What are the Prophetic Books of the Bible?
Prophets are called by God to prophesy his message to the people. During the Old Testament days, not every believer has the gift of the Holy Spirit. Only the prophets and those chosen by God were filled with the Holy Spirit. Prophets existed since the time of Moses to Malachi.
The prophetic books in the Old Testament can be divided into major prophets and minor prophets. The major prophetic books in the Old Testament include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations. Ezekiel, and Daniel. The minor prophetic books in the bible are Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. There is only one prophetic book in the New Testament, which is the book of Revelation.
Major Prophetic Books of Bible
Book of Isaiah
The Book of Isaiah is the first prophetic book in the Old Testament. The message in the book of Isaiah can be seen in three parts. The first part from Isaiah 1 – 39, it talks about God’s wrath towards Judah. God was angry with Judah because the people were rebellious and live in sins instead of abiding in God’s commandments. There were various kinds of sins prevailing in Judah at that time including corruption among government officials, violence and injustice. However, God promised to deliver the people from the enemies if they repent from their sinful ways.
The second part from Isaiah 40 – 55 is the message to the Israelite who had been punished and carried into exile. God wanted them to understand that all these disasters happened on them because they worship idols that are powerless. Only God is the true God. God promised to bring them back to Jerusalem if they repent and turn back to him.
The third part from Isaiah 56- 66 is message to all the nations of the world. Anyone who is faithful to God can inherit God’s promises and be part of his people.
Book of Jeremiah
Jeremiah began his ministry as a prophet in his youth. He continued to prophesy and preach God’s message until the Babylonians had conquered Jerusalem. Later, the people forced Jeremiah to go to Egypt with them. While in Egypt, Jeremiah preached God’s message to the people. There were a few occasion where Jeremiah acted out the message God gave him as commanded by God.He advised the people of Judah to surrender to the Babylonians but the people would not listen and accused him of being a traitor.
Jeremiah is often persecuted by the people for preaching doom messages on Jerusalem and Judah. Jeremiah told the people that God is going to send the Babylonian troops from the north to punish them since they are stubborn in persisting in their sins. However, Jeremiah also prophesied that God will bring back the Israelites he had scattered in different nations back to Jerusalem one day when they repent.
Book of Lamentations
The Book of Lamentations is a collection of 5 poems that involves a figurative conversation between Jerusalem and the author. The author laments about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. The destruction happened on Jerusalem because its inhabitants had been stubborn in repenting and continued in their sinful lifestyle even after God sent them many prophets. It seemed that the punishment on Jerusalem is more severe than it deserved. Despite that, there is still hope for the nation of Israel and Jerusalem to be restored if the people repent and turn back to God.
Book of Ezekiel
Ezekiel was called by God to minister to the Israelites that has been exiled to Babylonia. His ministry started in the final years of Judah and continue after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. The Book of Ezekiel can be divided into 5 parts. The first part of Ezekiel from Ezekiel 1-3 is a vision that showed Ezekiel the glory of God. Ezekiel was appointed by God to be a prophet to the people of Judah.
In the second part from Ezekiel 4 – 24, Ezekiel warned the people about the impending punishment that is going to be brought upon the people of Judah as a result of their stubbornness to repent from their wickedness. The third part from Ezekiel 25 – 32 is about the judgment of God on the nations surrounding Jerusalem and Judah.
The fourth part from Ezekiel 33 – 39 are messages that bring hope to the Israelites, that God will bring them back to Judah and Jerusalem one day. The fifth part from Ezekiel 40 – 48 is Ezekiel’s vision of the building of a new temple in Jerusalem and the regulations for worship since the old temple has already been torn down by the Babylonians. It also gives an account how the land will be divided among the 12 tribes of Israel.
Book of Daniel
Daniel was one of the royal member that has been carried away into captivity to Babylonia. The first part of the book of Daniel, from Daniel 1 – 6, gives an account how Daniel and his 3 friends, Mishael, Shadrach and Abednego won the favor of King Nebuchadnezzar and were promoted to important officials in Babylonia. They always trust in God even when it means their lives were at risk. After the Medo Persian king Darius conquered Babylonia, Daniel still serve as an important official in the government.
The second part of the book of Daniel, from Daniel 7 – 12, is about the visions that Daniel received along with the meanings. The book of Daniel shows that God is in charge of human history on earth. He guided all the events to happen one by one according to his plan. It shows that God always take care of those who are faithful and seek him in times of distress.
Minor Prophetic Books of the Bible
Book of Hosea
Hosea was a prophet that ministered to the people of the northern kingdom of Israel. The family of Hosea became a living message for the people. God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute and have children by him. Hosea named the children according to what God had instructed him to name. God told Hosea to marry a prostitute, as a symbol of the unfaithfulness of the Israelites. Later, Hosea’s wife ran away to another lover but God commanded him to take him back and continue to love her. This is to show that God will forgive Israel and restore them one day when they repent.
