Chapter 3

The Message of the Minor Prophets

Hosea: A Bad Marriage

From the first verse (1:1), we learn that Hosea was a prophet during the latter half of the eighth century BC. The early part of this period was a time of prosperity and relative calm, but as time went on serious threats emerged from Assyria. The prophetic speeches contained in Hosea root the cause of this growing calamity in the idolatry and other sins of God’s people. Judgment was coming in the form of the Assyrian defeat of the northern kingdom in 722 B.C. as well as the harassment of the southern kingdom of Judah.

The most memorable part of the book is found in the first three chapters, where the prophet’s own life becomes an analogy for God’s relationship with Israel. God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute named Gomer, a woman whose sexual promiscuity mirrors the spiritual adultery of God’s people. They have three children whose names (Lo–Ruhamah=No Pity; Lo–Ammi=“Not My People,” and Jezreel, named after the place where King Jehu overstepped his divine commission when he put an end to the previous sinful dynasty) reflect the broken relationship between God and Israel. God’s announced judgment, though, is accompanied by the promise of restoration after repentance (see 1:10–2:1; 2:14–23; 3).

The rest of the book of Hosea is a collection of further announcements of judgments as well as statements about future salvation. There does not seem to be a thematic order or strict outline to these prophetic oracles. There are many examples of dark descriptions of the sin of God’s people. They are a disappearing morning mist (6:5), hot ovens (7:4–7), a silly dove (7:11); a faulty bow (7:16), and a wild donkey (8:9). God will judge them; they will harvest the whirlwind (8:7), they will be washed away like filthy debris (10:7; God will yoke them like a wild heifer (10:11).

Still, after judgment that is likened to being thrown out into the wilderness, God will bring them back in a second exodus (2:14–15). God will not give up on his beloved people (11:8–11). God will eventually “heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them” (14:4).

Joel: Locusts and the Day of the Lord

The first verse of the book names Joel son of Pethuel as the person who received the prophetic message found in this book. Unfortunately, we don’t know anything more about this person. We are not even certain about the time period in which he lived and spoke the word God gave him. We are pretty sure it wasn’t the time of the Babylonian exile (586–539 BC) or right after since there is a functioning temple at the time he is speaking (1:9, 13–16; 215–17).

The exact date does not seem to matter for our reading of the book because it seems to be a text that was used to help people process a military or natural disaster. So the book was probably written so it could be used for more than one occasion. The book follows a pattern that we see in a number of prophets: judgment for sin, repentance, and restoration.

The first chapter speaks of a devastating locust swarm. They are like an army that has ravished the land. The people are traumatized because these locusts have ruined all the crops. Joel calls on the priests to mourn and warns that “the day of the Lord is near” (1:15). The day of the Lord is the day of God’s judgment and this locust plague is seen as a sign that God’s judgment is coming.

The second chapter builds on the first in describing a future locust invasion again announcing that “the day of the Lord is coming” (2:1), a phrase used to point to a future judgment. It is hard to tell for sure, but this locust invasion may be a human army that is compared to a locust swarm. Whether actual locusts likened to an army or an army likened to a locust swarm, God is leading the attack against his people (2:11). Therefore, the people need to repent from the bottom of their hearts (2:13–14).

In response, God will spare and restore his people (2:18–27). Not only that, he will send his Spirit on all his people (2:28–32). Old and young, male and female—all who call on God’s name—will receive God’s Spirit. They will experience God’s blessing (3:17–21), while the nations who conspired against them will be punished (3:1–16).

The ultimate realization of the expectation that God will pour out his Spirit on his people took place on the day of Pentecost soon after the death and resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:14–17).

The comparison of idolatry and adultery that runs through the book beginning with Hosea’s marriage to Gomer comes from the idea that Israel is God’s wife, but the marriage has gone bad. Christians will remember that Paul describes our relationship to Jesus as that of a wife to her husband (Eph. 5:21–33). We can for that reason read Hosea as an encouragement and warning to be faithful in our relationship with Jesus so we might anticipate the day he returns as a great wedding celebration (Rev. 19:6–8).

We can for that reason read Hosea as an encouragement and warning to be faithful in our relationship with Jesus so we might anticipate the day he returns as a great wedding celebration (Rev. 19:6-8).

