The Main Themes of the Prophetic Books 1. 1.The prophets firmly asserted that God was speaking through them. 2. 2.The prophets repeatedly affirmed that God had chosen Israel for covenant relationship. 3. 3.The prophets sadly reported that the majority of Israel had sinned against God and that special covenant relationship. 4. 4.The prophets passionately warned of God’s purifying judgment. 5. 5.The prophets consistently promised that God would bring renewal and Hope on the other side of judgment.
PROPHETS to ISRAEL (the Northern Kingdom) PROPHETS to JUDAH (the Southern Kingdom) Joel (date uncertain) Amos (c. 760 B.C.) Jonah (c. 760 B.C.) Hosea (c. 755 B.C.) Israel destroyed, 722 B.C. Micah (c. 742 B.C.) Isaiah (c. 740 B.C.) Nahum (c. 660-630 B.C.) Zephaniah (c. 640-609 B.C.) Habakkuk (c. 640-609 B.C.) Jeremiah (c. 627 B.C.) Daniel (c. 605 B.C.) Ezekiel (c. 597 B.C.) Judah goes into Exile, 587 B.C. Obadiah (c. 586 B.C.) Lamentations (c. 586 B.C.) Haggai (c. 520 B.C.) Zechariah (c. 520 B.C.) Malachi (c. 460 B.C.)
In the tables that follow for each book, the first table is from The Life Application Bible (Tyndale, 1996) and the second table is from Bruce Wilkinson, Your Daily Walk (Zondervan, 1991).
JOEL AUTHORJoel WHATThe first of the writing prophets; warning about The Day of the Lord WHEREJudah; Jerusalem WHENc. 835-796 B.C. WHY To warn Judah of God’s impending judgment because of its sins and to urge the people to turn back to God KEY PEOPLE Joel, the people of Judah
JOEL: The First of the Writing Prophets Before the fall of the northern kingdom in 722 B.C. Before the fall of the northern kingdom in 722 B.C. Major theme is “the Day of the Lord.” Major theme is “the Day of the Lord.” Prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah. Prophet to the southern kingdom of Judah.
JOEL: Call to Repentance Joel 1:14 14 Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Joel 2:13 13 Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.
JOEL: Promise of Restoration Joel 2:25 25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten— the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm—my great army that I sent among you.
JOEL: Promise of Redemption Joel 2:28-32 28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD. 32 And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.
AMOS AUTHORAmos, the first prophet sent to the northern kingdom of Israel WHATProphesies of Judgment, Exile, and Restoration WHEREBethel, Samaria WHENc. 760-750 B.C. WHY To pronounce God’s judgment upon Israel, the northern kingdom, for its complacency, idolatry, and oppression of the poor KEY PEOPLE Amos, Amaziah, Jeroboam II
AMOS The first of the writing prophets sent to the northern kingdom of Israel The first of the writing prophets sent to the northern kingdom of Israel Warning that the Day of the Lord is going to be a day of judgment Warning that the Day of the Lord is going to be a day of judgment Amos 5:18 18 Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD! Why do you long for the day of the LORD? That day will be darkness, not light.
AMOS: Let it Roll! Amos 5:21-24 21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps. 24 But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!
AMOS: A Famine for the Word of the Lord Amos 8:9-12 9 “In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight. 10 I will turn your religious festivals into mourning and all your singing into weeping. I will make all of you wear sackcloth and shave your heads. I will make that time like mourning for an only son and the end of it like a bitter day. 11 “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land— not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD. 12 People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the LORD, but they will not find it.
JONAH AUTHORJonah, son of Amittai WHATJudgment against Nineveh through an errant prophet; the book is more about Jonah’s resistance than about his message WHEREJoppa, Nineveh WHENc. 785-760 B.C. WHY To show the extent of God’s grace— the message of salvation is for ALL people KEY PEOPLE Jonah; the ship’s captain and crew; the people of Nineveh
JONAH: Good News for All People At the same time as Joel, Amos, and Hosea At the same time as Joel, Amos, and Hosea Sent not to Israel but rather to Nineveh Sent not to Israel but rather to Nineveh
JONAH: A Very Short Sermon Jonah 3:1-5 1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, ‘Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.’ The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
JONAH: God’s Compassion Jonah 3:10 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. Jonah 4:10-11 10 But the LORD said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
HOSEA AUTHORHosea, son of Beeri WHATGraphic illustrations of God’s love and Israel’s unfaithfulness WHEREThe northern kingdom of Israel; Samaria, Ephraim WHENc. 715 B.C., recording events from about 753-715 B.C. WHY To illustrate God’s love for his sinful people KEY PEOPLE Hosea, Gomer, and their children
HOSEA: The Last Prophet in the North The last of the prophets to the northern kingdom before its destruction The last of the prophets to the northern kingdom before its destruction Hosea’s life was itself a parable. Hosea’s life was itself a parable. Faithfulness and unfaithfulness.... Faithfulness and unfaithfulness....
