Bible tour principles #10 and #11
Dec/30/08 Filed in: Bible Survey
Principle #10 - The first thing to know concerning the Prophetical Books is that the descriptions Major and Minor refer to length and not importance, but the reference to length is inconsistent; thus, the labels are unfortunate as they are prone to mislead.
The 17 Prophetical Books are often split into two groups; the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets.
The distinction has nothing to do with the importance or significance of the content of each book- simply has to do with length. Isaiah has sixty-six chapters, Jeremiah fifty-two and Ezekiel has forty-eight-all Major Prophets-whilde none of the Minor Prophets are longer than fourteen chapters. So it is understandable why the distinction is often made. But, the distinction is a bit inconsistent.
Principle #11 - The second thing to know concerning the Prophetical Books is that there are three major categories: pre-exilic, exilic and post-exilic; through, three Prophetical Books do not fit into these categories.
Please refer to the Prophetic Chart below and note the dates as to the pre-exile, exile and post exile prophets.
To the Northern Kingdom of Israel before Exile to the Assyrians in 722 BC
Amos: God called Amos to prophesy against the northern kingdom of Israel prior to their exile to Assyria in 722 BC. After pronouncing judgment on the enemies of Israel, Amos stung the nation with a pronouncement against Israel itself. Because of their sins of dishonesty and oppression against the poor, empty religion, and pompous self-confidence, the nation was doomed to fall to the Assyrians. Like other prophets through, Amos concluded his work with a word of consolation that God would restore Israel to glory and strength.
Hosea: God’s faithful love for His people Israel found clear illustration as God led the prophet Hosea to restore and welcome back his unfaithful wife Gomer. Hosea recounted Israel’s sins against the Lord who had been so gracious and good. He also pronounced the coming judgment upon the nation through the one with whom unwise alliance had been made, Assyria. Despite their rebellion and approaching judgment, the book closes with a word of hope that God will one day restore His people.
To the Southern Kingdom of Judah before Exile to the Babylonians in 586 BC
Joel: The prophet Joel looked to a recent locust plague as a foretaste of the judgment God would bring upon the southern kingdom of Judah in the Day of the Lord. After calling the people to repentance and warning of impending judgment, Joel prophesied of a future time when a remnant would repent, and God would restore the physical, spiritual, and national glory of the people of God.
Isaiah: Isaiah prophesied chiefly to the southern kingdom of Judah prior to their exile to Babylon in 586 BC. The first part of this book, chapters 1-39, is filled with messages of judgment against both the nations and Judah. The last part of the book, chapters 40-66, is filled with messages of consolation for Judah as God promised to end their captivity, send their Messiah, and restore their nation to glory.
Micah: While giving some attention to the northern kingdom of Israel, the primary recipient of Micah’s ministry was the southern kingdom of Judah. He denounced this kingdom for its rebellion against the Lord, noting its outward for formalism did not hide their inward corruption. Through a series of oracles, the prophet focused on the kingdom’s sins, their coming judgment, and the Lord’s ultimate restoration of those who repent.
Zephaniah: Zephaniah ministered to the southern kingdom of Judah and focused on the coming Day of the Lord-a day of judgment and wrath against the Lord’s sinful people. Yet the prophet proclaimed that a time would come when the fortunes of Judah would be restored through the faithfulness of their God.
Habakkuk: The righteous prophet Habakkuk called out to the Lord to judge His sinful people, the southern kingdom of Judah, only to learn God would do so through the godless Babylonians. Shaken by this news-that God would use the wicked to judge those more righteous than they-the prophet appealed to God to consider the unrighteousness of the Babylonians. God replied that after using the Babylonians to judge His people, He would faithfully judge the Babylonians as well. The book closes with a strong affirmation of faith in the Lord.
Jeremiah: Jeremiah prophesied chiefly to the southern kingdom of Judah prior to their exile to Babylon in 586 BC. Though faithful to call God’s people to repentance and warn of impending judgment for their refusal to run back to God, Jeremiah’s work met with resistance and rejection. Eventually his prophecies came true as the Babylonians took Judah captive. Jeremiah, often referred to as the “weeping prophet” watched lamentably the fall of the kingdom and destruction of its temple.
To the Southern Kingdom during their Exile to Babylon in 586 BC
Lamentations: Lamentations, composed by the prophet Jeremiah, was written just after the destrection of Jerusalem’s temple in 586 BC. Five laments spread over the book’s five chapters-the first four arranged acrostically (each chapter’s twenty-two verses begin with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet)-describe the prophet’s anguish over the fallen kingdom and their most important symbol of religious life, the temple.
Ezekiel: Ezekiel was taken to captivity when the Babylonians struck Judah in 597 BC. He began his ministry among the exiles in Babylon, declaring God’s judgment would finally crush Judah and the temple. Ezekiel also pronounced God’s judgment upon the nations before turning to matters related to the people of God’s repentance and eventual restoration.
Daniel: Daniel was taken to captivity when the Babylonians struck Judah in 605 BC. Because of his faithfulness, Daniel was exalted to positions of great influence within the new would power, Persia. Through the exploits of Daniel and his friends, the way of faith in the midst of persecution was set forth. And, through the wisdom and prophecies of Daniel, God’s plan for the ultimate triumph of His kingdom became clear.
To the Southern Kingdom after they returned from Babylon to their land at the decrees of King Cyrus of Persia in 538 BC
Haggai: AFter God fulfilled His promise to bring the southern kingdom of Judah back from captivity, the people began rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem. However, ti was not long before their priorities got misplaced, and they quit working on the temple for sixteen years. God raised up Haggai to encourage the people to put His work first by completing the temple. Haggai also denounced the people’s sin and lifted their sights to the future Messiah’s kingdom.
Zechariah: A contemporary of Haggai. Zechariah also encouraged the returned remnant to get back to work on the temple. This books is filled with vision, sighs, prophecies, celestial visitors, and the voice of God. Yet, it is very practical, calling God’s people to repentance and hope in the future glory of the Messiah’s kingdom.
Malachi: After the rebuilding of both the temple and the walls in Jerusalem, it did not take long for the people to lapse into their old ways-questioning God’s love for them, failing to give Him due honor, intermarrying with foreigners, doubting God’s justice, failing to bring their tithes and offerings, and believing that righteous lives were lived in vain. Malachi challenged the people for these sins and ended with a a call to obedience and a look forward to when God’s messenger would bring repentance.
Again, thanks to Mitch Mayer for given me permission to take this from his Clarifying the Bible.