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The Bible - Biblical Prophets


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Keywords: Bible, Prophecy, Ezekiel, Biblical Prophecy, Ancient History, Jesus, Judaism, Christianity, Protestantism, Catholicism, Middle East, End Times, Scriptures, Old Testament, New Testament, Religion





Biblical Prophets

What is a biblical Prophet?

According to the Bible, a prophet is a person to whom God gives a special message, to be passed on to others. True prophets of God can do predictive prophecy—unlike "psychics" and false prophets, a biblical prophet will never make an error when it comes to foretelling the future.   Why? Because that is God's way of demonstrating that the person really is authorized by God. (Deuteronomy 18).

Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph (in Egypt), Moses, Joshua, and David in the Old Testament, Jesus, Saul / Paul, John (Revelation/Apocalypse) in the New Testament and many others in the Bible were prophets of God who could accurately foretell the future. For instance, in Psalm 22 David described the crucifixion of Jesus, 1,000 years before Jesus was born and 400 years before crucifixion was invented.  Isaiah 52:13-53:12, written 700 B.C., also describes the crucifixion. In 30 A.D. Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans, which occurred forty years later.

The Major and Minor Prophets

There was also a special group whose only real function was specifically to prophesy. These included the four "major" prophets (so designated  because their books are long) and the twelve "minor" prophets (so designated  because their books were short).

Although in part the Major Prophets foretold the distant future, including things that have not happened yet, a large part of their writings dealt with the Babylonian Captivity. Ezekiel lived and prophesied during this time.

Sabbath (vacation) years for farmland

In the Book of Leviticus, God laid out detailed rules on how the Israelites should live. One of those rules was, "Let your farmland lie unused every seventh year." This was known as a sabbath for the land.

Leviticus 25:  2.   "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: `When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the Lord. 3.   `Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in its fruit 4.    `but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the Lord. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard.

Leviticus 25:20 You may ask, "What will we eat in the seventh year if we do not plant or harvest our crops?" 21 I will send you such a blessing in the sixth year that the land will yield enough for three years.

God told them, 'I'll give you your usual crop—to eat during the seventh yearplus an entire extra vacation crop so you will have enough to eat in the eighth yearplus a full year bonus crop!"

Hey! That sounds great, doesn't it?! It doesn't require faith or extra work or anything! Just take a year-long vacation, having up front two years of extra food!

What did the Israelites do? They worked during the vacation, and took the vacation pay and the bonus. They planted the land even though God said not to!

The Babylonian Captivity

Eventually, God got ticked off because the Israelites kept disobeying Him about letting the land rest every seventh year. For over four hundred and fifty years they ignored Him. He started sending prophets who told them, "If you don't let the land rest, God will have the Babylonians (modern-day Iraq) take you out of the land for seventy years, so the land can have its sabbaths."

Even before those prophets, Moses prophesied around 1400 B.C. in Leviticus 26:33.   I will scatter you among the nations and draw out a sword after you your land shall be desolate and your cities waste. 34.  Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you are in your enemies' land then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths. 35.  As long as it lies desolate it shall rest for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it.

The Four Major Prophets

Isaiah was the first of the Major Prophets. He foretold a lot about Jesus and also warned the Israelites to turn away from their sins, turn to God and start letting the land rest.

Jeremiah was the next Major Prophet. Some of his writings describe what it was like to live under seige by the Babylonians.

Ezekiel wrote while under Babylonian rule. In addition to events that are still unfolding, e.g., the "resurrection" of the nation of Israel in 1948 and the on-going migration of millions of Jews from the Diaspora, Ezekiel also urged the nation of Israel to turn to God. A major difference between Ezekiel and all previous prophets was personal accountability, i.e., a person is individually responsible to God for the person's sins and God will not hold against a person the sins of the person's tribe, family, etc.

Daniel was taken into captivity as a young man and remained in Babylon for the rest of his life. Because of his ability to interpret prophetic visions God gave to Nebuchadnezzar, Emperor of Babylon, and his great administrative talents, Daniel became Prime Minister, second in power and authority only to the Emperor. When the Medes (modern-day Kurds) and the Persians (modern-day Iran) overthrew the Babylonian Empire, Daniel became a major leader under Persian Emperors Darius and Cyrus. Daniel and Ezekiel were contemporaries—Ezekiel mentions Daniel by name at Ezekiel 14:14, 14:20 and 28:3.