The Prophets of Israel and Judah
Prophets of the Assyrian Period
Jonah (790-770 B.C.) "yonah" (dove)
Sent to warn the inhabitants of Ninevah (Capital of Assyria) of God's Judgement. Jonah
fled his call because it was the Assyrians who were destroying the Jews. As he was
escaping on a ship bound for Tarshish a great storm arose. The sailors concluded that this
tempest came on account of Jonah so they threw him overboard. He was immediately swallowed
by a great sea monster prepared by God. Jonah repented in the bowels of the creature and
was released the third morning. He came to Nineveh and said:
Then he cried out and said, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"
As a result of his preaching the people changed their ways and God spared the city. Jonah
was very upset at Gods mercy toward gentiles (non-Jews) and by the lesson of a plant, God
taught Jonah about His love for all mankind and not just Israel.
Joel (790-770 B.C.) "yo el" (Yaweh is God)
Joel prophesied during a devastating plague of locusts that was unparalleled in history.
He warned all of the inhabitants of the land of Israel of devastation which would sweep
across the land in the days soon to come. He called for a season of fasting, mourning, and
repentance. Joel seized upon the imagery of the locusts as a type of the greater judgement
that would come on "the Day of the Lord" in the last days:
Joel 1:15, 2:11
Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as destruction from
the Almighty . . . The LORD gives voice before His army, for His camp is very great; for
strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very
terrible; who can endure it?
He also gave a message of hope and prophesied of great blessings that would follow and the
glories of the Messiah's kingdom.
Amos (780-740 B.C.) "amos" (burden)
Amos was born in Judah but prophesied in Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II. He
condemned Israel's neighboring countries for their cruelty, but mostly Israel for breaking
God's laws. He prophesied at Bethel which became the center of idol worship and the
residence of king Jeroboam II. He warned that the Israelites would be taken captive by the
"You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you
for all your iniquities." Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
Amos' message was that God could no more dwell with His people any more than a man could
maintain a normal relationship with his wife who commits adultery.
Hosea (760-720 B.C.) "hoshea" (deliverer)
Israel's continued unfaithfulness is dramatically illustrated in brokenhearted Hosea's
relationship with his unfaithful wife:
"For Israel has forgotten his Maker, and has built temples; Judah also has multiplied
fortified cities; but I will send fire upon his cities, and it shall devour his
God's love is also illustrated in Hosea's willingness to buy back his wife after her
harlotry had led her to be sold at the slave block.
Hosea 11:7-8, 14:4
My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, none at all
exalt Him. "How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? . . . My
heart churns within Me; my sympathy is stirred. . . "I will heal their backsliding, I
will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him."
In the years leading up to the fall of Samaria, Hosea warned that the people would become
slaves in Assyria because they had forgotten God. They had even turned to Assyria and
Egypt for help. God would later restore them but after some measure of discipline.
Isaiah (745-695 B.C.) "yesha yahu" (Yaweh is salvation)
Isaiah lived in Jerusalem at the time Judah was threatened by the Assyrians. He warned
Jerusalem about idolatry and foreign alliances, although he was usually scoffed at. He
spoke about the miraculous deliverance of Jerusalem from the Assyrians. He also spoke of
the destruction and captivity of Jerusalem by the Babylonians as well as the release of
the Jews by Cyrus the Persian. Jewish tradition records that the leaders in Jerusalem
sawed the prophet Isaiah in half between two planks.
Isaiah says more about the ministry of the Messiah than any other Book in the Old
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised
for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are
healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and
the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He also describes in great detail the blessings of the future age of peace.
"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young
goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead
them. . .The nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole, and the weaned child shall put
his hand in the viper's den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for
the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
"And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the
people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious."
Micah (740-700 B.C.) "mika yahu" (who is like Yaweh)
Warned of the Assyrian and Babylonian invasions and predicted the fall of both Samaria and
Jerusalem, the capital cities of both the northern and southern kingdoms. It is set forth
in the form of a lawsuit by God with Micah as the prosecuting attorney and the mountains
and hills (places of idolatry) as the silent judges. He says, "her wounds are
incurable," because the people are corrupt and also the leaders were described as
"butchering the people,"
You who hate good and love evil; who strip the skin from My people, and the flesh from
their bones; Who also eat the flesh of My people, Flay their skin from them, break their
bones, and chop them in pieces like meat for the pot, like flesh in the caldron."
Micah also proclaims the birthplace of the Messiah and the glories of the future kingdom:
"But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth
are from of old, from everlasting . . .and this One shall be peace."
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall
be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and
peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, "Come, and let us go up to
the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; he will teach us His ways, and
we shall walk in His paths." For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of
the LORD from Jerusalem.
