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Hebrew Prophets

Leadership Empowerment School of Ministry

 

Empowering Those who Empower Others with a Knowledge of God and His Ways


Part One

 

Introduction to Prophets

Prophecy has been used in Scripture from the very beginning. Early in Genesis, the defeat of Satan is prophesied (Genesis 3:15). Abraham foretold the captivity of Israel for 400 years in Egypt (Gen 15:13-16).  Prophecy is one of the two major elements of the Old Testament.  When people in the New Testament referred to their Bible, it was as "the Law and the Prophets."  This phrase is used in the New Testament (see Acts 13:15) to summarize ancient Hebrew Scripture.  As we have studied in the course on the Law (History of Israel: The Pentateuch), the Law was given to people in order to make them able to approach a holy God.  The prophets spoke on different aspects of living out the Law in daily life.

 

1. What is a Prophet?             

In the Bible one is usually considered to be a prophet because he speaks on behalf of God. There were also false prophets who pretended to hear from God as well as prophets of false gods, such as the prophets of Baal.  Because true prophets seemed to have the ability to see into the future, they were sometimes spoken of as "seers." Prophets had a special sense of God's justice and usually stood up against the majority and the acceptable way of doing things which was against God's Law.

 

2. Historical Setting of the Prophetic Books

A. The two Kingdoms

Some prophets spoke to Israel and some to Judah. These two nations were not always divided.  They were simply called "Israel" during the time of Joshua until the end of King Solomon's reign. At that time the nation was divided into two nations: Israel (north) and Judah (south).  King Jereboam ruled Israel to the north, and King Rehoboam ruled Judah to the south. Of the total twelve tribes, the divided nation of Israel was made up of ten tribes and the nation of Judah consisted of two tribes (Benjamin and Judah).  The king of Judah was always a descendent of David, but the Kings of Israel came from different families.

 

These two kingdoms are referred to in a number of different ways by the prophets.  In the following list, the names on the left all referred to the same kingdom, and the names on the right to the other one:

 

Israel. Judah

Samaria. Jerusalem

Northern Kingdom. Southern Kingdom

Ephraim. Benjamin

 

B. The sin of the kingdoms

Israel sinned against the Lord first and was carried away into captivity by the Assyrians. Judah remained an independent nation for about 140 years after this but also sinned and was carried away captive by the Babylonians.

 

C. The prophets and the historical books

1. The historical events that were taking place during the ministry of many of the prophets including IsaiahJeremiah, Amos, Jonah, and others are found in the books of 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles.

 

2. Most of the events in the life of Haggai and Zechariah took place at the same time as the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.

 

D. Order of the prophets in the Bible

The order that the prophets appear in the Bible is not the order that they actually lived.  In this course, we are going to study the prophets according to the time that they ministered, not according to the order that they appear in the Bible.  We do this simply to help understand the context of the writings.

 

E. Some prophets prophesied to nations other than Israel and Judah.  Jonah and Nahum prophesied to the Assyrian empire (represented by the city of Ninevah), and Obadiah prophesied to the nation of Edom.

 

F. Some prophets were "kingdom prophets," some were "captivity prophets," and others "post-captivity prophets."

The kingdom prophets prophesied before the destruction of the nations of Judah and Israel.  The captivity prophets prophesied during the time the people lived as captives in exile.  The post-captivity prophets prophesied after the people returned to their homeland again.  The following list shows when and to whom the prophets spoke:

 

Kingdom --Before Captivity

To Other Nations

Captivity

Post-Captivity

 

 

 

 

To Israel (North)

To Assyria (Ninevah)

To Jews in Captivity

To Jews in Jerusalem

Amos (767-753)

Jonah (760)

Lamentations (587)

Haggai (520)

Hosea  (755-715)

Nahum (620)

Ezekiel (593-571)

Zechariah (520-475)

 

 

Daniel (605-535)

Malachi (450)

 

 

 

 

To Judah (South)

To Edom

 

 

Joel (835-805)

Obadiah (585)

 

 

Micah (735)

 

 

 

Isaiah (740-690)

 

 

 

Zephaniah (630)

 

 

 

Habakkuk (607)

 

 

 

Jeremiah (627-585)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prophet

Date

To Whom

 

Joel

835-805

Judah

700s (8th Century)

 

 

 

Jonah

760

Assyria (Ninevah)

 

Amos

767-753

Israel

 

Hosea

755-715

Israel

 

Micah

735

Judah

 

Isaiah

740-690

Judah

600s (7th Century)

 

 

 

Zephaniah

630

Judah

 

Nahum

620

Assyria (Ninevah)

 

Habakkuk

607

Judah

 

Jeremiah

627-585

Judah

500s  (6th Century)

 

 

 

Ezekiel

593-571

Exiles (Babylon)

 

Daniel

605-535

Exiles (Babylon)

 

Obadiah

585

Edom

 

Haggai

520

Judah

 

Zechariah

520-475

Judah

400s  (5th Century)

 

 

 

Malachi

450

Judah

3. The Message and Methods of Prophecy

A. The Message

1. The message of the prophets usually include at least four main parts: instruction concerning God's Law, pointing out sin, prediction of judgment, and comfort. All four of these may not be in all prophecy, but you will find most of them most of the time.

 

2. The prophets seemed to have four viewpoints in their writings. These four viewpoints are reflected by the prophets over and over. They are:

a. Present circumstance -- usually involves addressing the people's sins

b. Future captivities and restoration -- a warning, but also gives hope

 

c. A coming Messiah -- fulfilled when Jesus came the first time

 

d. The millennium -- the coming Messiah's future reign

 

B. The Methods

Sometimes these were used in combination with one another

1. Symbolic action

a. the spoiled belt of Jeremiah (13:1-11)

 

b. the state of nakedness by Isaiah (20:3).

