In This Section
Old Testament Prophets | Book of Isaiah | Book of Jeremiah
Book of Lamentations | Book of Ezekiel | Book of Daniel
The final group of Old Testament books we're going to study contains the writings of the prophets.
The people of Israel became a nation, God redeemed them from slavery in Egypt, and God brought them into their own land. They were given a law to live by, but they were constantly failing in their commitment to God. With idol worship, civil war, immorality and apathy, Israel needed to be recalled again and again to the purpose of their existence. The prophets were men raised up by God to call the people back to God.
Several of these books were written during a time when the nation of Israel was divided into two separate kingdoms Israel and Judah and some were written while one or both kingdoms were in captivity because of their rebellion against God. The books of prophecy in the Old Testament are divided into two groups: "Major" and "Minor". This does not mean the "major" prophetic books are more important than the "minor" ones. The titles are used because the "major" prophetic books are longer books than are the "minor" prophetic books. There are 17 books of prophecy in the Old Testament. They are:
Warns of coming judgment against Judah because of their sins against God.
Written during the later decline and fall of Judah. Tells of the coming judgment and urges surrender to Nebuchadnezzar.
Jeremiah's lament over Babylon's destruction of Jerusalem.
Warns first of Jerusalem's impending fall and then foretells her future restoration.
The prophet Daniel was captured during the early siege of Judah and taken to Babylon. This book provides both historic and prophetic teaching important in understanding Bible prophecy.
The theme of this book is Israel's unfaithfulness, punishment, and restoration.
Tells of the plagues that foreshadowed future judgment.
During a period of material prosperity but moral poverty, Amos warns Israel and surrounding nations of God's future judgment on their sin.
Foretells God's judgment against Edom, an evil nation located south of the Dead Sea.
The story of the prophet Jonah who preached repentance in Ninevah, capitol of the Assyrian empire. The book reveals God's love and plan of repentance for the Gentiles.
Another prophecy against Israel's sin. Foretells the birthplace of Jesus 700 years before the event happened.
Tells of the impending destruction of Ninevah that was spared some 150 years earlier through Jonah's preaching.
Reveals God's plan to punish a sinful nation by an even more sinful one. Teaches that "the just shall live by faith."
Tells of the judgment and restoration of Judah.
Urges the Jews to rebuild the temple after a l5-year delay due to enemy resistance.
Further urging to complete the temple and continue spiritual development. Foretells Christ's first and second comings.
Warns against spiritual shallowness and foretells the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus.
Old Testament Prophets
The chart below tells us when and to whom the prophets ministered.
This particular section of lessons contains the books of the "major" prophets. I must stress again that the division between "major" and "minor" prophets only differentiates between the longer prophetic books [major] and the shorter books [minor].
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Survey of the Book of Isaiah
TO WHOM: Judah
PURPOSE: Correction and reproof
KEY VERSE: 53:6 "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."
LIFE AND MINISTRY PRINCIPLE: Rebellion leads to retribution [vengeance or punishment]. Repentance [deep sorrow and turning back to the Lord] leads to restoration.
