Major Prophets – Prophetical Authors
The Major Prophets were men divinely designated to be spokesmen for God. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel make up the books of the Old Testament that are in this category. Four of the five books are named for the men whose messages are written. They were called watchmen, messengers of God, prophets, or foretellers. They stood alongside the priests of their day.
Their messages, which gave insight into God’s will and plan, were predictive and sometimes given as exhortations (a call or invitation, comforting). Their writings were encouraging and challenging, but also at times, served as warnings. The prophetic books were calling people to:
- turn back to God
- turn away from sin
- see disobedience invites disaster
- realize eventual salvation through the Messiah
- see that God is in control
- As preachers, their words explained the Mosaic Law and fulfilled their task of admonishing, denouncing sin, warning of judgment, calling for repentance and bringing comfort and promise of pardon.
- As foretellers, they announced the impending judgment, deliverance, and the coming Messiah.
- As watchmen over Israel, the warnings were issued about alliances with military/political powers and against religious apostasy. Cultic worship and rituals of sacrifice were in the region; the temptation to fall in with their Canaanite adversaries was great (see Ezekiel 3:17).
Major Prophets – Their Messages
Isaiah’s message (written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) issues a call to the nation of Judah to return to serving God. He revealed events of the future, but that was only part of the book. In chapters 1-39, he scornfully condemns Judah for straying from God and calls for repentance. The second half offers hope and consolation as Isaiah proclaims the promises of the coming Messiah. This promise for The Holy one of Israel, Lord God of Israel, and Mighty One of Israel, being Yahweh, is the chief focus of Isaiah’s book. Considered the greatest prophet, Isaiah’s stand was often seen as confrontational so he eventually became unpopular and was executed after 60 years of ministry.
Jeremiah often used symbolism to relay his message, but it seemed no one wanted to listen. Thus, Jeremiah felt like a failure during his 40 years of ministry. He was very poor, thrown into prison, and lived a depraved life. This prophet suffered extreme loneliness and rejection. He has been called the “weeping prophet” and the “reluctant prophet.” Jeremiah suffered much opposition, but remained faithful to God with humble obedience. The major theme of his book is two-fold: cautions of God’s judgment and the hope of restoration through repentance.
Lamentations show that God suffers when His people suffer. It is the one of the five books in this section that is not named for a prophet, but is believed to be authored by Jeremiah. The “weeping prophet” wept earnestly for his nation and Jerusalem; God had shown him the coming judgment due to their rejection and rebellion. They would suffer the destruction of Jerusalem! Jeremiah’s purpose was to teach the Hebrews what their disobedience would reap if they did not repent. His book of Lamentations has been called a funeral song for a nation God and Jeremiah greatly loved.
Ezekiel willingly chose to obey God and was also a first-hand witness to the capture and fall of Jerusalem. Ezekiel was called to be a prophet during his exile to Babylon. He enacted a caring shepherd’s heart with great concern for the priesthood, the temple, sacrifices, and the glory of God (called Shekinah glory). The theme in this book shows that sometimes, due to man’s rebellion, it becomes necessary to suffer a great fall before people choose to respond to God’s grace. When we are stubbornly disobedient, God cannot draw us back to Him unless we awake and become humbled. Ezekiel ends with a proclamation of the faithfulness of God, hope, and a prophecy for the blessed future of His people.
Daniel is an amazing book. It centers around God’s powerful sovereignty and His remarkable and protective hand on Daniel. Daniel had the God-given gift to interpret dreams and visions. While in Babylonian captivity, this Hebrew’s gift was implemented to win the unusual favor of King Nebuchadnezzar. Through various miracles, Daniel and his companions were granted prominent positions in the Babylonian regime. These dreams served to provide Daniel with an interpretation of the ruler’s bizarre dreams as well as dramatic visions of the future. The book of Daniel is a precursor and companion to the Book of Revelation in the New Testament. The prophecy of the succession of governments or kingdoms through history is presented with a man-like figure symbolically dressed in representation of each ruling Kingdom. It has been 100 percent accurate.
Major Prophets – The Messiah in Prophecy
The Prophetic Books are filled with prophecies of the coming Messiah. God wants that neither Israel, nor any other nation of people, to perish. Yet every human ever born has sinned against Him (Romans 3:23). Therefore, God made a way for the atonement of sin. He promised a coming Messiah and it is only by accepting Jesus that we will enter the Kingdom of God.
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