The Word of God: The Foundation of Knowledge

Lesson 2, Part 8

9/11

The Latter, or Major, Prophets

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 Matthew 15:8-9 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).

Isaiah Isaiah

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”  Jeremiah 36:4

Jeremiah had his own personal scribe, who apparently was also an accomplished reader (Jeremiah 36:10). 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 . . .”  Jeremiah 36:23

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” (Jeremiah 36:26).

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’ ”  Jeremiah 36:27-28

“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”  Jeremiah 36:32

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 Ezekiel 34:5-8; Ezekiel 34:12-23; Ezekiel 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).

King Jehoiakim

A Lesson From Biblical History

History shows that through the centuries various people have tried to destroy the Word of God. Early in the sixth century B.C., one who literally "destroyed" the Word of God and paid dearly for his arrogance was Jehoiakim, king of Judah.

Jehoiakim Jehoiakim

Jehoiakim’s 11-year reign was disastrous. Although he had opportunity to follow his father Josiah’s righteous example (Jeremiah 22:15-16), Jehoiakim turned to evil. Jeremiah described him as a presumptuous ruler who abused his own people (Jeremiah 22:13-14) and persecuted and murdered God’s servants (Jeremiah 26:20-23).

God instructed Jeremiah to prophesy that, unless they repented, King Jehoiakim and Jerusalem would fall (Jeremiah 36:1-32). Jeremiah had God’s words recorded by his scribe, Baruch, and instructed him to read those prophecies to the people of Judah. God hoped they would repent and avoid their prophesied downfall (Jeremiah 36:4-7).

When the princes heard Jeremiah’s prophetic words, they quickly conveyed them to Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:19). Then the king heard the princes’ account of Jeremiah’s predictions and sent an officer to bring the scroll to him (Jeremiah 36:21).

Jehoiakim commanded the officer to read aloud from the scroll. After the man read several columns, the king would cut away that part of the scroll, then contemptuously toss it into the fire burning in the hearth before him. The king continued “until all the scroll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth” (Jeremiah 36:23).

Jehoiakim apparently thought he was accountable to no one. But God would have the last word.

He instructed Jeremiah to prepare another scroll like the first (Jeremiah 36:27-32). God reserved strong words for Jehoiakim: “He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night. I will punish him, his family, and his servants for their iniquity; and I will bring on them, on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and on the men of Judah all the doom that I have pronounced against them; but they did not heed” (Jeremiah 36:30-31).

Sadly, Jehoiakim persisted in his defiance and suffered the consequences. Defeated by the Babylonians and dragged away in chains, he apparently died on his way to or in captivity in Babylon.

The lesson of King Jehoiakim applies to all leaders and all peoples: He who would attempt to destroy God’s Word puts himself in great danger. Man cannot arrogantly challenge God with impunity. God’s Word is the foundation of all knowledge, and, unlike mortal man, it will endure forever (1 Peter 1:24-25).

Daniel the Prophet

What prophet is mentioned directly by Jesus Christ in His Olivet Prophecy?

“ ‘Therefore when you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place’ (whoever reads, let him understand) . . .”  Matthew 24:15; compare Mark 13:14

Jesus Christ clearly refers to Daniel as a legitimate Hebrew prophet, although the book of Daniel is not technically classified as a part of the Prophets, but of the Writings—the third major section of the Old Testament.

What major prophet places Daniel in some select company?

“ ‘Even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in [a sinful land], they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness,’ says the Lord GOD”  Ezekiel 14:14; compare Ezekiel 14:20

Clearly, Daniel’s spiritual credentials are of the highest caliber. He was considered an example of righteousness alongside Noah (a preacher of righteousness, 2 Peter 2:5) and the patriarch Job (one of the most righteous men who ever lived, Job 1:1-8).

What other gifts and qualities made Daniel so unusual?

“As for these four young men [including Daniel], God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature and wisdom; and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams”  Daniel 1:17

“Then he [the angel] said to me, ‘Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words”  Daniel 10:12

Humility before the great God is a vital key to spiritual success. Few have ever understood this principle better than the prophet Daniel. Further, it is an important key to unlocking the door to knowledge of God. Daniel himself said in praising the God of heaven: “He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding” (Daniel 2:21).

Daniel also had special understanding in “literature and wisdom” (Daniel 1:17)—essential qualifications for writing his book. That Daniel wrote the book bearing his name is certain (Daniel 9:2; Daniel 10:2). Says The New Bible Commentary: Revised: “The book of Daniel was a product of the exile and was written by Daniel himself” (p. 688). In his book he often speaks in the first person.

But, as Daniel 1:17 explains, God is the ultimate source of all this spiritual knowledge, understanding and wisdom—not human beings. Prophets like Daniel have distinguished themselves by becoming willing and humble instruments in His hands.

Are any of the “minor” prophets quoted by the apostles?

“As He says also in Hosea . . .”  Romans 9:25

In another example, Acts 2:16-21, Peter quotes Joel 2:28-32 because the events on that Day of Pentecost were a direct and dramatic fulfillment of a portion of Joel’s prophecy. After Christ’s crucifixion, God’s Spirit, on this particular day, was spectacularly poured out just as Joel had prophesied. Peter proclaimed that these events were a dramatic fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.

What great sign given by Christ is based on what happened to one of these 12 prophets?

“An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”  Matthew 12:39-40

One third of the New Testament is composed of quotations from and allusions to the Old. These two parts of Scripture are closely linked and intertwined with each other. The apostles constantly used the Hebrew Bible in their writings.

Watch Video: Why Study Bible Prophecy?

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