 

2. Parables -- similar to the symbolic actions, but were spoken;  used an example that would help the people to understand the message

*Nathan's confrontation with David -- 2 Sam 12:1-23

 

3. Spoken messages -- clearly stated sermons explaining God's thoughts

*Isaiah 40

 

4. Writings -- many of the writings were first spoken messages, and then later written down.  However, in some cases (like the book of Hosea) it seems that the message was never preached, but was only delivered in written form.

 

C. Historical Background of the Fall of Judah

1. The nation of Israel had long ago been divided into two separate nations. During the fall of Judah, Israel had already been taken captive by the Assyrians. Now Assyria had fallen to Babylon and this world power was approaching Judah.

 

2. Before Babylon ever attacked Judah, Jeremiah was in the land prophesying its fall. Babylon came to Judah on three separate occasions.

a. The first time they carried away many of the nobles of the land. This first captivity included the removal of Daniel.

 

b. Babylon came back a second time and carried many others into captivity, including Ezekiel.

 

c. Finally Babylon invaded the land and carried most of the nation into captivity.  Most of those who remained fled to other nations such as Egypt for safety.  The Babylonians destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple. Jeremiah remained in Jerusalem during these captivities and saw its destruction, before being himself forcefully taken to Egypt by the Jews who remained.

 

Part Two:  Home Assignment

Kingdom Prophets

 

Joel

1. Background

A. Little is known about the prophet Joel other than the fact that his father was named Pethuel (1:1).

 

B. His strong interest in Jerusalem and the temple suggest that he lived in Jerusalem.

 

C. A natural disaster in Joel's day (a locust plague) became a sign of the coming invasion of Judah by the Babylonians.

 

D. The "Day of the Lord" can refer to the following:

1. the Babylonian conquest of Judah

 

2. the outpouring of God's Spirit, fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2)

 

3. final day of wrath when the whole world is judged

 

2. Outline

A. Judah experiences a foretaste of the day of the Lord (1)

 

B. The coming day of the Lord and the assurance of salvation (2-3)

 

Amos

1. Background

A. Amos was a Judean (southern kingdom) who was called by God to prophesy in Israel (northern kingdom).  He was from the city of Tekoa -- about 10 kilometers from Bethlehem.

 

B. Like Hosea, Amos prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II (793-753).  He pinpoints the date for his readers as two years before the earthquake (1:1) which his readers would most certainly recognize.

 

 

C. Amos came from a very humble background.  Verse 1:1 tells us that he was a shepherd.

 

D. The message of Amos' book is an object lesson to Israel, showing how far from God's righteous standard the nation had drifted.

His readers/hearers would certainly have agreed with him as he began pronouncing judgment on Israel's neighbors (chapters 1-2).  But he soon turns to show how unjust and ritualistic Israel herself had become.  Reform was needed, because the Lord was measuring Israel's righteousness against His standard, much like a carpenter would measure the straightness of a wall with a plumbline or level (see 7:7-9).

 

2. Outline

A. Judgment against the nations (1-2)

 

B. Prophecies against Israel (3:1-5:17)

1. judgment on the chosen people

 

2. judgment on the unrepentant people

 

3. judgment on the unjust people

 

C. Announcement of exile (5:18-6:14)

 

D. Visions of divine judgment (7:1-9:10)

1. locusts

 

2. fire

 

3. plumbline

 

4. basket of ripe fruit

 

E. Restored Israel's blessed future (9:11-15)

 

Hosea

1. Background

A. Almost nothing is known of Hosea other than the fact that he was the son of  Beeri (1:1).

 

B. Is thought to be from Judah, but ministered in Israel

 

C. Ministered at the same time as Amos, although Amos began a few years earlier.

 

D. Hosea received his calling from God to prophesy during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah (all from Judah) and Jeroboam (that is, Jeroboam II, the son of Joash) the king of Israel.

 

E. Hosea is told by God to take "a wife of harlotry" (1:2).

The message which Hosea writes concerning this union is one of pain and grief.  Such a compassionate message from the heart is a demonstration of both God's grace and judgment.  In comparing unfaithful Israel to Hosea's wife, and the Lord to the faithful husband, God showed through Hosea's ministry his patient love for his people.  Hosea's unfaithful wife Gomer and God's unfaithful people Israel, are both the objects of unconditional love.

 

2. Outline

A. Unfaithful wife / faithful husband (1-3)

1. Gomer the unfaithful wife and her children

 

2. Hosea the faithful husband

 

B. Unfaithful nation / faithful God (4-14)

1. Israel's unfaithfulness

 

2. Israel's punishment

 

3. the Lord's faithful love

 

 

Assignment:

Choose two of the following scriptures, and study them using the 3 steps of Bible Study.  Write down the main point and one application for each one:

 

Joel 2:12-21;     Amos 7:10-17;     Hosea 1:1-11

 

First Scripture

 

Main Point:

 

 

Application:

 

 

 

 

Second Scripture

 

Main Point:

 

 

Application:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Prophet Micah

1. Background

A. Micah was a man from the village of Moresheth, 30 kilometers southwest of Jerusalem.

 

B. He was probably a farmer (he does not seem at home in the large cities of Samaria and Jerusalem)

 

C. He was probably not wealthy.

 

D. The name Micah is a shortened form of Mikayahu which means "who is like Yahweh?"

 

E. In this book, Micah describes God's judgment against sinful Judah.

This "court case" results in a verdict of "Guilty!" and a sentence to exile in Babylon.  Despite the negative nature of this judgment, Micah describes God's ultimate salvation through the appearance of a divine Savior and the establishment of a glorious kingdom.  Matthew 2:5 quotes Micah 5:2 as the fulfillment of the prophecy that Christ would be born in Bethlehem.