MAIN CHARACTERS: Isaiah, Hezekiah
Outline Part One
- Prophecies concerning Judah and Jerusalem: 1:1-12:6
- General introduction: 1:1-31
- Millennial blessing by cleansing: 2:1-4:6
- Punishment for Israel's sins: 5:1-30
- The prophet's call and commission: 6:1-13
- The prophecy of Immanuel: 7:1-25
- The prophecy of the Assyrian invasion: 8:1-22
- Messianic prediction and warning: 9:1-21
- Punishment of Assyria: 10:1-34
- Restoration and blessing: 11:1-16
- Worship: 12:1-6
Prophecies against foreign nations: 13:1-23:18
- Babylon: 13:1-14:23
- Assyria: 14:24-27
- Philistia: 14:28-32
- Moab: 15:1-16:14
- Damascus: 17:1-14
- Land beyond the rivers of Ethiopia: 18:1-7
- Egypt: 19:1-25
- Egypt and Ethiopia: 20:1-6
- Dumah: 21:11-12
- Arabia: 21:13-17
- Valley of vision: 22:1-25
- Tyre: 23:1-18
Prophecy of the establishment of the Kingdom: 24:1-27:13
- The tribulation: 24:1-23
- The character of the kingdom: 25:1-12
- The testimony of restored Israel: 26:1-27:13
Prophecy concerning Judah in relation to Assyria:
- The fall of Samaria: 28:1-13
- Warning to Judah: 28:14-29
- The attack of Zion: 29:1-4
- The attacker frustrated: 29:5-8
- Reasons for the trial: 29:9-16
- Blessings of final deliverance: 29:17-24
- Warning against an Egyptian alliance: 30:1-14
- Exhortation to rely on God for help: 30:15-31:9
- The day of the Lord: 34:1-17
- The kingdom blessing: 35:1-10
Chapters 36 through 39 were written during the historical transition from the Assyrian to the Babylonian period.
Waning Assyrian Power The Rise of Babylon
Josiah (640-609) and Religious Reforms Jehoahaz (609)
Babylonian Control of Judah
Jehoikim (609-598) Jehoichin [Jeconiah] (598) Zedekiah [Mattaniah] (598-587)
The date during which this transition takes place relates more to the reign of Israelite kings than it does to the shift of power from Assyria to Babylon. However, even though there are decisive dates and battles that mark its demise, the Assyrian empire came to an end over a span of time rather than all at once. The end of the Assyrian empire unfolded largely during the reign of Josiah, and his death in 609 B.C. occurred as the Assyrian empire was breathing its last. In a real sense, therefore, the era of the reign of Josiah marked the transition between these two empires.1
- Sennacherib's invasion of Judah: 36:1-37:38
Hezekiah's sickness and recovery: 38:1-22
Hezekiah receives Babylonian envoy, leading to captivity: 39:1-8
Outline Part Two
- Comfort to the exiles in the promise of restoration: 40:1-66:24
- The promise of restoration: 40:1-11
- The basis of comfort, God's character: 40:12-31
- The reason for comfort: 41:1-29
- The Comforter: 42:1-25
- The results of the comfort: 43:1-47:15
- Exhortation of comfort for those who are delivered from captivity: 48:1-22
Comfort to the exiles with the prophecy of the coming Messiah: 49:1-57:21
- Call and work: 49:1-26
- Obedience and faithfulness: 50:1-11
- Redemption of Israel: 51:1-52:12
- Atonement and exaltation: 52:13-53:12
- Israel's restoration: 54:1-17
- Worldwide salvation: 55:1-13
- His warnings and promises: 56:1-57:21
Comfort to the exiles with the prophecy of the future glory of Israel: 58:1-66:24
- Obstacles to the restoration and their removal: 58:1-59:21
- Glory of Jerusalem in the Messianic age: 60:1-22
- Blessings of the Messiah for Israel and the world: 61:1-11
- God's love for Jerusalem and its results: 62:1-12
- Christ's conquest of Israel's enemies results in acknowledgment of past national deliverances: 63:1-14
- Prayer of the remnant: 63:15-64:12
- God's answer: 65:1-25
- Blessings of the Messianic Kingdom: 66:1-24
The book of Isaiah, itself, can actually be compared to the Bible as a whole, as there are many similarities between the two:
- The Bible has 66 books. Isaiah has 66 chapters.
- The Old Testament has 39 books covering the history and sin of Israel. The first section of Isaiah has 39 chapters on the same subject.
- The New Testament has 27 books describing the ministry of Jesus Christ and the Church. The last section of Isaiah has 27 chapters focusing on the Messiah.
- The New Testament begins with the ministry of John the Baptist. The second section of Isaiah begins with the prediction of his ministry.
- The New Testament ends by describing the new heavens and earth. Isaiah ends by describing the same things.
Isaiah includes several important passages:
- It's the only Old Testament prophecy concerning the virgin birth of Jesus: Isaiah 7:14.
