The designations Old Testament and New Testament focus on two great covenants God made with His people:
The OT is divided as follows:
(Pentateuch or the law of Moses) Genesis - Deuteronomy.
History: (Joshua - Esther)
Wisdom/Poetry: (Job/Ayub, Psalms/Zabur, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) Prophets/Ambian:
(Isaiah - Malachi)
Tawrat: (Pentateuch or the law of Moses) Genesis - Deuteronomy. History: (Joshua - Esther)
Wisdom/Poetry: (Job/Ayub, Psalms/Zabur, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs) Prophets/Ambian: (Isaiah - Malachi)
The Prophets, 17 books consist of the 5 Major Prophets
(Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel and Daniel)
and the 12 Minor prophets
(Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah/Yunus, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah,
Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi)
While some prophetic messages included visions and
dreams of the future, the primary task of all the Prophets was to call the
Israelites back to faithfulness to their covenant God and to obedience to the
terms and conditions of their covenant with him.
Author: The Prophet Isaiah
Audience: The people of Judah and
Date: 740 – 680BC
judgment – but eventual
restoration – for the
people of Judah and
Prophet Isaiah (740-680BC) was an adviser to the kings of Judah (Ahaz, Hesekiah, Manasseh, Amon). In the first part of the book, ch. 1-39, God tells the people to turn away from sin and disobedience so that the Assyrian armies will not invade Judah as God’s punishment. He calls the people to lead lives of truth and justice. But he also promises to send the Messiah, God’s true king, who will be given to them as a little child.
Jesus chose a passage from Isaiah (61:1-2) as the text of his first sermon and he clearly knew the book very well. Isa. 53 has been taken by Christians to be one of the deepest insights into what the death of Jesus means.
From ch.40, the people are pictured in captivity in Babylon. God will not forget them but will lead them home. He is Lord of all the earth and all of history. The Jews are part of his plan and have a mission to all nations on earth. They must live in close relationship to God and keep his pattern of life.
Author: The Prophet Jeremiah
Audience: The people of Judah and Jerusalem
during the reigns of their last five Kings
Date: 626 – 586BC
Theme: Jeremiah, the prophet of the new
covenant, predicts Judah’s Babylonian
and ultimate restoration
under the coming Messiah
God chose Jeremiah (627-586BC) as his prophet during one of the saddest periods in Jewish history. The book ends with a description of the destruction of Jerusalem and the slavery of its people. With great feeling and emotion, Jeremiah speaks into this tragic situation. What he sees hurts him deeply and he is able to put these deep feelings into words. Through all the suffering, the power and faithfulness of God are still at the heart of his message and faith: “Do not be afraid… I am with you” (46:28).
Although Jeremiah was a prophet like Isaiah (740-680BC), he was a very different kind of person, very sensitive and sometimes rather moody. He was afraid that the penalty for speaking God’s message would be his own death, and he didn’t like being made fun of as he passed on his severe, unpopular predictions and some of the book I like listening in to very private conversations.
Audience: Jews in Babylon exile who
are lamenting the destruction
after the fall
of Jerusalem in 586BC
Prophet and his fellow
Jews lament at the
destruction of their beloved
city of Jerusalem at the
hands of the Babylonians
This book has continued to speak through history to the present day because of its honesty as it describes the reality of human suffering in a ruined city. The passage most familiar to many tells of God’s great faithfulness (3,23)
Lamentation is a collection of five poems. They were written by some one who saw the terrible effects of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians first hand; and who asks, in a state of grief, what it all means. However painful it is, God must be somewhere in all the hurt and suffering. The writer is overwhelmed by the misery, but he continues to trust in God’s authority and justice. The last poem is a prayer asking God to restore the people to himself and to renew them.