Amos: A Shepherd from Tekoa

Amos makes a point of saying he was not a prophet, but rather a shepherd and someone who tended sycamore trees (7:14–15). He likely meant he was not a full–time prophet, but God did use him to bring a prophetic message at a very key time.

That time was sometime during the reigns of Jeroboam II of Israel (784–748 BC) and Uzziah of Judah (769–733 BC), specifically two years after an earthquake (1:1; see also Zech. 14:5). Israel and Judah were experiencing significant prosperity during this time period, but as Amos pointed out, the people were also wandering from the Lord and sinning against the poor and vulnerable of their community. God through Amos called for repentance and threatened judgment.

The book begins by calling for judgment on Israel’s neighbors who have committed horrible atrocities. We can imagine the Israelite reader loving the idea that God would bring pain on their enemies. However, after speaking about Damascus, Gaza, Tyre, Edom, Ammon, and Moab (1:3–2:3), God suddenly turns his eye on Judah (2:4–5), and ultimately Israel (2:6–15).

Amos 3–6 double downs on the theme of judgment toward Israel. Through Amos God brings announcements of judgments and pronounces woes over the coming suffering of his people. The last three chapters (7–9) conclude with five visions. The first two are visions of judgment (locusts and drought), but Amos intercedes for the people and God does not carry out the punishment. After the first two visions where the prophet successfully interceded on behalf of the people, we get a report of a fight between Amos and a prophet named Amaziah who accuses Amos of being a false prophet. Amos, of course, is a true prophet so he does not stop his prophetic work. Then the next two visions (centering around a plumb line and a basket of ripe fruit) anticipate violent judgment against God’s people. As opposed to the first two visions, Amos does not intercede and God does not back off.

The book ends though with a reflection on the restoration of David’s fallen shelter (9:11–15). There will be a remnant after the judgment. Israel will be restored.

In the New Testament, as Gentiles were turning to Jesus, the disciples saw this as the ultimate fulfillment of the promise that David’s shelter, or tent, would be restored. As the apostles and elders met to reflect on the inclusion of Gentiles into the covenant, they cited Amos 9:11–12: “After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things” (Greek Version).

Obadiah: Edom Will Be Punished

Obadiah with its twenty–one verses is the shortest book in the Old Testament, but it packs a wallop, serving up a devastating oracle announcing the future judgment of Edom. Edom is a nation located southeast of the Dead Sea. It was a hub for trade and therefore grew wealthy.

God’s problem with Edom was that it kicked God’s people when they were down, defeated by another nation. They took advantage of Judah, but now God will punish them. While a specific date is not mentioned, the most likely time for this prophecy was soon after 586 BC when the Babylonians had conquered Jerusalem (see also Ps. 137:7; Lam. 4:21–22).

Israel had a long history with Edom by that time. As Israel descended from Jacob, the one God chose to carry forward the divine promises to Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3), Esau was his bitter brother. This is why Obadiah calls the Edomites close relatives (vv. 10, 12), making their treachery even worse.

We see a New Testament reflection of this conflict in Herod the Idumean’s (that is, the Edomite’s) attempt to kill Jesus, the one who fulfilled the promises given to Abraham.

Jonah: A Story about a Reluctant Prophet

Jonah in the belly of a big fish is one of the most memorable scenes in the Bible. But how did he end up there and why?

But first notice that this book, though among the collection of minor prophets, is not really a prophetic book. Jonah is a story about a prophet by that name. He does give an (amazingly brief) prophecy (“Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown” [3:4) that does not come true. So what is this story about?

The book opens with Jonah’s divine commission to go to Nineveh and “preach against it” (1:2). 2 Kings 14:25 tells us that Jonah lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (786–746 BC) just before the Assyrians started seriously meddling in the affairs of Israel. But God, who is the God of the whole world, not just Israel, wanted his prophet to confront the sin of the Assyrians.

Rather than heading east toward Nineveh Jonah took off to the west by boarding a ship heading out on the Mediterranean Sea. Precisely why, the book does not tell us directly. Perhaps Jonah did not want the hated Assyrians spared. Perhaps he worried that God, because of his mercy, would not follow through and make him look stupid.