Zephaniah (639-608 B.C.) "tzephani yah" (Yaweh is my treasure)
Watched Judah revert back to their evil ways under Manasseh, and Amon. He prophesied
during the revival under good king Josiah's reign. Condemned the worship of Canaanite and
Assyrian gods and predicted disaster for the pagan nations around such as Philistia, Moab,
Ammon, Ethiopia, and Assyria. He also foretold the destruction and restoration of
Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the LORD'S
wrath; but the whole land shall be devoured by the fire of His jealousy, for He will make
speedy riddance of all those who dwell in the land.
Zephaniah also prophesied of blessings in the future for both the gentiles and the Jews:
The LORD your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; he will rejoice over you with
gladness, he will quiet you with His love, he will rejoice over you with singing."
Nahum (630-610 B.C.) "nahum" (compassionate)
Nahum's main message was the destruction of Nineveh as a judgement on the Assyrians for
their cruel treatment of other nations:
The LORD has given a command concerning you: "Your name shall be perpetuated no
longer. Out of the house of your gods I will cut off the carved image and the molded
image. I will dig your grave, for you are vile."
He reveals much about the majesty and goodness of God:
The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.
As well as God's anger and wrath:
God is jealous, and the LORD avenges; the LORD avenges and is furious. The LORD will take
vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies;
Your shepherds slumber, O king of Assyria; your nobles rest in the dust. Your people are
scattered on the mountains, and no one gathers them. Your injury has no healing, your
wound is severe. All who hear news of you will clap their hands over you, for upon whom
has not your wickedness passed continually?
Prophets of the Babylonian Period
Jeremiah (626-586 B.C.) "yeremi yauw" (Yaweh will lift up) prophesied to Judah
and against the surrounding nations. He emphasized the folly of idolatry as God pleaded
with His people:
Jer 2:5-7 Thus says the LORD: "What injustice have your fathers found in Me, that
they have gone far from Me, have followed idols, and have become idolaters? . . . I
brought you into a bountiful country, to eat its fruit and its goodness. But when you
entered, you defiled My land and made My heritage an abomination.
He continually warned that Jerusalem would be captured and the inhabitants exiled to
Jer 5:15; 19:3 Behold, I will bring a nation against you from afar, O house of
Israel," says the LORD. "It is a mighty nation, it is an ancient nation, a
nation whose language you do not know, nor can you understand what they say. . .
"Hear the word of the LORD, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem. Thus says
the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: "Behold, I will bring such a catastrophe on
this place, that whoever hears of it, his ears will tingle.
He prophesied against the pagan nations around (Jer 46-51) and also foretold that after 70
years the Jews would return from Babylon:
Jer 29:10-14 For thus says the LORD: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will
visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place. For
I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of
evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me,
and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with
all your heart.
Jeremiah's words were vehemently rejected and he was heavily persecuted. After the
destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C Jeremiah was forced to live in Egypt. He prophesied
much of the Messiah and His kingdom. His greatest prophecy was probably Chap. 31:
Jer 31:31-34 "Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new
covenant . . . No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother,
saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the
greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will
remember no more."
Habakkuk (606-586 B.C.) "haba kuk" (embrace)
Hababbuk asked two questions to God, #1 Why He allowed such evil to continue in Judah for
so long and go unpunished and, #2 How could a holy God allow the cruel Babylonians to
defeat His own people. In response to the first question God revealed to Habakkuk:
"Look among the nations and watch-- be utterly astounded! For I will work a work in
your days which you would not believe, though it were told you. For
indeed I am raising up the Chaldeans (Babylonians), a bitter and hasty nation which
marches through the breadth of the earth, to possess dwelling places that are not theirs.
They are terrible and dreadful; their judgment and their dignity proceed from themselves.
. . they fly as the eagle that hastens to eat. "They all come for violence; their
faces are set like the east wind. They gather captives like sand. They scoff at kings, and
princes are scorned by them. They deride every stronghold, for they heap up earthen mounds
and seize it."
And to the second He replied that Babylon has a big appetite so He's gonna use them as an
instrument of judgement but their time is gonna come:
"Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed, who establishes a city by iniquity!
Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the peoples labor to feed the fire, and
nations weary themselves in vain?"
Habakkuk also spoke of a glorious future:
For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters
cover the sea.
Ezekiel (592-570 B.C.) "yehetzk'el" (God will strengthen)
Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah 3 times and took captives each time. In 607 (one of the
captives was Daniel), in 597 (Ezekiel was taken) and in 586, (Jerusalem was destroyed and
all the people taken). Ezekiel prophesied to the captives in Babylon. The captives thought
Jerusalem would be delivered by the Lord and they would be rescued. God spoke through
Ezekiel using Words, Parables, Visions, and many Similitudes (doing strange things as a
sign of something greater). For example:
'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Pound your fists and stamp your feet, and say, 'Alas, for
all the evil abominations of the house of Israel! For they shall fall by the sword, by
famine, and by pestilence. 'He who is far off shall die by the pestilence, he who is near
shall fall by the sword, and he who remains and is besieged shall die by the famine. Thus
will I spend My fury upon them.