Author: The Prophet Ezekiel
Audience: Jews of Jerusalem & Judah,
who were taken captive to
Babylonia in 597BC
Date: 593-571 – BC
Theme: Ezekiel the priest assures his
fellow Jews that God will one
day return them to Jerusalem
and restore the temple
The message of this book is that God is the Lord of all the earth. He is so pure and holy that for a human being to be in his presence is an overpowering experience. God’s message is uncompromising, his will is clear and unchanging. However hard it may seem, his one aim is to have his people know that he is the Lord. The book ends with a breathtaking description of a new temple and a New Jerusalem. The name of the city is “THE LORD IS THERE.”
While Jeremiah (627-586BC) was warning God’s people in Jerusalem, Ezekiel (593-571BC) had begun passing God’s visions and messages in Babylonia. He had gone into exile with one of the first groups, before the ruin of Jerusalem 587 B.C. Ezekiel was a person with a vivid and creative imagination. He pictured God’s message and sometimes acted it out u unforgettable ways. Some of his visions inspired John, the writer of the last book of the Bible, Revelation (in Injiil).
Author: The Prophet Ezekiel Date: about 530BC
Audience: The Jewish exiles in Babylonia Theme: The most high God is sovereign over all human kingdoms
Prophet Daniel (605-537BC) had been taken as a slave to Babylon where he was selected to serve the royal court. He was very gifted and God looked after him. Eventually he became, in effect, prime minister.
He and his friends were tested to the point of death because of their faith in God and obedience to his law. The first six chapters tell of these testing’s and include the famous stories of the blazing furnace, and the lions’ den.
The rest of the book contains some of Daniel’s prophetic visions about the future of the world. There was to be much more trouble in store for God’s people, but in the end every person would bow down and worship someone called “the son of man.” This was one of the names Jesus (Isa) called himself.
Audience: Primarily the Northern
Kingdom of Israel
Date: Probably after the fall of
the northern capital,
covenant love that cannot
let Israel go
Hosea (753-722BC) was a prophet who addressed his messages to Israel the northern part of the invaded kingdom. He talked of the very personal and deep love of God for his people. Though they were often disobedient and unfaithful to him, his love did not waver. He warned the people that they would be judged for their sin, but promised that in the end God would win the nation back to himself, his love was stronger than their disloyalty. In a surprising and moving way Prophet Hosea’s own marriage and family life were picture’s of God’s relationship with his people. Hosea’s wife, Gomer, was unfaithful to him and he understood in a very personal way how God felt.
Audience: The people of Judah
Date: Probably between the
late seventh and early
fifth centuries BC
blessing will come to
the people of Judah
only after judgment and
In this book Prophet Joel (852-841BC) described a terrifying plague of locusts and a drought. The locusts invade the land and destroy it just like an army. All farm life, city life, temple life comes to a halt and the land is filled with crying and weeping. Joel tells how this plague is a picture of God’s judgment: it can’t be stopped and it will affect everyone. He urges the leaders to call for a day of prayer and fasting so that each one of them, young and old, men and women alike. In the New Testament (Injiil) some of these promises of resurrection are fulfilled in Jesus (Isa), (eg. Acts 2:32). Peter preached that the promise of the Holy Spirit (Ruhallah) (2:28) was fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2).
Author: Amos Audience: Primarily the idolatrous and indulgent people of the Northern Kingdom
Date: about 760-750BC Theme: Call for social justice as the indispensable expression of true piety
In the middle of the 8th century B.C. Israel, the northern kingdom, seemed to be just as it should be: the nation was at peace, it was prosperous, and religious observance was regular and popular. A deeper look showed the picture to be false, and God called Amos, (767-753BC) a farmer from Judah, to spell out the real state of affairs. The whole of the nation’s life was unjust and unfair; the poor were despised; the courts were rigged; business was dishonest; and money seemed to buy everything. The worship of the people was like a great cover-up. Prophet Amos stressed that religious, would escape his judgment. Only after the nation of Israel has repented will everything be as it should be.