Whatever his motivation Jonah was disobeying God and in this he contrasts with the pagans of the story who seem sensitive to God. As he heads west trying to get away from God, God sends a storm so that the pagan sailors very reluctantly throw him overboard. At this point the big fish swallows up Jonah and swims east to vomit him toward the city of Nineveh.

Jonah gets the idea at last and goes to Nineveh where he gives his short prophecy quoted above. He doesn’t even add the “unless you repent.” Even so, the pagans in Nineveh ask themselves “what do we have to lose?” And they repent! They don’t really know how, so they even dress up their animals in sackcloth!

Since they repented, God did not bring judgment on the city. Rather than celebrating, an angry Jonah went out of the city, sat under a “leafy plant” that God caused to grow over his head. But the next morning God sent a worm to chew the plant. Jonah responded by saying “I’m so angry I wish I were dead” (4:9). God responded by pointing out that if Jonah was so concerned about the plant how much more should God “have concern for the great city of Nineveh”?

The main message of the book is that God is concerned about more than just his people. Indeed, his plan had always been to use his people to reach all the people of the world. This is obvious starting with his promise to Abraham that, yes, he would bless Abraham’s descendants, but through them “all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3). But Jonah, who may be representing God’s chosen people, does not seem to have gotten that message. Even so, God will bless the whole world even in spite of his reluctant people.

God is concerned about more than just his people. Indeed, his plan had always been to use his people to reach all the people of the world.

That God’s plan of salvation includes the Gentiles comes to its culmination with Jesus. After all, Jesus is the one “who has made the two groups (Jew and Gentile) one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph. 2:14).

Jesus himself compared and contrasted his ministry with Jonah’s (Matt. 12:38–45; Luke 11:24–32). Just like Jonah gave a miraculous sign of being three days in the belly of the fish so Jesus would be three days and three nights in the earth. This refers to the time between his crucifixion and resurrection (Luke 24:46). Jesus is greater than Jonah because while Jonah against his will spoke to save the city of Nineveh, Jesus gave his life to save many people.

Micah: Covenant Lawyer

Luther famously said that the prophets had a strange way of talking moving from one topic to another, so it is hard to make sense of what they say. Micah is a good example. When we read through the book, we hear judgment followed by salvation over and over again. Indeed, the book seems to have two cycles: judgment (chaps. 1–3) followed by salvation (chaps. 4–5) and then again judgment (6:1–7:7) followed by salvation (7:8–2).

Like Micah most prophets come with as message of judgment for sin followed by salvation. After all prophets are like lawyers who make their appearance when crimes have been committed. Indeed, Micah uses the language of the court in terms of pressing charges and threatening punishment (for example 1:5–7), bearing (1:2) and calling on witnesses, and pleading his case against Israel in front of those witnesses (6:1–2).

God sent Micah to bear his prophetic message to Israel in the second half of the eighth century BC. Micah was calling Israel and Judah back to faithfulness at a time when the Assyrians were threatening their existence. Indeed, Micah 1:10–16 speaks of a series of suffering cities which were likely, in order, those that were defeated by the armies of Sennacherib in 701 BC.

The prophet was particularly focussed on the sins of the leaders—prophets (2:6–11; 3:5–7), priests (3:11), and political leaders (3:1–3, 9–10). Still, he is also upset with the people at large because they are not doing what is truly important namely “to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (6:8).

In spite of their sin and their coming judgment, God will not give up on them. There will be restoration. The prophet ends on a note of confidence: God “will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors long ago” (7:20).

In spite of their sin and their coming judgment, God will not give up on them.

Micah’s message echoes into the New Testament and anticipates Christ. Micah anticipate that the future messiah would be born in Bethlehem, fulfilled at the time of Jesus’s birth (Micah 5:2; Matt. 2:5–6). Micah’s picture of the exalted mountain of God to which the peoples of the world will come to worship (4:1–5) also anticipates the inclusion of the Gentiles with the coming of Christ.

