Notes on The Prophets from THE NIV ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE
Isaiah – written by an 8th century prophet and a another prophet (chapters 40-55) during the Babylonian captivity – the audience was primarily the people of Judah who were failing to live according to the covenant with Yahweh – his message is that there is salvation for all (not only Jews) who repent and turn to God
Jeremiah – written down from 625 to 580 B.C.E. mostly likely by Jeremiah’s secretary, Baruch – the audience was the people of Judah and Jerusalem (the capital) – his message had three obvious themes: repentance, judgment and restoration – Lamentations is “an expression for the exiled Jewish people of their pain, grief and horror at the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple” (page 1294)
Ezekiel – some scholars believe that this prophecy was written after the exile but most agree that this book was written by the prophet who was taken into exile in Babylon (probably with King Jehoichin) in 579 B.C.E. and lived in his own house and had freedom to move about – his audience was the exiled Jewish people – his message is one of judgment, God’s sovereignty and hope for the future and it prepared the people for the horrific sacking of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E.
Daniel – written either by Daniel himself or someone else in either the Persian around 530 B.C.E. or later during the Maccabean period in 165 B.C.E. – it is apocalyptic in nature and was written to the Jewish exiles to remind them to keep God’s covenant promises during exile – the message has three major themes: God is sovereign, we must be faithful to the one God, Daniel’s prophecies which foretell the future
Hosea – written from 755 – 715 B.C.E. and so the prophet would have seen the fall of Samaria, the capital of Israel in 722 – his original audience was northern Israel and later a call of repentance and a promise of restoration to all Jewish people – his message is partially one of condemnation – Yahweh calls him to marry the harlot, Gomer, which he does – remarkable in ancient times so this prophet follows God’s call beyond the norm – being married to a harlot, Hosea condemns her actions and likens them to Israel’s idolatrous behavior – his themes are God’s faithfulness and unfailing love, judgment for sin, repentance succeeded by restoration
Joel – written by someone who may or may not have borne this name – he does not date his book but scholars agree that it was written somewhere from the 9th to 4th centuries B.C.E. – his audience was the southern kingdom – his message is a warning of coming judgment and so he urges them to repent and turn to God, their only true salvation
Amos – written around 760 B.C.E. by a farmer who claims that he is not a professional prophet – he wrote primarily to the northern kingdom – and his message has a strong social emphasis, recommending how prosperous societies must care for the marginalized in times of plenty – his themes, therefore, are social justice and judgment
Obadiah – written between 586 and 553 B.C.E. and makes a reference to a calamitous event, most likely the fall of Jerusalem – his audience was the people of Judah and his topic was a warning about the Edomites (the descendants of Esau) along with a message of deliverance and restoration through repentance – the name “Obadiah” means “Servant of Yahweh” and was likely not the real name of the prophet
Jonah – is a controversial book in that scholars do not agree on whether it is history or fiction – it was written either between 770 and 750 B.C.E. or after the exile – his audience (if written in the 8th century) was Israel, the northern kingdom – the message is repentance with the themes of God’s sovereignty, God’s compassion and mercy, and mission
Micah – written between 740-710 B.C.E. – the audience was primarily the southern kingdom of Judah but also the northern in that his message was aimed at wealthy and greedy landowners who supported a corrupt political system – his message of judgment against oppressors of all kinds, justice and restoration is seen in the citation on our cafeteria wall
Nahum – written between 663 and 609 B.C.E. – his audience is the people of Nineveh (Assyrian capital) and Judah – the Ninevehites have evidently forgotten the reprieve which Jonah won them 100 years before as they are back at their faithless practices – his message is one of judgment and deliverance for the faithful
Habakkuk – written between 610 and 605 B.C.E. as a dialog between God and his people – addressed to the people of Judah – the message is justice and faith as he was concerned about the people’s idolatrous behavior and their indifference to God and social injustice
Zephaniah – written between 635 and 630 B.C.E. – the message is of God’s looming judgment but also hope in restoration – his audience was principally the people of Judah.
Haggai – written in 520 B.C.E. between the months of August and December – this prophet cleared dated his work and named himself – his audience was the Jews who had returned from exile to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem – his message encourages and exhorts them to complete their rebuilding project – his themes are priorities and obedience
Zechariah – this book was written around 520 B.C.E. perhaps in two parts: the first 8 chapters when the prophet was a young man, the latter part when he had grown – he was likely a friend of Haggai and so his audience is also the Jews who struggled to rebuild Jerusalem and his message is about the future, both the near future which they worry about and the distant future through which Yahweh will guide them
It is so clear that God constantly calls us to respond to his call of repentance, obedience and service. He asks us to be good and faithful servants, and so we pray . . .
Merciful and Loving God, we are so grateful for your patience, your mercy and your fidelity. Grace us with your wisdom and love. Restore us with your healing power after this our exile. May we abide with you as you abide with us. Amen.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005.
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