HOSEA: His Life as Parable Hosea 1:2 2 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD.” Hosea 3:1-2 1 The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley.
HOSEA: The Unfaithfulness of Israel Hosea 4:1-3 1 Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. 2 There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. 3 Because of this the land dries up, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea are swept away.
MICAH AUTHORMicah of Moresheth WHATProphesies of Judgment, Exile, and Restoration WHERESamaria, the northern capital, Jerusalem, the southern capital, and Bethlehem WHENc. 742 B.C. WHY To warn God’s people that judgment is coming and to offer pardon to all who repent KEY PEOPLE The citizens of Samaria & Jerusalem
MICAH (Isaiah followed him) During the same general period as Amos and Hosea During the same general period as Amos and Hosea Spoke to both the northern and southern kingdoms Spoke to both the northern and southern kingdoms Idolatry Idolatry Unjust seizure of property Unjust seizure of property Failure of civil leadership Failure of civil leadership Poor spiritual leadership Poor spiritual leadership Corrupt business practices Corrupt business practices Superficial worship Superficial worship
MICAH: The Moral High-Water Mark of the OT Micah 6:6-8 6 With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
MICAH: Forgiveness and Future Hope Micah 7:18-20 18 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. 19 You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. 20 You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago. Micah 5:2 2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
MICAH: Swords into Plowshares Micah 4:1-4 1 In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. 2 Many nations will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. 4 Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken.
NAHUM AUTHORNahum WHATJudgment against Nineveh WHERENineveh WHENc. 660-612 B.C. WHY To pronounce God’s judgment on Assyria and to comfort Judah with this truth KEY PEOPLE The people of Nineveh and Judah
NAHUM A sequel to and a dramatic contrast with Jonah A sequel to and a dramatic contrast with Jonah Assyria’s repentance didn’t last long Assyria’s repentance didn’t last long
NAHUM: Judgment on Assyria Nahum 1:3 3 The LORD is slow to anger but great in power; the LORD will not leave the guilty unpunished. Nahum 2:6 6 The river gates are thrown open and the palace collapses.
NAHUM: Hope for Israel Nahum 1:7 7 The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, Nahum 1:15 15 Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! Celebrate your festivals, Judah, and fulfill your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed.
ZEPHANIAH AUTHORZephaniah WHATProphesies of Judgment, Exile, and Restoration during Josiah’s reforms WHEREJerusalem WHENc. 640-621 B.C. WHY To shake the people of Judah out of their complacency and urge them to return to God KEY PEOPLE The people of Judah and Jerusalem
ZEPHANIAH Emphasized the Day of the Lord Emphasized the Day of the Lord Josiah’s reforms were “too little, too late.” Josiah’s reforms were “too little, too late.”
ZEPHANIAH: Too Little, Too Late Zephaniah 1:18 18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’s wrath.” In the fire of his jealousy the whole earth will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth.
ZEPHANIAH: Promise of Future Blessing Zephaniah 3:17 17 The LORD your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will comfort you with his love. He will rejoice over you with singing.”
HABAKKUK AUTHORHabakkuk WHATCries of Anguish and of Faith WHEREJudah WHENc. 612-609 B.C. WHY To show that God is still in control of the world despite the apparent triumph of evil KEY PEOPLE Habakkuk; the Babylonians
HABAKKUK (followed by Jeremiah, Daniel, & Ezekiel) A contemporary of Zephaniah and Jeremiah in Israel A contemporary of Zephaniah and Jeremiah in Israel A contemporary of Daniel and Ezekiel in Babylon A contemporary of Daniel and Ezekiel in Babylon Never addresses the people directly, but rather records a dialogue between Habakkuk and the Lord Never addresses the people directly, but rather records a dialogue between Habakkuk and the Lord Both humorous and sublime Both humorous and sublime
HABAKKUK: The Petulant Prophet Habakkuk 1:2 2 How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Habakkuk 2:1 1 I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.
HABAKKUK: The Lord Responds Habakkuk 1:5 5 “Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. Habakkuk 2:14 14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. Habakkuk 2:20 20 The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.
HABAKKUK: The “high-water mark of faith” Habakkuk 3:17-19 17 Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. 19 The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.
OBADIAH AUTHORObadiah WHATProphesies of Judgment on Edom WHEREEdom, Jerusalem WHENc. 627-586 B.C. WHY To show that God judges those who have harmed his people KEY PEOPLE The Edomites
OBADIAH (followed by Lamentations) The first of the minor prophets to write after the destruction of Jerusalem The first of the minor prophets to write after the destruction of Jerusalem Expands on what Lamentations 4:22 announces—restoration for God’s people but doom for Edom Expands on what Lamentations 4:22 announces—restoration for God’s people but doom for Edom
OBADIAH: Judgment & Hope Obadiah 1:4 4 Though you soar like the eagle and make your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD. Obadiah 1:21 21 Deliverers will go up on Mount Zion to govern the mountains of Esau. And the kingdom will be the LORD’s.