Nahum: A Vision of the Divine Warrior

Nahum is one of the three minor prophets, along with Obadiah and Jonah, whose word of judgment is directed toward a foreign nation, in this case Assyria and specifically its capital Nineveh. Since Assyria has been oppressive, the fall of Nineveh would have been good news to God’s people.

Nahum’s prophecy, which anticipates the fall of Nineveh, must have come before the city actually fell to the Babylonians and Medes in 612 BC. How much before is hard to tell, but the mention of the earlier defeat of the Egyptian city of Thebes (3:8) means that it must have been after 664BC.

The book begins with a hymn to God who is a warrior (1:2–8), who judges and saves his people (1:9–2:2). Starting with a vision of Nineveh’s fall (2:3–10), the prophet speaks specifically about this, to him, future event. The rest of the book seems to relish in the thought of that threatening city’s demise through the use of taunts and insults (2:11–3:17) and concludes with a funeral song that celebrates the future destruction: “All who hear the news about you clap their hands at your fall, for who has not felt your endless cruelty?” (Nahum 3:19)

The central message of Nahum is the future fall of Nineveh. The purpose of this book for its contemporary audience was to encourage them that this fearsome enemy would come under God’s judgment.

As we read Nahum today as God’s people, we know that we are in a battle, not against flesh and blood (Eph. 6:10–20), but against spiritual powers and authorities. The New Testament tells us that we are given “the full armor of God” (6:11) to fight this battle and that Jesus himself has defeated the enemy by his death and resurrection (Eph. 4:8; Col. 2:13–15). Jesus is our divine warrior.

Habakkuk: Complaining about Injustice

Habakkuk begins by asking God two challenging questions, each followed by a response. The first question complains that God does not stop the injustice that the prophet sees all around him (1:2–4). God responds by saying that he is raising up the Babylonians who will conquer all before them (1:5–11). This answer disturbs Habakkuk, so he asks a second challenging question. Why would God use an evil people like the Babylonians as a tool of his judgment (1:12–2:1)? God responds that the Babylonians themselves will ultimately become the object of God’s judgment (2:2–5).

At this point, Habakkuk launches into a series of five “woe oracles.” These woes are modeled on mourning practices at funerals and are a way of saying “you are as good as dead!” In this case, they are directed toward those who oppress the vulnerable and who worship other gods. The woes end with the proclamation “The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him” (2:20).

The book then concludes with a spectacularly powerful poem celebrating God as a warrior (chap. 3). The very heavens and earth go into convulsions at the approach of God. God has come to save his people and his “anointed one” as well as to crush “the leader of the land of wickedness” (3:13). This vision of God brings confidence and joy to the prophet (3:16–19).

With the reference to the Babylonians, we can date this prophecy to the time leading up to the Babylonian defeat of Jerusalem which culminated in 586 BC. Along with other prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Habakkuk recognized that the Babylonians were God’s instrument of judgment against the sins of God’s people, but that the Babylonians themselves would themselves be judged while the righteous remnant among God’s people would flourish again.

The New Testament cites Habakkuk 2:4 (“the righteous person will live by his faithfulness (or faith,”) three times (Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38). The idea is that people who have a right relationship with God will live in confidence that God will keep his promises, even despite the contrary evidence around them. At the time of Habakkuk as well as the time of the New Testament and also today, that means we keep our confidence in God in spite of the injustice that we presently observe and experience.

The idea is that people who have a right relationship with God will live in confidence that God will keep his promises, even despite the contrary evidence around them.

Zephaniah: Sweeping Away Evil

Zephaniah begins with a stunning proclamation in which God announces “I will sweep away both man and beast; I will sweep away the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea—and the idols that cause the wicked to stumble” (Zeph. 1:3). Zephaniah speaks of judgment during the reign of King Josiah (640–609 BC). While Josiah is a godly man, the nation itself has been veering toward the worship of false gods. Jeremiah too began his long prophetic career during the latter part of Josiah’s reign. When Josiah died, things got much worse.

Zephaniah starts with a stinging judgment speech against the people of God in Judah, calling on them to repent (1:2–2:3) before turning his attention to the surrounding nations (Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Cush, Assyria (2:4–15). This order reverses that which we saw in Amos, but then Zephaniah comes back to focus on Jerusalem’s sin, noting that they remained unmoved from their sin (3:1–8). Still, as with most prophets, the book glimpses restoration after the judgment, ending with “‘at that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home. I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes,’ says the Lord”; 3:9–20, quoting v. 20).

