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Amos

AMOS

THE MINOR PROPHETS

We are now beginning the last division of Old Testament books, the division called the Minor Prophets. the Minor Prophets prophesied over a period of about 400 years. Some of them preached to the people of Israel (Northern Kingdom) and some to the people of Judah. They are called the “Minor Prophets” primarily because their books are shorter than those of the Major Prophets.

AMOS’ TIMES AND MESSAGE

To help us remember the prophet Amos, we might give him the name “the farmer prophet.” Before God called him, he had been a shepherd and one who took care of sycamore-fig trees. He came from the town of Tekoa in Judea, a few miles south of Jerusalem. His work as a prophet, however, was carried on in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Amos prophesied during the reign of King Jeroboam II of Israel (793-753 B.C.). The years of Amos’ ministry were prosperous years for Israel. The nation was materially rich and for the moment safe from foreign threats. But morally Israel was sadly rotten. The rich people took advantage of the poor and oppressed them. There was little justice in the courts. There was much hypocrisy in the people’s worship. And there was open idolatry. Amos was called by God to preach against all this religious and social corruption. Like Joel, he warned of a coming “day of the Lord” when God would judge. Like Jeremiah, he courageously preached God’s message even when threatened. “Hear this word the Lord has spoken against you,” he would say and then fearlessly expose the sins of Israel and her neighbors. When ordered to get out of Israel and go back to Judah to prophesy, Amos steadfastly refused, because he had been called by God to “prophesy to my people Israel.” Because of the hard hearts and deaf ears that Israel showed when Amos preached, Israel was judged when Assyria destroyed the nation thirty years after Jeroboam II died. Israel despised the words of God’s prophet, and God eventually sent them a famine – not a famine of food or thirst, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord (see 8:11-12).

GENERAL OUTLINE OF THE BOOK OF AMOS

  1. God’s Judgment on Israel’s Neighbors (1-2)
  2. Prophesies of Woe on Israel (3-6)
  3. Five Visions of Coming Judgment (7-9:10)
  4. A Promise of Restoration (9:11-15)

Read 2:6-8 and 6:4-7 to see Amos’ fearless preaching to expose sins.
Read 4:1-3 and 5:18-27 as examples of his prophecies of woe.
Read 8:1-6 to hear one of his visions of coming judgment.
Read 9:11-15, a promise of the days of the Messiah when Gentiles would be a part of the Kingdom. (Compare Acts 15:14-17.)

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Joel

JOEL

THE MINOR PROPHETS

We are now beginning the last division of Old Testament books, the division called the Minor Prophets. the Minor Prophets prophesied over a period of about 400 years. Some of them preached to the people of Israel (Northern Kingdom) and some to the people of Judah. They are called the “Minor Prophets” primarily because their books are shorter than those of the Major Prophets. We have only two small bits of information about the Prophet Joel: his name means “the Lord is God,” and he was the son of Pethuel (1:1). Anything else that we say about the man is guesswork. We guess that he prophesied to the people of Judah because he mentions the house of God, Mount Zion, and Jerusalem. Scholars have guessed anywhere from 800 B.C. to 400 B.C. as the time when he did his prophesying. (An early date is generally favored by conservative scholars for various reasons: the Jews placed his book next to Hosea and Amos, two early prophets; the enemies of the Jews that he mentions are early enemies such as Egypt, the Philistines, Phoenicia, and Edom.) His inspired message and not the man is what is important.

THE BOOK OF JOEL

Joel prophesied in order to show the nation their need for humility and repentance and to warn of coming judgment on “the Day of the Lord.” At the same time he seeks to keep the Jews faithful to God by reminding them of God’s coming salvation and His promised destruction of His enemies. The immediate occasion for Joel’s writing of his book was an invasion of locusts that utterly destroyed the land. Joel sees in the locust invasion a picture of God’s judgment on “the day of the Lord,” the day of His dreadful judgment. He warns that repentance must come before the “day of the Lord;” then God will show compassion. Joel writes: “let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand – a day of darkness and gloom … The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it? … Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (from chap. 2). Joel’s prophecy contains a special prophecy of the Messianic age. Read [Joel 2:28-32]. Then see [Acts 2:14-21]. What day in the Messianic Kingdom was Joel prophesying according to Peter? We should remember that since this prophecy of Joel has already been fulfilled on Pentecost, we are now in the “last times,” always moving closer to that “day of the Lord” when all will be judged. We are to be serious now about living in the Spirit who was poured out on Pentecost so that we may face the coming “day of the Lord” in confidence through Christ.

