The prophet Isaiah is one of the major prophets of the Old Testament. He is called a major prophet because he wrote a very large book. The minor prophets did not write long books.
When Isaiah prophesied, the nation of Judah was not obeying God as they should. He prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah. Under King Ahaz the people behaved very wickedly but during the latter part of his life, when king Hezekiah was reigning, the people started to do better.
During this time God sent the Assyrian army to punish the northern tribes of Israel. Isaiah records a time when the king of Assyria, Sennacherib, and his army surrounded the city of Jerusalem to bring it under their control. The Assyrian king made a mistake when his messenger said that God could not deliver the city out of his hand. Isaiah told King Hezekiah to not worry; that God would teach Sennacherib a lesson. That night one angel went into the camp of the Assyrians and killed 186,000 soldiers. Sennacherib took his army back to Assyria.
Isaiah made many Messianic prophecies. A Messianic prophecy is a prophecy about Jesus. Messiah means “anointed one” and is the same thing as Christ. When a person became a king or priest in the Old Testament they were anointed with oil (a special oil was poured on their head). Since Jesus would be a king and a high priest in heaven, the prophets called Him the anointed one, or Messiah, or Christ—they all mean the same thing.
Isaiah made prophesies about Jesus’ birth, life, and death about 700 years before the events took place. The prophesies of Jesus’ death are filled with great detail. Isaiah 53, a prophecy of Jesus on the cross, describes the crucifixion from Jesus’ point of view. It also talks about how Jesus willingly died so that many might have eternal life through His death.
Isaiah also prophesied about the church. He wrote that Jesus would set up a kingdom that would not be destroyed. This kingdom, the church, would be a peaceful kingdom and the people would love one another. Of course, God expects us to be kind to others in the church and to do what we can to help them. In doing good, we please our king, Jesus.
Lessons from Isaiah
- God wants people who are sinning to come back to Him so He can forgive them.
- God promised Jesus Christ would come and save people from their sins.
- Jesus would set up a kingdom, the church, that would not be destroyed.
Jeremiah (and Lamentations)
We often study about God’s people, the Israelites. You may remember that after King Solomon died, the kingdom divided in two. Ten tribes became Israel and were unfaithful to God. The two remaining tribes, called Judah would obey God some of the time and disobey God at other times. God would punish both Israel and Judah when they worshipped idols and did not obey His laws. Finally, God allowed the nation of Assyria to take the tribes of Israel away from their homes and live in another country. God warned the nation of Judah to be faithful or they would also be taken from their homes.
God warned his people through prophets. One of the prophets sent to the people of Judah when they were wicked was a man named Jeremiah. Some people call him the weeping prophet because he was sad about the way the people of Judah were disobeying God. He also wrote a book called Lamentations, a sad look at the city of Jerusalem after God allowed the enemies to destroy the city when the people would not repent.
God told Jeremiah to tell the people to repent of their sins so God would not destroy Jerusalem. The people would not listen to Jeremiah. Sometimes they made fun of him. A couple of times they put him in jail for teaching God’s word. One of the times he was put in a large pit that was filled with mud and left to die. Finally, some people begged the king to let them rescue Jeremiah. When he began to preach, God told Jeremiah that most people would not listen to him. However, He wanted Jeremiah to keep preaching to them so that when God’s punishment came upon them, they would know why it happened.
Though God punished His people by letting another nation take them from their homes and destroying the city of Jerusalem, He loved His people very much. He wanted them to love Him and keep His law. God told Jeremiah to tell the people that He would allow them to come back to their homes after they had lived in the other nation for seventy years. After the seventy years God would bring the people back and take care of them. The people learned their lesson because they did not serve idols any more.
Jeremiah also prophesied about Jesus many hundreds of years before He was even born. He talked about Jesus coming to be a king over His people and bringing salvation to all people. Of course, Jesus does have a kingdom—the church and because He died for our sins, we can be saved. We can learn much from Jeremiah.
Lessons From Jeremiah
- God loves His people very much and is very sad when they disobey Him
- Eventually God will punish His people if they do not repent
- Sometimes people will not listen to God’s word but we must still teach
- Sometimes people are mean to God’s teachers
Ezekiel was a prophet of God during the time that Judah was beginning to go into captivity. He saw some wonderful visions of heavenly things that are recorded in the book bearing his name.
Ezekiel’s book begins with a vision of God on His throne in the land of the captives. Ezekiel did not see God’s real throne but God used symbols, or pictures, to help Ezekiel understand His message. The throne of God that Ezekiel saw was made so that it could travel throughout the world. It was surrounded by heavenly creatures that praised God and served Him.
While standing before the throne, God called Ezekiel to be a prophet to speak to the evil people of Judah. God gave Ezekiel a book, again a symbol, to eat which represented God’s word. The book was sweet to the taste. This helped Ezekiel know that God’s word was precious and good even though the message would hurt the feelings of some who were doing wrong. None of us like to hear that we are doing something wrong but, if we change and do what is right, it is better for us in the long run.
Ezekiel was to act like a watchman on a high tower. In ancient times, the watchman would sit in a tower and look out in all directions. If he saw an enemy coming, he would yell or sound a trumpet to warn the people in the city so they could prepare for battle. Ezekiel would warn God’s people of God’s anger that would come upon them if they did not repent.
One time, God took Ezekiel to the temple in Jerusalem where the people were supposed to worship God. He took Ezekiel into a basement where the priests of God were worshipping idols and doing things that were against God’s law. Though their sin was hidden from some men, God knew what they were doing and would judge them. We should always remember that God knows what we are doing even if our parents our friends do not.
Finally, God determined that He would take the rest of the people from Judah and destroy the city of Jerusalem. His presence left the temple and, though Ezekiel, He told the people to prepare for the armies that would defeat them.
Even in His anger, God promised that He would save a small part of the people, the good people, and bring them back to Jerusalem and, eventually, send them His Son who would rule according to God’s will—He rules today!
Lessons from Ezekiel
- God knows everything that takes place in the world
- God’s word is always good for us though, if we are sinning, we may not want to hear it
- God knows when people are only doing good around others but are doing wrong in secret
Daniel is one of the more well known prophets of the Old Testament. While a young man, Daniel was taken with the best people of the land to Babylon when king Nebuchadnezzar conquered the land of Israel. Though he was young, he was dedicated to God and determined that even in a strange land with unfamiliar people, he would follow God’s word. The book of Daniel tells us about his three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego who made the same dedication to God.
God blessed Daniel with the ability to discern the meaning of special dreams given to people by God. In the Old Testament times, God sometimes revealed a message to a person of importance by way of a dream. He does not do this now since He speaks to us through Jesus as recorded in the Bible (Hebrews 1:1).
The book of Daniel records dreams that he and Nebuchadnezzar had that told about the coming of the great kingdom of God, which we now know as the church. The dreams told about events in the world governments that would take place before God would establish His kingdom that would never be destroyed. These messages provided comfort to Daniel because he knew that God would lead the Israelites out of captivity and back to their homeland. However, there were some visions that frightened Daniel because they told of nations that would be mean to Israel.
The story of Daniel and his three friends demon-strates the strength that young people can have in bad times. It would have been easy for Daniel and his friends to decide to disobey God since God allowed them to be prisoners in Babylon. However, they put their trust in God and God took care of them. Through God’s care they were able to gain positions of authority in the Babylonian gover-nment and, in so doing, bring glory to God’s name. When you are dedicated, you glorify God.
Lessons from Daniel
- God will punish his people for wickedness
- God takes care of His children
- God is in charge of the kingdoms of the world; He will make things work for the good of His people
- Young people can glorify God by standing for the truth in difficult times