Jeremiah, often called the "weeping prophet" because of his sorrow over the persistent message of God's judgment, prophesied to the nation of Judah from the reign of King Josiah in b. He dictated his prophecies to a scribe named Baruch , Jeremiah's task as a prophet was to declare the coming judgment of God.
However, throughout the book we also see God's concern for repentance and righteousness in individuals as well as nations. This dual focus is seen in God's instructions to Jeremiah: he was "to pluck up and to break down" but also "to build and to plant" Jeremiah sees a future day when God will write his law on human hearts, and "they shall all know me," and "I will remember their sin no more" The book of Lamentations is made up of five poems, each an expression of grief over the fall of Jerusalem.
Like a eulogy at a funeral, these laments are intended to mourn a loss-in this case, the loss of a nation. The latter half of chapter 3 implies that the purpose behind the book's graphic depictions of sorrow and suffering was to produce hope in the God whose compassion is "new every morning" v. The author, while not identified in the book itself, may have been the prophet Jeremiah, who was said to have "uttered a lament for Josiah" 2 Chron. Lamentations was probably written shortly after Jerusalem's fall in b. Ezekiel, a prophet and priest, was exiled to Babylon in b.
His ministry extended over at least twenty-three years. The book opens with his first dramatic vision of the "likeness" of the Lord himself.
Ezekiel was keenly aware of God's presence and power in human affairs. He addressed both the exiles and the people left in Judah with messages of warning and judgment, predicting the fall of Jerusalem. After Jerusalem's fall in , Ezekiel prophesied hope and reassurance for the people of Judah, who had then lost the focus of God's covenant, the temple in Jerusalem. His vision of the valley of dry bones ch.
Exiled to Babylon in b.
When Persia conquered Babylon in , Daniel was again given a position of power. He remained faithful to God in both of these hostile environments. From the interpretation of dreams, to the familiar stories of the fiery furnace, the lions' den, and the handwriting on the wall, to the prophetic visions, the recurrent theme is God's sovereignty over human affairs. In the historical sections chs. The rest of the book consists of visions of future judgment and deliverance by the Messiah.
Some of Daniel's prophetic themes are echoed in the New Testament, especially in Revelation. Hosea has been called the "death-bed prophet of Israel" because he was the last to prophesy before the northern kingdom fell to Assyria about b. His ministry followed a golden age in the northern kingdom, with a peace and prosperity not seen since the days of Solomon.
Unfortunately, with this prosperity came moral decay, and Israel forsook God to worship idols.
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So God instructed Hosea to marry a "wife of whoredom" , whose unfaithfulness to her husband would serve as an example of Israel's unfaithfulness to God. Hosea then explained God's complaint against Israel and warned of the punishment that would come unless the people returned to the Lord and remained faithful to him. The book shows the depth of God's love for his people, a love that tolerates no rivals. Little is known about the prophet Joel, although his concern for Judah and Jerusalem suggests that he ministered in Judah. Joel told of a locust plague that had struck Israel and which, he said, foreshadowed the "day of the Lord.
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Yet, said Joel, God would punish not only the nations but unfaithful Israel as well. Joel urged everyone to repent, and told of a day when God would "pour out [his] Spirit on all flesh" That day arrived on the first Christian Pentecost Acts While the date of the book is uncertain ninth to sixth century b.
Amos, possibly the first of the writing prophets, was a shepherd and farmer called to prophesy during the reigns of Uzziah b. During this time both kingdoms enjoyed political stability, which in turn brought prosperity. It was also a time of idolatry, extravagance, and corruption.
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The rich and powerful were oppressing the poor. Amos denounced the people of Israel for their apostasy and social injustice and warned them that disaster would fall upon them for breaking the covenant. He urged them to leave the hypocrisy of their "solemn assemblies" and instead to "let justice roll down like waters" v.
Nevertheless, said Amos, God would remember his covenant with Israel and would restore a faithful remnant. Obadiah wrote this shortest book of the Old Testament probably soon after the armies of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem b.
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During this conquest, the people of Edom helped capture fleeing Israelites and turn them over to the Babylonians. They even took up residence in some Judean villages. Obadiah prophesied that Edom would be repaid for mistreating God's people. Obadiah also asserted that God is sovereign over the nations and that the house of Jacob would be restored because of God's covenant love for his people. Because it tells of a fish swallowing a man, many have dismissed the book of Jonah as fiction.
Unlike other prophetic books, Jonah focuses on the prophet himself rather than on his message. When God sent Jonah to Nineveh he rebelled, was swallowed by a fish, repented, and fulfilled his mission after all.
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When Nineveh repented, the reason for Jonah's rebellion became clear: he had feared that God would forgive the Ninevites; and when God did forgive them, Jonah resented it The book lists no author, but only Jonah himself could have known all the facts it records. Micah prophesied in Judah during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah about b. It was a time of prosperity, and Micah denounced the wealthy, who were oppressing the poor, and warned of impending judgment.
The northern kingdom actually fell during Micah's ministry, in , and Judah almost fell in 2 Kings The book contains three sections, which alternate between words of warning and messages of hope. Micah told of a day when there would be peace among all nations, who would then be able to "beat their swords into plowshares" , and of a royal deliverer who would save God's people from all her enemies.
This deliverer would be born in Bethlehem When Jonah preached repentance on the streets of Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, the people responded and were spared. A century later, sometime between and b. Nineveh, which had destroyed Israel's northern kingdom in , itself fell to Babylon in just a few years after Nahum's warning. The Assyrians were notorious for the brutality of their treatment of other nations. Nahum declared, however, that God is sovereign: he punishes whom he will, and they are powerless to stop him. Much of Nahum's prophecy was directed to the people of Judah, who could rejoice at the good news of Nineveh's impending fall.
Habakkuk was probably written about b.
This prophecy would be fulfilled several decades after Habakkuk, in The "theme question" of Habakkuk is, how can God use a wicked nation such as Babylon for his divine purpose? God judges all nations, said Habakkuk, and even Babylon would eventually be judged Babylon fell to Persia in Though God's ways are sometimes mysterious, "the righteous shall live by his faith" while awaiting salvation. These words are quoted three times in the New Testament Rom.
Zephaniah prophesied during the reforms of King Josiah b. Zephaniah pronounced God's judgment on corruption and wickedness but also his plan to restore Judah. He spoke of the coming "day of the Lord," when sin would be punished, justice would prevail, and a "remnant" of the faithful would be saved. The term "day of the Lord" occurs throughout the Bible referring both to impending historical judgments from God and to his final judgment at the end of time.
Though Zephaniah does not give details about this day, he speaks of its fearsome consequences and calls people to seek the Lord When the first wave of Jewish exiles returned from Babylon to Jerusalem in b. Inspired by the prophetic ministries of Haggai and Zechariah, they finally completed the task in Haggai rebuked the people for living in "paneled houses" while the house of God remained in ruins He warned that, despite their best efforts, their wealth would never suffice, because the Lord was not pleased with their neglect of his temple see Lev.
He called them to repent and renew their covenant with the God of their fathers. He assured them that God would achieve his purposes for his people and for all other nations. The rebuilding of the temple symbolized God's restored presence among his people. As Haggai encouraged the returned Jewish exiles to rebuild the temple, Zechariah encouraged them to repent and renew their covenant with God. Such spiritual renewal would be necessary for the people to be ready to worship God once the temple was rebuilt about b. He accused them of doing the very things their ancestors had done before the exile.