GENERAL OUTLINE FOR THE BOOK OF JOEL

  1. An Invasion of Locusts Pictures the “Day of the Lord” (1-2:27)
  2. The Blessings and Judgments of God are Prophesied (2:28-3:21)

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Daniel

DANIEL

THE PROPHET DANIEL

Daniel was the third of the great prophets who prophesied at the time of the Babylonian Captivity. As we have already learned, Jeremiah was not carried into captivity but stayed in Jerusalem to preach among the Jews who were left; and Ezekiel preached among the Jews who were a part of the Captivity in Babylon. Like Ezekiel, Daniel was also taken to Babylon. But his prophetic work was not carried on among the Jews; rather he worked at the palace of various kings of Babylon and Persia. Daniel was born about 620 B.C. to a family of nobility in Judea. As a young man he was carried off in 605 B.C. to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar to serve in the king’s palace. Like the other young Jewish men taken with him, he was handsome and highly intelligent. For three years Daniel was given special training for his position. He was also given a new name, Belteshazzar. Though Daniel and his Jewish colleagues lived among heathen people and were pressured to turn away from the Lord, they still kept a firm faith. God blessed them with still greater wisdom and understanding so that the king “found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom” (1:20). God also gave to Daniel the special ability to understand the meaning of visions and dreams. When Daniel interpreted a mysterious dream of Nebuchadnezzar, the king “made him ruler over the entire province of Babylon and placed him in charge of all its wise men” (2:48). Daniel’s prophecies continued during the reigns of Belshazzar, Darius the Mede, and Cyrus, the great Persian king. It seems that his career continued over a period of about 70 years. We perhaps remember Daniel best for his devout faith in the living God. He openly practiced his God-given faith even though at one time it meant that he was thrown to the hungry lions. God greatly rewarded his firm faith, protected him, and allowed him to live in great honor into old age.

THE BOOK OF DANIEL

Daniel himself is the author of the book that carries his name. This is clear from the testimony of Jesus in Mat. 24:14. Quoting a part of the book, Jesus says that those words were “spoken of through the prophet Daniel.” Among many Bible critics today it is popular to deny that Daniel is the author of the book. It is claimed that the real author must have lived about 400 years after the events described in the first part of the book. It is said that Daniel simply could not have written clearly about things so far into the future. It is clear that those who deny Daniel’s authorship do not believe that the Holy Spirit has the power to predict things of the future through a prophet he has chosen. Daniel’s book is written in two different languages – Hebrew and Aramaic. Chapter 2:4-7:28 is written in Aramaic. Aramaic was the “international language” spoken during the Babylonian Empire and hundreds of years later. Since Daniel served at the kings’ palace in Babylon, he would have known Aramaic well. Since he grew up in Judea, he would have known Hebrew well. Hebrew and Aramaic are very closely related languages; they come from the same family of languages known as “Western Semitic” languages. They are more closely related than many of the Bantu languages of Africa. The Book of Daniel contains a special kind of prophecy which we often call “apocalyptic prophecy.” The Book of Revelation in the New Testament is also apocalyptic. The word “apocalyptic” means a “revealing” or “uncovering.” In apocalyptic writings God’s wise plans are uncovered to people living in times of great evil. The purpose of apocalyptic prophecy is to offer comfort to the troubled by revealing God’s guiding hand and promising the eventual triumph of his Kingdom. Dreams and visions are a big part of the apocalyptic writings of the Bible.

GENERAL OUTLINE OF DANIEL

  1. Daniel Serves As Adviser to Kings in Babylon (1-6) Included in these six chapters is the story of Daniel’s advancement in Babylon, his interpreting the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, the account of the fiery furnace, the writing on the wall at Belshazzar’s time, and the story of Daniel in the lion’s den.
  2. Daniel’s Prophetic Visions About Coming Kingdoms (7-12) 9:24ff contains a special prophecy of “the Anointed One,” that is, the Messiah. Chapter 11 tells of the coming political kingdoms of the world.