 

2. Outline

A. Judgment against Israel and Judah (1-3)

 

B. Hope for Israel and Judah (4-5)

 

C. The Lord's case against Judah (6)

 

D. Gloom turns to triumph (7)

 

Isaiah

Assyria was the world power during the time of Isaiah's ministry (ca. 745-680). The Northern Kingdom of Israel eventually fell to the Assyrians and Judah itself was invaded by them. During times of trouble, Israel would seek help from other great nations and this brought Isaiah to the forefront to denounce them for not trusting the Lord as their deliverer.

 

1. Personal

A. Isaiah means, "Jehovah saves" or "Jehovah is Salvation." His name reflects the theme of his writings also.

 

B. Isaiah was married. Apparently his wife was a prophetess (8:3).

 

C. He had two sons. Their two sons were named based on prophetic significance. Their names meant, "remnant shall return" and "hasten to the prey" (7:3; 8:3).

 

D. We think of Isaiah as a very dignified man, but in chapter 20 we find that he walked naked for three years before the people in order to make a point. The people must have thought he was crazy.

 

E. Much background for Isaiah's life is found in 2 Kings 14-21

 

2. His Contemporaries

A. The Kings that ruled during his ministry were Uzziah (2 Chron 26:16-23); Jotham (2 Chron 27:2); Ahaz, and Hezekiah.  Three of the four kings were basically good during their reign. King Ahaz was evil and was criticized by Isaiah for making an alliance with the Assyrians.

 

B. There were other prophets who ministered during the time of Isaiah. In the first chapter and first verse of the books of Hosea and Micah we find reference to the same time period as Isaiah.

 

3. The Style and Emphasis of the Prophet Isaiah

A. In the sixth chapter, Isaiah had an encounter with the Lord in a new way. There he was given a vision of the holiness of God. That vision remained with the prophet and became a major point of emphasis. He refers to the Messiah as the "Holy One of Israel" almost thirty times in his book.

 

B. Another thing that stands out in the writings of Isaiah is his use of songs. In chapter five he refers to the "song of the vineyard." The "song of the redeemed" is found in chapter twelve. The "blossoming desert song" is mentioned in chapter thirty-five. Finally there is the "song of the restored wife" in chapter fifty-four.  Much of his writing is in poetic form.

 

4. Brief Overview of the Book of Isaiah

A. Isaiah is the longest prophetic book.

B. Isaiah speaks more of the Messiah than any other prophet.

C. His book and his ministry covered over a fifty year period.

D. His writings are the most quoted in the New Testament.

 

5. The Two Main Divisions of Isaiah

A. The book of Isaiah seems to have two natural divisions based on subject matter and chapter divisions. The two subjects of Isaiah are judgment and comfort. These two subjects appear to be divided according to chapters also. The subject of judgment is emphasized in the first 39 chapters while the subject of comfort is stressed in the rest of the book.

 

B. The judgment is mainly pointed toward three targets:

1. Judah

 

2. Jerusalem

 

3. surrounding nations.

 

C. There are a few references to comfort in the first 39 chapters, but the theme of judgment is more clear. However, chapters 40 through 66 thoroughly concern themselves with comfort and promise.

 

D. The comfort section is divided into three main groups.

1. Chapters 40 -- 48 compare the living God with the idols of men.

 

2. Chapters 49 -- 57 predict the coming Messiah and his nature.

 

3. Chapters 58 -- 66 have as their central theme the final restoration of Jerusalem and Israel.

 

6. Outline of the Book of Isaiah

A. Judah Prophecies (1-12)

The first twelve chapters have one primary emphasis: prophecies concerning the nation of Judah. These chapters contain mostly warnings of judgment.

 

B. Foreign Prophecies (13-27)

Chapters 13-27 primarily deal with the nations that surround Israel. They speak of the judgment that is coming upon them for their own sinfulness and for their treatment of God's people.

 

 

C. Warnings and Promises (28-35)

The third division is filled with general warnings and also some promises for obedience and repentance. The general tone is one of coming judgment.

 

D. Historical Section (36-39)

In chapters 36-39 there is an historical account of the events concerning King Hezekiah and the attack he suffered from the enemy.  This account can be found in the historical books also (2 Kings 18 & 2 Chron 32).

 

E. Redemption Promised (40-48)

These are the first chapters of the "comfort section" of Isaiah. Their tone is one of promise concerning what is coming.

 

F. Redemption Provided (49-57)

These seem to speak of the provision of God or God's part in leading Israel back to Himself.

 

G. Redemption Realized (58-66)

The last division includes chapters 58-66. In these chapters a very glorious account is given of the day when God's people will have received the promises, accepted the provision of God, and have come to a place of realizing these promises in a practical way.

 

Outline of the Book of Isaiah

 

1-12

13-27

28-35

36-39

40-43

49-57

58-66

Judah Prophesies

 

Foreign Prophesies

 

Warnings & Promises

 

Historical Section

 

Redemption Promised

 

Redemption Provided

 

Redemption Realized

 

|---------------God's Judgment----------------|

|-------------God's Comfort-------------|

 

Assignment:

Read the following Scriptures, and study them using the 3 steps of Bible Study.  Write down the main point and one application for each one:

 

Micah 6:3-8

 

Main Point:

 

 

Application:

 

 

 

 

Isaiah 6:1-13

 

Main Point:

 

 

Application:

 

 

 

 

Isaiah 42:1-9

 

Main Point:

 

 

Application:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zephaniah

1. Background

A. Zepheniah traces his family tree to king Hezekiah in verse 1:1, probably in an effort to show his readers that he was intimately acquainted with Judah and her sins.