Audience: The people of Judah
suffering the treachery of
the Edomites, descendants
Date: Probably the time of the
Babylonian attacks on
Theme: Prophecies of Judgment against the proud Edomites who are gloating over Jerusalem’s devastation by foreign powers
After the quarrel between Jacob (Yakub) and Esau, Jacob
became father of the nation o Israel,
while Esau founded the nation of Edom (see Gen. 36:9). The quarrel
went on for centuries and the Edomites, whose main city was an impressed
fortress, particularly enjoyed seeing the Israelites suffer at the hands of the
other nations. When Jerusalem
(Al Quds) was destroyed by the Babylonians the Edomites actually cheered and
helped the invaders. Prophet Obadiah (850-800BC) predicted that while Israel will be
restored, the Edomites will be destroyed. No one can escape God’s justice and Judgment.
In his time he will put all wrongs right: his kingdom will triumph.
Audience: Northern Kingdom of Israel
prophesied during the reign of
Jeroboam II (793-753BC); the date of
its writing was between 750 and 725BC
Theme: God’s loving concern and love for all
people, the stubborn reluctant Jonah
jealousy of her
favored relationship with God and her
unwillingness to share the lord’s
compassion with the nations
The book of Jonah (Yunus) is an unusual one among the
prophets because most of it is about what happened to the prophet rather than
what he said. Prophet Jonah (776-745BC) is called to go to the capital of Assyria to tell its people how terrible their sins are.
Understandably he runs away, but God makes sure he goes to Nineveh by providing a big fish to bring him
to his senses. When he eventually delivers is message the people are touched
and turn from their wickedness. Jonah sulks, but God tells him tat he is
concerned with that great city, as he is with every nation on earth. The story
emphasizes the fact that God loves the whole of his creation: however much
people turn from him, he seeks to save them rather than destroy them.
Audience: The people of Israel and
Judah, especially the
who supported Israel’s
corrupt political and
Theme: Prophecies of Doom & prophecies of Hope, divine judgment and deliverance
Prophet Micah (750-686BC) lived in a country town in Judah at the
time of Isaiah. It was a grim period in history of God’s people. The northern
kingdom, Israel, has been
smashed by the Assyrians and the same fate surely awaited Judah with its great capital Jerusalem (Al Quds). Judah was a
nation that had become unjust and corrupt. The king actually shut the temple
and sacrificed his own children: there were was dishonesty and bribery (2
Chron. 28). Micah saw that the judgment of Judah would be terrible; yet he
told of a time ahead when God would turn the darkness into light. This is one
of the books which includes the great passage about nations who “will hammer
their swords onto plows” (4:3). It also records promises about the great
descendants of David (Dawud) (5:2-5).
Audience: The people of Judah
Date: Shortly before 650BC
Theme: Predicts the Lord’s judgment
on Nineveh for her
oppression, cruelty, idolatry
Prophet Nahum (640-627BC) describes a terrible vision in
which the great Assyrian city if Nineveh
is attacked. It is one of the most dramatic pictures in the Bible, in the books
of the prophets: charging cavalry, flashing swords, and glittering spears.
After the attack those that are still alive run away from the city to the
mountains, and as the news of the destruction spreads, other people clasp their
hands with joy. The Assyrians were brutally cruel and now they themselves were
to suffer. Nahum ells how God is “slow to get angry,” but one who will always
bring judgment on evil. No one, no nation, however powerful, will ever escape
God’s judgment. He is Lord of all the earth.
people of Judah,
struggling to comprehend the
ways of GodDate: about 605BC
Theme: The Prophet Habakkuk argues
with God over God’s ways,
which appear to him
unfathomable, if not unjust;
after receiving replies from
God, Habakkuk responds with
a beautiful confession of faith
This book is about Prophet Habakkuk’s hard questions to God
and the answers he receives.