NAMES FOR THE MAJOR PROPHETS TO HELP YOU REMEMBER THEM

  • Isaiah – The Greatest Prophet
  • Jeremiah – The Weeping Prophet
  • Ezekiel – The Prophet to the Exiles
  • Daniel – The Palace Prophet

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Ezekiel

EZEKIEL

THE PROPHET EZEKIEL

Ezekiel’s name means “God strengthens.” He is often called “son of man” in his book, a name that implies human weakness and mortality. But his proper name, “Ezekiel,” reminds us that his strength came from God. When Ezekiel’s ministry was completed, the people indeed knew that a strong prophet of God had been among them. God strengthened, as his name says. Ezekiel prophesied at the same time as Jeremiah but in a different location. Ezekiel was the prophet to the exiles in Babylon. He was born about 622 B.C. in Judah to a priestly family. His father’s name was Buzi. Until he was about 25 years old he lived in Judah. Then in 597 B.C. he was carried off to Babylon together with Jehoiachin and about 10,000 other Jews. (Remember that Daniel had been similarly carried off to Babylon eight years earlier in 605 B.C.) In Babylon he lived with the other Jews of the Captivity by the Kebar River, a canal connecting the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Babylon. We know little more about Ezekiel’s personal life except that he was married but later lost his wife in death at the same time that Jerusalem was besieged in 588/587 B.C. (Chap. 24). After spending five years of captivity in Babylon, God called Ezekiel “in the thirtieth year.” (1:). This probably means the thirtieth year of Ezekiel’s life. His ministry lasted more than 20 years among the exiles. As his name suggests, Ezekiel was a strong preacher. His message came from God who had called him. To point out that his message was not his own but God’s, Ezekiel liked to use the expression, “the hand of the Lord was upon me” (1:3). His message and his book are therefore the result of divine inspiration. Although his preaching was strong, clear, interesting, and from God, still his words were usually resented and rejected. When God called him, He warned him that his message would often fall on hard hearts. But still he was to faithfully preach. God had said: “And whether they listen or fail to listen – for they are a rebellious house – they will know that a prophet has been among them” (3:5). Like Jeremiah, Ezekiel is a splendid example of a faithful church worker who did not give up when the going was difficult. In the end the faithful preaching of Ezekiel and the other faithful prophets must have brought some results. After the Babylonian Captivity, the Jews were cured of open idolatry. God’s word never returns to him empty when it is faithfully preached. It always accomplishes what He desires. Ezekiel’s prophetic career can logically be divided into two periods. The first period was the time before the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. During this period he preached with sharp words condemning the people’s sins and threatening destruction for Jerusalem. During the second period of his ministry, following the destruction in 587 B.C., Ezekiel’s message was mainly one of comfort and the promise of the restoration of Israel.

THE BOOK OF EZEKIEL

The entire book with its 48 chapters is written in the first person (“While I was among the exiles … I saw visions of God … he said to me“). It is obvious from this that Ezekiel himself is the author of the book that carries his name.

GENERAL OUTLINE OF EZEKIEL:

  1. Ezekiel’s Call (1-3) The prophet is given a special vision of God’s glory. Then he eats the scroll on which are written the words of owe that he is to preach. He is commanded to be God’s watchman to the people in exile, to warn them of their evil ways in order to save their lives.
  2. Prophecies Against Jerusalem (4-24) Ezekiel predicts Jerusalem’s destruction by symbolic acts; see 4-7. Ezekiel is carried in spirit to Jerusalem to see the sins being carried on in the city. He also sees the glory of the Lord depart from the temple, a symbol that depicts God leaving his unrepentant people; see 8-11. In chapters 12-24 we find symbolic sermons and actions of Ezekiel that tell of the coming fall of Jerusalem. Chapter 24 is an especially sad chapter. It tells of the death of the prophet’s wife, for whom he is not permitted to mourn. The day she dies, the siege of Jerusalem begins. This is a symbolic picture for the exiles. Just as death ended Ezekiel’s relationship with his wife, so God’s special relationship with Jerusalem ended and destruction followed.
  3. Prophecies Against the Nations (25-32)
  4. Prophecies of the Restoration of Israel (33-48) These prophecies include beautiful prophecies of the coming Kingdom of Christ (see 34:23). Chapter 37, concerning the vision of the dry bones, is an especially well-known chapter of the Bible. Just as dry bones were revived into a vast army, so hopeless Israel would be restored.