 

B. He speaks against religious and social ills of the day showing the immanent judgment of God which would soon follow.

 

C. Zephaniah's warns twenty-three times in this book of the coming day of the Lord's wrath upon Judah and the nations of the world.  The date of this writing probably fits within the years 639-609 (the years of Josiah's reign, see 1:1).

 

2. Outline

A. The inescapable day of the Lord coming to Judah and the nations (1)

 

B. God's judgment on the nations (2-3:8)

 

C. Redemption of the remnant -- Israel restored (3:9-20)

 

Habakkuk

1. Background

A. Almost nothing is known about the author of this book, nor concerning the date in which it was written.  Current opinion, based on clues found in the text, suggest that this work belongs to the seventh century (625 being the earliest).  This means Habbakkuk wrote roughly at the same time as Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Nahum.

B. In his work Habakkuk uses his historical setting to ask God common, probing questions.  He is shown waiting in his watchtower for answers to these difficult questions and for God to right the wrongs of Judah (see 2:1).

 

2. Outline

A. First complaint - Why does evil in Judah go unpunished? (1:1-4)

 

B. God's answer -- Babylon will punish Judah (1:5-11)

 

C. Second complaint -- How can God use wicked Babylon to punish the more righteous Judah?  And, will Babylon continue to do as it pleases?  (1:12-2:1)

 

D. God's answer -- Babylon will also be punished and faith will be rewarded (2:2-20)

 

E. Habakkuk's prayer of faith (3)

 

Jeremiah

1. Personal

A. Jeremiah was born during the reign of one of the worst kings ever to rule Judah: Manasseh. But during his childhood a good king reigned over Judah by the name of Josiah.

 

B. It was at a young age that God called Jeremiah to be a prophet.

 

C. During his lifetime, Jeremiah would see Israel rise and fall many times until the nation came to a very sad end.

 

D. Jeremiah was the son of a priest.

 

E. He was a preacher of "doom and gloom." Yet this did not seem to coincide with his own nature for he was known as the "weeping prophet" (8:23).

 

F. Jeremiah suffered many trials for his stand for the Lord. God did not allow him to marry because of the impending judgment that was coming (Jeremiah 16:1-2). He was beaten, ill- treated, imprisoned, and thrown into a dungeon (Jeremiah 20:1-4; 31; 37:11 -1 5).

 

2. His Contemporaries

Jeremiah prophesied over a forty year period (627-586). His ministry began with the reign of Josiah and extended into the captivity of Judah.  Both Daniel and Ezekiel lived when Jeremiah did, and were younger than him.  Habakkuk most likely also prophesied during Jeremiah's life.

 

3. The Style and Emphasis of the Prophet Jeremiah

A. Jeremiah's primary prophecies deal with the coming 70 years captivity, if Judah refused to repent (25:1).  He was very unpopular because his prophecies seemed to have a pessimistic attitude and because he wanted Judah to cooperate with their captors (37:10,11; 38:2).

 

B. He encouraged Judah that God would some day bring them back to the land of Promise (23:3-6).

 

C. Many years earlier the nation of Israel collapsed and now Jeremiah would see the fall of Judah.  He did not seem to enjoy giving the prophecies against his own people and he did not want to see Judah destroyed.  Nevertheless he was committed to God and to speaking on His behalf. There were times when he tried to hold back from speaking, but he could not (20:9).

 

4. A Brief Overview of the Book of Jeremiah

A. The first part of the book is a long discourse of the things God had against Judah. Their greatest sin is that they had departed from the Lord. In so doing, they had joined to every kind of sin and idol. The first section is clear: judgment is coming and can no longer be averted (1-24).

 

B. The second part of the book of Jeremiah is even worse for Judah. Not only was the prophet proclaiming that they would go into captivity, but he named who their captors would be -- the hated Babylonians. Jeremiah took it one step further and prophesied that the captivity into which they would go would last exactly seventy years (Jeremiah 25- 40).

 

C. The third part of his prophecies that made him even more unpopular related to his call for Judah to stop fighting against captivity and to submit to the Babylonians. This made him appear like a traitor.  Because of this, he was greatly misunderstood (41-52).

 

D. In spite of all the strong prophecies concerning judgment, there is a bright side to the book of Jeremiah. Yes, there must first be destruction and humiliation.  But afterward he predicts restoration. The greatest part of the restoration is found in chapters 31 and 32 where God does not just mention the restoration of the old, but a bringing in of the new in the form of a New Covenant.

 

5. Outline of the Book of Jeremiah

A. Prophecies concerning events during the time of King Josiah (1-12)

 

B. Prophecies relating to events during the reign of King Jehoiakim (most of 13-36)

 

C. Prophecies during the reign of King Zedekiah (21-24; 27-34; 37-39)

 

D. Prophecies concerning those who have gone into captivity and those left in Judah (40-44)

 

E. Prophecies relating to judgments against the nations (45-52)

 

 

Outline of the Book of Jeremiah

1-12

13-20

25-26

35-36

21-24

27-34

37-39

40-44

45-52

During Josiah

 

Prophecies during Jehoakim

 

Prophecies during Zedekiah

 

Captivity

Against Nations

 

Assignment:

Choose two of the following scriptures, and study them using the 3 steps of Bible Study.  Write down the main point and one application for each one:

 

Habakkuk 3:10-19;  Zephaniah 1:14-18;  Jeremiah 10:1-13;  Jer 31:31-34

 

First Scripture

 

Main Point:

 

 

Application:

 

 

 

 

Second Scripture

 

Main Point:

 

 

Application:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prophets to Assyria and Edom

 

Jonah -- Assyria

1. Background

A. According to 2 Kings 14:25, Jonah son of Amittai was a prophet who foretold the expansion of Israel during the reign of Jeroboam 2 (793-753).

