Reading the Prophets (3)

We have been discussing two questions concerning the prophetical books in the Old Testament:

  1. Why are we so unfamiliar with them?
  2. Why are they important for us to study and learn?

In answer to the first question, I offered the following four reasons:

        1) Placement: at the end of the Old Testament

        2) Language: poetry rather than prose

        3) History: requires an understanding of historical events

        4) Theology: many messages of judgment and doom

Now we move on to the second question. Why are the prophets important for us to study and learn? Here are four reasons to consider:

1) We need the prophets to help balance out our unbiblical views of God.

We ended yesterday by talking about the messages of judgment that the prophets brought. And yet we saw that they also spoke words of comfort and hope. People often say things like, “The Bible says God is love. He doesn’t judge people.” But the same Bible that tells us that God is love also tells us that God judges and punishes sin. God is both loving and just. The prophets help us to develop a fully biblical picture of God.

2) The prophets deal with the weighty issues of life.

The prophets deal with the weighty issues of life – things like God’s character, God’s uniqueness, God’s sovereignty over the nations, God’s requirements for his people, the importance of justice and righteousness. Without the prophets our faith can grow shallow and weak, unable to stand up to the rigors and challenges of life.

3) The prophets point us to Jesus as the Messiah.

The whole Old Testament points forward to the coming of Christ, but as the time drew nearer, the prophetical books became more and more specific about the coming of the Messiah who would bring salvation for all the nations. Some of the most startling and clear prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament are found in the prophets.

4) The prophets help us understand God’s plan for the ages.

Without the prophets we could never make sense of what happened to Israel as God’s people. We would not understand God’s plan for his church in the present age. The prophets are critical for understanding God’s plan for the ages, including our own future.

Next week I will begin blogging through the Old Testament book of Habakkuk. Habakkuk is one of the Minor Prophets. It is a short book with a powerful message for today. I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to practice “reading the prophets” with me.


  1. Timothy Michalak says:

    Will you be going through all of the prophets this year then? And, with Habakkuk are you going to have a reading plan for us, the reader, and then a message for the next day? Because it has been on my heart to start learning about the prophets, but I have no where to learn from.

  2. Ray Fowler says:

    I wasn’t planning on going through all the prophets, but then again, who knows? For right now we will start with Habakkuk and then see where that leads us. I like your idea of giving the reading out first and then posting on it.

  3. Margaret says:

    Re: reading the prophets. You mentioned it helps to understand some of the history of the time. I once read the Bible through, using Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible along with my reading. This is a simple commentary, attractive and well illustrated in color, easy to read for a lay person like me who has no theological education at all. The brief history of each book of the Bible, brief explanations, and pictures, all were a big help in understanding, as I read them through before, and along with, each book in turn.

    Needless to say, I have forgotten most of it by now. This was many years ago!! Perhaps I will give the minor prophets another reading, with my Eerdmans alongside. Highly recommended as a simple commentary.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Reading the Prophets (2) at Ray Fowler .org
  2. Reading the Prophets (1) at Ray Fowler .org
  3. Blogging with Habakkuk (1) at Ray Fowler .org
  4. Some Links to the Minor Prophets at Ray Fowler .org
  5. Blogging with Habakkuk (21) - Trusting God No Matter What at Ray Fowler .org

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