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Lamentations

LAMENTATIONS

The text of the Bible does not tell us who wrote the Book of Lamentations. But a tradition says that Jeremiah is the author. The old Greek translation, the Septuagint, added this note at the beginning of the book: “And it came to pass, after Jeremiah was taken captive and Jerusalem laid waste, that Jeremiah sat weeping and lamented with this lamentation over Jerusalem and said …” Perhaps Jeremiah is the author, but we cannot know for certain. A “lamentation” is an expression of deep sorrow. The Book of Lamentations is made up of five sad poems or songs. The sad event that each of the five poems is concerned with is the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. In tone the poems are like a dirge that might be heard at a funeral. They are bursting with grief and teardrops. The author of the five Lamentations grieves so deeply not just because the beloved city of Jerusalem has been destroyed; he grieves especially because he knows that the destruction came because of God’s judgment on the people’s unrepented sins. The reader can almost feel the poems dripping with sorrow even as the first poem begins:

“How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! She who was queen among the provinces has now become a slave” (1:1).

Still today the Jews sadly chant the words of Lamentations to commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem. If you visit the so-called “wailing wall” near the old temple area in Old Jerusalem, you will hear the sobbing laments from Lamentations. For Christians today, the book serves as a serious reminder of God’s attitude toward sin and the need for sincere repentance. Each of the five chapters of Lamentations is a separate poem. The first four are arranged as acrostic poems.

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Jeremiah

JEREMIAH

THE PROPHET JEREMIAH

We know more about the life of Jeremiah than of any of the other Old Testament prophets. He was born in Anathoth, a village about four miles northeast of Jerusalem, the son of Hilkiah, a priest at Anathoth. He was called by God to be a prophet in the 13th year of the reign of King Josiah of Judah; this would be 627 B.C. This means that he prophesied about 100 years after Isaiah. Jeremiah says that he was only a “child” when he was called by God. Perhaps this means that he was a young man of about 20 years. His ministry continued until after the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. He preached for more than 40 years. His ministry was carried on during the reigns of five kings of Judah: Josiah, Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. For most of his career, Jeremiah prophesied in Jerusalem, but later he was carried off to Egypt where he probably died.

THE TIMES AND MESSAGE OF JEREMIAH

The power of Assyria was failing when Jeremiah began to preach God’s message to Judah. The new superpower was Babylon. Babylon became God’s agent to carry out his judgment on Judah during Jeremiah’s time, just as he had used Assyria to judge the Northern Kingdom of Israel in Isaiah’s time. When Jeremiah began his work, it looked like there was some hope for a religious renewal in Judah. King Josiah was a good king who tried to put an end to idolatry in Judah. But there were no lasting results from his reform. The four kings that followed Josiah were all wicked. Idolatry and all the evil things that go with it flourished. There were even human sacrifices to Baal and Molech (19:5; 32:35). In spite of the sins of Judah, God did not immediately judge his wicked people. He sent his prophet Jeremiah “to uproot and tear down” but also “to build and to plant.” (1:10). In strong law terms, Jeremiah threatened certain destruction for Judah if there was no repentance, but in beautiful gospel terms, he promised God’s grace and deliverance to those who would remain faithful to God. He pointed forward to God’s “new covenant” that he would make through Christ when he would “forgive their wickedness and … remember their sins no more” (chap. 31). How did the people receive Jeremiah’s words? With hard hearts and contempt. The people of his own hometown of Anathoth said to him: “Do not prophesy in the name of the Lord or you will die by our hands” (11:21). The priests, the other prophets, and all the other people of Judah likewise threatened him and said: “You must die!” (26:8). When Jeremiah had Baruch, his scribe, write all the words of prophesy which God had given, wicked King Jehoiakim burned the scroll on which they were written. Jeremiah had enemies on all sides for speaking God’s word faithfully, and yet he continued in his God-given call as a prophet. He is an excellent example for all church workers to be faithful in their call no matter how much opposition they may have. God had told Jeremiah: “Let the one who has my word speak it faithfully” (23:28). And he did it. When it was clear that the people would never listen to the faithful prophet, God let his judgment fall “like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces” (23:29). King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon smashed Judah, destroyed Jerusalem, and the Babylonian Captivity began. Nebuchadnezzar spared Jeremiah and allowed him to remain in Jerusalem. But still his troubles were not over. He was later carried off to Egypt by his own people, who had not repented even in the face of God’s judgment. Jeremiah is often called “the weeping prophet.” He obviously had much to weep about in that unhappy and wicked period of Judah’s history.

