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The Old Testament of the Bible contains 39 books. The first five are written by one person, Moses. He introduces us to our Creator. Seventeen prophetic books, almost half of the Old Testament, are written by a group of men known as the Prophets. The prophetic books were written from the days of Elijah (874-853 BC) until the time of Malachi (400 BC). As a group, eighteen prophets represent the largest portion of contributors to our knowledge of God.  Sometimes, the first two, Elijah and Elisha are not counted as prophets. For this study, we will include them. The question that we will pursue, is why the prophets are important today. Moses led God’s people out of bondage to a promised land. God established a Covenant Relationship with His people. Moses, in his five books, taught the people the context of that covenant relationship. God would take care of His people if they obeyed God’s commandments. History shows us the people failed to uphold their end of the bargain. To bring them back into the covenant relationship with God, He sent prophets. Their purpose was to bring people of their time as well as future generations back to God. Secondarily, they were to reveal the consequences of not following their end of the covenant relationship. Remember, a covenant is a binding contract between two parties.

Our world is lost. Division and hatred are not only tolerated but rewarded. People choose leaders who mock God, enrich themselves at the expense of human life, and sacrifice the innocent without accountability. Godlessness has become a way of life for many today. Our world has been here before. Only the foolish would ignore history. Our God, our Creator, has never tolerated this before. It is time to search the words of God’s prophets to see what could be in store for us.

Over the next few months, we will look at this period of history, spanning about 450 years. A time when perversions were great, disobedience paramount, and God’s warnings and punishments clear. Just keep in mind that one generation of humans is about 20 to 30 years. Our God has amazing patience!  Dating prophetic writings is difficult and often controversial. Instead of dates, we will concern ourselves more about the order that they came and the content of their messages. It is also important to know what God’s people were doing to necessitate God sending a prophet. We will focus on how God communicates with us. How patient is our God? To what extent will God go to keep His end of the covenant relationship with us? Don’t worry about the terms “major” and “minor” prophets. They have no bearing on the importance of their prophetic messages, just the size of their contribution to our Bible. In this study series, all prophets will be treated equally. God’s prophets all had the unique skill to see humanity as God sees us.

The list below is our lesson plan. The date ranges are not necessarily when they lived but cover the period of their influence and prophecies.  Each week, we will take a prophet, in the probable order of their contributions, and publish a study.  At the end of our series, we will set up a separate study section on the Prophets of God for your permanent reference. Elijah is first and he comes next week.

  • Elijah – (870 BC to 845 BC)
  • Elisha – (845 BC to 800 BC)
  • Joel – (835 BC – 796 BC)
  • Jonah – (785 BC to 760 BC)
  • Amos – (760 BC to 753 BC)
  • Hosea – (755 BC to 725 BC)
  • Isaiah – 740 BC to 701 BC
  • Micah – (735 BC to 700 BC)
  • Nahum – (663 BC to 612 BC)
  • Zephaniah – (635 BC to 625 BC)
  • Jeremiah – (627 BC to 586 BC) 
  • Habakkuk – (610 BC to 605 BC)
  • Daniel – (604 BC to 532 BC)
  • Ezekiel – (593 BC to 571 BC)
  • Obadiah – (586 BC and 553 BC)
  • Haggai – (520 BC)
  • Zechariah – (520 BC to 470 BC)
  • Malachi – (445 BC)

Prophecy, itself, is a gift of the Holy Spirit. God chose His prophets even before they were formed in the womb. It is God who ordained them for their ministry. It is also God who gave each prophet their wisdom.

(Jeremiah 1:5)1NIV New International Version Translations – “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

(Numbers 12:6) – “he said, ‘Listen to my words: When there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions, I speak to them in dreams.’”

The value of a prophet is that they are God’s messenger, speaking the voice of God to His people. As we get to know our prophets better, we will see that God’s plan of salvation, Jesus Christ, is foretold through their messages. In the end, all prophets will lead us to Jesus. While their styles may be repetitive, and not always easy to understand, they tell important stories, not about the future, but about judgment, punishment, and restoration of our covenant relationship with God. Prophets reinforce the importance of repentance and obedience. God’s judgment of His people in the time of the prophets meant the people lost their land and their freedom. We are subject to the same judgment from God today. No one can claim to be part of the people of God while participating in an unrepentant rebellion against His commands. Not following God’s Truth has consequences!

Walking with the prophets of the Old Testament will help us understand that we struggle with the same sins and are subject to the same judgment, but we also share the same hope for restoration and renewal. The people of the prophets’ day looked into the future, placing all their hopes on the Messiah who would come. Christ came, Christ rose, and now we find our hope in Jesus Christ who is here with us today!


  • How do you use the Old Testament in your study of God’s Word?
    • Ideas to Explore: History, getting to know our, God, and creation story? The story of our salvation and hope? Understanding the causes and effects of human behavior?
  • Why do you think God used “prophets,” ordinary men to interact with His people?
    • Ideas to Explore: God had tried to do it directly with Moses but that didn’t work well. Maybe ordinary people would respond to ordinary men better?
  • How would the human perspective of sin and repentance differ from God’s perspective?
    • Ideas to Explore: God is patient but not necessarily accommodating of sin. God’s expectations are firm and consistent over time. Biblically, our world ends with two groups of people, those with God and those separated from God – Can humankind ever see this Truth?
  • Most prophets were disappointed in their people’s response to God’s messages that they shared. Did that matter to them?
    • Ideas to Explore: Is it good to know your faults? Does Godly advice still mean something even today? How do we feel when we see society abandon God?
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    NIV New International Version Translations