 

B. God called him for the special purpose in 1:1 to prophesy against the wickedness of Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria.  However, Jonah fled his calling attempting to escape to Tarshish (probably Tartessus in southwestern Spain).

 

C. The book of Jonah is interesting for several reasons.

1. It shows the missionary nature of God and of Israel.  God truly wants his people to be a light to the nations.

2. This is the only prophetic book which is not about the message of the prophecy, but about the prophet himself: The prodigal prophet who ran from God when called to preach a message of repentance to brutal Nineveh.

3. This book contains perhaps the most successful prophetic campaign recorded in Scripture -- the wicked city of Nineveh repented and was spared.

2. Outline

A. Jonah flees his mission (1)

 

B. Jonah prays (2)

 

C. Jonah preaches and the city repents (3)

 

D. Jonah's anger at God's mercy (4)

 

Nahum -- Assyria

1. Background

A. Not much is known about Nahum the prophet.  Although he states that he is from Elkosh, scholars have not been able to identify its location.

 

B. After its repentance under the ministry of Jonah, Nineveh apparently returned to its idolatrous and brutal ways.  They conquered the nation of Israel, but were turned back from Judah.

 

C. The date of this book fits somewhere between two historical events: the fall of the Egyptian city of Thebes (see 3:8-10) in 663 and the collapse of the Assyrian capital of Nineveh in 615.

 

D. His name probably means "comforted by Yahweh."

 

E. Nahum's prophecies against Ninevah served to comfort Judah.  Ninevah was their feared enemy, and if it was going to be destroyed, this was good news for Judah.

 

F. Nahum was given the task of prophesying against this city.  His prediction was that its destruction would come like a flood.

 

2. Outline

A. Nineveh's Judge (God) (1)

 

B. Nineveh's judgment (2)

 

C. Nineveh's destruction (3)

 

Obadiah -- Edom

1. Background

A. Obadiah contains only one chapter and twenty-one verses and is the shortest book in the Old Testament.

 

B. Its author, Obadiah, gives no information concerning himself other than his name.

 

C. The date of this book is sometime after 586, when Judah was defeated by Babylon.  At that time the people of Edom did not help Judah, but actually took advantage of their defeat (10-14)

 

D. Obadiah prophesied against Edom.

Edomites were descendants of Esau and had always been enemies of Israel, the sons of Jacob.  Obadiah speaks his harsh words to Edom because of its hatred of Israel, and its refusal to help its brother nation of Israel in time of need.

 

E. Obadiah eloquently expresses the concept of the "day of the Lord."  This revelation is given by God to other prophets as well.  At least three points conveyed in this topic are:

1. Yahweh is a God who demands righteousness

 

2. Yahweh is the ruler of heaven and earth

 

3. Evil deeds (such as those done by Edom) stand in danger of being judged

 

2. Outline

A. Judgment on Edom -- destruction (2-14)

 

B. The day of the Lord (15-18)

 

Assignment:

Choose one of the following scriptures, and study it using the 3 steps of Bible Study.  Write down the main point and one application:

 

Jonah 2:1-10; Nahum 1:1-15;  Obadiah 10-16

 

Main Point:

 

 

Application:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captivity Prophets

 

The Book of Lamentations

Lamentations was written by Jeremiah. All the other prophetic books are named after their author except this one. Even though Jeremiah was the tool God used to prophesy the fall of Judah, this book shows that the fulfillment of his own words brought him no joy. The book is a sad account of Jerusalem's siege and fall to the Babylonian Empire.

 

1. General Structure and Content of the Book

A. This book is actually five different poems that have been divided into chapters.

 

B. It gives an eyewitness account of the destruction of Jerusalem and the nation of Judah. There is no boasting over the fact that what he prophesied has now come to pass; only weeping and sorrow.

 

C. Jeremiah recognizes that God is righteous and just in his actions because of the great wickedness of the people.

 

D. The poetic style of the work is shown in its acrostic form.

Acrostic means that each verse begins with the Hebrew letters in alphabetical order .  Chapters 1-4 are acrostic while chapter 5 is not.  Chapters 1 and 2 contain 22 verses (there are 22 Hebrew letters), chapter 3 contains 66 verses (3 groups of 22), and chapters 4 and 5 contain 22 verses.  It is not known exactly why this acrostic form was used.  It was probably meant as an aid to memorization.

 

E. The fall of Jerusalem is mourned at a yearly observance in June, and this book is recited and read. 

 

Outline of the Book of Lamentations

 

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Woes upon Jerusalem

 

Reason for Judgment

 

Hope in the Lord

 

Comparisons

 

Confessions

 

 

Ezekiel

1. Personal

A. Ezekiel was a priest and the son of a priest named Buzi (1:3). Because of this, there are many references to the temple and priestly rites.

 

B. The name Ezekiel means, "God will strengthen" or "strength of God."

 

C. He had been married, though his wife died (24:15-24).

 

D. His ministry covered at least twenty years, 593-571 (see 1:2 and 29:17).

E. He was taken captive into Babylon in one of the early invasions (II Kings 24:12-15). This early invasion took away the king and only some of the most high ranking inhabitants of Judah. He, like many other noted captives from Judah, was very well respected by the Babylonians. As such, he was well treated and his council was sought. (14:1)

 

2. His Contemporaries

A. He was a contemporary with King Jehoiachin and was called as a prophet in the fifth year of the captivity of this king.

