Understanding The Bible
"An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets"

J. Deering, AncientPath.net

An Introduction To The Old Testament Prophets

The Old Testament Canon (straight edge or ruler)

I. The Law (The Pentateuch: the five books of Moses)
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

II. The Prophets

A. The Former Prophets (spoke of former things)
Joshua, Judges, 1-2Samuel, 1-2Kings
B. The Latter Prophets (The Literary or Writing Prophets, spoke of current and future, or latter things)
Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and

1. The Twelve (The Twelve Minor Prophets)
a. The Assyrian Period:
Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum,
b. The Babylonian Period: Habakkuk, Zephaniah
c. The Persian Period: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

III. The Writings (The Kethubim)

A. The Poetic Books

1. The Poetry and Wisdom Books
a. The Book of Truth (The first Hebrew letter of each of these books taken together spells emeth or truth in English)
Job, Proverbs, Psalms
b. The five books of the Megilloth (Scrolls or Rolls) (Each book was read at an important Jewish festival, a practice that continues to this day)
Song of Songs (Passover), Ruth (Pentecost), Lamentations (Fast of the Ninth of Ab, commemorating the destruction of both Temples), Ecclesiastes (Feast of Tabernacles), and Esther (Purim)

B. The Historical Books

Daniel (English Bible groups Daniel with The Latter Prophets)
Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1-2 Chronicles
God's Cycle of Fellowship
For the Nation
For the Individual
For the Church
As Believing Subjects:

1. Fellowship - Sharing Information and Negotiating Expectations
2. Commitment - All parties know their role
3. Stability and Productivity - The energy of the principals is now available
4. Disruption - occurs because of un-met expectations or external forces (Temptation)
5. Violation - occurs - Yielding to Temptation gives birth to Sin
6. Anxiety and Uncertainty - Out of fellowship, No conversation with God
7. Conviction - Power of God's Holy Spirit - "Child Correction"
8. Repentance - Turning To God and Away From Sin
9. Confession - Agreeing With God that He is right, and you are wrong
10. Forgiveness - granted by God, Through the finished work of Jesus Christ at the Cross (the Offence Forgotten)
11. Restoration - to Fellowship - Go to Step 1

2 Chronicles 7:11-14
"..... If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

The following is Condensed information from: An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets, Hobart Freeman, Moody Press, Chicago, 1972
The Theological emphasis of the prophets
- that God, as the Lord of history and providence, was controlling the issues an movements of history for a purpose. With one voice the prophets declare that this purpose, toward which all history is being directed, is the establishment of the kingdom of God - the sovereign reign and rule of God upon Earth.

Isaiah 45:6
"That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me: I am Yahweh, and there is none else."

Zechariah 14:9
"And Yahweh shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall Yahweh be one, and His Name one."

Hebrew prophets never predict the future simply to satisfy idle curiosity, nor merely to draw attention to themselves. Prophecy of the future is never an isolated utterance, but is to find meaning in its bearing upon the future kingdom of God and the Messiah.

On the other hand, it is not the biblical view to suppose that prophecy is to be limited to the disclosure of the future. "That which is given by the Spirit to the prophet can refer to the past and to the present as well as to the future."

It is absolutely imperative for a proper understanding of the nature of Old Testament prophecy to realize that the source of the prophetic message, while it often was related to the historical circumstances in which the prophet lived, was nevertheless supernatural in its origin. It was derived from neither observation, reason, speculation, innate sagacity nor the imagination, but was the result of divine revelation.

The divine origin of the prophetic institution is set forth by Moses himself in Deuteronomy 18:9-22. Moses, who never came into direct contact with the religious institutions of Canaan, declared in this passage that there was to be an institution of prophets raised up who would declare the messages of God, and that this office would one day culminate in one great Prophet like unto himself.


A. Pre-Mosaic period (oral or nonliterary prophets)
Garden of Eden, Abel to Moses, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and others
B. Mosaic period
Moses (largely preaching and teaching), Miriam and her brother Aaron, Deborah, and anonymous prophet in Judges 6:8
C. Moses to Samuel (quiet)
D. Samuel period (institution of prophets organized through Samuel, but existed "from the beginning," Luke 11:49-51).
Lived in common dwellings at religious centers
They prophesied together
They acted as "Spiritual Messengers" (anointments and special messages from God)

1. Two classes of prophets developed

a. Outstanding individuals
Samuel, Elijah, Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah

b. Prophetic work undertaken by bands or companies of prophets

(1.) Sons of the prophets (schools of the prophets)

(a.) The Rechabites - involved with the annihilation of the house of Ahab to eliminate Baal worship from Israel - they abstained from intoxicating wine and continued to live in tents as nomads after Israel had settled in houses and cities in Canaan as a protest against the corrupting influences of urban civilization.
(b.) The Nazirites - an individual who had taken special religious vows. He drank no wine; he scrupulously avoided unnatural defilement and touched no dead body. He was clean, undefiled, and devoted to Yahweh's service (Samuel was a Nazirite).

E. Early monarchy period
Nathan, Solomon, Gad the prophet
F. Divided monarchy period
Ahijah, Shemaiah, Two unnamed prophets, "a young prophet", "an older prophet of Ethel", Jehu, Hanani, Micaiah ben Imlah, Elijah, Elisha

16 books - Isaiah to Malachi
4 Major Prophets
Isaiah, Jeremiah [Lamentations], Ezekiel, Daniel
12 Minor Prophets
Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

Miriam, sister of Moses
Hannah, mother of the Prophet Samuel
Isaiah's wife
Huldah, wife of Sahllum
Anna, daughter of Phanuel (New Testament)
the Four daughters of Philip of Caesarea
some of the women in the Corinthian church

Nabhi - Hebrew "announcer," "spokesman," "speaker."
Roeh and Hozeh - Hebrew "seer" (Samuel 9:9 - Nabhi old word / Roeh new word)
Malak - "Messenger of the Lord" used of prophets and Angels
Man of God - common and general term for the prophet of Israel
Servant of the Lord
My servants the prophets
The office of prophet was not a function of the priesthood (separate from priesthood)
The Law itself provided for the prophetic institution (Deut. 18)
The Prophets expounded and interpreted the Mosaic revelation to the nation
The Prophets were "divinely appointed moral and ethical preachers and teachers of true religion as revealed to Israel."
Interwoven in their ethical preaching are to be found numerous predictions of future events concerning the nation of Israel, the Gentiles and the Messianic age to come.

Predictive prophecy was concerned with Judgment, Salvation, the Messiah, and His Kingdom. The prophets were watchmen standing upon the walls of Zion to sound the trumpet against dangers of religious apostasy.