O.T. Prophecy

 Prophecy is not really about the future. The Prophets spoke the Word of God to the People of God. Their main point was to remind them of God’s laws, warn them of future punishments or promise them of future rewards.Of all the prophetic material:

  • Less than 2% is about the MessiahLess
  • The than 5% is about the New Covenant
  • Less than1% is about our future (opinions vary depending on your theological system)

Remember that much that was predicted by the author was future to them, but is in the past from our point of view.


· Come in 2 main groups. Some SPOKE to the people, and we know them more from their biographies. Examples are Elijah and Elisha. Others WROTE, and we know little about their biographies. An example is Amos.

· The Writing Prophets are divided into Major and Minor. The Major Prophets include the books of: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel and Daniel. The Minor Prophets are all of the remaining 12 books. This distinction is based on the length of the books. The “Minor Prophets” were in a single book in the Hebrew bible called “The Twelve”.

· The prophets apply the blessings (e.g. Lev 16:1-13, Deut 4:32-40; 38:1-14) and the curses (Lev 26:14-39; Deut 4:15-28; 28:15-32, 42) from the O.T. covenant law.

· Therefore they did not invent their teaching, but restated what was already known – although they did this creatively and each prophet has his own style.

· “Oracles” are the inspired utterances that the Prophets gave in different times and places. Each speech is an “oracle.” These oracles were collected together in the books of Prophecy. When reading Prophecy, think “oracle” just as you think “paragraph” when reading a narrative. (Amos 5 has three oracles: v. 1-3; v. 4-17 and v. 18-27).

· It is helpful to use Bible Dictionaries, Commentaries and Handbooks to discover the situation for each oracle. It is difficult to just read through a book like Isaiah.

· The written Prophets were concentrated between 760 B.C. (Amos) and 460 B.C. (Malachi). These were times of social upheaval, religious unfaithfulness and changes in national boundaries. Literary form of the Prophets:

  •  Lawsuit (Isaiah 3:13-26) where the sins of the people are treated as if they were presented in court.
  •  The Woe, which is an expression of grief over the doom that was about to come. (Habakkuk 2:6-8)
  •   The Promise includes references to the future, to radical change and to blessings. (Amos 9:11-15).   
  • Poetry. We are most familiar with meter and rhyme in English poetry. In Hebrew the most familiar form is Parallelism. This is where two or more statements are set beside each other. “Synonymous Parallelism” is where the second line agrees and restates the first. (Isaiah 44:22) “Antithetical Parallelism” is where the second line contrasts with the first.(Hosea 7:14) “Synthetic Parallelism” is where the second line gives further information. (Obadiah 21)

· Sometimes the N.T. seems to give a “fuller meaning” to the text. This can only be done with certainty where the author was inspired by God. So be careful of drawing out these meanings. (I Corinthians 10:4; Exodus 17; Numbers 20) 


· The Prophets are not always clear about the sequence of events. Things that are near in time are mixed with things that are distant events. An example is Jesus reading the scriptures in the Synagogue of Nazareth (Luke 4:16-20). He read Isaiah 60:1,2a. Look at Isaiah 60:2b and see why he stopped there. · It is helpful to see that what from one angle appears as a single object, may be seen as two from a side view. For example, if you look from the side at a mountain range, it may look like one mountain. If you look from the front, you will see that there are two or more mountains. From reading an O.T. text, it may look like it refers to one event, but from the New Testament perspective, we can see that it may refer to two events. This explains why Jesus first Advent is resembles the Servant of the Lord, and his Second Advent resembles the Victorious Lord.

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