HISTORICAL FACTS RELATED TO THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH

(The five kings of Judah during Jeremiah’s career are underlined.) King Josiah rules from 640-608 B.C. He is a good king and tries to reform Judah. Jeremiah is called by God in the 13th year of Josiah’s reign, that is 627 B.C. The Assyrian capital of Nineveh falls to Babylon in 612 B.C. Babylon becomes the world superpower replacing Assyria. Jehozhaz, son of Josiah, becomes king in 608 B.C. at his father’s death. He rules for just three months and is deported to Egypt by Pharaoh Necho. Jehoiakim, brother of Jehoahaz, becomes king in 608 B.C. and reigns until 597 B.C. He is very wicked, opposes Jeremiah, and burns his writings. In 605 B.C. Babylon crushes Egypt at the Battle of Carchemish under Nebuchadnezzar. Also in 605 B.C. Jerusalem falls to Nebuchadnezzar and a few Jews, including Daniel, are deported to Babylon. Jehoiachin, son of Johoiakim, becomes king in 597 B.C. But after just three months he is carried off to Babylon, as Jeremiah prophesied. Zedekiah is appointed king of Jedah by Nebuchadnezzar and rules from 597-586 B.C. When Zedekiah rebels against Babylon, the Babylonians come to destroy Jerusalem. Zedekiah is blinded and taken in chains to Babylon. Jeremiah is allowed to remain in Jerusalem. Gedaliah is made governor over the small group of Jews that remain in Jerusalem. When Gedaliah is assassinated, the Jews flee to Egypt and force Jeremiah to go with them. He dies while in Egypt. THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH The 52 chapters of the Book of Jeremiah contain prophetic sermons, autobiographical material (material about Jeremiah’s life), and historical material. Chapter 36 gives us some interesting information on how a prophet’s preachings became recorded into book form. Jeremiah had a scribe named Baruch who wrote down the prophesies of Jeremiah. What Baruch wrote down would no doubt be the first part of our present Book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah added to this later. This was the human part involved in the writing of the book. In the whole process the Spirit was directing and causing his thoughts and words to be recorded. When reading the Book of Jeremiah, we should remember that the various parts are not arranged according to the proper order of events; that is, the book is not chronologically arranged. Events during the life of a later king are sometimes related before events in the life of an earlier king.

GENERAL OUTLINE FOR JEREMIAH:

  1. Prophecies Against Judah and Jerusalem (1-45) (Included is autobiographical material about Jeremiah)
  2. Prophecies Against Foreign Nations (46-51)
  3. An Historical Appendix (Addition) (52) (telling of the fall of Jerusalem)

SPECIAL SECTIONS FROM JEREMIAH:

Read Chapter 1 to learn of Jeremiah’s call.
As an example of Jeremiah’s prophetic threats to Judah, read Jeremiah 4:5-9.
Read Jeremiah 7:1-11 as an example of his sermons uncovering hypocrisy.
Read Jeremiah 18:1-12 as an example of a “dramatic parable” or “object lesson.”
See Chapter 46 as an example of Jeremiah’s prophecies against a foreign nation. Read Jeremiah 23:5-6 and Jeremiah 31:31-34 as examples of beautiful Messianic prophecies from Jeremiah.

