Category Archives: Minor Prophets

Minor Prophets Art: Malachi

Malachi was the final book we looked at in my Minor Prophets class, but I was absent and didn’t get to see Naomi draw this.

The altar in the upper right-hand corner is adjacent to two of the corruptions of worship that Malachi denounced: offering blemished sacrifice (1:6-14)—note the cow with bleeding eye—and subsequently “flood[ing] the Lord’s altar with tears… because he no longer looks with favor on your offerings” (2:13).

The lower left-hand corner (set off by refiner’s fire; 3:2) contains the “scroll of remembrance… written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name” (3:16) and a frolicking well-fed calf (4:2).


This is the ninth (and final) post of Naomi’s art from our Minor Prophets Sunday school class. Previous posts were on JonahAmosHoseaZephaniah and Nahum & ObadiahHabakkuk, Haggai, and Zechariah. Naomi’s professional art is available at Coming next will be Naomi’s parables art.

Minor Prophets Art: Zechariah

In Simply Jesus, N.T. Wright places Zechariah, one of three post-exilic minor prophets, with Isaiah and Daniel as the three books most important for Jesus as he worked out his vocation. Zechariah is the source of the oracle about a king arriving on a donkey (9:9-10) that Jesus enacted during the triumphal entry; that oracle is followed by a promise of the Lord coming to save his people (9:11-17) and warnings about false teachers.

“Putting together this strange, apparently jerky and disjointed set of oracles, we begin to see a pattern emerging,” writes Wright. “Israel’s exile is to be reversed under the rule of the anointed king, who will end up ruling the world world. The pagan nations will do their worst, but God himself will come to fight against them, but he will be king over all the earth.”


The passages discussed by Wright are all from the second half of the book. The first half contains a series of visions, many of which Naomi used in her drawing. These include the man among the myrtle trees (1:7-17), the man with the measuring line (2:1-13), clean garments for Joshua the high priest (3:1-10), the gold lampstand and two olive trees (4:1-14), the flying scroll (5:1-11), and the four horses—red, black, white and dappled (6:1-8). These are mostly hopeful messages for the remnant living in Palestine.

The drawing is unfinished; I believe the space in the upper left was reserved for the prophet himself. As with all the other drawings in this series, Naomi drew it during our hour-long Sunday school class with input from class members.

This is the eighth (and penultimate) post of Naomi’s art from our Minor Prophets Sunday school class. Previous posts were on JonahAmosHoseaZephaniah and Nahum & ObadiahHabakkuk and Haggai. Naomi’s professional art is available at

Minor Prophets Commentaries

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably thought about leading a minor prophets Sunday school class. If so, step one is finding an artist to create a series of minor prophets-themed pieces of art. Step two is getting some good commentaries. These are the four I used for my class.

The only commentary I bought myself, Exploring The Minor Prophets (1998) by John Phillips, was the weakest. (The remaining commentaries were all borrowed from my pastors.)  Philips has some useful things to say, but he interprets the books from a dispensationalist perspective. When you least expect it, he starts in on Russia and the anti-Christ. I don’t recommend it.

The Hebrew Prophets (1984) by James D. Newsome Jr. is  an excellent overview for a general audience of all the writing prophets (major and minor) albeit one with mainline assumptions about issues like authorship (with chapters on three Isaiahs and two Zechariahs).

Micah-Malachi (Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 32) (1984) by Ralph L. Smith is another standout volume in the Word Biblical Commentary series, which is written from an evangelical perspective and at an academic-level. (I’ve read six volumes now. The two volumes on Genesis by Gordon Wenham were two of the best commentaries I’ve ever read. I also liked the three volumes on the Psalms, which I’ll review separately. On the other hand, Simon DeVries’ commentary on First Kings was a disappointment.) Each entry in one of these commentaries includes a bibliography, an original translation followed by translation notes, a discussion of “form/structure/context,” a “comment” discussing the passage verse by verse, and an “explanation” that gets right to the heart of the Scripture. Smith’s Micah-Malachi commentary was the most useful commentary for leading my class. If I taught the class again, I’d also get the Hosea-Jonah volume.