 

B. Ezekiel was a young man when the prophet Jeremiah was coming to the close of his ministry. At that time he was being trained by his father as a priest. Little did Ezekiel know there would not longer be a priesthood after Babylon invaded. He became a true prophet indeed and used the phrase "thus saith the Lord" over 120 times.

 

C. When Ezekiel was carried away into Babylon, Jeremiah continued his ministry in Judah. There was another well-known prophet who was in Babylon at the same time as Ezekiel -- his name was Daniel. He knew of the ministry of Daniel and made reference to him (14:14, 20).

 

3. The Style and Emphasis of the Prophet Ezekiel

A. Ezekiel's prophecies are filled with supernatural occurrences and pictures.

 

B. A large part of the book is given to prove Israel's sins.  Ezekiel therefore shows that God is just in  allowing Judah to go into captivity.  In all his dealings, God was trying to bring Israel to the knowledge that "I am God."  In fact, this phrase is used almost thirty times in this one book.

 

C. Ezekiel refers to himself as "son of man" over 90 times. This was also a common term Jesus used for himself.

 

D. Ezekiel had an encounter with God that changed his ministry. The spectacle was one of awesome, wonder.  But the contrast of the glory he saw showed him the terrible wickedness of his own people.  It was this vision that thrust him into the prophetic ministry.  Ezekiel found himself in the role of a "watchman" who was warning his people of coming judgment. (1-3)

 

E. Ezekiel uses parables, symbolic action, writings, visions, and poems to make his points.  Because of his many unusual visions, he could really be called a "seer." He was literally carried by the Spirit into Jerusalem to be shown the things against which he prophesied.  Some of the subjects of which Ezekiel wrote are:

1. The watchman (chapter 3)

 

2. The valley of dry bones (chapter 37)

 

3. The measuring of the temple (chapter 40)

 

4. Outline of the Book

A. The first 24 chapters are given to words of despair and destruction for Judah, and the last 24 chapters tell of the great future that is to come.

 

B. Though Ezekiel was taken captive into Babylon, the Spirit transported him back to Israel where most of his prophecies were received.

 

C. The book of Ezekiel is divided into five major parts.

1. The call and ministry of the man Ezekiel (1-3).

2. The wickedness of Jerusalem and Judah (4-24).

These chapters were written while he was in captivity in Babylon but Jerusalem had not yet completely fallen.

3. Prophecies against the surrounding nations (25-29).

4. The restoration of Israel and the final judgments that will bring about the restoration (33-39).

The message of Ezekiel changes from judgment to restoration because all of Judah had fallen to the Babylonians.  Now was needed a message of hope even while they were being judged.

5. The measuring out of the millennial temple and all that pertains to it (40-48).

 

Outline of the Book of Ezekiel

 

1-4

5-24

25-29

30-39

40-48

Call & Commission

 

Prophecies against Judah

 

Prophecies against Nations

 

Promises of Restoration

 

Temple Visions

 

 

Daniel

1. Personal

A. Daniel was taken captive by Babylon with the very first deportation. From the account, it appears he was among some of the more noble people of Israel.

 

B. At Babylon, his name was changed to Belshazzar and he became a member of the court of Nebuchadnezzar.

 

C. His ability to interpret dreams became the way through which God used him, both to the king of Babylon and in interpreting dreams pertaining to the end-times. These end-time dreams and visions were given to him after a new king, Belshazzar, ruled. At that time he was no longer in the high position he once held.

 

D. After the visions, God used him to interpret the meaning of the "handwriting on the wall."

 

 

E. Babylon fell to the Medes and the Persians and Darius became king. This king further promoted Daniel. Later, King Cyrus ruled and was the man responsible for allowing Israel to return to their country after 70 years of captivity. Daniel was still alive during the reign of this king (1:21 and 6:28). It is quite possible that he was alive when the first remnant returned home.

 

2. His Contemporaries

Daniel was contemporary with both Jeremiah and Ezekiel. He apparently studied the writings of Jeremiah and God revealed to him many things from them (Jer 29:10, Daniel 9:1ff).

 

3. The Style and Emphasis of the Prophet Daniel

A. Daniel was given the revelation of the future of the world including the events of the last days of this planet.

 

B. Daniel spoke about the Gentiles.  It is for this reason that Daniel is the only Old Testament book that is primarily written in a language other than Hebrew.  This language was Aramaic.

 

C. Daniel introduced a "new style" of prophetic writing called apocalyptic (The book of Revelation is another example of apocalyptic literature).  He centered his prophecies on two areas:

1. End time events

2. Earthly kingdoms in relation to God's kingdom

 

4. The Prophecies of Daniel

Probably at the same time Nebuchadnezzar had the dream of chapter two, Ezekiel was seeing the glory of God depart from the Temple in Jerusalem (see Ezekiel 11:22-24).

 

A. The Vision of Chapter Two

Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, had a dream that Daniel interpreted for him.  He saw the image of a man that had a head of gold, chest of silver, midsection and thighs of brass, legs of iron, and feet and toes of iron and clay mixed.  This illustration was a picture of the future and revealed what nations would arise as world rulers.  Here is a summary:

 

1. Head of Gold -- Babylonian Empire -- 606 to 538 BC

 

2. Chest of Silver -- Medo-Persian Empire -- 538 to 331

 

3. Midsection and Thighs of Brass -- Greek Empire -- 331 to 165

 

4. Legs of Iron -- Roman Empire -- 163 to 327 AD

 

5. Feet and Ten Toes of Iron and Clay -- A Future Empire

There is great debate among interpreters concerning the final kingdom of feet and ten toes mentioned in 2:42-46.  Some teach that these ten toes symbolize ten nations who will come together for economic reasons and under the leadership of the Antichrist.  The "stone" that will eventually end the Gentile rule and destroy its feet according to Nebuchadnezzar's vision is said to be Christ (see Psalm 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; I Peter 2:6-8). 