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WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Isaiah

ISAIAH

THE PROPHET ISAIAH

Isaiah’s name comes first among the names of the prophets who wrote books of the Bible. That is fitting, because he stands as the greatest of the writing prophets. Chronologically, other prophets came before him; but none is greater. Isaiah lived in the kingdom of Judah in Jerusalem. We know very little about his personal life except that he was the son of Amoz and that he was married and had two sons. Isaiah prophesied during the reigns of four kings: Uzziah (Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (Is. 1:1). Chapter 6 of Isaiah tells us about his call from the Lord to serve as a prophet. He was called “in the year that King Uzziah died” (6:1). This was about the year 740 B.C. Read Chapter 6 to learn about Isaiah’s call from God. As the words of Chapter 6 suggest, Isaiah’s words usually fell on deaf ears and hard hearts. He preached strong words of law which warned of God’s judgment coming on the sins of the people. He also announced healing words of comfort from a gracious God who longs to forgive and restore his people. Isaiah’s name itself speaks of God’s love. His name means “the Lord is salvation” or “salvation of the Lord.”

ISAIAH’S TIME IN WORLD HISTORY

It is helpful to remember some history when reading the Book of Isaiah. For judgment on his stubborn people, God often called on foreign powers. The mighty power of Isaiah’s time wasAssyria. Isaiah had already been preaching for 18 years when he heard about God’s judgment on the Northern Kingdom by allowing Assyria to destroy their kingdom. The Assyrian king later tried to take Jerusalem; but God did not allow it, just as Isaiah had told King Hezekiah in Jerusalem.

THE SPECIAL PROPHECY OF ISAIAH

God did not only allow Isaiah to preach of the things that would take place in his own lifetime. God also allowed Isaiah to proclaim things that would happen far into the future. By prophetic vision, he “saw” the end of the Assyrian rule at the hands of the Babylonians in 612 B.C. He also “saw” the Babylonian Captivity of the Jews and their return to Judah. By God’s prophetic gift, Isaiah was looking 200 years into the future to write of these events. But Isaiah was allowed to see farther into the future and far more important things than these. He was allowed to look into the future all the way up to the days of the Roman Empire when a virgin would give birth to a son who would be called Immanuel (7:15). In his famous 53rd Chapter, Isaiah is allowed to “see” the suffering and resurrection of this Prince Of Peace who would come to heal us by his wounds. Because of his clear visions of the Savior and his work, Isaiah is sometimes called “the evangelist of the Old Testament.” By a miracle of the Spirit, through Isaiah the Old Testament people received a clear picture of the salvation that was to be prepared for them by God’s Son. Be sure to read Chapter 53. Remember that it was written more than 700 years before Christ’s work. Do you think the people of Isaiah’s time would ever be able to say, “We had no way of knowing about a Savior”?

ONE AUTHOR

Many Bible critics say that one man could not have written all 66 chapters of Isaiah. Some say that at least three men must have done the writing: They say chapters 1-39 were written by one man, 40-54 by another, and 55-66 by still another. They try to prove their ideas by pointing out that the style of writing is so different in the various parts of the 66 chapters. They also claim that one man could not speak clearly of things that would happen 200 years after his death, such as Isaiah does concerning the Babylonian exile. But with God the Holy Spirit guiding the author, all things are possible. It is a tremendous miracle of the Spirit that allowed Isaiah to look not only 200 years into the future but also into the life and kingdom of Christ. As for different styles of writing in the book, people commonly use different styles of writing for different occasions; also, a style of writing may change very much as an author grows older. The testimony of the New Testament concerning one author for the 66 books of Isaiah is very clear. The New Testament quotes many chapters from all parts of Isaiah; and when it does, Isaiah is given credit for writing the whole book under the Holy Spirit. For examples, see such passages as Mat. 13:14 (quotes Is. 6:9-10; Jn. 1:23 (quotes Is. 40:3); Luke 4:17 ff (quotes Is. 61:1-2). Note that these passages give quotations from the supposed three “different books” of Isaiah. Yet there is no hint of three or more different Isaiahs writing. Clearly, the book has just one author.

AN OUTLINE FOR ISAIAH

  1. Prophecies Concerning Things of Isaiah’s Time (1-35) In these chapters Isaiah prophesies concerning Judah, Jerusalem, and enemy nations. Interspersed in these chapters are many beautiful Messianic prophecies. (cf. 7:14; 9:6-7, 11).
  2. An Historical Interlude (36-39) These four chapters give an historical account of the Assyrian King Sennacherib threatening Jerusalem at King Hezekiah’s time. They also tell of Hezekiah’s illness and recovery after he prayed for God’s mercy.
  3.  Prophecies Relating To The Exile (40-66) These are primarily chapters of comfort for Judah and for the whole Church because of God’s deliverance. God would deliver the Jews from Babylon and all of His people from sin through his “Servant.” Especially important chapters in this section are 40, 53, and 61.

