The portion of God’s word known collectively as “the prophets” is probably one of the most closed and confusing areas of the Bible for most believers. By the classification “the prophets” I am referring, of course, to those books comprising Isaiah to Malachi. There are a few reasons why this section of scripture is closed to most people, and despite what many might think, it has nothing to with the difficulty of the writing style, culture disconnects, illustrative langue or anything of that sort. The simplest reason for the abounding ignorance is a lack of reading. Most believers do not frequent this portion of God’s word in their studies, so there is a general unfamiliarity with the subject matter at large. Rather than seeking to devote time and attention to comprehending the message of the prophets, most will simply move on to some other portion of the Bible deemed more relevant to life. When that is the case, certainly the general ignorance will remain, thus it is a heart issue at the root as most things are.
With that said, however, there is another reason that “the prophets” are closed to most, and that it because of a failure to understand to the story line of the Bible leading up to the time in which "the prophets" prophesied. It is impossible to understand “the prophets” without first having a good grasp on God’s purpose in the election of Israel through Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. A decent understanding of the general terms of the Mosaic Covenant is also needed, especially with its works based acceptance system that contracted for physical blessings & cursing based on Israel’s fleshly performance. I say the truth, a lot of the failure to understand the message of “the prophets” is due to a failure to understand Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. If those passages were taught and understood by more people, a lot of the obscurity surrounding “the prophets” would go away in believers’ minds, and those books would open up like never before. I have a very brief series on the 5 Courses of Punishment that I would encourage you to consider. It deals with many of these issues I am alluding to now on a summary level and will help you get your bearings about God’s purpose with Israel in general. Once that is understood, it will be more clearly seen that “the prophets” simply deal with doctrinal issues that have been set forth to Israel earlier in the word of God. They minister to a nation worthy of chastisement at a time after which Israel had demonstrated her complete failure under the Mosaic Covenant. The need for Jehovah to be their all in all is clearly manifested and "the prophets" declare His name as the solution to all of Israel’s predicaments against the backdrop of Israel’s impending Gentile captivity.
Never minding all that, even without focused attention in the writings of the prophets themselves, the word of God will tell us the seven major doctrinal themes that "the prophets" cover. Look outside of Isaiah-Malachi for references that speak of things “written by the prophets” and you will find it to be so. Search the following passages and note how that all seven of the major themes are told to you without ever opening the books of Isaiah to Malachi.
1. Details of the 1st Installment of the 5th Course of Punishment (i.e. Babylonian/Assyrian Captivities)
II Kings 17:13, 18-20 - …the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets (vs. 13)…until he had cast them out of his sight (v. 20).
II Kings 21:10-15 - …the LORD spake by his servants the prophets (v. 10)…I will deliver them into the hand of their enemies (vs. 14)…
2. Details of Jehovah Functioning in Grace on Israel’s Behalf to Fulfill the Davidic Covenant (i.e. the Doctrine of the Christ)
Luke 24:25-27 – And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Luke 24:44 – And [Jesus] said unto them…all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.
John 1:40-45 – …we have found Messias…of whom (vs. 40)…the prophets did write (vs. 45)…
3. Details of the New Covenant
John 6:45 – It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God… (See Isa. 54:13)
I Pet. 1:10 – Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you…
4. Details about the Lord’s Day of Wrath
II Pet. 3:2, 10 – That ye be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets…the day of the Lord will come…
Acts 2:16-21; Acts 3:22-26
Luke 1:68-79 - …the LORD God…hath raised up an horn of salvation for us…As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets….
Rev. 18:20 – Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her.
5. Details about Israel’s Prescription for Cleansing
Matt. 3:1-12 - …For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias…Then [they]…were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins…I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me…shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.
Num. 19; Heb. 9:10, 13-14; Acts 2:20, 34-35, 38
Luke 3:3-6, 15-18
John 3:22-25 - …John also was baptizing…Then there arose a question…about purifying…
6. Details about the Prophetic Time Schedule Leading up to the Time of the End
I Pet. 1:10-11 - …the prophets…prophesied…Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify…
7. Details about the Kingdom of Heaven
Acts 1:6; 3:20-21 - …restore again the kingdom to Israel…Jesus Christ…Whom the heaven must receive until the time of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began…
II Pet. 3:2, 13 – That ye be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets…according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
Isa. 65:17-25; Rev. 21:1-2
Rom. 15:12 – And again Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.
This is, by no means, an exhaustive list of references, but I believe it is sufficient to prove the point I’m seeking to make. The LORD tells you what “the prophets” write about without you ever having to open them the first time. It really is an amazing thing how that God seemingly anticipated our trouble in this area of understanding, and took it upon Himself to spell it out for us in other places where we are more likely to be reading. It is just one more example of His tender care for us, and an expression of assurance that He really does want us to understand and enjoy the Bible for ourselves.
Published by Joshua Edwards
Joshua Edwards is an ambassador for the Lord Jesus Christ who is dedicated the to the communication of sound doctrine as set forth in the pages of God's word. He desires to have all men to be saved by believing the gospel of the grace of God, and thereafter to come unto the knowledge of the truth by establishment in the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery (Romans 16:25).