The Books of the Major Prophets
‘A Minute with the Minister’
By Jeremy Thornton
“Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”
(Jeremiah 20:9) As we have been discussing the sections of the Bible, we now turn our attention to the last seventeen books of the Old Testament which are books of the prophets. Within these books of prophets there are two divisions, Major Prophets (Isaiah- Daniel) and the Minor Prophets (Hosea-Malachi). The phrase “major” or “minor” does not refer to the work that was done by each prophet or the importance of their work but is referring to the length of their writings. These seventeen books are contemporaries to the seventeen books of history and does not focus on the history that takes place but on the proclamation of God’s Word for His backsliding people. The prophets speak of the justice and sovereignty of God, and at the same time show the mercy and love God has for Israel. Through these books we see clearly that God rules through the kingdoms of men, which is especially seen in the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah. The prophets were those that were selected by God to deliver the words of God, from God, through the prophet, to the people. The prophets did not receive ideas from God to put into their own words and then deliver to the people, but they were given the actual Words of God. The prophets were the spokesmen for God, called by Him to warn the people of a great distress, and to preach to the backsliding people, denouncing their sins and demanding they turn back to God or perish.
“Then the Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.”
(Jeremiah 1:9-10) Israel’s fall and ruin took place because the people would not take heed to the proclamation of God’s Word done by the prophets (2 Kings 18:21ff.).
The people could have easily been saved if they would have taken heed to the prophets, obeyed the voice of God, and repented, but because of their hard hearts and continuous denial of God’s pleading with them, the people would be destroyed.
Just as Hosea stated, the people were destroyed for a lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).
Dear reader, the same is true today. Those that fail to take heed to the preaching of God’s inspired Word will someday perish. God has given us His Word in order that we may know what He expects from us and to warn us that there is a day coming in which the world will be judged (2 Cor.
5:10). Like Israel, we must take heed to the message God has given us through His inspired Word, knowing that if we refuse to obey Him, we, like Israel, will be eternally destroyed.
Now Let’s notice the individual books of the major prophets.
• Isaiah: The prophet Isaiah was to rebuke the sins of the people and call them to repentance and to do the will of God. Isaiah contains profound prophecies of the coming of Jesus.
Among these prophecies are Isaiah 7:14(the prophecy of the virgin birth), and Isaiah 53 (the prophecy of the Suffering Servant). In the book of Isaiah is displayed before us the glory of God, His judgment against evil, and the salvation of man through Jesus Christ.
• Jeremiah: Jeremiah is called “the Weeping Prophet” and was sent to Judah, by God, to warn the backsliding people of the judgment of God that would come. One of the key phrases in the book of Jeremiah is the phrase “thus saith the Lord” or “I have put my words in thy mouth” which indicates that the prophets were speaking the very words of God. Throughout the book of Jeremiah we see the love God had for His people and His desire that they would repent, but we also see that the people would not take heed to God’s many pleadings and would ultimately be destroyed because they “have forsaken me, the fountains of living waters” (Jer. 2:13).
• Lamentations: The book of Lamentations is a book of sorrow that describes the terrible condition of Jerusalem after the captivity of the Israelites. It is through this book that one can clearly see the misery that is brought on by God’s judgment of sin. God loves sinners and will show compassion on those that repent, but will punish those that refuse to obey Him. This book is a testament that God will keep His Word and that sin will be dealt with the way God has promised,
• Ezekiel: Ezekiel is a book that shows the divine justice and mercy of God. Ezekiel uses symbolism, much like the book of Revelation, to describe the goodness and severity of God.
Ezekiel also points out that God will forgive and restore those that repent and turn back to God. One of the key phrases in the book of Ezekiel is “they shall know that I am the Lord God” which occurs at least sixty-six times.
• Daniel: Daniel, like Ezekiel, uses symbolic language to show what must come to pass.
Daniel’s main theme is the universal sovereignty of God over the affairs of men and nations. Daniel also gives a great example to the reader to avoid temptation and continue to be faithful to God (1:8).
Daniel is a picture of spiritual courage which is rewarded for never folding under extreme pressure. Daniel give us the depiction of what will happen to the kingdoms of the world, and prophecy that there is a kingdom that is coming that will never be destroyed (Dan. 2:37-44), the kingdom that Jesus established, giving us the ability to be a part of this kingdom of which not even the gates of hell will prevail against (Matt. 16:18).
These great books remind us of the patience of a loving God that desires that we all repent (2 Peter 3:9). Take the warnings given to us that God will not tolerate disobedience and will punish such.
Repent from sin before its too late, turn to God while you can!
Jeremy Thornton is minister of Highway 77 Church of Christ in Marion.