From  the  book——


His Mouthpieces

The books of prophecy. This section of the Bible is composed of seventeen books beginning with Isaiah and ending with Malachi, closing out the Old Testament. Like the books of poetry, these books don't extend the time line of Israel's history; rather, they fill in the one laid down by the books of history. Apart from Job, most of the books of poetry were associated with the kings of Israel's glory days. By contrast, the books of prophecy were associated mainly with the period of Israel's decline and fall.

Prophets and priests played an important role in early Israel, though many of the prophets do not have books named after them. These godly men served as messengers from God to the people. The prophets and priests received orders from God and acted on them.

Prophecy in the Old Testament was not so much a telling of the future as it was an urgent statement made on behalf of God to his people. Certain elements of Hebrew prophecy spoke of the future in terms that human behavior could not change, but most of it offered God's people a choice and often stated the harsh consequences if the Israelites chose to disobey. Biblical prophecy emphasizes the kind of living that secures a happy future and warns against behavior that clouds the future.

Both the Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel) and the Minor Prophets ("the twelve") are organized in historical order. However, this doesn't mean the minor prophets follow the major ones in history; they coexisted. Hosea, for example, was a contemporary of Isaiah. Since the fall of Jerusalem is dated by historians at 586 B.C., all the books of prophecy—major and minor—can be dated within a century or two of that date.

Moses said God would raise up prophets like him in the generations to follow. And God did. Generally keeping a low profile, the prophets did not possess administrative power like the kings. They didn't have a place in the tabernacle or temple rituals like the priests. They simply spoke the mind of God as it was given to them. Unlike the kingship and the priesthood, the position of prophet could not be passed on to one's descendants. God individually chose each one.

Elijah trusted God completely, so much so that when King Ahab, a later king, appointed prophets to worship the false god Baal, Elijah told him no more rain would fall. Three years after the drought began, when Israel was literally starving, Elijah had a contest with the Baal prophets to see which entity would answer their prayers—God or the false god Baal. The people were brought to their senses by the sign of a soaked altar bursting into flames, and they came back to God.

As one of only two men who never died, Elijah was truly a special prophet of God. Enoch, a man who walked with God, was the other man who didn't die. Elijah was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire, but before he was taken he appointed Elisha, his servant, to succeed him.


Not a popular group. Israel's prophets were not the type of people to include on your party invitation list. The Hebrew prophets denounced evil, corruption, and immorality. They brought "bad" news, and people steered clear of them for the most part.

At the forefront. In the period of the divided kingdom, the focus of the Bible books moved away from the kings to the exploits of a series of "prophets," those who spoke on the behalf of God after receiving divine messages through dreams or visions. Prophets tried to counsel—usually with little success—the rulers and people of Israel and Judah. The prophets became crucial biblical characters who overshadowed the kings and took their message to the entire nation.

In Jewish history, law, and theology, Ezra is a character of great significance. Some Hebrew scholars rank him second only to Moses as a law giver and prophet, and he's considered by many as the second founder (after Moses) of the Jewish nation. Not only did Ezra reinstate the Law and temple worship practices, he required that all Jewish men get rid of their foreign wives and children. Ezra ends poignantly with the words, "All these had married foreign women, and some of them had children by these wives" (10:44).

Hosea is considered the first in the line of minor prophets. This is largely because his and the other minor prophets' books are short in length compared to Isaiah, Jeremiah, or Ezekiel. According to the recorded dates in Hosea, his ministry began shortly after that of Amos, and both of them were active before the fall of Jerusalem in 586 b.c.

Gomer, Hosea's adulterous wife, is a symbol of God's wayward people. God told Hosea to marry this wayward wife in order to further drive home the point of his message to Israel given through Hosea. Israel was rebellious and wicked, and worshiped other gods. God's nation was not to do these things under any circumstances, and though he was angered, God continued to love his people. Hosea was told to behave in a similar manner with Gomer. Each time she strayed, God's prophet was to bring her back home.


The message of Hosea to the Israelites used even the names of the three children Gomer bore. Hosea gave them names representative of how God felt about Israel. The children are a symbol of the results of the sin reaped by Israel for falling away from God….. God told Hosea to name the children accordingly: Jezreel, meaning "God scatters"; Lo-Ruhamah, meaning "not loved"; and Lo-Ammi, meaning something similar to "not my people, and I am not your God."

God wants his people to repent. God wants to claim Israel for his own. He wants to call these children "his," "loved," and "my people." Through all of Gomer's waywardness, Hosea is not told to seek a divorce. Always he is instructed to reconcile with her, to bring her home, to love her. Hosea's life example is a symbol of what God continually did for his people. It would take exile for Israel to finally listen and repent, but God never forgot about them or stopped loving them.

The prophet Amos was the first prophet to have his words written down. His ministry occurred sometime during the years of 793-740 B.C. It is thought that most of his main prophesying occurred between 760 and 750 b.c. Where Hosea spoke of God's mercy, love, and forgiveness for his people, Amos spoke of God's justice and righteousness.

Israel worshiped God in a pagan manner—sacred altars and even the temple were given touches of the pagans. God's people went through the motions and did the rituals God required of them and then lived exactly as they wanted to. The result was an immoral society far from what God's people were called to be. As a result, Amos preached about true piety and social justice.

