When most people think of prophets, they think of what we call the major prophets. Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are common perceptions of prophets. Most people think that these prophets predicted events that happened in the future and they take up a big chunk of the Old Testament in our Bibles. To some,
they are long, boring, and confusing and therefore we don’t understand them. Through this study, we will learn just how important these prophets are and what their role actually was in the history of Israel.
Prophets are God’s messengers to His people and this is certainly true of these three prophets. Isaiah and Jeremiah were known for their announcements of judgements on Israel and the nations. They told the people to repent repeatedly and warned of God’s coming wrath. They accused the leaders of Israel of failing to keep the covenant of the Lord and how wicked they had become. Their message was that empires were coming. Assyria and Babylon would come and destroy Jerusalem and take the Israelites into exile away from their homeland. All of their warning did no good as the leaders rejected God’s way and the people were taken into exile.
However, with all this bad news and justified circumstances, Isaiah and Jeremiah bring a message of hope and grace to the people. They talk of a coming Messiah, a suffering servant who will come and restore the nation. This is the message of hope for the nation. That a king will come from the royal line of David and save and restore God’s people once again. These prophets are not just predicting future events like fortune-tellers. These messages have a specific purpose in the storyline of the Bible and the history of mankind. A message of justice, judgment, and wrath. But they also hold a message of hope and peace for God’s people.
The prophet Ezekiel plays a little different role than Isaiah and Jeremiah. Ezekiel was an exile in Babylon where his story begins. After Ezekiel was commissioned by God, he performed a number of strange signs that were all symbolic of God’s message to His people. We really don’t see this in other prophets too much but it was a distinct quality of Ezekiel to do these things. Ezekiel’s message brings the same accusations against the leaders of Israel as other prophets and some of his visions are more descriptive. The message of hope is still the same, however. One day, there will be a king who arrives and finally destroys evil once and for all. These prophets point to a greater prophet who would one day come and save the world.