word of the Lord for the Church, and Fuhr and Yates help us hear that word afresh.
I received a free copy of this book from B&H Publishing in exchange for my honest review here.