HAGGAI AUTHORHaggai, the first of the post-exilic prophets WHATExhortation to Rebuild the Temple WHEREJerusalem WHENThe fall of 520 B.C. WHY To call the people to complete the rebuilding of the Temple KEY PEOPLE Haggai, Zerubbabel, Jeshua
HAGGAI Began his ministry at the same time as Zechariah Began his ministry at the same time as Zechariah The first of the post-exilic prophets in Judah The first of the post-exilic prophets in Judah A short ministry from August 29-December 18, 520 B.C. A short ministry from August 29-December 18, 520 B.C. Rebuild the Temple! Rebuild the Temple!
HAGGAI: Handel’s Messiah Haggai 2:6-9 6 “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. 7 I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty.... 9 ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”
ZECHARIAH AUTHORZechariah WHATExhortation to rebuild the Temple; promise of the future Messiah WHEREJerusalem WHENChapters 1-8: 520 B.C. Chapters 9-14: c. 480 B.C. WHY To give hope to God’s people by revealing God’s future deliverance through the Messiah KEY PEOPLE Zerubbabel; Jeshua; the Promised One
ZECHARIAH: Messiah is Coming! Began his ministry in the last half of 520 B.C., at the same time as Haggai. Began his ministry in the last half of 520 B.C., at the same time as Haggai. Rebuild the Temple! Rebuild the Temple! Zechariah 1-8 is similar to Haggai. Zechariah 1-8 is similar to Haggai. Zechariah 9-14 is similar to Malachi. Zechariah 9-14 is similar to Malachi.
MALACHI AUTHORMalachi WHATExhortation to Heart-Felt Worship WHEREJerusalem; the Temple WHENc. 430 B.C. WHY To confront the people with their sins and to restore their relationship with God KEY PEOPLE Malachi; the Priests
MALACHI: A Critique of Dead Orthodoxy The last book in the Old Testament, both in order and in time The last book in the Old Testament, both in order and in time The same general time period as Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, in the mid-fifth century, B.C. The same general time period as Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, in the mid-fifth century, B.C. Post-exilic; several decades after Haggai and Zechariah Post-exilic; several decades after Haggai and Zechariah The renewed “golden age” hasn’t happened yet. The renewed “golden age” hasn’t happened yet. Rhetorical Q & A: Rhetorical Q & A: “I have loved you,” says the LORD. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’” (Malachi 1:2).
MALACHI: The most familiar exhortation to Tithe Malachi 3:10 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
MALACHI: Handel’s Messiah Malachi 3:1-2 1 “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap.
MALACHI: The Return of Elijah Malachi 4:5 5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.
Of the Bible’s 31,124 verses, 8,352 (27%) contain predictive material of some sort. Some prophecies are unconditional, meaning that they will be fulfilled no matter what, while others are based on fulfillment of divinely-prescribed conditions. Examples of God-inspired prediction are not restricted to those books written by specifically-named prophets, and appear throughout the Bible. The Bible’s prophecies are frequently first given in very general terms, becoming more specific in the course of God’s progressive revelation.
Zechariah’s “Prophetic Garden” Zechariah 9:9 9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 11:12-13 12 I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the LORD.
Zechariah’s “Prophetic Garden” Zechariah 12:10 10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.
Zechariah’s “Prophetic Garden” Zechariah 13:6-7 6 If someone asks, ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ they will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’ 7 “Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!” declares the LORD Almighty. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones.
Zechariah’s “Prophetic Garden” Zechariah 13:1 1 “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
Zechariah 9:9 9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 13:1 1 “On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity.
There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains: lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains; and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day, and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away: wash all my sins away, wash all my sins away; and there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away.
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power, ‘til all the ransomed Church of God be saved to sin no more: be saved to sin no more, be saved to sin no more: ‘til all the ransomed Church of God be saved to sin no more. Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood shall never lose its power, ‘til all the ransomed Church of God be saved to sin no more: be saved to sin no more, be saved to sin no more: ‘til all the ransomed Church of God be saved to sin no more.
E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply, redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die; and shall be till I die, and shall be till I die; redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die. E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream Thy flowing wounds supply, redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die; and shall be till I die, and shall be till I die; redeeming love has been my theme and shall be till I die.
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave, then in a nobler, sweeter song I’ll sing Thy power to save: I’ll sing Thy power to save, I’ll sing Thy power to save; then in a nobler, sweeter song I’ll sing Thy power to save! When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave, then in a nobler, sweeter song I’ll sing Thy power to save: I’ll sing Thy power to save, I’ll sing Thy power to save; then in a nobler, sweeter song I’ll sing Thy power to save!