KEY PASSAGES FROM ISAIAH:

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (7:14).

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (9:6-7).

“We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (53:6).

Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

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New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

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About the Bible


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WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Song of Songs

SONG OF SONGS

A LOVE POEM

The Song of Songs, or as it is sometimes called, The Song of Solomon, is a poem whose theme is the love between man and woman. Many of the pictures in the poetry are pictures from the countryside; we often call this kind of poetry “pastoral poetry” because of its references to things of the pasture. (“I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” “My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag.”) The lovers in the poem are filled with passion and delight in their love for one another. The whole book seems to be made up of the words of the woman lover, the male lover, and their friends. The NIV translation has indicated the three different speakers in the poem by putting in the margin the names “Beloved,” “Lover,” and “Friends.” The reader of the Song of Songs is soon struck by the open expression of the physical attraction between the beloved and her lover. Some find parts of the poem almost embarrassing for that reason. But we must remember that it is God himself who created the attraction between the sexes. It is his plan that a man and his wife enjoy this attraction for one another as they live as “one flesh.” God made the attraction between husband and wife to be something “very good.” It is only man in his sinful lust that often turns God’s very good thing into something dirty.

ALLEGORICAL OR LITERAL

Both Jews and Christians have interpreted the Song of Songs to be an allegory that pictures the love of God for his people. (An allegory is a story that tells real or imagined things for the purpose of teaching higher things.) According to this idea, Christ would be the lover in the poem, and the Church would be his beloved bride. This may be a valid interpretation, but it must be said that there is nothing in the book itself to indicate that it is an allegory. Of course it may be said that when we read about the love of the man and woman in the poem, we may well be reminded of that love that is above all human love – the love of Christ for his redeemed.

AUTHORSHIP

The title at the book’s beginning says: “Solomon’s Song of Songs.” This title may show that Solomon wrote the book, or it may show that the book is about Solomon and his love for his bride, called the Shulammite. Whatever we may say about the authorship and interpretation of the Song of Songs, we will always remember that the Holy Spirit is the divine author and that he included this book in his Holy Scriptures “to teach us” (Rom. 15:4). In this book he teaches us in beautiful poetry about God’s gift of human love at the same time that he reminds us of his greater love for us.

Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

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New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

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About the Bible


What is the Bible? Find an answer to this question and more.

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WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Ecclesiastes

ECCLESIASTES

NAME AND AUTHOR

The name “Ecclesiastes” is a Greek word that means “teacher” or “preacher.” The Book of Ecclesiastes begins this way: “The words of the Teacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem.” Who is this teacher or preacher who is the author of Ecclesiastes? The description can fit only Solomon. Though his name is not directly mentioned as the author, only he was a son of David and king in Jerusalem. The subject matter of the book seems to indicate that Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes when he was an old man reflecting back on his life.

THE THEME OF ECCLESIASTES

The theme that is repeated throughout the book is that life is meaningless if it is lived only for the things of this world. Solomon writes that he had searched for satisfaction in wisdom, pleasure, toil, and riches. Since he found very little satisfaction in these things, he says about them all: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” The Hebrew word that is translated “meaningless” literally means “air” or “breath.” Just as our breath has no real substance, so the things of this world have no lasting substance; by themselves they are basically empty and meaningless. Wise Solomon reminds us that we cannot expect to find real satisfaction from them. When Solomon encourages his readers not to set their hearts on things such as wisdom, pleasure and toil, he does not say that these things should be pushed aside. He encourages his readers to accept them as being from the hand of God and to enjoy them for whatever good they can offer. But from the things of this life, from the things of this place “under the sun,” we should not expect to find a heaven on earth. At the end of Ecclesiastes Solomon says:

“Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.” (12:13)

The things of this life by themselves are utterly meaningless and empty; but man finds meaning in life when he centers his life on his God. When we remember our relationship to our God, life on earth can be not only livable, but even enjoyable. But we must remember that complete joy and satisfaction is waiting for us only in the next life. Life “under the sun” will always seem meaningless when compared with the full life that will be ours in the presence of God in heaven.