- It contains one of the clearest statements on the Trinity: 48:16.
- The most important chapter of the entire Old Testament, as it describes the Messiah's mission: chapter 53.
Study the use of the word "salvation" in Isaiah. It appears 33 times in this book.
Important subjects to study in Isaiah:
- What the book reveals about the character of God.
- What the book reveals of the ministry of Jesus.
- The tribulation.
- The Millennium reign of Jesus Christ.
Spiritual keys to Isaiah's ministry:
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- Conviction: 6:5
- Confession: 6:5
- Cleansing: 6:7
- Consecration: 6:8
- Commission: 6:9
Survey of the Book of Jeremiah
TO WHOM: Judah
PURPOSE: To warn of the coming judgment of captivity and call for repentance.
33:3 "Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known."
1:7-8 "But the LORD said to me, 'Do not say, "I am only a youth"; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,' declares the LORD.'"
LIFE AND MINISTRY PRINCIPLE: National disasters and deteriorations are often due to disobedience to God.
MAIN CHARACTER: Jeremiah
- Introduction: The Prophet's call: 1:1-19
Prophecies against Judah and Jerusalem: 2:1-45:5
- Prophecies during the reigns of Josiah and Jehoiakim: 1:1-20:18
- First prophecy: Sin and ingratitude of the nation: 2:1-3:5
- Second prophecy: Destruction from the north [Assyria]: 3:6-6:30
- Third prophecy: Threat of exile: 7:1-10:25
- Fourth prophecy: The broken covenant: 11:1-13:27
- Fifth prophecy: 14:1-17:27
- The sixth prophecy: The sign the potter's house: 18:1-20:18
- Prophecies at various periods before the fall of Jerusalem: 21:1-39:18
- Punishment upon Zedekiah and the people: 21:1-29:32
- Future Messianic Kingdom: 30:1-33:26
- Zedekiah's sin and loyalty of the Rechabites: 34:1-35:19
- Jehoiakim's opposition: 36:1-32
- Jeremiah's experiences during the siege: 37:1-39:18
- Prophecies after the fall of Jerusalem: 40:1-45:5
- Jeremiah's ministry among the remnant: 40:1-42:22
- Jeremiah's ministry in Egypt: 43:1-44:30
- Jeremiah's message to Baruch: 45:1-5
Prophecies against the nations: 46:1-51:64
- Against Egypt: 46:1-28
- Against Philistia: 47:1-7
- Against Moab: 48:1-47
- Against Ammon: 49:1-6
- Against Edom: 49:7-22
- Against Damascus: 49:23-27
- Against Arabia: 49:28-33
- Against Elam: 49:34-39
- Against Babylon: 50:1-51:64
Appendix: Fall and liberation: 52:1-52:34
- The fall and captivity of Judah: 52:1-30
- The liberation: 52:31-34
Several object lessons are used by Jeremiah. An object lesson is when a visible object is used to illustrate or explain a spiritual truth. Study these object lessons in the book of Jeremiah in the chapters indicated.
- An almond rod: 1:11
- Boiling cauldron: 1:13
- Marred girdle: 13:7-10
- Full bottle: 13:12
- Drought: 17:7-8
- Potter's vessel: 18:1-6
- Broken bottle: 19:10-11
- Two baskets of figs: 24:1-10
- Bonds and bars: 27:2
- Buying a field: 32:7-15
- Hidden stones: 43:9-10
- A book sunk in the river: 51:60-64
Jeremiah was the only Biblical prophet whom God forbade to pray for his nation: 7:16; 11:14; 14:11; 16:5
The sufferings of Jeremiah were similar to the sufferings of Jesus:
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- Both were mistreated by their families: Jeremiah 12:6, John 7:5
- Both were plotted against by citizens of their own home towns: Jeremiah 11:21, Luke 4:28-30
- Both were hated by the religious world: Jeremiah 26:7-8, John 11:47-53
- Both were denounced by synagogue leaders: Jeremiah 20:1, John 18:13,24
- Both were aided by a king: Jeremiah 38:16, Luke 23:4
- Both were described similarly: Jeremiah 11:19, Isaiah 53:7
- Both wept over Jerusalem: Jeremiah 9:1, Luke 19:41
- Both predicted the destruction of the temple: Jeremiah 7:11-15, Matthew 24:1-2
Survey of the Book of Lamentations
TO WHOM: Jews who were captive in Babylon
PURPOSE: To bring about repentance necessary for spiritual restoration and their eventual return to Israel.
