The Order of the Prophets in the Old Testament

We’ve been studying eschatology, the doctrine of the end times, in our Table Talk series over the past few months. To do this, we’ve begun working through the various places where eschatological prophecies and teachings appear in the Bible, starting with Genesis and moving forward. We’ve made it to the prophet books, and this is where the material really starts to pile up. In fact, most prophecy and eschatology classes begin with these books.

The prophetic books are amazing and full of profound teachings. But they are also complicated. And, oh yes, there are also just a lot of them. This makes studying them challenging. How can we keep all of these names straight? To make matters worse, they do not appear in our bibles in chronological order? Why not? That answer is, in the words of our last president, above my pay grade. But I wish they were. It would make things a lot easier.

In order to help us understand the prophetic books, I have listed them in general chronological order. The dates are disputed, and so I’m giving a general place in history for the books. Some folks might argue for a few years this way or a few years that way. But I think I at least have them order in relation to each other. I’ve also given a short summary as to what each prophet discusses. I’ve also separated them into three stages: pre-exile, on the even of the exile and during the exile, and then post-exile.

    • Stage 1: Pre-Exile

      • Obadiah-date is unknown, but he seems very early (might be same man as in 1 Kings 18:3)—prophesies against Edom

      • Joel– date is unknown, but early prior to Amos (who alludes to him)—prophesies from Judah and warns of the coming “Day of the LORD”

      • Jonah– c.850BC—prophesies against the Assyrians

      • Amos– c.825BC—southern prophet who went north, preaches about social justice, predicts divine vengeance

      • Hosea– c.750BC—northern prophet who predicts that God’s people will become “not my people”

      • Isaiah– c.750BC—court prophet for kings of Judah, predicts the destruction of northern kingdom, reign of Hezekiah, eventual Babylonian Captivity, as well as Persian Empire & return of the exiles

      • Micah-c.750BC—contemporary & parallel prophet with Isaiah, many of the same themes & at least one exact repetition are found

    • Stage 2: Immediately Pre-Exile, Babylonian Captivity, and mid-Exile

      • Zephaniah-c. 625BC—contemporary & parallel prophet with Jeremiah, predicts judgment on Jerusalem, as well as the surrounding nations

      • Nahum-c. 625BC—Israelite prophet who prophesies the end of the Assyrian Empire, may be living in Assyria at the time

      • Habakkuk—c. 625BC—in Judah, predicts the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem, promises that “the just shall live by faith”

      • Jeremiah—c.625-580?BC—in Judah, predicts the Babylonian conquest & destruction of Jerusalem, lives through that conquest, predicts New Covenant to come in the future

      • Ezekiel—c.600-570?BC—in exile, “Chebar River” is a tributary of the Euphrates, a priest who prophesies about return from exile & new temple, references Daniel 3 times (Ez. 14:14, 14:20, 28:3)

      • Daniel—c.600-535?BC—in exile, court prophet to the Babylonians, predicts the history of exile, coming of the Persians, & eventually the coming of Christ

    • Stage 3: Post-Exile

      • Haggai-c.500BC—prophesies about the rebuilding of the temple & wall

      • Zechariah-c.500-520BC—prophesies about & against new temple, predicts coming messiah, NT book of Rev. makes heavy use of Zechariah

      • Malachi-c.450BC?—prophesies against new priesthood, predicts a New Elijah to come, eschatological judgment

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