Part 1: Theology of the Book of the Twelve and Daniel, a Thematic Approach

By Billy Doolittle

Biblical theology.jpgThe Lord exists as a faithful king over an eternal kingdom despite the sin of idolatry of the people is the bond that seals the minor prophets and Daniel together. The detailed punishments the Lord threatens and executes on the people and the foreign powers serve as the mode that pushes the people towards repentance. The Lord describes making a faithful remnant to triumph over all the surrounding nations in and around Jerusalem binds these thirteens books in content. The Lord will have just judgement on the people of Israel due to their unfaithfulness. This punishment the Lord will bear on them will bring the people to repentance and their restoration as a ruling nation which will bless all other nations. Each of the prophets give an interesting glimpse of what is to come through pictorial descriptions found therein of desolation and prosperity for the people of Israel and their foes. These eschatological visions found in Daniel and the minor prophets provide insight into the judgment the Lord will bear on his people and the judgement on all nations. The out workings of this justice show that the Lord is King over all and the people should fear him as Lord while restoring His nation to a future brilliance that will shine over the entire earth free of oppression, sin and death for eternity. This kingship expresses the sovereignty of God as displayed through the ruler-ship he has over Judah and Israel as well as the nations which bring destruction on Israel, as well as the foreign rulers who curse God.

The Lord will reveal himself as a King across all nations of the land. Daniel acknowledges the Lord as King, saying that he alone can change time and seasons and to establish other kings who rule in the land (Dan 2:21) though Nebuchadnezzar fails to understand that until the Lord. Nebuchadnezzar will acknowledge the Lord as the almighty forever ruling king by the Lord humbling him whose kingdom will never fail (Dan 4:3, 34b-35). Likewise, King Darius agrees and nearly repeats verbatim the words of Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 6:26b-27). The Lord’s kingship displays his power over the grave (Hos 13:14), he can destroy rulers and officials (Amos 2:3), and he will rule over the people on Mount Zion (Micah 4:7). When Israel becomes triumphant through the power of the Lord, the king will enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey and Israel will rejoice in the God of their salvation (Zech 9:9-13). The Lord displays his power, wrath, and the mercy throughout the whole world since He is King and the entire world to be subject to his magnificent day. The response which the Lord desires from his people his fear and faithfulness because He is their Lord and King and they dwell in His kingdom. The fear of God evoked by his magnificent displays of impeding judgment bears witness to the power and rulership he has over the people and the world which he created (Mal 2:10; Amos 5:8).

The fear of the Lord is displayed in the people which will see and have seen the destructive power of Lord over his creation. The people of Israel will return and seek the Lord in fear (Hos 3:5; Amos 3:8; Micah 7:17; Zeph 3:7; Mal 1:6, 14; 7:17). The fear that the nation will have will cause them to return to the Lord and live in right standing before God (Jonah 1:9, 16; Hab 3:2; Zeph 3:16; Hag 1:12). The people will have sound wisdom by fearing the Lord’s name (Micah 6:9). However, on occasion the Lord told the people not to fear Him though this occurs under circumstances which they should fight for the Lord (Zeph 3:16; Zech 8:13), they are given the Spirit of God (Hag 2:15), or they are interpreting a vision (Dan 10:12, 19). Israel will be saved from destruction by the fear of the Lord through the Lord’s faithfulness. The fear which the people will have is that of honor and respect. The Lord desires their obedience and faithfulness through fearing and honoring him as holy.

The faithfulness of God built on the covenant foundation the Lord made with his people endures from the time he saved them from the land of Egypt (Dan 9:15, Hos 2:15; 12:9; 13:4, Amos 2:10; 9:7; Mic 6:4; 7:15; Hag 2:5). The love displayed through the Lord’s faithfulness points the reader’s attention back to Egypt and the covenant he made with Abraham and the patriarchs after him (Mic 7:20). God’s compassion towards the patriarchs builds the foundation of the future hope of restoration for Israel. The author points the reader to His faithfulness several times by appealing the love God had for them to justify his faithfulness which he continues to have towards them. For the Lord to “pass by” Israel echoes the Passover where the Lord went over Egypt and killed all firstborns in the land of Egypt (Exodus 12). The Lord says that he will no longer “pass by” Israel meaning He will no longer destroy the people in wrath like what the people of Egypt experienced when the Lord delivered them from slavery (Amos 7:8; 8:2). These texts are viewed considering the judgement which Israel and the house of Jacob will face due to the sins which they have committed. Israel has been unfaithful as Hosea’s relationship with Gomer and their children illustrate. Betrothal is a theme expressed by Hosea in reference to the Lord being united with Israel in faithfulness and righteousness (Hosea 2:19-20). The Lord having Israel as his wife expresses the covenant bond he has the people, despite their sinfulness and unfaithfulness, thus the Lord speaks through the prophets for them to repent.

Several times, the prophets plead with the people to turn from their sin and merely seek the Lord so that they may be saved from the day of punishment. Despite the Lord’s salvation effort, the people continue to sin (Amos 4:12) and they reject the Lord (Amos 2:4-5). The Lord continues his faithfulness to Israel and Judah despite their unfaithfulness (Hos 4:11). The Lord, through the punishment of Israel, seeks to restore their steadfast love and obedience (Mic 6:8). All the while their punishment for their sin was in order to heal them (Dan 3:10; Hos 6:1; Amos 9:13-15; Zeph 3:7). The Lord will then restore to Judah all their fortunes (Joel 3:1). The punishment is set to take place in the “day of the Lord.” Thus, the punishment which the people of Israel face is one that is deserved but also one that intends to redeem. The turning of sin towards repentance is granted only by the punishment which the Lord forces the people to endure. Once the day of the Lord is complete, it is the people who call upon the name of the Lord who will be saved (Joel 2:32).

Billy Doolittle is currently a student of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and is a graduate and former Garrett Fellow at Boyce College. He is married to Brittany Doolittle and a member of Imago Dei Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. You can follow Billy Doolittle on twitter @BillyDoolittle

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