KEY VERSES: 3:22-23 "The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
LIFE AND MINISTRY PRINCIPLE: God is faithful in both judgment and mercy.
MAIN CHARACTER: Jeremiah
- The condition of Jerusalem: 1:1-22
Note these verses of indictment: 1:1, 3, 8, 9, 17
Punishment from God: The results described: 2:1-22
- God had destroyed every home in Judah: 2:1-2
- Every fortress and wall was broken: 2:2
- His bow of judgment was bent across the land: 2:4
- The Temple had fallen: 2:6
- Judah's enemies were given freedom to destroy: 2:15-16
- Bodies of the people lined the streets of Jerusalem: 2:21-22
The prophet of God: 3:1-66
- The affliction of the prophet: 3:1-19
- The assurance of the prophet: 3:21-27, 31-33
- The advice of the prophet: 3:40-66
Description of conditions continued: 4:1-22
- Children are thirsty: 4:4
- Youth treated badly: 5:13
- Rich were in the streets begging: 4:5
- Formerly mighty princes were now thin with blackened faces: 4:7,8
- Women cooked and ate their own children: 4:10
- False prophets and priests were blindly staggering through the streets: 4:14
- King Zedekiah had been captured, blinded, and carried into captivity: 4:20
The prophet's prayer: 5:1-18
It was a prayer of:
- Remembrance: 5:1
- Repentance: 5:16
- Recognition of God: 5:19<
- Renewal: 5:21
One of the greatest passages on the faithfulness of God is found in Lamentations 3:21-33. Read these verses and compare them with 2 Timothy 2:13.
Compare Revelation 18 to the book of Lamentations. In Lamentations, the prophet weeps over the destruction of the Messianic city of Jerusalem. In Revelation 18, the merchants weep over the destruction of the materialistic city of Babylon.
Read Lamentations 5:16. This verse summarizes the reasons for God's judgment. Around 1000 B.C. David established his capital in Jerusalem. God blessed this city for nearly 400 years and spared it even after He allowed the northern kingdom to be carried away by the Assyrians in 721 B.C. All of His mercy was in vain, however, for the people of Judah continued to sin. Judgment now came.
The Jews have for centuries publicly read Lamentations each year on the ninth month of Ab to commemorate the destruction of the first temple in 586 B.C. and of the second temple in A.D. 70.
It is said that Jeremiah sat weeping outside the north wall of Jerusalem under a hill called Golgotha where Christ would later die.
Jerusalem is personified [represented] as a woman. List what happened to Jerusalem and why. Note her emotions, the anguish because of her children, and the thoughts and memories she must deal with.
Record what you learn about God in this book: His character, His judgments, and why He acts as He does. For example, Lamentations 1:5 states that God caused Judah grief because of her sin and brought about her captivity because of her transgressions.
Why do you think God deals with sin as He does? How should we respond? Read chapter 3 so your "dancing" may appropriately be turned into "mourning."
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Survey of the Book of Ezekiel
TO WHOM: Judah
PURPOSE: Ezekiel warned of the coming captivity, then prophesied to the captives after it occurred.
KEY VERSE: 22:30 "And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none."
LIFE AND MINISTRY PRINCIPLE: The Lord controls historical events so that the nations will know He is God.
MAIN CHARACTER: Ezekiel
Part One: Prophecies before the Siege of Jerusalem Chapters l-24
Six years before the destruction of Jerusalem, Ezekiel began his prophecies of warning to Judah.