 

B. The Vision of Chapter Seven

The vision of the four beasts are identical with the dream of Nebuchadnezzar in chapter two.  The main difference is in perspective.  Nebuchadnezzar sees from a human viewpoint and views Gentile world domination as a huge and glorious statue.  However, Daniel sees from God's viewpoint and sees these kingdoms as vicious beasts.  These beasts represent the nature of the next four kingdoms to arise in the earth.  The beasts can be summarized as follows:

1. The Winged Lion

From verse 4 of chapter 7, we see that this represents Babylon and particularly its king.  It corresponds to the head of gold of Nebuchadnezzar's dream.

 

2. The Bear

The bear with three ribs in its mouth symbolized the empire of Medo-Persia.  In Nebuchadnezzar's dream it is the image's chest of silver.

 

3. The Leopard

This beast represents the rise of Greece as a world power.  Its leader, Alexander the Great, was noted for the speed in which he conquered the opposition which corresponds to the speed of a leopard.

 

4. The Final Beast

This unusual beast is the picture of the Roman Empire.  The body portion of the beast is like the early aggressiveness of the Romans.  This vision has the same ending as that of chapter 2.  All these kingdoms are destroyed and given to "one like the son of man" which was a common Messianic title -- one that Jesus often used for Himself.

 

C. The Vision of Chapter Eight

1. The vision of chapter eight happened about two years after the vision of Chapter seven. However, the subject of the vision is basically the same. The bear representing Medo-Persia in chapter seven is now the ram of chapter eight. The leopard of chapter seven is now the male goat of chapter eight, which is a picture of Greece. The main purpose of the vision of chapter eight is to show the way in which Medo-Persia will be moved out by Alexander the Great and the dominance of Greece as a world power.

2. The ram had two horns and one was higher than the other. Medo- Persia, by its very name shows the rule of two kingdoms (two horns) ruling as one. But the difference is that the Persian side was more prominent than the Mede side.  This more prominent horn actually came up last which is in perfect accord with history, for Persia was a younger kingdom than that of the Medes.  This ram pushed west, north and then south. This was the exact course this empire took in conquering the world.

3. Historically, the male goat representing Greece came from the west just as in Daniel's vision.  Alexander the Great's rule covered "over the face of the whole earth."  He himself was the "notable horn between its eyes."  His kingdom was later divided into four kingdoms represented by the four other horns. The speed in which Alexander the Great conquered was as if it "touched not the ground. " There was a little horn that came up which was the noted Antiochus Epiphanes, a ruler whose kingdom included Judea.

 

D. The Vision of Chapter Eleven

1. The vision begins with the present rule of Persia and predicts the rise of four more kings in that country. He clearly shows in verse three that a "mighty king" shall rise out of Greece. We know now that that man was Alexander the Great.

 

2. From verse 3 -- 20 the vision concerns what happened to Alexander's kingdom.

a. He first shows that the kingdom will be "broken" or divided into four parts (verse 4 and 8:22) after his death.

 

b. Then two of those kingdoms become stronger and are featured in the vision. Alexander's kingdom was divided four ways and the "king of the south" and the "king of the north" did fight for complete rule and did harass Israel.

 

c. The king of the south mentioned in verses 5 through 14 actually represent different rulers of the southern empire of Greece covering many years of history.

 

3. The king of the north of verses 21 through 35 is Antiochus Epiphanes, the Syrian king who ruled from 175 to 164 B.C. His attributes are most like the Antichrist that is to come. Verses 25 -- 28 detail his attack on Egypt. Verses 31 -- 35 give the actual details of what he did to the temple in Jerusalem, but remember that this was a prophecy -- it was given many years before this historical event happened.

 

4. Beginning with verse 32 to the end of the chapter is a description of the Antichrist himself, for these events deal with the "time of the end" (verse 35).  Even as Antiochus Epiphanes historically set up the "abomination of desolation" in the temple, so will this "little horn" in the last days.  The two will be very similar.

 

5. Outline of Daniel

A. Historical Stories (1-6)

1. Daniel and friends do not defile themselves with the king's food (1)

2. Nebuchadnezzar's dream:  the statue (2)

3. The image of gold (3)

4. Nebuchadnezzar's second dream and his madness (4)

5. The writing on the wall and the fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians (5)

6. The lions' den (6)

 

B. Visions  (7-12)

1. The four beasts (7)

2. The ram and the goat (8)

3. Prayer for restoration of Israel (9)

4. Greece and Persia (already fulfilled) and Antichrist and the end-times (not yet fulfilled) (10-12)

 

Outline of the Book of Daniel

 

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10-12

Daniel in exile

 

Dream of Statue

 

Fiery Furnace

 

Madness of King

Writing on Wall

Lions' Den

Vision of 4 Beasts

Vision of Ram & Goat

Prayer

Vision of Future

 

Assignment:

Read the following Scriptures, and study them using the 3 steps of Bible Study.  Write down the main point and one application for each one:

 

Lamentations 5:10-22

 

Main Point:

 

 

Application:

 

 

 

 

Ezekiel 22:23-31

 

Main Point:

 

 

Application:

 

 

 

 

Daniel 9:1-19

 

Main Point:

 

 

Application:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Captivity Prophets

 

Haggai

1. Background

A. Haggai preached during the time of  the returning of Jews from exile in Babylon.

 

B. He ministered with Zechariah (see Ezra 5:1).

 

C. Haggai gives specific dates for the four messages contained in this book (1:1, 2:2, 2:10, and 2:20), all of which when converted to modern dating points to the year 520.