The rest of the book of Hosea talks about the covenant that God made with the Israelites. God had fulfilled his part of the covenant but the Israelites always break the covenant of God by disobeying his commandments. They would rather depend on the military help of other countries and their own military strength instead of depending on God to defend them against the enemies. They also worship foreign idols, believing that they could make them rich with large harvest and livestock.
Book of Joel
Joel witnessed a lot of locusts attacking the land of Israel during his time. There was so much locusts that all the crops had been eaten. According to Hosea, the locusts was sent by God as a punishment for Israel. Joel saw the locusts like the enemy army that is going to attack Israel. However, God promised to forgive and restore the Israelites if they repent.
Book of Amos
Amos was not a trained prophet but he preached to the people of Judah when God called him. Amos’ hometown was in the northern kingdom of Israel. When God called him, he moved to Tekoa in Judah and preached to the people. Amos’ message is to the people in the surrounding nations and the rich people in Judah. The rich people oppress the poor and enslave them in order to live a luxury life. The people anticipated God to send deliverance even though they also worship foreign gods. However, Amos warned the people that God will sentence punishment on them.
Book of Obadiah
Obadiah’s message is to the Edomites, who were cruel to the Israelites when the enemies conquered them. God promised to take vengeance on the Edomites by destroying them completely and then give their lands to the Israelites. Obadiah is a short book so it is not divided into chapters.
Book of Jonah
Jonah was called by God to preach to the people of Nineveh. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria. Assyria was the enemy of Israel and Jonah did not want to preach to them. This is because he know God would relent his punishment on Nineveh if the people repent through his preaching. He tried to avoid his calling by going aboard on a ship that sailed to Spain. God sent a strong sea storm, that nearly drown the ship to make Jonah go back to preach to the people of Nineveh. When the sailors found out that Jonah is the cause of the storm, they threw him into the sea. God sent a big fish to swallow Jonah.
Jonah called on God and repent while he was in the stomach of the fish for 3 days and 3 nights. After Jonah had repented, God commanded the fish to spit out Jonah on the sea shore. Jonah walked a day around Nineveh to warn the people that the city will be destroyed in 40 days if they don’t repent. The Ninevites repented and God withheld his punishment. However, Jonah was still mad at God for withholding his punishment on Nineveh.
Book of Micah
Micah was a prophet that ministered especially to Samaria and Jerusalem. The Israelites had sinned against God by leading people to worship foreign idols. The officials oppressed the poor by robbing them. Therefore, God will bring his punishment on them. Micah prophesied that the nation of Israel will be restored when they repent from their sins one day.
Book of Nahum
Nahum prophesied that God will send his punishment on Assyria because of its cruel treatment to other nations. God is able to do this because he is the creator of heavens and earth.
Book of Habakkuk
The Book of Habakkuk begin with Habakkuk complaining to God about the injustice in Judah. God replied that he will send the Babylonian army from the north to punish the people of Judah. Habakkuk replied that this is unfair because the Babylonians were even worse sinners compared to the people of Judah. God replied that he will punish the Babylonians later. In the final chapter, Habakkuk offered praises to God.
Book of Zephaniah
The people of Judah assumed that the day of the Lord will be the day God help them to vanquish all their enemies. However, Zephaniah said that when the day of the Lord comes, God will punish everyone who has not been obedient to his commandments including Judah and other nations that sinned against him. Zephaniah preached that God will relent from his anger if they repent.
Book of Haggai
By this time, many Israelites had returned to Jerusalem from Babylonia. The people were busy about their own business and forgot about God when they returned. As a result, God’s temple was neglected. Haggai encouraged the people to put God first and rebuild the temple so that they will see God’s blessings.
Book of Zechariah
The people had returned from exile to Jerusalem but they still faced problems. The new temple they rebuilt was not as glorious as the original temple built by King Solomon. No king from the family line of David rule in Judah. God gave Zechariah 8 visions to encourage the people who are facing problems. God promised that his chosen king will reign in Jerusalem and there will be peace everywhere but for now, God had chosen Zerubabbel to be the governor and Joshua to be the high priest.
Zechariah prophesied that God will punish the surrounding nations and the leaders of Judah who have been unfaithful. Zechariah also prophesied that Jerusalem and Judah will face attack from all nations one day. Many people will die but God will come to their rescue. Jerusalem will be on a high mountain when the land around it become flattened. The stream of living water will flow from Jerusalem.
Book of Malachi
The Israelites who came back from exile start to lose hope because of the difficult times. The people and the priests no longer pay respect to God and they made the wrong sacrifices to God. The poor and underprivileged were mistreated. Many men had also divorced their wives. Malachi encouraged the people to turn back to God and honor him with the correct sacrifices. He also encouraged them to give 10% of their harvest so that God’s blessing will be on time.
Prophetic Book of the New Testament
Book of Revelation
Revelation contains visions that God gave to the apostle John, while he was banished to the Island of Patmos for preaching the gospel. Revelation contains visions concerning the end times and tribulation.