In Bible Literacy 101 – 4, we learned that there are three classifications concerning the Old Testament prophets, Pre-exilic, Exilic, and Post-exilic. Isaiah was a pre-exilic prophet, while Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel were all Exilic prophets. All four of these prophets were prophesying to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The book of Lamentations was written by Jeremiah and are properly called the Lamentations of Jeremiah.
Israel as a unified nation prior to the division of the kingdom as well as both the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah during the Divided Kingdom period had historically manifested its apostasy for 800-900 years. God had chastised their unbelief through the Wilderness Journey, through the roller-coaster ride of the period of the Judges, through their conquest of Canaan, in their demand for a king as fulfillment of prophecy, and in their respective rebellions as separate kingdoms. The first of a series of prophets appeared a little over 100 years into the period of the Divided Kingdom, Jonah, and he was sent not to Israel or Judah, but to Nineveh, where his preaching resulted in the repentance of the Ninevites in sackcloth and ashes, but it would be almost another 100 years before one of these “Major” prophets appeared and began prophesying. Isaiah was the first of the Major Prophets to begin prophesying, and the Bible records that this was during the reign of Azariah or Uzziah as he is also referred to, king of Judah. Jeremiah appeared next about 140 years later during the reign of Josiah, king of Judah. Next came Daniel about 30 years later during the early years of the Babylonian Captivity. Last came Ezekiel about 13 years later.
Isaiah’s message contained multiple themes. He warned of the consequences of Judah’s apostasy; he prophesied of the coming Messiah; and he pronounced God’s judgments on several nations including Babylon.
Jeremiah’s message concentrated on the impending Babylonian Captivity. His message was thwarted by numerous false prophets who disagreed with everything that Jeremiah said. The false prophets eventually won out over Jeremiah’s message and had him thrown in prison, but when the invasion of the Babylonians began Jeremiah was released and consulted as to what could be done. Some of the Jews refused to submit to God’s will and endure God’s punishment in the captivity in Babylon, fleeing instead to Alexandria, Egypt.
The Lamentations of Jeremiah are Jeremiah’s outpouring of emotion over the destruction of both the temple and the city of Jerusalem at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon.
Daniel, a descendant of King David, rose to prominence in King Nebuchadnezzar’s court when he alone was able to interpret certain dreams which King Nebuchadnezzar had; dreams which foretold of the succession of the Gentile kingdoms of the Mediterranean world, Babylon being the first and most glorious of those four kingdoms; dreams which none of the wisest men of Babylon, the magicians, astrologers, and sorcerers could interpret. Later in life Daniel was chosen by God to receive further dreams and visions which elaborated on the “Colossus” which King Nebuchadnezzar had seen in his dream representing that succession of world-class empires. But Daniel’s dreams and visions went one step further in that in every case God also gave Daniel the interpretation of those dreams and visions. While some of the details may be vague and ambiguous, and therefore open to variant interpretations, the generalities are plainly stated and interpreted; and further, the historical record bears witness to the accuracy of those interpretations! As many Bible students know, especially those who possess a love of Bible prophecy, the book of Daniel and his dreams, visions, and prophecies goes even one step further, for Daniel was given prophecies and details concerning the events that would transpire at the end of the age, a time period that was in the distant future, well over 2500 years in the future. A through understanding of Daniel’s prophecies is the necessary foundation for being able to understand the single book of prophecy in the New Testament, the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. The book of Daniel is truly a book of prophecies that foretell of the times of the Gentiles.
Ezekiel is a book of prophecy specifically meant for the remnant of Israel as it is referred to in the Bible and even more specifically concerning the time period referred to in the Old Testament as Jacob’s trouble and in the New Testament the Great Tribulation. It is the time period of the trial of the nation of Israel; the prophecies concerning this time period permeate many of the books of the Bible. Ezekiel’s prophecies include the details of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem in the last days of the dispensation of the church as well as the re-gathering of Israel into, not two separate nations as under the Divided Kingdom when their respective captivities and dispersions occurred, but as ONE nation as they had been under the United Kingdom, and Kings Saul, David, and Solomon.
In later articles we will deal with some of the details of the books of the Minor Prophets. It will be sufficient to provide in this article a short list of notable passages in those books.
Hosea 3:4 the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king
Hosea 4:6 the children of Israel were destroyed for lack of knowledge
Hosea 6:2 after two days He will revive Israel
Hosea 6:6 for God desired mercy and not sacrifice
Joel 1:15-3:21 the Day of the Lord
Amos 8:11-12 the famine of the hearing of the Word of God
Micah 3:6-7 night shall be unto Israel
Israel shall have no vision
The sun shall go down over the prophets
Micah 5 But thou Bethlehem Ephratah shall bring forth He that is to be be Ruler in Israel
Habakkuk 2:4 the just shall live by his faith
Zephaniah 1:7-3:20 the Day of the Lord
Haggai 1:5-6 Consider your ways!
Zechariah 9:9-10 your king cometh to you riding on an ass
Zechariah 14:1-11 the Day of the Lord
Malachi 4:5 Behold God will send Elijah before the coming of the Day of
In our next segment we will look at the 400 year intertestamental period as well as the four Gospels.