- The prophet's call and commission: 1:1-3:27
- The vision: 1:1-28
- The call: 2:1-3:27
Prophecies against Judah and Jerusalem: 4:1-24:27
- Destruction predicted: 4:1-7:27
- Jerusalem's sin and punishment: 8:1-11:25
- Necessity of punishment: 12:1-19:14
- Last warning before the fall: 20:1-24:27
Part Two: Prophecies During the Siege of Jerusalem Chapters 25-32
These prophecies were directed at Judah's enemies.
- Prophecies against surrounding nations: 25:1-32:32
- Against Ammon: 25:1-7
- Against Moab: 25:8-11
- Against Edom: 25:12-14
- Against Philistia: 25:15-17
- Against Tyre: 26:1-28:19
- Against Sidon: 28:20-26
- Against Egypt: 29:1-32:32
Part Three: Prophecies after the Siege of Jerusalem Chapters 33-48
These prophecies concerned the restoration of Judah.
- Events preceding the establishment of the Kingdom: 33:1-39:29
- The wicked purged: 33:1-33
- False shepherds give way to the true shepherd: 34:1-31
- Restoration of the land: 36:1-15
- Restoration of the people: 36:16-37:28
- Judgment of Israel's enemies: 38:1-39:24
- The restored nation: 39:25-29
The Millennial Kingdom: 40:1-48:35
- The temple: 40:1-43:27
- The worship: 44:1-46:24
- The land: 47:1-48:35
Compare Ezekiel chapter 16 and the book of Hosea.
The most vivid Old Testament vision is the valley of dry bones found in Ezekiel 37. Study this chapter.
Chapters 40-48 describe one of seven Biblical temples, the Millennial temple. Read about the other Biblical temples in these other chapters:
- The tabernacle of Moses: Exodus 40 representing the Temple of Christ's body in John 2.
- The temple of Solomon: 1 Kings 6 representing the spiritual temple of the Church in Acts 2.
- The temple of Zerubbabel/Herod: Ezra 6, John 2 representing the Tribulation temple in Revelation 11./
It is important to realize that God directs/controls the events of history with one purpose in mind that the nations might know that He alone is the true God. The phrase "they shall know I am the LORD [YHWH / Yahweh / Jehovah]" occurs 70 times in Ezekiel. Underline these passages as you study Ezekiel to help you understand the divine purpose of God's actions.
Ezekiel was a prophet of visions. When he was among the captives, he wrote that "...the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God" (Ezekiel 1:1). Write the visions he saw:
- Ezekiel 1:1-3:13
- Ezekiel 8:1-11:25
- Ezekiel 15:18
- Ezekiel 37:1-28
Parables and signs in Ezekiel:
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- The parable of the two eagles reveals the King of Babylon and the King of Egypt; the highest branch corresponds to Jehoiachin; seed of the land was Zedekiah; the tender twig stood for the Messiah: Ezekiel chapter 17
- Chapters 20-23 include several parables. One of the most important ones is that of the two sisters, Aholah and Aholibah. They represent Israel and Judah's deterioration into idolatry.
- The parable of the boiling cauldron symbolizes the condition of Jerusalem when the Babylonians invade it: Ezekiel 11:1-13
- Two sticks, one Judah and the other Israel, are shown as ultimately reunited under the Shepherd King: Ezekiel 37:1-28
Survey of the Book of Daniel
TO WHOM: The Jewish captives
PURPOSE: To show how God rules the affairs of men.
KEY VERSE: 12:3 "And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever."
LIFE AND MINISTRY PRINCIPLE: God is sovereign and He honors those who honor Him.
MAIN CHARACTERS: Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, Hananiah (Shadrach), Mishael (Meshach), Azariah (Abednego)
Ezekiel also refers to the wisdom of Daniel in Ezekiel 28:3
- Introductory background: The reasons for Daniel's prosperity: 1:1-21
Visions and events under Nebuchadnezzar: 2:1-6:28
- The image and interpretation - Four kingdoms or world empires: 2:1-49
- Babylonian: 606 B.C.
