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November 15, 2017

You know that age-old question: "How do you eat an entire elephant?"  Answer: One bite at a time.  In other words, if you attempt to eat the entire elephant in one sitting you'll become overwhelmed.  The thought of even trying to consume an elephant is mind-boggling.  You just can't do it! 


We know what you're thinking: "What does eating an entire elephant have to do with biblical prophets?"  In Part 2 of God's Progressive Revelation: Prophets we're going to tackle these questions:

Why do I need to know/study who the prophets are?


Who are the prophets?


How do we understand prophecy?


Digging In: How do we tackle such an immense amount of information?


In Part 1 we discussed what qualifies someone to be a prophet.  Now that we understand that, we want to Dig In and talk about the prophets of the Bible.  So, let's begin!


Why do I need to know/study who the prophets are?


As you're reading this post, we're sure a thought just entered: "Isn't this stuff for pastors and theologians?"

As Matt says:


"Studying and understanding the ministry and content of God’s divine warning is a rich and rewarding experience.  A proper understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ depends on a solid knowledge of God’s heralds of the Messiah."


Something for your to ponder... the same Bible you use to study/read God's word is the same Bible pastors, theologians, and M. Div professors use.  So, while you may think this information is only for them, God gave us all the same information so that we can properly understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how a solid knowledge of God's heralds of the Messiah.


We must not compartmentalize the Bible into sections only for pastors, theologians, and M. Div professors.  God designed the information to be studied and enjoyed (keynote there... enjoyed) by ALL of us.

Ok!  Let's dive into the prophets!


Who are the prophets?  


Let's take a look something Matt Allen leaves us in the FPAM Biblical Foundation material concerning these prophets:


In the Canon (The Bible we have been handed down), there are five major prophets and twelve minor prophets. The terms major and minor define the quantity of written content ascribed to the prophetic author. Minor does not mean that their ministry or their message were any less significant. Major simply means there is significantly more written context. 


Ok, now that we cleared that up you'll better understand why these 17 prophets are divided into Major and Minor prophets:


The Five Major Prophets Are:

1. Isaiah
2. Jeremiah
3. Lamentations (also written by Jeremiah)
4. Ezekiel
5. Daniel


The Twelve Minor Prophets Are: 

1. Hosea 
2. Joel
3. Amos
4. Obadiah
5. Jonah
6. Michah
7. Nahum
8. Habbakuk
9. Zephaniah
10. Haggai
11. Zechariah 
12. Malachi


As you're looking at the list, we can almost guarantee that you're thinking: "Where do I begin?"  Good question and a question that leads us to our next section:


How do we understand prophecy?


Matt gives us a great analogy to help us understand:


Let’s say that Isaiah was looking at a mountain, and is describing it to his contemporary audience. He describes it in detail and tells of its importance. But, unbenounced to his contemporary audience and perhaps even to Isaiah, the mountain he is seeing and describing is directly in front of an even more impressive and significant mountain. However, since the present circumstance seemed so ominous, it obstructed the view of the distant and more significant summit- the advent of the Messiah! This analogy helps us understand that Isaiah, in many of his prophetic messages, is giving a vivid description of Jesus as the coming Messiah, and yet his audience understood that Isaiah was talking about someone in his day.

As we understand the progressive nature of prophecy, it is important to understand that all the prophets preceded the arrival of One whose prophetic ministry would be the culmination of God’s redemptive plan for His people. 


Hebrews 1:1-3 


Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.


Ok!  Lots of information is most likely swirling around in your head right now.  Rightfully so!  The next question we need to tackle is:


How do we address such an immense amount of information? 


Let's dive back into the FPAM Biblical Foundation material and take a look at what Matt suggests:


Digging In: While there is far too much to examine here, Fully Packed recommends dedication to time and effort in examining at least one prophetic book per year. Learn to investigate and answer these questions:


1. Who was the prophet?


2. Who was he prophesying to? (e.g. Israel, Judah, Edom, Egypt?)


3. What was the problem or prevalent sin in that day that was being addressed?


4. Do we presently as individuals or as the Church struggle with this same sin?


5. How does the prophet point to Christ?


6. Where is this Old Testament prophet quoted or explained in the New Testament?


Back to where we started.  How do you eat an entire elephant?  One bite at a time. This same age-old question applies to studying/understanding the prophets, what they were prophesying, and how does it fit into the entire Biblical narrative.  


To piggyback off Matt.  If you expect to study all the prophets, all at once, you're mad!  We have to take it one prophet at a time and spend the time understanding the who, what, and why.


We hope this section on Prophets has helped you better understand the who, what and why.  Our desire is for everyone to apply these methods to their studies and we hope to be an encouragement towards deeper understanding of God's Word!


Live for His glory... Succeed for His kingdom! 


*Blue lettering indicates passages taken from FPAM Biblical Foundation material authored by Matt Allen



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