Micah lived after Amos and Hosea. He prophesied of a future king who would be born in Bethlehem. He looked forward to that time as the current kings he suffered with consistently led the people toward idol worship and other forms of sin.

Nahum's name means "comfort." His book was written for Judah and served to comfort them with a prophecy of Nineveh's future destruction. Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, which had already taken possession of the Northern kingdom of Israel.

Judah feared they were next. The Assyrians were a brutal people known for their ferocious wars.

Nahum's book demonstrates that God is sovereign over all nations, not just his own. The destinies of Assyria, Babylon, Rome, and Israel and Judah were all under God's control. That God had Judah carried off by Babylon and Israel carried off by Assyria was all part of his plan for his people.

The longest prophetic book in Hebrew Scripture, Isaiah has played a central role for Christians and has even been called "the fifth Gospel" because so many of the book's prophecies were fulfilled in the life of Jesus. This book has also had an impact on our language.

Many well-worn phrases were born in the Book of Isaiah. Besides providing Handel with wonderful lyrics, Isaiah has yielded phrases commonly used even today:

"White as snow"

"Neither shall they learn war anymore"

"The people that walked in darkness"

"And a little child shall lead them"

"They shall mount up with wings as eagles"

"Be of good courage"

"Like a lamb to the slaughter"

The Servant Songs are the passages of Scripture describing an innocent man who endures great pain (Isaiah 42, 49, 50, 52, and 53). Many Jewish scholars did not know what to do with these passages and could not reconcile them to the images of the Messiah coming as a mighty king. But Christians from earliest times have applied them to Jesus Christ, who suffered greatly for the sins of all mankind.

Jeremiah is the longest book in the Bible, containing more words than any other Bible book. This prophet was unpopular largely because his messages of Judah's coming destruction were different from what the false prophets were telling the people—that all was well, God was pleased with them, and peace would reign.

Through Jeremiah God demonstrated that judgment would come for disobedience, but that even judgment has boundaries. Israel would be subject to Babylon, but only for a time—seventy years. God would not abandon them.

Also known as the '"weeping prophet," Jeremiah's outpourings to God reveal that even prophets had difficulties with their relationship with God. In chapter 4 of the book that bears his name, he cries out to God: "Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart!" (v. 19). Jeremiah was honest with God when he was frustrated—on several occasions he questioned God's plan for himself, God's plan for his people, and ultimately God's faithfulness. Yet God used him and made him a great prophet.

Habakkuk is thought to have been a prophet around the time of Jeremiah. He struggled with how God would want his people, despite how badly they were behaving, to come under the influence of an even more ungodly people—the Babylonians. God was faithful to his prophet and assured Habakkuk to trust him for the answer.

The Book of Lamentations may have been written by the prophet Jeremiah, but this fact is not certain. Interestingly the Hebrew title for the book is eykah, which means "How . . . !" Simply put, Lamentations describes the horrendous loss of Jerusalem, the temple, and the exile of Judah's inhabitants to Babylon. As Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C., this book was likely written shortly after.

Lamentations is a grievous statement of all the ills that befell this people as a result of their turning away from God. It is the only book of the Bible that consists solely of laments. Though the book begins with lament, it ends with heartfelt repentance, as it should. The author is very clear that though Babylon is the enemy carrying out the destruction, God has truly destroyed his people's city and allowed them to be carried off.

The final verses of Lamentations demonstrate exactly how Israel responded to God's judgment: "Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may return; renew our days as of old unless you have utterly rejected us and are angry with us beyond measure" (Lam. 5:21-22).

Ezekiel was living in exile in Babylon when Jerusalem fell. His prophetic work was to a people that had been exiled with him since 596 b.c. Ezekiel was served some truly bitter news that directly affected his work as well. God told his prophet that Ezekiel's wife was going to die, and soon. The prophet was instructed not to mourn openly for his wife, just as Israel was not to grieve openly for the temple that they had lost as a nation.

God's prophets were tested with difficulty like all of Israel was during this period of loss. They were God's voices and stayed with the people to tell them what their Lord had to say, even in the midst of grief, exile, and personal pain. They also passed judgments from the Lord on to others. Ezekiel pronounced God's judgment on seven different nations while he was in Babylon.

Ezekiel's message is filled with the theme of Israel as "the holy people"; a people set apart. With Israel's departure from worshiping God, the nation became unclean and defiled the temple, city, and land. God responded by withdrawing from his people and allowing national destruction of all that he had given them. God had no choice but to destroy that which had become unclean.

Daniel is considered a book more of a statesman than a prophet. As a result, Jewish scholars do not place this book among the prophetic books. However, since Daniel had the gift of prediction, the New Testament calls him a "prophet" (Matt. 24:15). Daniel saw many symbols in his prophetic visions, and he often recorded them without attempting to interpret what they meant.

Daniel contains a fair amount of apocalyptic material.

Whether it is to be interpreted literally or symbolically, it served as an encouragement to Israel. God's prophets were the closest thing the people had to a direct line to God. Through Daniel God told the people that there would be an end to their exile; there would be good times again. Daniel's prophetic themes are largely about God's sovereignty and appear in Revelation: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever" (Rev. If :15; see Dan. 2:44; 7:27).