- Medo-Persian: 538 B.C.
- Grecian: 330 B.C.
- Roman: 63 B.C.
- The fiery furnace: 3:1-30
- The king's command: 3:1-7
- The stand of God's men: 3:8-23
- Judgment and deliverance: 3:24-30
- Nebuchadnezzar's tree vision and its meaning: 4:1-37
- The dream: 4:1-18
- The interpretation: 4:19-27
- The fulfillment: 4:28-37
- Belshazzar's feast: 5:1-31
- The feast: 5:1-4
- The judgment: 5:5-9
- The search for an interpreter: 5:10-16
- The interpretation: 5:17-29
- The fulfillment: 5:30-31
- Daniel's deliverance from the lions' den: 6:1-28
- An evil plan: 6:1-9
- Daniel's response: 6:10-20
- Deliverance from the den: 6:21-28
Visions under Belshazzar, Darius, and Cyrus: 7:1-12:13
- The four beasts and interpretation: 7:1-28
- They arise from a great sea: 7:1-3
- The little horn (Antichrist): 7:8
- Kingdom of God: 7:9-14
- Interpretation: 7:15-28
- The ram and the goat and interpretation: 8:1-27
- The introduction: 8:1-2
- The vision: 8:3-14
- Revelations concerning Antiochus Epiphanes and the Anti-Christ: 8:15-27
- The seventy weeks: 9:1-27
- Introduction: 9:1-2
- The prayer: 9:3-19
- The seventy weeks: 9:20-27
- Preparation for the final revelation: 10:1-21
- Introduction: 10:1-3
- The man clothed in linen: 10:4-6
- Daniel's response: 10:10-12
- Conflict of Gabriel and the Prince of Persia: 10:13
- Reason for the angel's coming: 10:14-21
- Vision of events from Darius to the end of time: 11:1-12:13
- The revelation of events to come: 11:1-12:3
- The command to seal the book: 12:4
- A final conversation with the messenger: 12:5-13
Some historians and theologians discredit the book of Daniel as more fiction than non-fiction. However, Ezekiel refers to Daniel and compares him to Noah and Job in Ezekiel 14:14
And Jesus quoted Daniel in Matthew 24:15
The book of Daniel contains a great prayer of personal confession in 9:3-19
Important points in Daniel:
- The most dramatic feast in the Bible: chapter 5
- The only Old Testament description of the Father: 7:9-14
- The only book mentioning both Gabriel and Michael (Heaven's two archangels): 9:21; 10:13; 12:1
- An explanation as to why answers to prayer might sometimes be delayed: 10:10-13
- The most complete description of the Antichrist: 7:7-27; 8:23-25; 9:26; 11:36-45
The book of Daniel prophesies exactly when the Messiah would be on the earth and would die and what will happen in the End Times. Daniel 9:24-27 uses the phrase "seventy weeks". In Bible prophetic chronology, a "week" means a week of years, or 70 years. If there are 70 seven-year periods, that equals 490 years. The division of these years is as follows:
- 7 weeks, or 49 years, began at the command to build Jerusalem under Ezra and Nehemiah.
- 62 weeks, or 434 years, began at the building of the wall of Jerusalem and continued to the time of the crucifixion when the Messiah ["Chosen Leader" in the CEV, "Messiah" in the KJV, and "anointed one" in the ESV and NIV] was "cut off".
- The second part of verse 26 foretells the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple that actually took place in 50 A.D.
- And finally, the 70th week are 7 years that have not yet begun. This starts when the Antichrist takes power and the tribulation begins. This ushers in the time of trouble described in Daniel 12:1 that is referred to as the "Great Tribulation" in Revelation.
Visions of Gentile Powers
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The following chart summarizes the rise and fall of world empires discussed in Daniel chapters 2, 7, and 8:
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1The Voice: Biblical and Theological Resources for Growing Christians "Old Testament History: The Rise of Babylon and Exile (640 BC-538 BC)"