Profiles of Prophets
The prophets were men from many different backgrounds who were called to speak for God. Most of the prophets warned of judgment to come. In all of their warnings, during the darkest days of God's people, there is a message of God's grace and hope. Hope in the coming Messiah. God is calling every Christian to model His grace and truth to a dying world, just like He asked the prophets to do a couple thousand years ago.
The Coming and Going of Isaiah
Why was I born in this time and in this place? Where do I fit in God's plan? Answers to these questions, and many like this, are found in the book of Isaiah, the longest prophetic book in the Bible. Isaiah is quoted more in the New Testament and gives more prophecies of the coming Messiah than any other prophet. Isaiah makes us aware of our need for a Savior and then introduces us to the Savior who would come.
The Manifesto of the Messiah
Isaiah prophesied that God needed a "highway" on which to travel into this world. That highway would be the Messiah, God in human flesh. Isaiah said that the Christ would be the perfect expression of the Spirit of God. When Jesus described His ministry, He quoted Isaiah's prophesy. He came to bring good news to the afflicted and healing to the brokenhearted; to proclaim liberty to captives, and declare the time of the Lord's favor had come.
Our Suffering Substitute
Isaiah foretold how the Messiah, the promised redeemer, would be our suffering substitute; and of His ministry to give sight to the blind, freedom to those in bondage, and healing to the broken. Isaiah also prophesied of His death. For the sake of all human beings who, like lost sheep, have turned to our own way, God laid our iniquity on Jesus the Christ, who bore the punishment for our sins. Isaiah describes the crucifixion of Jesus hundreds of years before it happened when he wrote that the Suffering Servant would be despised, rejected, afflicted, and pierced for our transgressions. But by his wounds, we would be healed.
A Series of Sobs
Jeremiah preached during a time when Jerusalem was in despair and when all seemed to be going wrong. He witnessed all three of Babylon's invasions and the fall of Jerusalem. Jeremiah is called the "weeping prophet" because his prophecies are filled with tears and lamentation. He foretold Israel's return from captivity after 70 years. Like Isaiah, Jeremiah wrote several prophecies of the coming Messiah .This message of hope would be not only for Judah, but also for the whole world.
The Captivity Cantor
As the Jews were being taken captive to Babylon, Jeremiah's messages were of hope. Though they had lost everything, Jeremiah told them that God would still be with them. In Babylon they would have only Him to depend on, and they would come to know Him better there. Jeremiah's messages teach us to trust God, have hope in the midst of tragedy, and that God can change us when we seek Him.
God's Sad News
As Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, there were two kinds of people: those who believed Jeremiah that the captivity was chastisement from God, and those who refused Jeremiah's message and rebelled. To those who believed and repented, God promised His help. He would give them new hearts and bring the next generation back. To those who rebelled, God warned they would be completely destroyed. Jeremiah's prophecies of future restoration and the Messiah continue to give us hope today.
God Loves You Anyway
Jeremiah, named the "weeping prophet," is crying because the land has been conquered and the people he loves are living as slaves in a distant land. Where was God now for His people who were living in Babylon? Jerusalem was literally the city of God to them, and they felt separated from their holy city and their Holy God. If you've ever looked at your life and wondered if God really loves you, you'll completely relate to Pastor Woodward's study of Lamentations.
All Things Weird and Wonderful
Ezekiel was called to minister to God's people in a very difficult time and place. He brought God's message to His people in slave labor in Babylon. Ezekiel begins with a great vision of God; he actually saw the glory of the Lord. Ezekiel emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit, the presence of God wherever His people happen to be. His prophecies are called apocalyptic, which means they take us behind the veil so we can see the unseen.
Ezekiel had a vision of a valley of dry bones. Ezekiel prophesied to the bones and they came together and sinew and flesh were added. Then the Lord said, "Prophesy to the Breath, the Spirit of God" so the bodies would come to life. Anything we try to do apart from the Spirit is as impossible as giving dead bones new life. The church must be energized by the Holy Spirit to take the Gospel of life to the spiritually dead world.
Believers versus Babylonians
Daniel and his three friends were taken and educated in Babylonian universities. God used the king's decree to strategically place this prophet in Babylon to minister to the other captives. The book of Daniel divides into two sections: historical narrative, and prophetic revelation. Ezekiel, John, and Daniel prophesied about the end times and they were also exiled prophets. Daniel's life is a superb example of living a strong, pure, godly life in the midst of a hostile environment.
At the time of Daniel, Babylon was the capitol city of the most powerful empire that had existed. Its king, Nebuchadnezzar, was a powerful and prideful ruler. One of the most remarkable miracles is the conversion of Nebuchadnezzar. Rather than the Jews being transformed into Babylonians, the Babylonians became believers in the God of Daniel, the One True God. Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that God is the rightful ruler of all the kingdoms of this world.
The Prayer Priorities of a Great Prophet
Daniel had visions that are highly symbolic and sometimes difficult to understand. He had a dream about four kingdoms that would rule, similar to the dream he interpreted for King Nebuchadnezzar, and a vision of 70 weeks that indicated it was time for the people of Judah to return to Jerusalem. In his prophesy of the 70 weeks, he gives a precise prediction of the coming of the Messiah and the beginning of His Kingdom which shall be without end.