8 April 2016

Guide to the Bible (5) Major Prophets - By Jack Lewis

Last time I posted, I had got to the end of the poetry section in the Old Testament. So over the next two posts, I am going from there right up until the end of the Old Testament. These 17 books that bridge the gap between Solomon and Jesus, (in the Bible) are known as the books of the prophets. 

First of all, if you are wondering what a prophet is, they are people who are like the links between God and the rest of society. In other words, God speaks to a prophet and they relay his message to a large group of people. Prophets are often given knowledge about what will happen in the future. Today the books we're looking at are simply books written by prophets.

The books of the prophets can be divided into two groups, the major prophets and the minor prophets. Today is the major prophets, in order: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, and Daniel. 

So to go through all the books and give a brief overview of them: Isaiah, is the first and longest book of prophecy. (66 chapters) The first part, (1-39) is a warning to Israel that they will be judged for their sin, and they are also warned about the coming exile. Chapters 40-66 were then written during the exile, and reminded them that, although they had to be punished, God still loved them and would bring them out of the exile and into a fresh start. The book of Isaiah is also known for it's many prophecies about the coming of Jesus. (Chapters 42, 52-53.) 100 years after Isaiah, came the prophet Jeremiah. He lived at roughly the same time as Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Daniel, and Ezekiel, and his prophecy was largely aimed at the the tribe of Judah. He was furious with the people's idolatry, and he warned them that they would be conquered if they did not. His message was not popular, and he was arrested and imprisoned, but he still loved his people and reminded them that God still loved them. The famous verse, "For I know the plans I have for you..." is found in Jeremiah 29:11. In his book, Jeremiah also had prophesied that Jerusalem would be conquered by the Babylonians, and that event is the main subject of Lamentations. The name is a big clue to what's in the book, and it's actually a collection of five different poems. Next, is Ezekiel. He was a prophet who did some insane things for God, including lying on his side for 430 day's. I challenge any of you to try that! There are also some other really dramatic stories in there, including the valley of dry bones, (Chap 37) so it's well worth a read. The last of the major prophets is Daniel, and the first half of his book is as interesting as any in the Bible. If you don't know what happens, then go and read chapters 1-6, you won't be disappointed! The stories include the fiery furnace and Daniel in the Lions den.