Minor Prophet Commentaries

Finally, I used The Minor Prophets: A Exegetical & Expository Commentary, an  insanely detailed, three-volume, 1,400-page commentary, written by nine authors and edited by Thomas Edward McComiskey. The series proved useful in class because it addresses just about any question about the text a class member could pose. On the other hand, it can be a tough read. The most annoying feature was that the entire thing is written in two parallel sections (exegesis & exposition) separated by a horizontal line running across each page (but at varying heights). The authors didn’t use these sections consistently. For some books, the top (exegesis) section is mostly over questions about the meaning of the Hebrew text and is best skipped by a lay reader. However, some of the authors included a lot of useful information there. The bottom (exposition) section read like other scholarly commentaries, but was much longer.

Minor Prophets Art: Haggai

With the Book of Haggai we begin the post-exilic prophets, who looked forward to the coming of Christ even as they struggled with the messy reality of life among the remnant who returned to Jerusalem.

When Haggai received his first oracle from the Lord, work on rebuilding the Temple had been on pause for almost two decades. “Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” Haggai asked.

In what seems like an all-too-rare prophetic success story, Haggai got results. Zerubbabel the governor, Joshua the high priest and “the whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the Lord their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the Lord their God had sent him. And the people feared the Lord” (v. 12).

Naomi’s Haggai drawing is as straightforward as his message. The prophet stands before the temple his hands full of building tools—hammer, chisel and nails.



In the second half of the book, Haggai receives three more messages from the Lord promising good things for the obedient people, chief among them: “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,” a prophecy we believe was fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

This is the seventh post of Naomi’s art from our Minor Prophets Sunday school class. Previous posts were on JonahAmosHoseaZephaniah and Nahum & Obadiah and Habakkuk. Naomi’s professional art is available at

Minor Prophets Art: Habakkuk

The book of Habakkuk is a great lesson in being careful what you ask for. When the prophet complains to God about the violence, evil and injustice rampant in Judah, God responds that he’ll raise up the Babylonians to punish Judah.

God’s answer to Habakkuk’s second complaint—about the Babylonians, of course—includes one of Paul’s favorite quotes and provides the material for Naomi’s drawing.

Naomi puts the prophet at the center questioning God and has God’s famous answer—“The Righteous Live by Faith” (2:4)—appearing above him. 


From left to right are illustrations of the “five woes”: (1) “Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion” (2:6). (2) “Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain” (2:9). (3) “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by injustice” (2:12). (4) “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk” (2:15). (5) “Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up’” (2:19).

This is the sixth post of Naomi’s art from our Minor Prophets Sunday school class. Previous posts were on JonahAmosHoseaZephaniah and Nahum & Obadiah. Naomi’s professional art is available at

Minor Prophets Art: Nahum & Obadiah

Nahum and Obadiah are single-minded minor prophets, each predicting the destruction of one of  Israel’s enemies.

Nahum is a three-chapter oracle about the destruction of Nineveh, capital of Assyria. It’s all bad news for Nineveh—“the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims” (3:1-2)—from beginning to end without the happy postscript some of the minor prophets include.

Here’s the conclusion:

Nothing can heal you;
your wound is fatal.
All who hear the news about you
clap their hands at your fall,
for who has not felt
your endless cruelty?

The inhabitants of both Israel and Judah had good reason to despise the Assyrians. The Assyrian Empire under Tiglath-Pileser III (ruled 745–727 BC) subjugated much of the Middle East. Tiglath-Pileser III shows up in 2 Kings invading Israel and demanding tribute during the reign of  Menahem (2 Kings 15:19-20) and then conquering part Israel during the reign of Pekah (2 Kings 15:29). The final king of Israel, Hoshea, was an Assyrian vassal whose rebellion and attempted alliance with Egypt resulted in an invasion by Tiglath-Pileser’s son and heir Shalmaneser V. The Assyrians besieged Samaria for three years before capturing it around 720 BC, deporting many of the Israelites (the “ten lost tribes”) and resettling it with people from other conquered nations. The Assyrians under Sennacherib (ruled 705 – 681 BC) captured much of Judah and besieged Jerusalem under Hezekiah as recounted in 2 Kings 18-19. Nineveh finally fell around 612 BC to an alliance of its former vassals and was razed.