Ezekiel was married to a woman who was "the desire of his eyes". God told him
that his wife was going to die on the very day the armies of Babylon laid siege against
the holy city of Jerusalem and he was not to mourn, as a sign to the people. Ezekiel was
commanded not to grieve her death; he was to brace himself for this tragedy even as God
had prepared Himself for the death of His beloved city (24:15-22).
"Yet I will leave a remnant, so that you may have some who escape the sword among the
nations, when you are scattered through the countries. "Then those of you who escape
will remember Me among the nations where they are carried captive, because I was crushed
by their adulterous heart which has departed from Me, and by their eyes which play the
harlot after their idols; they will loathe themselves for the evils which they committed
in all their abominations. "And they shall know that I am the LORD; I have not said
in vain that I would bring this calamity upon them."
Ezekiel predicted the downfall of nations hostile to Judah and spoke of the false
shepherds in Jerusalem (Ezek 34) as well as the true Shepherd Messiah and the future
regathering of Israel and outpouring of the Spirit in the kingdom. Ezekiel 16 is one of
the most striking chapters in the Bible revealing the everlasting love of God for His
people and their continued unfaithfulness:
"Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect
through My splendor which I had bestowed on you," says the Lord GOD. "But you
trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your
harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it."
Obadiah (586-583 B.C.) "obadi yah" (servant of Yaweh)
Obadiah prophesied judgement against Edom for attacking Judah at the time of the
Babylonian invasion and for rejoicing over the misfortunes that befell Jerusalem.
You should not have entered the gate of My people in the day of their calamity. Indeed,
you should not have gazed on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor laid hands
on their substance in the day of their calamity. You should not have stood at the
crossroads to cut off those among them who escaped; nor should you have delivered up those
among them who remained in the day of distress. "For the day of the LORD upon all the
nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return
upon your own head.
The Edomites were the descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob. The Edomites were
always in conflict with Israel. They thought they were impregnable in their mountain
strongholds high up in the rocky gorges (Petra). Obadiah predicted their doom. Within 4
years after Jerusalem was burned, Edom was raided and desolated (582 B.C.), by the same
Babylonians whom they had helped against Jerusalem.
The Herodian Dynasty in the New Testament, being Idumaen, were the last of the Edomites.
After the destruction of Herod's Temple in 70 A.D., they disappeared from history.
Daniel (606-534 B.C.) "Dani El" (My Judge is God)
Daniel was taken captive during Nebuchadnezzar's first attack on Jerusalem in 607 B.C., he
became a chief minister at the royal court in Babylon. God used him mightily through
dreams and interpretation of visions.
In the third year of Cyrus (conqueror of Babylon, and founder of the Persian Empire)
Daniel had a series of visions through which God revealed to the minutest details the
future concerning the Jews as well as the ultimate fate of each world governing empire
from his own day on through to the second coming of Christ. He specifically mentions
Babylon, and then Mede-Persia, and then Greece, and the fourth being the most powerful,
was the Roman empire and in the last days a final Roman empire that would be crushed by
the second coming of the Messiah.
Some of the famous miracles of the Bible are found in Daniel such as The Fiery Furnace,
The Handwriting on the Wall, and Daniel in the Lion's Den.
Daniel was a man of incredible character and his book is considered one of the most
important prophetic books of the Old Testament. Some of the topics mentioned are: the
antichrist, the great tribulation, the second coming of Christ, the resurrection and the
judgements. Probably the most important passages in Daniel are in chapter 9 which deal
with the exact time of the death of the Messiah. After 7 + 62 (69) weeks (seven year
periods) the Messiah would be "cut off" which is a clear prediction of His
Daniel also saw a vision of the Messiah in chapter 7 as the "Son of Man"
coming with the clouds of heaven:
"I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming
with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near
before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples,
nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which
shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.
Prophets of the Persian Period
Haggai (520-516 B.C.) "haggay" (festal)
In 520 B.C. eighteen years after the Jews had returned from exile in Babylon, Haggai urged
them to forget their own interests and finish rebuilding the temple.
The Jews, under the leadership of Zerubbabel, started to rebuild the Temple but somehow
they became discouraged and quit. They were more concerned with their paneled houses than
the Temple which laid desolate.
The Lord said through Haggai that they were not being blessed and the recent drought and
misfortunes were directly related to their laziness in the things of God:
Thus says the LORD of hosts: "Consider your ways! "Go up to the mountains and
bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,"
says the LORD.