The time of judgment is called the “day of the Lord” (1:8–18), a phrase also found elsewhere in the prophets (e.g., Amos 18–20). In the New Testament, Paul picks up on the phrase “day of the Lord” sometimes using the phrase “the day of Christ” (Rom. 2:16; 1 Cor. 1:8; Phil. 1:6, 10: 2:16; 2 Tim. 4:8). By so doing, the authors of the New Testament realize that, while Zephaniah’s words find a first fulfillment in the Babylonian defeat of Jerusalem in 586 B.C, that this prophecy looks beyond to the final judgment when the warrior God will come with his armies (see Rev. 19:11–16)

Haggai: Build the Temple!

Haggai is the first of three prophets (also Zechariah and Malachi) who ministered during the period after Jewish leaders returned from their Babylon captivity. God specifically gave Haggai a message for the political leader of the Jews, Zerubbabel, in the second year of the Persian king Darius (520 BC). The basic message was simple as well as urgent: build the temple!

The original temple built at the time of Solomon (10th century BC) had been destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians. Once the Persians defeated the Babylonians (539 BC), they encouraged the Jewish exiles to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.

However for various reasons, after laying the foundation, the project stalled and so God sent Haggai (and we will see Zechariah) to get them moving again (1:2–11). Haggai reports that Zerubbabel and the people responded by getting back to work (see 1:12–15).

Since the people seemed discouraged, God on a second occasion informs Zerubbabel that the end result will be a glorious new temple (2:1–9).

The third divine message from Haggai (2:10–19) starts with a legal question. Is holiness contagious? No, no–one or nothing can become holy by coming into contact with something holy. But a person can become unclean by contact with something that is already unclean. The temple, a holy place, can’t make them holy automatically, but they can make the temple unclean. The only hope they had for divine approval was God’s grace. God would bless them and their harvests even though they are spending their time on the temple.

Haggai’s final oracle (2:20–23) encourages Zerubbabel, a descendant of David and governor, that God would make him his “signet ring,” a ring with a symbol on it that would serve as identification of its owner. That the governor was God’s signet ring was not only a symbol of honor and intimate relationship, but also of great authority.

The temple was extremely important at this time, as a symbol of God’s presence with his people. Jesus honored the temple as his Father’s house (John 2:12–25), but he also anticipated its destruction (Mark 13:2). With Jesus’ coming the temple was no longer necessary, since Jesus was the very presence of God (John 1:14) and he sent the Holy Spirit to live in us (John 14:28–31; 15:26–16:15). From a New Testament perspective too, we recognize that Zerubbabel was God’s representative at the time of the rebuilding of the temple, but though a descendant of David he was not the anticipated Messiah. That is Jesus who is the Christ (Greek for Messiah).

With Jesus’ coming the temple was no longer necessary, since Jesus was the very presence of God (John 1:14) and he sent the Holy Spirit to live in us (John 14:28-31; 15:26-16:15).

Zechariah: God is Rebuilding and Protecting Jerusalem

Zechariah prophecies at the same time as Haggai, his oracles that have dates point to 520 and 518 BC (1:1, 7; 7:1). Haggai and Zechariah appear together in Ezra 5:1; 6:14. Like Haggai, Zechariah urges the completion of the temple and assures the leadership of God’s presence and help.

Zechariah 1–8 contains prophetic sayings that speak to the present and near future. They address the issue of rebuilding the temple and the city after the return from Babylon.

The prophet begins by remembering God’s anger toward his people because of their sin. They did not listen to earlier prophets who warned them, but eventually they did repent (1:2–6).

After this opening, Zechariah describes eight nighttime visions (1:7–6:8). These visions are highly symbolic and not always easy to understand in detail. They feature different colored horses going through the world (1:7–17), four horns and four craftsmen (1:18–21), a man with a measuring line in his hand (2:1–13), the removal of the high priest Joshua’s filthy clothes to be replaced by clean ones (3:1–10), two olive trees producing oil for the gold lamp stand (4:1–14), a flying scroll (5:14), a woman in a basket (5:5–11), four chariots again with horses of different color (6:1–8). While the details are sometimes difficult, the central message is clear: God is with his people to protect them as they rebuild. He is continuing to remove sin from their midst. He will punish their enemies.