Here is the (unfinished) Nahum drawing our Sunday School artist-in-residence, Naomi Friend, produced:


The drawing depicts both the military  invasion of the city and “overwhelming flood [the LORD will use to] make an end to Nineveh.” (Nahum 1:8).

I missed this class, but Naomi tells me she was attempting to reproduce the style of two-dimensional ancient Egyptian art. This is how far she got during our hour-long class.

Obadiah is the most minor of the minor prophets and the shortest book in the Old Testament—he uses just 21 verses to prophecy the destruction of Edom, Israel’s neighbor and kin (said to consist of the descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau).

Edom is condemned for standing “aloof while strangers carried off [Israel’s] wealth and foreigners entered his gates and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were like one of them” (v. 11). This may refer either to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzer in 586 BC (see Psalm 137) or some earlier event.


We covered Obadiah and Habakkuk (another one-chapter prophet) during one hour so Naomi spent just 15 minutes on this drawing, which shows the ancient city of Petra, which was in Edom. Verses 3-4 make a suitable caption:

The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks
and make your home on the heights,
you who say to yourself,
‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’
Though you soar like the eagle
and make your nest among the stars,
from there I will bring you down,”
declares the Lord.

I’ll post Naomi’s Habakkuk drawing in my next post.

This is the fifth post of Naomi’s art from our Minor Prophets Sunday school class. Previous posts were on JonahAmosHosea and Zephaniah. Naomi’s professional art is available at

Minor Prophets Art: Zephaniah

Zephaniah is the (long-delayed) fourth installment in my presentation of art from the Minor Prophets Sunday school class I co-taught with Naomi Friend. (Previously, I posted Naomi’s art on Jonah, Amos and Hosea.)



Zephaniah isn’t the best known minor prophet, but it follows a familiar pattern. The first two thirds are a warning of coming destruction—a punishment for idolatry. Zephaniah, who prophesied during the reign of Josiah, begins with the LORD promising to “sweep away everything from the face of the earth” (1:2) and then describes the destruction of Jerusalem, which is the focus of Naomi’s drawing. (I can’t recall what she was researching on the laptop.)



The middle of the book is a series of oracles against other nations (Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Cush and Assyria) before returning to Jerusalem. Even though God has destroyed these other nations, Jerusalem has still not repented. Because of this, “The whole world will be consumed by the fire of my jealous anger.”

As is the case with many of the minor prophets, the oracle of destruction is followed by a promise of restoration.

“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.

As I said before, Noami’s Zephaniah drawing (click for a larger version) focuses on the destruction of Jerusalem. The prophet, standing next to animal bones, points to the fish gate (1:10) seemingly all that is left of the city. However, the white house at left represents the restoration of the faithful remnant. (As with all her drawings, she completed it during Sunday school hour with input from the class.)



The book of Hosea opens with a strange command from the Lord to Hosea: “Go marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD.”

Naomi’s drawing of Hosea places the adulterous wife figure—representing both Hosea’s wife Gomer and Israel (and wearing nothing but high heals)—in the place of Adam in Michelangelo’s The Creation of Adam. The figure reaching out to her represents Hosea and the Lord.


 Like the rest of her Sunday school art, Naomi created this during our hour-long class. She describes it as “unfinished.” (Click to enlarge.)


Below the chest of the male figure is God as a mother loving Israel as a child and teaching him to walk (11:1-3). Below the figure’s hand is one of several images of judgement in the book: a whirlwind—“They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” (8:7). Two others are an eagle over the house of the Lord (8:1), now a place of idol worship, and three wild beasts (from chapter 13).