Haggai, along with the prophet Zechariah, urged them on. Within 4 years it was completed.
They became courageous in the work and the Lord told them to mark this day and to watch
from now on because they were obeying and His blessings were gonna come:
'Consider now from this day forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from
the day that the foundation of the LORD'S temple was laid-- consider it: 'Is the seed
still in the barn? As yet the vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have
not yielded fruit. But from this day forward I will bless you.'"
Haggai also spoke of the Messiah and the future glories of the Messiah's kingdom with
Jesus present on the earth and the gentiles flowing to Him:
"For thus says the LORD of hosts: "Once more (it is a little while) I will shake
heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 'and I will shake all nations, and they shall come
to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,' says the LORD of
Zechariah (520-516 B.C.) "tzechari yah" (Yaweh is my remembrance)
Zechariah, along with Haggai prophesied to the returned Jewish exiles between 520 and 518
B.C. The message begins with a reminder that the captivity had been a result of
disobedience. He then has a series of visions revealing that God is in control of history
and will bring a glorious blessing to the faithful remnant of His people.
Jerusalem is pictured as so prosperous that it must be enlarged to contain all the people
(ch. 2). The vision of Joshua, the high priest, clothed in filthy rags (ch. 3) apparently
is a vision of the future cleansing of the nation at the return of Christ. Other visions
in the book point to the coming judgement of God, His ultimate victory over sin, and
culminates in the coming of the Messiah.
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your
King is coming to you; he is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a
colt, the foal of a donkey. . . He shall speak peace to the nations; his dominion shall be
'from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.'
Zechariah predicted the destruction of nations which had oppressed the Jews; and foresaw a
time when people would come from every part of the world to worship in Jerusalem. He spoke
more about the Messiah than any other prophet except Isaiah. Including His death:
"And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit
of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will
mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a
Malachi (450-400 B.C.) "malachi" (My messenger)
A prophet who lived in the fifth century B.C. By this time the Jews had become
disillusioned and apathetic. Things were not as good as they had hoped. Drought and crop
failures along with opposition from various enemies had made life difficult. They were
neglecting the things of God and offering imperfect sacrifices as well as failing to give
their tithes. The priests were lax and did not encourage them. Mixed marriages and divorce
had become common.
"For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment
with violence," says the LORD of hosts. "Therefore take heed to your spirit,
that you do not deal treacherously."You have wearied the LORD with your words; yet
you say, "In what way have we wearied Him?" In that you say, "Everyone who
does evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and He delights in them," or, "Where
is the God of justice?"
The heart of Malachi's message was to point to the fact that as long as they neglected the
things of God, they could never expect to prosper. If they would repent, then God would
bles them. Then he speaks of the approaching day of the Lord which will be ushered in by
Elijah, who will be a forerunner of the Messiah, and then Messiah would come. The New
Testament identifies Elijah as John the Baptizer and Jesus as the Messiah (Matt. 3:1-12;
"Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord,
whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in
whom you delight. Behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts.
The book of Malachi closes the Old Testament and a prophet is not revealed in the
Scriptures for approximately 400 years until the beginning of the New Testament.
Notes: The Prophets
The history of the rise and fall of the Hebrew nation are found in the history books
(Genesis-Esther). The prophets appeared during the days of the fall of the Hebrew nation.
At the moment of the apostasy of the 10 tribes at the close of Solomon's reign and
Israel's golden age the ministry of the prophets began. The prophets gave a wake up call
as soon as people began to forget God.
God warned Israel and Judah over and over again through the prophets. The people forsook
God, worshipped idols, did injustice, and loved evil. But God was kind enough to forewarn
them of coming judgements because of sin and apostasy, and he would do marvelous miracles
through the prophets that would give them hope and encouragement. The prophets even
revived their faith in the coming Messiah and His glorious Kingdom. Prophets like Jeremiah
warned both Israel and Judah even after it was too late and there was no chance for
Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you, "and say to
them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts: Even so I will break this people and this city, as one
breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them till
there is no place to bury. "Thus I will do to this place," says the LORD,
"and to its inhabitants, because of all the houses on whose roofs they have burned
incense to all the host of heaven, and poured out drink offerings to other gods."Then
Jeremiah came from Tophet, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the
court of the Lord's house and said to all the people, "Thus says the LORD of hosts,
the God of Israel: 'Behold, I will bring on this city and on all her towns all the doom
that I have pronounced against it, because they have stiffened their necks that they might
not hear My words.'"
God was also very clear about prophets who spoke falsely and worked miracles to back up
"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign
or a wonder, "and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you,
saying, 'Let us go after other gods'-- which you have not known--' and let us serve them,'
"you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the
LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your
heart and with all your soul.
'But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him
to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.' "And if
you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which the LORD has not
spoken?'--"when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not
happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has
spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.