SOME FREQUENTLY QUOTED VERSES FROM ECCLESIASTES:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!’ says the Teacher. `Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless’” (1:2).

“There is nothing new under the sun” (1:9c).

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven” (3:1).

“That every man may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God” (3:13).

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work” (4:9).

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools” (5:1).

“Whoever loves money never has money enough” (5:10).

“Naked a man comes from his mother’s womb, and as he comes, so he departs” (5:15a).

“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins” (7:20).

“Remember your Creator in the days of your youth” (12:1a).

“Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body” (12:12b).

“Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13b).

Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

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New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

View topics



About the Bible


What is the Bible? Find an answer to this question and more.

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WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.

Proverbs

PROVERBS

PROVERBS IN GENERAL

A proverb is “a brief wise saying” or “wisdom condensed into a brief statement.” The Book of Proverbs is a collection of wise sayings. (See section on Hebrew Poetry). The purpose of the Book of Proverbs is to teach wisdom, especially to the young. It seeks to impress on the reader that wisdom starts with the Lord. [Proverbs 1:7] says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Proverbs should not be thought of simply as a book of wise sayings on how to be successful in this world. It is a book of moral instruction dealing with sin and holiness before God. When reading the individual proverbs, it is important to remember that proverbs are designed to state things that are GENERALLY true and not necessarily to state things that are always true. For example, [Proverbs 22:6] says,

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

That is certainly true. But the proverb also allows for the exception when a child who is given excellent instruction may later be led astray. The truths that proverbs teach are GENERAL TRUTHS.

AUTHORSHIP OF THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

The Book of Proverbs begins this way: “The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel.” Solomon wrote a large part of the Book of Proverbs. He is credited with writing or at least speaking the proverbs in chapters 1-29. We know also that Solomon wrote more proverbs that are not recorded in this book. [1 Kings 4:32] says, “(Solomon) spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five.” The headings on chapter 30 and 31 tell us also that two men by the name of Agur and King Lemuel also wrote some of the proverbs. The headings at 22:17 and 24:23 show that some anonymous authors also contributed to the book.

A GENERAL OUTLINE FOR PROVERBS

Because the book is filled with individual proverbs not always fitting under a single theme, it is difficult to give a logical outline for the Book of Proverbs. But perhaps this general outline will be of some help.

  1. A General Introduction On Wisdom (1-9)
  2. Six Collections of Proverbs (10-31:9)
  3. An Acrostic Poem On The Perfect Wife (31-10-31)

SOME IMPORTANT THEMES THAT RUN THROUGH THE BOOK

  1. WISDOM AND FOLLY – THE WISE MAN AND THE FOOL:  Proverbs on this theme contrast living by God’s wise way and man’s proud selfish way. For examples see 10:23, 12:1, 15:5.
  2. THE RIGHTEOUS AND THE WICKED: Proverbs under this theme describes the righteous way of life and its blessings and contrasts it with wicked living that ends in destruction. For some examples of this kind of proverb, see 10:3, 12:2-3, 16:8.
  3. WORDS AND THE TONGUE: Many proverbs give advice regarding the proper and improper use of speech. Note these examples: 11:11-14, 27:2.
  4. THE FAMILY: Proverbs under this theme give advice on the things that make for a happy and lasting home-life, and the things that destroy home-life. See these examples: 10:1, 13:1, 12:4.
  5. LAZINESS AND HARD WORK: Read these proverbs as examples under this theme: 10:4-5, 22:13, 24:30-34

Old Testament


Who is Moses and the prophets? More topics and answers found here.

View topics



New Testament


Who is Jesus and why should I care? Here, you will find answers!

View topics



About the Bible


What is the Bible? Find an answer to this question and more.

Learn more

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

WHO IS JESUS?

Many people have many different ideas. Just a good man who lived and died? A charismatic man whose followers stretched the truth? A holy man with some connection to the divine? A prophet like Mohammed? Who is Jesus?

WORSHIP

Ever have a question about worship practices but didn’t know whom to ask? Well here’s the place for you! Learn the meaning of the Scripture readings in church,. Learn how to pray. And understand religious terms used in the church setting.