In the Beginning

Jan/Feb 2016

Old Testament Prophets

Most of the Old Testament prophets did not leave writings for us, and for most of them we have not even a record of their names. In the days of Elijah, “Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave,” after Jezebel had already “cut off [many of] the prophets of Jehovah” (1 Kings 18:4).
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However, the Old Testament does include books named after 16 of the prophets. These are commonly divided into four “major prophets,” and 12 “minor prophets.” To the writings of these prophets, this issue is devoted.  Our opening article, “The Prophets,” is an overview of those 16 prophetic books. It also discusses how those prophetic books relate to the Old Testament as a whole. This article mentions the three main parts of the Old Testament
and how it was originally divided into 22 sacred books of the Hebrews.

The second article, “Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel,” and its successor, “Ezekiel, A History Lesson,” discuss the four “major prophets,” their times, circumstances, and some of the lessons in these books that form the backbone of  prophetic testimony for the saints to this day.

The next three articles consider three of the 12 “minor prophets.” Of those 12 books, the first six of them pertain to the time of the Assyrian Empire. The judgment and fall of Assyria is discussed in the next three books, namely
Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah.

The book Nahum opens with the “burden of Nineveh,” the capital city of Assyria. Nineveh was the same city earlier visited by the prophet Jonah, whose message saved a city of more than 120,000 persons (Jonah 4:11). The article
“Nahum” discusses the book of that prophet in detail, and looks at how it may also apply to judgments in our day

The closing three prophets of the Old Testament are Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.  The first two were contemporaries who encouraged Israel to rebuild after their return from Babylon. Malachi came later and pointed forward to the coming of Christ at his first and second advents.

Haggai is covered in the article of the same name, “Haggai.” Malachi is covered in the article “The Fifth Commandment,” observing that Malachi exhorted Israel to properly revere their Heavenly Father.

We hope this issue may help the reader in three ways. (1) To put prophetic writings into context, among themselves and within the Old Testament as a whole. (2) To appreciate the specific lessons respecting those prophets that
are elucidated in the various articles. (3) To deepen our estimation and appreciation of these men of faith, moved by God’s Spirit to speak for Him, and to write things useful for us these many centuries later.

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