The 3 Major Prophets Isaiah Ezekiel Jeremiah major stalwarts in defending God’s Covenant in the midst of corruption and decadence in what once was the Promised Land.
what once was the Promised Land ... A Brief Review:
Israel as a united nation after the conquest of Canaan to the reign of King Solomon 1250 - 1050 BCE Joshua, Settlement in the Land, the Judges 1050 - 1020 BCE Rise of Monarchy - Saul, David, and Solomon the prophet Samuel the prophet Nathan
The Kingdom of israel Divided: 10 tribes in the northern kingdom of Israel and 2 tribes in the southern kingdom of Judah 922 - 850 BCE Division of Kingdom - Early Monarchy 850 - 815 The era of Omri, Ahab and Jezebel the prophets Elijah &Elisha (see NRSV Bible, pp. 348-349 for the comparative chronology of the kings of each kingdom)
815 - 700 BCE Rapid decline of both the northern and southern kingdoms Hezekiah succeeds at some religious reforms during his reign(715-687 BCE) “ Golden Age” of Prophets Prophetic ministry ofAmos, Hosea, Isaiah , Micah, Jonah*
Babylonian power, Fall of Southern Kingdom Destruction of Jerusalem
Text Prophetic ministry of Jeremiah, Ezekiel Habakkuk, Nahum, Obadiah
what once was the Promised Land ends up in ... a land destroyed, ... a people exiled. God raised up prophets for His people: to warn, to admonish, to call to conversion. But also to give comfort, be a sign of God’s abiding presence, and proclaim hope amidst despair.
ISAIAH | the Prophet Isaiah, the son of Amoz, was married and had two children. He was called in the year King Uzziah died (740 BC). His ministry was a long one, during the reign of four kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. His name, Isaiah, means "Yah(weh) is salvation".
ISAIAH | the Book Author Isaiah 1:1 informs us that this book is a record of the visions of Isaiah, the son of Amoz. Isaiah was probably born to an influential upper class family, because he had access to the King Date According to 1:1, Isaiah wrote the book during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. This represents the major part of the 8th century BC. Isaiah's book is the first of the Major Prophets, and the longest of all the Prophets.
ISAIAH | the Book Audience Isaiah is writing primarily to the nations of Israel and Judah who are increasingly under the threat of invasion from the Assyrian empire. The nations have both rejected the worship of God and are increasingly relying on pagan religion and military strength for their salvation. Isaiah is also, however, writing to the generation which will be in exile, awaiting the hope of return to the Promised Land.
ISAIAH | the Book Purpose The book of Isaiah serves as a warning to the kingdom of Judah to not arrogantly trust in their own strength in the midst of crisis, but to trust in the Holy One of Israel who will bring about deliverance from Assyria, from the Babylonian exile, and ultimately from their sins. Theme There is condemnation for those who arrogantly place their trust in their own might. There is deliverance for those who humbly place their trust in the Holy One of Israel.
Jeremiah lived about 2600 years ago. He was the son of Hilkiah and lived in the town of Anathoth in the land of Benjamin in Judah. His ministry began during the reign of Josiah, and continued through the reigns of Jehoiakin, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. JEREMIAH | the Prophet
JEREMIAH | the Book Author The book begins by giving us the lineage of the prophet Jeremiah. He came from the priestly class, and was the son of Hilkiah. While not necessarily a priest himself, Jeremiah grew up in the priestly tradition. His hometown, Anathoth, is a Levitical town given to the sons of Aaron. He knew the religious practices of the people and was probably trained as a priest. Date Jeremiah prophesied for 42 years, ministering from the reign of the last good king of Judah, Josiah, to the final destruction of the city of Jerusalem. The book of Jeremiah is the second of the Major Prophets.
JEREMIAH | the Book Audience The nation of Judah in the last days before Jerusalem falls to Babylon. Jeremiah speaks primarily to the leadership of Judah, including its kings Purpose Jeremiah is calling on a people facing imminent destruction to repent of their idolatry and injustice and accept the punishment God is about to bring. Theme Jeremiah’s message in this context is clear. Babylon is coming. Repent and the coming invasion from the north won’t be as brutal. Keep with your wicked ways, and the destruction will be thorough.