The image below is the only piece of my own artwork I’ll be posting: a depiction of Hosea’s family as it would appear on the back window of their minivan. The oldest son is named Jezreel because the Lord says he “will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel” (1:4). The daughter is named Lo-Ruhamah because the Lord ”will no longer show love to Israel” (1:6) and the youngest son is named Lo-Ammi because the Lord said that “you are not my people, and I am not your God” (1:8).


This is the third post in my series of the art Naomi Friend created for our Minor Prophets Sunday school class. Previous posts were on Jonah and Amos. Next up: Zephaniah.

Minor Prophets Art: Amos

Amos is the topic of the second installment in my presentation of art from our Minor Prophets Sunday school class. Amos is my favorite minor prophet and this is one of my favorite drawings because it captures so many of the books’ dramatic passages.

Amos’ condemnation of Israel focuses on injustice toward the poor:

This is what the LORD says: “For three sins of Israel, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath. They sell the innocent for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample on the heads of the poor as on the dust of the ground and deny justice to the oppressed.” (Amos 6-7a)


As always, Naomi created the drawing during our hour long discussion of the book (which focused on portions of chapters 1, 2, 5, 7, 8 & 9). Periodically, we’d ask Naomi about her progress and make suggestions, e.g., “Let’s get the lion, bear and snake in there.”


The main figure in the finished drawing (click for a larger version) is the prophet holding a plumb line, the focus of one of the four visions in chapter 7 & 8. The other visions involve the fruit basket (lower left corner), fire (left edge) and locusts (swarming at top).


The lion, bear and snake in the lower right corner illustrate Amos 5:19: “[The Day of the Lord] will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him.”

The two women ignoring the beggar are the “cows of Bashan… you women who oppress the poor and crush the needy” (Amos 4:1).

At the top are several large houses. Amos is critical of the size and number of the houses of the wealthy: “‘I will tear down the winter house along with the summer house; the houses adorned with ivory will be destroyed and the mansions will be demolished,’ declares the LORD” (Amos 3:15).

Like many of the prophets, Amos follows his oracles of judgement with a promise of restoration.

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when the reaper will be overtaken by the one who plows and the planter by the one treading grapes.” (Amos 9:13)

The tractor and storehouse in the upper right represent the plenty that will accompany Israel’s restoration.

Next up: Naomi’s Michelangelo-inspired Hosea drawing.

Minor Prophets Art: Introduction & Jonah

One of the reasons I set up this blog is to give a wider audience to the Sunday School art that Naomi Friend created for the Sunday school classes we taught together and, more generally, promote the idea of integrating visual art and music into adult Sunday school. Our classes received some coverage in The Banner (online version here), but most of the art itself has been previously viewable only on my Facebook page.


Our artistic focus developed through providence rather than planning. Last fall (2012) Trinity needed another adult Sunday school class so I volunteered to teach one on whatever topic was chosen by whoever showed up. The group chose Minor Prophets so next week I came ready to lead a discussion on Joel, and Naomi brought paper and pens and told people to make art. People drew pictures of locusts, rent hearts and the like. I told Naomi she should bring an easel next week and draw a picture herself so she did. I still like the idea of having everyone in a Sunday school class create art, but after Naomi started drawing, everyone else stopped.


Each of the pieces of Naomi drew was created during an hour-long Sunday school class while she was intermittently discussing her work and fielding ideas from the class. Watching her draw and discussing her drawings brought to life the books we discussed, as I hope to show by posting her work. (Images of Naomi’s professional art can be found at


This is Naomi’s Jonah drawing (click for larger version). In the foreground are a drowning Jonah, the ship and the large fish/whale. Out of the whale’s tail are the two other living creatures “appointed”/“provided” by God: the vine/gourd that shelters Jonah and the evil-looking weevil/worm that eats the gourd. Jonah sits under the gourd shaking his fist at the repenting Ninevites.

In future posts, I’m going to show the 20-some drawings Naomi drew for our classes on Minor Prophets and the Parables of Jesus, as well as discuss how we attempted to incorporate music into the classes.