It is very frank and personal. Habakkuk (608-605BC)
sees cruelty, fighting and injustice all around him and wants to know why God
isn’t doing anything about it: “why are you silent?” God tells Habakkuk to
write down his reply on clay tablets (2:2). God’s judgment will come, but it
ill seem slow in coming. It is necessary to wait for that time, but it will be
worth the wait: “The oceans are full of water. In the same way, the earth will
be filled with the knowledge of my glory” (2:14). The last chapter is a prayer
of Habakkuk in which he promises to trust God and wait for him to act whatever
happens: he will “be glad because of what the Lord has done” (3:18).
people of Judah,
struggling to comprehend
the ways of God
Date: between 640 and 627BC
Theme: The Prophet Zephaniah
predicts the coming of the
day of the Lord, when
God will severely punish
the nations, including
apostate Judah, but will
yet be merciful
Prophet Zephaniah (640-622BC) tells of how angry God is at the sin of Judah and every other nation. There is idol worship, killing, and stealing, God’s instructions are being disobeyed during the rule of King Josiah. A day is coming when God will judge and punish the nations. Nineveh will be a deserted ruin, inhabited only by animals, owls, and crows. Despite God’s righteous anger and the terrible destruction that is coming, God still loves his people and calls them back to himself. The book ends with a song of joy for it sees the time when the punishment will be over because God is “mighty enough to save” (3:17). God will gather his people back to himself and shower his love on them in all kinds of ways.
Author: Haggai Audience: The postexilic Jews living in Judah Date: 520 BC
Theme: The Prophet Haggai calls the complacent people of Judah to resume to rebuild the temple and hence give glory to God
After some Jews returned from Babylon there was great enthusiasm and rejoicing when the foundation of the temple was completed. But this did not last. There was a lot of opposition from surrounding nations and all progress stopped for several years (see Ezra 1-4). The people concentrated on their own affairs, their appearances, and their own houses. So Haggai saw them living in their good houses while the house of God, the temple (Haykal) was still in ruins. The people are urged to continue to rebuild the temple because the day is coming when God will fill the temple with his glory (see Ezra 5-6). In the future, as they give God his rightful place he will bless them. The ripples of what happens in Jerusalem will be seen and felt all over the world until the end of history.
Audience: postexilic Jews
living in Judah
Date: 520 to about 480BC
Theme: Prophet Zechariah
who have returned
to Jerusalem from
rebuilding of the
Prophet Zechariah worked closely with the Prophet Haggai
(520-516BC). He spoke at a time when Jews had resettled in Jerusalem and had begun rebuilding the
temple. The temple was still not complete so Zechariah (520-516BC) passes on a
series of visions and messages from God to inspire the people to finish the
work and to be ready for God’s return. The book brings alive God’s promises.
There is glorious future awaiting the Jews. The Messiah will come and a new age
will dawn. As the whole picture unfolds it becomes steadily grander: God is
Lord of all people, of all nations, of all history. It is his world and nothing
will prevent him from achieving what he has promised and set out to do. The
prophecy of Jerusalem’s
king entering the city is one referred to in the New Testament when Jesus
enters the city (Al Quds) (see Matt. 21:1-11).
Author: Malachi Audience: The postexilic Jews living in Judah Date: about 430BC
Theme: The Prophet Malachi assures the postexilic Jewish community that the Messianic King will come not only to judge his
people but also to bless and restore them
Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament (Tawrat,
History, Zabur, Hykmat, Prophets) was written after the temple had been
rebuilt, yet about 400 years before the coming of Christ (Al Masih). After the
initial enthusiasm for God’s law the Jews have begun to doubt God’s promises
told to them by Prophets like Haggai and Zechariah. Their worship has become
empty and lifeless, and their daily living was not as honest or air as they
knew it should be. Prophet Malachi (433-425BC) tells the people that however
they may feel, God has not changed and his law (Shariah of Moses) still stands.
The people hope that he will come to save them.
So the Old Testament, (and so
the Prophets) close with a promise that the day is coming when God will act,
but it will be a painful experience for all who do not obey God’s laws. For
those who do obey him, God will pour out so much blessing that they will not
have room enough for it!