When we announced a series of sermons on the Minor Prophets for Gateway Chapel this spring, it may have seemed like a stereotypical seminary effort to focus on academic obscurity. Far from it. The message of these ancient prophets—mislabeled “minor” because of the length (not the content) of their messages—pulsates with meaning and application for today.
When preaching on any of the Minor Prophets, the outline is generally the same for each message. Sin abounds. Judgment is real. Repentance is necessary. Restoration is possible. Too many people think the focus of this overall message is the first half—sin and judgment. And make no mistake, that message is catastrophically real. But the major emphases of these messages is the latter half—repentance and restoration. Those words are the primary message so many in our world need to hear right now.
Repentance means turn around. It means go a different direction. It rests on the understanding some attitudes and actions are sin—not just alternative choices, unfortunate circumstances, or accidents of nature. Sin labels some thoughts and behaviors as wrong—morally and ethically wrong—with negative, even fearsome consequences. Those consequences, in the form of immediate negative results or impending future doom, are called judgment. That’s the bad news.
The good news is repentance leads to forgiveness and makes restoration possible. Acknowledging the reality of sin and the horror of judgment stands in contrast to the good news offered in the gospel. God loves people, “even while they are yet sinners” (Rom. 5:8). God wants people to repent, desiring “all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). He takes no delight, and neither should his people, in condemning sinners or calling out sinful behavior. We do so, but only in the context of offering hope through repentance, forgiveness, and restoration.
If you need a weekly dose of hope, tune into this chapel series on the Minor Prophets. And if you are preaching and teaching today, whether you use the Minor Prophets or not, find a way to communicate hope. People are emotionally frayed by the pandemic and its frustrations. They are worn down by daily reports of political infighting, social injustice, and rumors of wars. We have a message of hope and now is the time to declare it.
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