After the night visions, we read about historical events from the time that also address the present situation and hear future. First, some Jews arrive from Babylon with precious metals which then are made into a crown for the high priest Joshua. Interestingly in this scene there is a merger of royal and priestly functions, which anticipates Jesus who is both a priest and a king.

Then we hear about some men who ask the priests about whether they should mourn and fast in the fifth month of the year as was done in the past (7:1–3), Zechariah, who is a priest (Neh. 12:16), delivers a word of the Lord to the men. God uses the occasion to address their hypocrisy in the past (they fasted but then oppressed the vulnerable). He urges them to act with sincerity and looks forward to the day when Gentiles will join them in worship (7:4–8:23).

While Zechariah 1–8 contain prophecies concerning the near term, chapters 9–14 look to the more distant future. A fuller redemption will come. In these chapters we read more about the cleansing of the community (10:9; 12:10; 13:1–2; 14:20–21), the participation of Gentiles in God’s kingdom (9:7, 10; 14:1–4), the restoration of fertility (14:8), renewal of the covenant (13:9), the pouring out of the Spirit (12:10), and the coming of the Messiah (9:9–10).

All of these themes find connection in the New Testament, which explains why Zechariah is so frequently quoted there. Jesus is the messiah who demonstrates his humility by riding a donkey (9:9; Matt. 21:5). He is the smitten shepherd (13:7; Matt. 26:31. He is betrayed and pierced (11:12–13; 12:10; Matt. 26:15; 27:9–10; John 19:34, 37). He will return as the divine warrior to bring final judgment against his people’s enemies (14; the message of the book of Revelation).

Malachi: “The Day is Coming”

Malachi is the last of the twelve minor prophets. Like Haggai and Zechariah, Malachi (which means “my messenger”) prophesied after the Babylonian exile, though we are not sure precisely when. The book contains six arguments or disputations between God and his people.

In the six arguments, God makes a statement and then the intended readers, the people of God, question it. God then answers the objection.

In the first (1:2–5), God says “I have loved you,” and the people ask “How have you loved us?” (1:2). God says he expressed his love by crushing their enemy Edom.

In the second (1:6–2:9), God asks why the people have not honored him, and the people respond by asking “how have we shown you contempt.” God answers by bringing bogus sacrifices. He in particular accuses the priests of failing to do their duty.

In the third (2:10–16), God charges the people with violating the covenant. Here the people do not respond. God tells them to “be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful” (2:16).

In the fourth (2:17–3:5), the prophet says “you have wearied the Lord with your words,” and the people respond “how have we wearied him?” (2:17). They have wearied him by questioning his justice. At this point, the prophet begins to speak of a future messenger who will prepare the way before God (3:1), the day of his coming to purify the people. This message will be picked up again at the very end.

In the fifth (3:6–12), God says he will not destroy his people in spite of their sins, but they must return to him. They ask “how are we to return?” (3:7). God charges them to stop robbing him by bringing him the offering (tithe) that he is due.

In the sixth (3:13–4:6), God tells them that they have spoken arrogantly against him, and they ask how so? God tells them it is because they do not think he acts with justice, allowing the wicked to prosper. He tells them again that a day of the Lord is coming when he will return and he will judge the wicked. The book concludes by telling them to obey the Lord and prepare for his return. He says that the prophet Elijah will come before that “great and dreadful day” 4:5).

And it Jesus, in his first and second coming, who fulfills the expectation of the return of the Lord to save his people and bring judgment on the wicked.

Since in our Bible Malachi is the last book, we have only to turn the page to the New Testament to see the beginning of the fulfillment of the expectation of the day of the Lord. John the Baptist is the one who fulfill the role of the messenger who prepares the way for the Lord (Matt. 11:7–15; Mark 1:2–3; Luke 7:18–35). And it Jesus, in his first and second coming, who fulfills the expectation of the return of the Lord to save his people and bring judgment on the wicked.