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The bible is a collection of books written by men who were inspired by God. It has a total of 66 books. The first 39 are called the Old Testament and the next 29 are the New Testament. The Old Testament is divided into four. The Pentateuch which has five books which were written by Moses, historical books, poetic books and prophetic books. The prophetic books are further divided into two, the Major and the Minor Prophets. There are four Major Prophets and twelve Minor Prophets. The books categorized as the Major Prophets include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and lamentation. The difference between a minor and a major prophet depends on the length of what is written. Books written by Minor Prophets are shorter compared to those written by Major Prophets. However, many Christians confuse this with the importance of the book. Minor Prophet Books does not necessarily mean that they are les important.
The book of Isaiah was written by prophet Isaiah between 740 - 700 BC with a massage of Judgment that was coming upon Judah for her sins. Isaiah prophesies the future destruction of Judah. After the destruction, he proclaims that the inhabitants of Judah will be carried into exile into a foreign nation. Apart from prophesying about the judgment that was to come, there is also a massage of comfort and hope that for them at the foreign country where they will be taken. Jeremiah also proclaimed the same massage between 627 – 580 BC. During the time of Jeremiah, Judah had begun declining and falling.
Based on the teachings of God, they were deviating into the wrong way. This is why prophet Jeremiah proclaimed the sure destruction on Judah which was about to take place. Prophet Ezekiel was called by God and he began prophesying on the same massage. As predicted by the prophets, the siege and subsequent destruction of Jerusalem occurred in 586 BC. Prophet Ezekiel was amongst the captive who were carried away to Babylon. He continued to prophesy while in exile in Babylon. Ezekiel prophesied between 593 -570 BC. He encourages his brothers while in Babylon about the restoration back to Jerusalem. During the sixth century BC, Prophet Daniel rose up and prophesied while in exile in Babylon. Daniel exercised his prophetic ministry up to 530 BC.
The books considered to be Minor Prophets include Jonah, Amos, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and songs of Solomon. The books are written by 12 prophets considered as “minor prophets”. Jonah lived in Israel in 770 BC. Jonah declares the love of God to a pagan nation and illustrates that the love of God is universal. He first refuses to obey god when called upon to go and preach in Nineveh, the capital city of Assyria. However, after a dramatic punishment in which he finds himself in the belly of a fish, he repents and heads straight to Nineveh to proclaim his massage. Amos denounced the sins of Israelites boldly. He lived in Judah in 760 BC, but God called him so that he could rebuke the northern kingdom to return to God. This was a time when Jeroboam II was the king of Israel.
Jeroboam II Reigned in Israel between 786 -746 BC. Hosea prophesied to the entire nation of Israel between 760 -730. He is also known as "Prophet of Divine Love,” He proclaimed his massage in Israel at the kingdom’s darkest days. Hosea’s very wife became a prostitute. The lord used the unfaithfulness of his wife to teach him how he feels if the children of Israel worship other things. Through this experience he learned the love of God towards Israel and thus understood why God could not let Israel go. Micah, a younger prophet prophesied during the days of Amos. He prophesied to Judah between 737-690 BC that they will surely be punished for their sins. He also predicts the coming deliverance and subsequent birth of the Messiah.
Habakkuk is written in a dialogue form between the prophet and God. Through his conversation with God, he is able to finally reaffirm his faith in God. He declares "I will rejoice in the Lord… God, the Lord, is my strength." Habakkuk lived in Judah in 630 BC. Zephaniah briefly describes the theme of judgment and salvation. He lived during the Scythian invasion at around 626 BC. He prophesies about the coming judgment of God against Judah. He assures the Judeans that if they repent, god will once again dwell among them. Nahum predicted the coming downfall of Nineveh. He prophesied to Nineveh between 593 -570. Nahum means consolation or comfort. Joel is also known as "Prophet of Pentecost,” He prophesied that god would out pour his spirit to Christians in the days to come. This famous scripture was quoted by Apostle Peter during the Pentecost.
Joel proclaimed his massage to the nation of Judah in 500 BC. He interpreted the massage of devastating locust plague as a representation of a direct punishment of God to the children of Judah for their sins. He thus asked his audience to repent in order to enjoy material and spiritual blessings from God. Obadiah wrote the shortest prophetic book in the bible. He directs his massage to the Edomites the descendants of Esau. The Edomites had been hostile to their brothers in Israel and Obadiah prophesies their destruction and doom. Obadiah also lived at around 500 BC.
Haggai was the first book written after the exile in Babylon. It was written around 520 BC. Haggai has four prophesies which are passed to Judah within a period of four months. This prophesies are delivered 15 years after the Israelites have retuned to Jerusalem to rebuild it. Their arrival had been delayed by the challenges that they had met on the way by nearly two decades. Thus, Haggai’s request to them is that they should give in to rebuilding the temple whole heartedly. Zachariah also encourages the Judah to enhance rebuilding of the temple. He also wrote his prophesies at about the same time as Haggai. The last parts of his prophesy are focusing on the messiah.
He predicts the day of the messiah. Zachariah foretells that this will bring the restoration of Israel that will cause the Kingdom of God to triumph. Malachi prophesies to Judah at around 433 BC. Malachi is the last book in the Old Testament. The meaning of Malachi is “my messenger”. Malachi provides the detailed activities of the Judeans during the Persian period. His prophesies are based on the apostasy of Israel. He also mentions the forthcoming judgment on the sinners and the faithless. However, the book is also filled with a massage of hope and promises of blessings to those who repents and turn away from sin. The increasing expectation of messiah fills the book of Malachi in every chapter. The last chapters announce the "messenger of the covenant".
Malachi declares that by the messiah’s arrival, there will be purification and judgment upon Israel. The book also speaks figuratively about “the coming of the return of the Prophet Elijah who will proclaim the Day of the Lord”. Even though Prophet Elijah had come, Malachi describes the coming of the messiah as similar to the coming of Elijah.