The Latter, or Major, Prophets

Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are known as the major prophets and wrote the books that bear their names (along with occasional assistance from personal scribes).

Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are known as the major prophets and wrote the books that bear their names (along with occasional assistance from personal scribes).

But the story for us to consider does not stop there. Each man told of his own fascinating contribution to the Bible.

Yet in the final analysis it is Jesus Christ Himself who joins the two sections of the Bible, the Old and New Testaments, together. He welds the Hebrew Prophets to the New Testament. So it is primarily to Christ that we must first look for guidance in evaluating the Latter, or Major, Prophets.

Did Jesus directly ascribe any portions of the Bible to the prophet Isaiah?

"Well did Isaiah prophesy about you . . ." (Matthew 15:7). In verses 8-9 Christ quotes from Isaiah 29:13 in the Hebrew Bible.

Did all four Gospel writers attribute portions of the Hebrew Scriptures to Isaiah?

"For this is he [John the Baptist] who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah . . ." (Matthew 3:3; compare Mark 7:6; Luke 3:4; John 12:39-41).

Clearly, the prophet Isaiah spoke these words. Like Paul in composing some of his New Testament letters, he may well have dictated portions of his book to an assistant. Remember that the official system of recorders and scribes (established by King David) was still in operation in Judah during Isaiah's lifetime. His prophetic ministry continued during the reigns of several Judean kings (Isaiah 1:1).

Did the apostle Paul also quote from Isaiah?

". . . They departed after Paul had said one word: 'The Holy Spirit spoke rightly through Isaiah the prophet to our fathers'" (Acts 28:25; compare Romans 9:27).

What was unusual about Jeremiah's calling?

"Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations" (Jeremiah 1:4-5).

This expression, "the word of the LORD came to me" (in slightly varied forms), is repeated often in the book of Jeremiah. The message of the prophet is directly from God; Jeremiah is merely His human instrument.

What was one of Jeremiah's prophetic gifts?

"So Jeremiah wrote in a book all the evil that would come upon Babylon, all these words that are written against Babylon" (Jeremiah 51:60).

But did Jeremiah do all the writing himself?

". . . This word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying: 'Take a scroll of a book and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel, against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah even to this day' " (Jeremiah 36:1-2).

"Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah; and Baruch wrote on a scroll of a book, at the instruction of Jeremiah, all the words of the LORD which He had spoken to him" (verse 4).

Jeremiah had his own personal scribe, who apparently was also an accomplished reader (verse 10). Baruch read the words of Jeremiah in "the house of the LORD," the temple in Jerusalem.

When God's message through Jeremiah (but written down by Baruch the scribe) reached King Jehoiakim, what did he immediately do?

"And it happened, when Jehudi had read three or four columns, that the king cut it with the scribe's knife and cast it into the fire . . . until all the scroll was consumed in the fire . . ." (verse 23).

Many attempts have been made throughout history to destroy parts or all of God's Word. This particular Instance is recorded in the Bible itself. Sometimes biblical writers and translators have been imprisoned or killed. Men literally gave their lives to bring you this Book. In this scriptural example, however, the attempt to "seize Baruch the scribe and Jeremiah the prophet" failed because "the LORD hid them" (verse 26).

What was God's reaction to the king's destruction of Jeremiah's scroll in the fire?

"Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words which Baruch had written at the instruction of Jeremiah, the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah saying: 'Take yet another scroll, and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned' " (verses 27-28).

"Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe . . ., who wrote on it at the instruction of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And besides, there were added to them many similar words" (verse 32).

Not even kings have any authority or permission to alter or destroy God's Word. He has preserved the Bible throughout the ages in spite of determined attempts to extinguish all traces of it. Faithful men and women have risked their lives to preserve, spread and publish the Scriptures.

What were Ezekiel's prophetic credentials?

"The word of the LORD came expressly to Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the River Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was upon him there" (Ezekiel 1:3).

Ezekiel is mentioned only twice in the Bible—both times in the book bearing his name. In addition to obvious allusions to the temple chapters of Ezekiel (40-48) in Revelation 21, the book itself is quoted several times in the New Testament. Also, Jesus' portrait of Himself as the Good Shepherd is an apparent allusion to passages from Ezekiel (compare 34:5, 8, 12, 23; 37:24). God addresses Ezekiel as "the son of man" 90 times, and Jesus Christ refers to Himself as "the Son of Man" about 80 times in the Gospel accounts.

Ezekiel's prophecies were born in the heat of captivity. Says The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion (1997): "He [Ezekiel] was deported along with King Jehoiachin of Judah . . . in 597 BCE [before the Christian era] to Babylon by the invading forces of Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:8-16; Ezekiel 1:1-3). The exiles were settled at Tela-bib on the river Chebar . . . Ezekiel's call to prophesy came in July 593, and all of his preaching took place among the deported Jerusalemites . . ." (pp. 246-247).


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