 

D. The Hebrew word hag means "feast" or "festival" which suggests Haggai was born on and named for one of the Israelite festivals.

 

E. Many Jews had been in Babylon for a long period, had developed themselves there, and had become successful.  Therefore, when they were allowed to return to Jerusalem, many did not.  Those who did return sought to rebuild the Temple but were discouraged and gave up (see Ezra 3:2-6).  Haggai's message was one of exhortation to those returning from Babylonian exile to finish rebuilding the Temple.

 

2. Outline

A. First Message: Rebuild the Temple (1:1-11)

 

B. The Response of Zerubbabel (governor) and the People (1:12-15)

 

C. Second Message: The Temple is to be Filled with Glory (2:1-9)

 

D. Third Message: A Defiled People Purified and Blessed (2:10-19)

 

E. Fourth Message: Promise to Zerubbabel (2:20-23)

 

Zechariah

1. Background

A. Zechariah describes himself in 1:1 as the grandson of Iddo, who may have been a priest (see Ezra 5:1,6:14; Nehemiah 12:16).  In this case, Zechariah may have been a prophet and a priest.

 

B. The date given in 1:1 (520) shows that he was a contemporary of Haggai.

 

C. Tradition says that Zechariah was "advanced in years" when he returned from Babylon and died at a "great age," being buried beside Haggai.

 

D. His name means "Yahweh has remembered."

 

E. Zechariah's message is a vision of the Messiah's glory (see especially chapters 9-14).  Like Haggai, he encourages his countrymen to finish rebuilding God's Temple in Jerusalem.

 

2. Outline

A. Eight Night Visions (1:7-6:8)

1. Vision of horses -- comfort to the returning exiles

2. Vision of horns -- against Judah's enemies

3. Vision of the measuring line -- future glory of Jerusalem

4. Vision of the high priest -- encouragement to Joshua the high priest

5. Vision of the lampstand and olive trees -- encouragement to Zerubbabel in rebuilding the temple

6. Vision of the flying scroll -- curse against thieves and those who give false witness

7. Vision of the woman in a basket -- wickedness removed from God's people

8. Vision of four chariots -- the four spirits of heaven

 

B. Symbolic Crowning of Joshua the High Priest (6:9-15)

 

C. Two Prophetic Oracles (9-14)

1. Coming and Rejection of the Messiah

 

2. Coming and Reception of the Messiah

 

Malachi

1. Background

A. Not only is Malachi the last book of the Old Testaments and the last prophet in the Old Testament, he is generally considered the last prophet.  According to Jewish tradition, God removed his Spirit-inspired prophetic activity when the last prophets (Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) died.  The next prophet, John the Baptist, appears 400 years later.

 

B. "Malachi" means "my messenger" and may not be a proper name at all.

C. The book was written after the Temple was completed in Jerusalem and priestly practices reestablished.  But the people were disappointed and faced hard times upon their return.  They turned to sin and became hard.  The book of Malachi represents his "debate" with these hard people.  He shows just how cold their spiritual and moral temperature had become.

 

2. Outline

A. Introduction: God's Covenant Love for Israel Affirmed (1:1-5)

 

B. Israel's Unfaithfulness Rebuked (1:6-2:16)

1. unfaithfulness of the priests

 

2. unfaithfulness of the people

 

C. The Lord's Coming Announced (2:17-4:6)

1. coming to purify the priests and judge the people

 

2. call to repentance in view of the Lord's coming

 

3. the day of the Lord announced

 

Assignment:

Choose one of the following scriptures, and study it using the 3 steps of Bible Study.  Write down the main point and one application:

 

Haggai 1:1-11;   Zechariah 4:1-14;    Malachi 3:1-12

 

Main Point:

 

 

Application:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Three

 

1. Revision:

 

Discussion Groups:

Revise the material in this course together.  Ask one another the following questions (and more if you want to come up with your own).  Try to answer as many as possible without looking in your notes.

 

1. Which 2 prophets prophesied to the Kingdom of Israel (Northern)?

 

2. Which 6 prophets prophesied to the Kingdom of Judah (South) before the captivity?

 

3. Which 3 prophetic books were written to Judah during the captivity?

 

4. Which 3 prophets prophesied to nations other than Israel or Judah?  To which nations did they prophesy?

 

5. Which 3 prophets prophesied to Judah after the captivity?

 

6. In Daniel's vision of the 4 beasts, which empire did each beast represent?

 

7. How did God speak through Hosea's marriage?

 

8. What are the two major subjects of Isaiah's writings?

 

9. God told Habakkuk, "The just shall live by _____."

 

10. Why does Habakkuk complain that God would use Babylon to punish Judah?

 

11. What did Jeremiah tell Judah to do concerning the Babylonians – fight them or submit to them?

 

12. Which book mourns the fall of Jerusalem?

 

13. What dream did Daniel interpret for King Nebuchadnezzar?

 

14. What did Haggai and Zechariah exhort the people to do?

 

15. What was Obadiah's prophecy against Edom?

 

16. Why was Jonah angry with God?

 

17. According to Jeremiah, how long would the captivity in Babylon last?

 

18. Tell about Daniel's vision of the ram and the goat.

 

 

2. Questions:

Ask questions that you wrote down during the month as you studied the material, or any other question you may have.