EZEKIEL | the Prophet Ezekiel's name means “God strengthens.” He lived about 2600 years ago, during the time that the Babylonian Empire had subdued the nation of Judah and had destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. He was the son of Buzi, a Zadokite priest. Ezekiel was among the Jews in Judah who were taken as captives by the Babylonians to Babylon. He received his call as a prophet during the fifth year of the exile of King Jehoiachin. Ezekiel's ministry lasted about 22 years.
EZEKIEL | the Book Author From the start of the book we learn that the book has been written by a man named Ezekiel (1:3). Ezekiel is a priest, the son of Buzi, and he was in the land of the Chaldeans (Babylonians). Date Ezekiel provides date markers 13 times throughout the book. The prophecies are, with one exception, presented in chronological order. These 13 dates center around 3 specific events in the history of Judah: - Chapters 1-24 take place before the final siege of Jerusalem (597 – 591 BC). - Chapters 25-31 take place during the two-year long siege of Jerusalem (587 BC). - Chapters 32-48 take place after the destruction of Jerusalem (585 – 573 BC). The Bible's book of Ezekiel is the third of the Major Prophets.
EZEKIEL | the Book Audience Ezekiel was a contemporary of Jeremiah. However, while Jeremiah prophesied in Jerusalem, Ezekiel’s audience were the exiles in Babylon. Specifically, Ezekiel prophecies in Tel Abib near the river Chebar, a tributary of the Euphrates River in the southeastern section of modern day Iraq. The deportees in Babylon were not treated as captives. The Jewish exiles were able to travel freely in Babylon, live in houses, and engage in business activities. As the exiles received news from home, Ezekiel’s prophecies provided God’s commentary on the events taking place in Jerusalem, providing an explanation of the causes of Jerusalem’s fall, a call to personal accountability for the fall, and encouragement after the fall.
EZEKIEL | the Book If Ezekiel, the watchman, does not provide warning to Israel, then he will be responsible for the destruction of the people. But if he communicates the warning, then responsibility lies with those who heard the warning of the watchman and ignored it (Ezekiel 33:2-9). The message of the watchman is for the people to turn away from their wickedness so that they might live (Ezekiel 33:11, 14-15). The purpose of the book of Ezekiel is to bring the exiles to a point of personal accountability for the destruction of Jerusalem and call them to repentance. Purpose Ezekiel is called by God to be the watchman of Israel. In Ezekiel 3:17-21, God tells Ezekiel that his role is to take the words of God and use them to warn his people. It is not Ezekiel’s responsibility to bring about repentance, only to communicate the words of God.
EZEKIEL | the Book Theme First, the explanations, warnings and encouragement are all given in the context of the presence of God’s glory in the temple in Jerusalem. Ezekiel’s message is given after he sees the glory of God. Ezekiel sees God’s glory leave the temple in Jerusalem in response to the abominations taking place there. Finally, Ezekiel predicts the restoration of God’s glory in a new temple which will be built inthe future. Secondly, repeatedly Ezekiel declares that his prophecies are given so that the exiles might knowthat Yahweh is their God. The phrase “know that I am God” is used 65-times in the book of Ezekiel.
ISAIAH is often called the messianic prophet . There are a lot of passages in his book that point out to the Messiah. As a mater of fact, Jesus read from the scroll of Isaiah when he was starting out his ministry. Task: Search the Gospels for that passage from Isaiah that Jesus read. Reflect: Is there any way you can make that prophetic passage real in your own life and the lives of others? Be specific.
JEREMIAH is often called the weeping prophet . He mourned the impending loss of remnants of Israel to the foreign invaders. He weeped for the obstinacy of his people in keeping God’s covenant. He suffered... a lot. Task: Find someone who is mourning or grieving a loss. Share his/her grief and offer hope. Reflect: How do you cope with your own grief or loss? Is it something that helps you find God near by?
EZEKIEL was called by God to be a watchman and shepherd of His people in exile. His messages were a mix of warnings and assurances. He often got mixed-up doing his prophetic chores. Task: Choose what you’d rather be: a watchman or a shepherd n God’s service. Or both if you like. Reflect: Are there persons whom God calls me to watch, guide or take care of? How do I feel about this responsbility? Is it a source of any grace for me?